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When Apple’s Phil Schiller showed off the newest iPhones, the hype machine was on at full speed. He said the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max smartphones had “surgical grade stainless steel.” I never knew I wanted that!
You can also drop it into 2-meter-deep liquids — from water to orange juice — for up to 30 minutes. And it will still detect whether you’re having a heart attack, with the help of the new Apple Watch Series 4. I was able to get hands-on with the phones today, but I did not run this liquids test on the new products. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements here is that Apple has broken through the price barrier again with a phone priced at $1,100.
Levity aside, the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max will generate some serious lust in iPhone enthusiasts. The devices sport the new 7-nanometer A12 Bionic processor and an edge-to-edge Super Retina display. The Face ID camera points at you and uses its depth sensor to figure out if it’s really you. The phones come in three colors, with the blue metal sides blending seamless into the blue backside, thanks to good color matching.
The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen is HDR10 and Dolby Vision-certified. It has more on-screen pixels per inch than before, resulting in a higher resolution screen at 2436 x 1125 pixels on the iPhone XS and 2688 x 1242 on the iPhone XS Max. You can see this up close with the amazing photos of people Apple showed. The company also said the new iPhones have wider stereo sound fields.
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The phones can take high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, with sharp details on both the dark and well-lit parts of a photo. And one of the biggest wows is the ability to change the depth of field focus in an image — after you’ve taken it. You simply shoot the photo and open edit mode. You can adjust the slider to make the background behind the main subject blurry or move the slider in the other direction to make it sharp. That is a very cool feature. It worked smoothly in the demo I saw, and there was no delay in the image processing as the slider moved.
The iPhone XS feels good in your hands at 6.24 ounces, while the iPhone XS Max is 7.34 inches. But with that much tech packed into the phone, you better get yourself a good case and screen protector, no matter what Apple says about the sturdiness of the device.
The 64-bit A12 Bionic processor comes with a four-core graphics processing unit (GPU), a six-core central processing unit (CPU), and an eight-core Neural Engine, which handles machine learning and other artificial intelligence processing. It can do HEVC encoding and decoding, image signal processing, video processing, and more.
Gamers are going to love this device, and I saw it running the upcoming game from Bethesda, The Elder Scrolls: Blades. it has a lot of scenes with shadows and beams of light, making full use of the HDR capability. And it ran fast.
The chip is the first available 7-nanometer semiconductor, where the width between circuits is seven billionths of a meter. That means Apple designers can pack 6.9 billion transistors on a chip that is relatively small. That, in turn, allows the chip to draw less power, resulting in lower power consumption and better battery life. The A12 Bionic has 40 percent lower power than the previous generation, and its Neural Engine alone can process 5 trillion operations per second, compared to 600 billion in the previous generation a year ago.
The iPhone X offers up to 21 hours of talk time, while the iPhone XS has 20 hours of talk time and the Xs Max boasts 25 hours.
Machine learning will help with tasks such as Face ID, or recognizing your face to unlock the phone, as well as photo-related processing tasks. Touch ID, using fingerprint identification, is gone.
Apple says the iPhone XS 12-megapixel rear cameras are made for augmented reality. The cameras have a new sensor, and the telephoto camera has a 2X optical zoom. Translucent hair should look better and red-eye reduction should be a lot better.
One of the new features will help you on overseas trips. The phones have dual SIM cards, with a feature dubbed Dual SIM Dual Standby mode. That means you can have two phone numbers and both can be ready to receive calls at any time. That’s a cool feature in the U.S., but something the Chinese mandate.
Preorders start on September 12, and the products will be available on September 21. The iPhone XS starts at $999, while the iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099.