Well that’s it folks — Tim Cook has left the stage, and the special guests have probably settled down with a gin and tonic. Apple’s September 12 event has come and gone, and there’s nary an eye in the house that wasn’t amazed or stunned by Apple’s latest and greatest. With almost 2 billion iOS devices sold, you might have forgiven Apple for resting a little. But it certainly didn’t do that, and we were treated to a cavalcade of new tech and advances.
Apple CEO Cook said this event was going to focus on the tech we carry around with us — and he certainly delivered. This event brought us the most advanced iPhones ever, and the incredible new Apple Watch Series 4. While there was no new MacBook, iMac, or iPad Pro, we don’t think anyone was disappointed. While the hot takes are just beginning to roll in, take a moment to find out everything that Apple announced at its “Gather Round” event.
Apple Watch Series 4
It may have surprised many people that the Apple Watch was number one on the agenda for the event — but Tim Cook wasted no time in pointing out that this wasn’t the only list the Apple Watch was topping. The Apple Watch is not only the world’s top smartwatch — it’s also the number one watch in the entire world.
But that wasn’t the big news — it was the expected release of the new Apple Watch Series 4 that we came for. It’s good news for anyone who’s a fan of the Apple Watch’s distinctive form factor — it’s mostly unchanged from the previous Apple Watch models. While it’s the same shape, the Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a larger screen than previous models. The Series 4 has a 30 percent larger screen than previous entries in the range, without increasing the overall footprint. The Apple Watch Series 4 has slimmed down too, and is a little thinner than the Apple Watch Series 3.
The user interface has been redesigned to take advantage of this larger screen, and apps made for the Apple Watch Series 4 will be able to show more on a single screen. Watch faces have been changed too, including a customizable new watch face that allows users to add contacts, fitness info, or sports teams. The Digital Crown has also seen some improvements, and now comes with haptic feedback for that real watch feel. The speakers have been boosted, delivering louder and crystal-clear sound, while the microphone has been moved in order to not interfere with the improved speaker system. Fans of Apple’s breathing exercise app Breathe will also be able to set a Breathe watch face, making it even easier for them to begin an exercise.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is powered by Apple’s new S4 processor. This 64-bit dual-core processor promises to be twice as fast as the chip in the Apple Watch Series 3, ensuring silky smooth performance. Apple has also tinkered with the internal gyroscope and accelerometer, and the Apple Watch Series 4 can detect when a person falls by tracking the unique movements a person makes when they fall. The watch can then automatically call the emergency services if it detects its owner is unresponsive.
Those aren’t the only new safety features though. Apple is working hard to improve the health and fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch, and tracking a user’s heart rate and health is of particular importance to Apple. The Apple Watch Series 4 now comes with the ability to detect when a user’s heart rate is too slow, or when it’s irregular. It also has the ability to perform an electrocardiogram test.
The electrocardiogram test, or ECG, is a simple test of your heart, and the Apple Watch Series 4 is the first device ever to offer this test to consumers, making it easy and quick to test your heart’s health. This feature has been approved by both the American Heart Association and the Food and Drug Administration, and will roll out around the world later this year. This might seem like a lot of information to be leaving on your watch — but Apple has also stated that all your health and fitness data is encrypted on the device, even when stored in the cloud.
The Apple Watch Series 4 still has a single day’s worth of battery life — but Apple has boosted the time it can be used in its GPS-tracking mode outdoors to six hours. The Apple Watch Series 4 will be available in a dizzying array of colors and finishes, with prices starting from $400 for the GPS model, and $500 for the LTE model. The Apple Watch Series 3 will get a discount too, dropping to $280 from September 12.
You’ll be able to pre-order the Apple Watch Series 4 from September 14, with availability from September 21.
iPhone Xs and Xs Max
There was a piece of good news before Apple started the main event — despite some initial misgivings, the iPhone X has become the number one smartphone in the world, with a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating. Apple is clearly hoping to continue that success with the launch of a new iPhone range based on the iPhone X’s mold — the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max.
The Xs is similar in style to the previous model, with a body made from a blend of surgical-grade stainless steel and glass. It’s been treated with a special gold finish across the metal and the glass, and Apple boasts that the glass itself is the most durable ever put on a smartphone. The iPhone Xs and Xs Max come with an upgraded IP68 rating for dust- and water-resistance — and should be able to resist immersion for up to an hour in water.
Apple has returned to the Super Retina OLED displays for both the Xs and Xs Max. You’ll find a 5.8-inch display on the Xs and a huge 6.5-inch display on the Xs Max. Both displays come with support for HDR10 and Dolby, and measure in at a sharp 458 pixels-per-inch.
It’s the A12 Bionic processor on the inside that’s the real star of the show here, though. This chip is Apple’s next-generation processor, and it’s present in both the iPhone Xs and the Xs Max. It’s the world’s first 7 nanometer chip, and it’s purported to be up to 40 percent faster than the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X. It can process up to 5 trillion operations per second, launches apps 30 percent faster than the A11 Bionic, and provides boosts for augmented reality apps, as well as gaming.
Apple showed this increased power off in a variety of apps, including the new The Elder Scrolls: Blades, the Homecourt AR basketball analysis app, and an AR version of Galaga that can be played with multiple players in real time.
This increased power lends more oomph to the camera as well. Both the iPhone Xs and Xs Max come with a pair of 12-megapixel lenses — one wide-angle lens and one telephoto zoom lens. The increased power from the A12 Bionic processor means the camera has more smarts too. The iPhone Xs range will debut a Smart HDR mode that uses zero shutter lag to take layered and adjusted HDR photos of moving subjects, as well as an improved “Bokeh” background blur that can be altered in the gallery after the shot has been taken. Video has also been improved with extended dynamic range, and selfie fans will appreciate the 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera that provides Portrait mode shots.
The iPhone Xs range has seen a small boost to battery life, with the iPhone Xs running 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X, while the Xs Max churns out 90 minutes more than its predecessor. The iPhone Xs will also introduce a long-awaited dual SIM ability to the iPhone, which can even be used with eSIM cards.
The iPhone Xs and Xs Max will come in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB models, and will be available for pre-order from September 14, and available for purchase from September 21. The iPhone Xs will start at $1,000, while the Xs Max will put you back even more, starting at $1,100. Expect the 512GB models to set you back considerably more.
The iPhone Xs and Xs Max may be some of the most expensive phones we’ve ever seen, but Apple has introduced a new iPhone model to allay the fears of anyone who doesn’t want to spend over $1,000 on a phone — the iPhone Xr.
It’s similar in design to the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, but instead of the stainless steel frame, the Xr comes with a cheaper aluminum frame. The display has also seen something of a downgrade, and you won’t find the Super Retina OLED display on the iPhone Xr. Instead, it’s equipped with what Apple is referring to as the most advanced LCD display ever — the Liquid LCD display. This LCD display mimics the screen-curving of an OLED panel, and while it’s definitely sporting larger bezels than the Xs range, the Xr still has some great style.
There’s only a single camera lens around the back, but Apple is touting the strength of the single 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. It showed off its impressive capabilities — including the background “Bokeh” blur Apple’s cameras are well known for. You’ll find the same FaceID TrueDepth 7-megapixel selfie lens around the front too.
The iPhone Xr won’t see a downgrade in power from its brethren though, and you’ll find the same super-powerful A12 Bionic chip here. It’ll come with options for 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of storage, and it will also have IP67 dust- and water-resistance. The battery was compared to the sizable battery on the iPhone 8 Plus, and Apple claims it’ll last 90 minutes longer than that phone.
The iPhone Xr will be up for pre-order on October 19, and will ship on October 29. It will come in a variety of different colors, including white, black, blue, coral, and yellow — and a Product Red version too. However, “cheaper” is a relative term, and the iPhone Xr will set you back at least $750.
Apple barreled through the rest of its announcements once the Apple Watch Series 4 and iPhones were unveiled, but there were some interesting tidbits.
Apple announced that it now runs fully on 100 percent renewable energy, and is constantly trying to find new ways to reuse and recycle old materials. The logic boards on the new iPhones are made with recycled tin, and many of the plastics have been replaced with recycled and bio-based plastics. This dedication to long-lasting software and hardware has been reinforced with a new program called Apple GiveBack, which lets users sell their old devices back to Apple, which will then either repurpose them for new users or recycle them into new phones.
Finally, Cook briefly mentioned that Apple’s Homepod is being updated with support for speakerphone calls, as well as new abilities, including being able to find errant iPhones. Apple TV is also getting updates, with support for Dolby Atmos. MacOS Mojave also got a brief mention, and Cook confirmed that the new update, which adds Dark mode and an improved Finder and Store among other improvements, would drop on September 24.