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Apple announces new iPhone models, Apple Watch Series 4

Written By | Sep 13, 2018
Apple vs Qualcomm and 5G

Apple iPhone: New 2018 model splash screen. Via Apple’s main website. Fair use.

CUPERTINO, Calif.  Wednesday, Apple execs revealed the company’s latest iPhone and Apple Watch models in a live presentation held at the company’s state-of-the-art Steve Jobs Theater. Here’s the breakdown for readers in a hurry. But if you want to see Apple’s entire presentation, including an introductory sequence that’s weirdly similar to the company’s famed “1984” Mac commercial, just follow this link.

We have the new iPhone pricing and availability.
  • The iPhone XR is priced starting at $749.
  • The iPhone Xs starts at $999.
  • The iPhone Xs Max starts at $1,099.
  • The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are available to pre-order on Friday, September 14, 2018. Beginning ship date is September 21.
  • The iPhone XR will be available to pre-order on Oct. 19. It will begin to ship a week later.
  • Options that will boost the price of each model are available. They include augmented memory, wi-fi and direct Internet connectivity.
Specs for the iPhone XR, Apple’s new, higher-end “bargain-priced” model.

The baseline model in Apple’s trio of new iPhone offerings is the iPhone XR. Its features are similar to the fancier iPhone Xs, but offers a bit less flashiness at a better price point. In addition to the usual iPhone features, here’s what you get with the iPhone XR.

  • Apple offers the XR in a series of colorful aluminum finishes
  • The XR boasts a 6.1-inch, edge-to-edge LCD display, addressing the demand of at least some iPhone fans for a bigger screen at a sharper price point.
  • It runs on faster processors than last year’s models and offers enhanced camera settings similar to the higher-end Xs models.
  • Apple claims the XR’s battery lasts an hour and half longer than the battery in the iPhone 8 Plus. But, as always, depending on usage, your mileage may still vary.
What differentiates the new, higher end iPhone models? Here’s the specs for iPhone Xs.
  • The new, somewhat lower-priced iPhone Xs model offers the following features.
  • Water-resistant
  • Has an improved display and sharper colors via its 5.8-inch OLED screen, with the same dimensions as last year’s iPhone X.
  • Runs on a new, faster processor for better performance.
  • Offers storage up to 512 GB.
  • Comes in a new, optional gold color.
  • Claims 30 extra minutes of battery life compared to previous iterations
  • Provides an improved dual-camera system, boasting “true-tone flash.”
  • Camera comes with new sensors with “bigger, deeper pixels” for better Portrait mode photos.
  • Front-facing camera claims to be twice as fast as previous model and offers improved depth perception in photographs.
  • Improved camera features bring FaceID to this somewhat lower-priced high-end model. That’s facial recognition system, introduced on last year’s high-end models that users can employ to unlock the phone.
The big kid on the block: The iPhone Xs Max.

For some users, size still matters. Apple has introduced its top-of-the-line Apple iPhone Xs Max. Like the XR and Xs, it offers improved speed, battery life and features. But there are significant differences that Apple believes will make this model worth the extra simoleans.

  • The iPhone Xs Max boasts a YUGE 6.5-inch OLED screen. iPhone fans apparently love those bigger screens.
  • Battery-wise, Apple says the Xs Max will run on the biggest battery the company has ever put in an iPhone. The company claims the Xs Max lasts an hour and a half longer after a full charge. As we already noted, however, depending on usage and apps, your mileage may vary.
Oh, and one more thing about the XR and Xs Max…

Both new Xs phones offer dual SIM capability. What that means for Apple customers is that they can now have two phone numbers residing on the same iPhone. That’s a plus for customers that use the phone for business purposes. Now, they can carry both home and work phone lines on just one phone. Alternatively, they can configure the phone to assign the second line to international use — great for globetrotters.

These models are expensive. Are there cheaper alternatives?

Following recent practices, Apple announced they’ll continue to sell the iPhone 7 and 8 models. Somewhat discounted pricing will begin at $499 and $599, respectively. But the baseline iPhone 7 will sell for $449.

And let’s not forget that new Apple Watch Series 4.
iPhone and Apple Watch

Splash screen at illustrating new Apple Watch Series 4 models. Via Apple’s main web pages. Fair use.

The Apple Watch remains Apple’s stealth product. The company hasn’t been breaking out sales on the Apple Watch in its quarterly reports. But word is that sales of this product have been quietly and steadily growing – a growth that’s poised to continue with the introduction of this model.

The significance of the Apple Watch Series 4 is that it’s becoming even more recognizable as a timepiece that’s also very much in a customer’s health. In turn, that’s an area that makes this model even more competitive with FitBit.

Enhanced Apple Watch Series 4 features.

In its latest Apple Watch announcement the company pushed the device’s enhanced fitness tracking and additional health-related features. Here are few basic improvements in the physical watch itself.

  • Apple Watch Series 4 offers a watch face / screen that’s 30 percent larger than the Apple Watch Series 3.
  • Core apps on the Series 4 are redesigned and updated.
  • Users have the option of creating a new, customized watch face.
About those new health enhancements…

Health wise, the Series 4 comes with FDA-vetted advanced heart monitors enabling users to take their own echocardiograms, aka ECGs. The FDA approval, just announced Tuesday, means that the Apple Watch Series 4 is now the first over-the-counter device that can actually take a valid ECG. (Although the FDA doesn’t “endorse” the product, they’re satisfied that it can work as an early indicator of medical issues.

Related software on the Series 4 can additionally alert the wearer if he or she might have a potentially dangers heart condition such as atrial fibrillation. Any Series 4 medical alert, however, should likely be followed up with a medical consultation. And, as with any such device – and even with some medical tests – you can still encounter false positives.

An additional medical feature is a new “fall alert.” The Series 4 has sensors that can perceive and document a fall, something that can be valuable for older Apple Watch wearers, or for customers with certain disabilities.

Apple Watch Series 4 pricing (and Series 3 deals).

The Apple Watch Series 4 models start at $399. That jumps to $499 if you buy a model that offers for cellular connectivity. Other price differentiators include watchbands and case metals and colors. And, of course, for the très fashionable customer, Apple offers designer band and case treatments at, well, “special” prices.

The new Series 4 models are to order starting Friday, September 14, 2018.

For those looking for a deal and not concerned about the Series 4’s new health features, Apple has dropped the base price of its Series 3 watches to  $279. Given the ever-higher pricing of a decent, old-style mechanical or battery-powered watch these days, that’s a pretty good deal.

Owners if Apple (symbol: AAPL) shares: Be on the lookout for the usual rocky ride in this stock whenever it issues a new product announcement.


— Headline image: Apple iPhone: New 2018 model splash screen. Via Apple’s main website. Fair use.


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17