Following months of rumours and leaks (including revealing all the product variants the day of the big show) Apple CEO Tim Cook finally took to the stage at his ‘Gather Round’ event this week to launch the official 2018 iPhone range and brand-new Apple Watch Series 4.
Details and Implications:
iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max: The new iPhone Xs (starting at $999) and the iPhone Xs Max (starting at $1099) is the most expensive and biggest iPhone ever with a 6.5 inch display. Improvements include increased water resistance, a more durable glass screen and updated cameras with True Tone flash, a larger sensor in the back camera and a faster sensor in the front-facing camera. It can also alter the depth-of-field of a photo, effectively changing the background focus – even after the photo has been taken.
The Xs phones run on the Apple A12 Bionic chip, which the company boasts is the most powerful yet, with processing cores reserved for neural processing – something key to artificial intelligence. This means Face ID will work faster and it will have a longer battery charge than the X. It also provides opportunities for app developers to harness this faster power to make more powerful apps.
Last, but certainly not least, both models have dual-SIM technology meaning the devices can support two mobile contracts. In most countries this will be through a physical SIM card in addition to an e-SIM which can be activated by QR codes. Dual SIMs give users the convenience of having separate personal and business numbers on the same phone, an additional line when travelling internationally, and/or the opportunity to purchase a separate data plan. In China, e-SIM is not supported, so the SIM tray supports two physical SIM cards instead.
iPhone XR: The somewhat more affordable iPhone XR was also launched (starting at $749) and boasts wireless charging and Face ID authentication. It has a 6.1 inch screen and is available in six different colours (white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red). However, the screen is of a lower quality than the Xs and Xs Max (LCD rather than OLED) and its chassis is made from aluminium rather than steel, making it less damage-resistant.
Apple Watch Series 4: The Apple Watch Series 4 (starting at $399 for GPS, $499 for cellular) was also unveiled. The watch has a 30% larger display useful for showing a handful of new faces that show more information and stretch all the way to the edges of the display. The body of the watch has also been made thinner and haptic feedback has been added, meaning users will feel a slight vibration as they scroll through content.
But the big news here was its new health features which are a huge upgrade for the device. For the first time, the device can measure electrical activity of the heart through sensors and can detect irregular heart rate. Using an in-built gyroscope, the device can also detect when someone falls. If either of these events occur, the device can call emergency services.
It is exciting to see advances in the iPhone’s capabilities and also to see Apple designing for an older demographic (we assume) with the new features in Watch. There is some talk that the move to e-SIM will accelerate price competition between Network Operators, purely by removing some of the physical barriers to switching networks. From an advertiser point of view, the larger screen real estate and the more powerful processor should power a new era of more engaging and hopefully useful apps and from the early examples (Homecourt) there is certainly scope for more apps that connect the real and virtual worlds, especially around sports and health brands.
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