Apple has unveiled the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, along with the Apple Watch Series 4 and a slew of new features aimed at improving upon the health, fitness, photography and other capabilities customers have come to depend on.
Apple announced details about the Apple Watch Series 4, which features bigger screens on a thinner device to produce less total volume than previous watch series. The screens go to the edges of the device and are over 30 percent larger, said Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams.
The new Apple Watch also makes some important advances to the devices’ health features. Series 4 can identify if the wearer has fallen, Williams said, and delivers an alert asking whether to initiate an emergency call. The watch can also detect atrial fibrillation and take an electrocardiogram, or ECG. Williams called the watch the “first ECG product offered over the counter directly to consumers” and noted that both new heart features had received Food and Drug Administration clearance.
Apple Watch Series 4 is priced at $399 for the GPS version and $499 for the GPS + Cellular model.
The iPhone XS and XS Max build upon the iPhone X, announced last year, by introducing larger screens and a new 7-nanometer chip called A12 Bionic, aimed at faster app processing. Phil Schiller, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, described A12 Bionic as “the smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone.”
The iPhone XS and XS Max are two sizes of the same device, while the iPhone XR, a 6.1-inch phone with a bright LCD screen, falls somewhere between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in terms of price. With the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, Apple has revealed some of its most expensive phones yet. The iPhone XS starts from $999 for a 64-gigabyte device, and the iPhone XS Max starts from $1099 for a 64G device. The iPhone XR comes in at a bit less, starting from $749 for a 64G device.
In past years, when Apple Inc. didn’t have a new iPhone design, it still had a breakthrough new feature: video recording in 2009, the Siri digital assistant in 2011, a fingerprint scanner in 2013, and 3D Touch in 2015.
This year, Apple’s secret weapon isn’t a particular feature, but a clever pricing strategy and myriad options for storage, colors, and screen sizes. While no one swooned over product advancements, the moves unveiled on Wednesday will likely pay off financially, highlighting the company’s entrenched status as the top provider of consumer technology in the western world.
“While the Apple event went largely as expected, the new iPhone lineup should provide upside” for unit sales and average selling prices, Gene Munster, a longtime Apple analyst, said. The company showed “mastery of pricing tiers, which will extract more revenue per customer,” he added.
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant took the wraps off the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr, three new models based on the iPhone X design and feature set from last year.
The iPhone Xs adds a faster processor and improved camera functionality, while the iPhone Xs Max has a much bigger screen. The Xr version brings iPhone X features like the edge-to-edge screen and Face ID to more people with its $750 price, $250 less than last year’s flagship.
Apple is adjusting to a smartphone industry that has stalled at about 1.5 billion devices sold each year. Rather than persuading users to upgrade to the most-advanced, expensive phone each year, Apple’s goal these days is to steadily raise average prices, while expanding the total number of active devices to support sales of accessories and digital services like streaming music and video.
“Apple’s focus appears to be shifting away from product replacement cycles and more towards profitability and Services narrative, which is a positive in a mature smartphone market,” Amit Daryanani, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to investors.
“We are about to hit a major milestone, we are about to ship our 2 billionth iOS device,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said as he opened a media event expected to unveil a new lineup of iPhones.
“This is astonishing, iOS has changed the way we live.”
Cook said that with its fourth generation of the market-leading smartwatch, “we’re going to take Apple Watch to the next level.”
Chief operating officer Jeff Williams said that “everything about (Apple Watch) has been redesigned.”
He added that its screen is “over 30 percent larger” than the previous generation.
One of the new features enables the watch to detect when a person falls, important for elderly users.
“Fall detection is a feature we hope you never need, but it’s really nice to know it’s there,” Williams said.