MAK­ING SENSE OF AP­PLE'S NEW IPHONES

WHAT DO THE XR, XS & XS MAX BRING TO THE TA­BLE?

iPhone Life Magazine - - Around The Office - BY DAVID AVERBACH

When Ap­ple re­leased the orig­i­nal iPhone back in 2007, you had three mod­els to choose from: 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB. Those were sim­pler times. There was only one color (black), and it was sold on one car­rier (AT&T). While there was no App Store, Siri, or iCloud, there were also very few de­ci­sions you had to nav­i­gate. Fast for­ward to this Septem­ber when Ap­ple an­nounced its new prod­uct lineup at the Steve Jobs the­ater, and the tech gi­ant an­nounced three new iPhones— the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR. Each phone has a unique set of trade­offs to an­a­lyze, not to men­tion the fact that Ap­ple still sells the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7. If you count all the gen­er­a­tions, sizes, stor­age op­tions, and col­ors Ap­ple cur­rently of­fers, you now have 69 dif­fer­ent iPhones to choose from. Thank­fully, we're here to walk you through all the new de­vices and help you fig­ure out which one is right for you.

The Over­lap: Com­mon Fea­tures of the iPhone XR, XS & XS Max

Be­fore we an­a­lyze the dif­fer­ences be­tween Ap­ple's new phones, let's take a look at the sim­i­lar­i­ties. First and fore­most, all three of the new iPhones have edge-to-edge dis­plays. That means Ap­ple has of­fi­cially killed off the Home but­ton and re­placed Touch ID with Face ID. While Ap­ple is still sell­ing the iPhone 7 and 8, it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore the Home but­ton goes the way of the head­phone jack, which, with the re­tir­ing of the iPhone 6s, is now un­avail­able on any iPhone. We cre­ated a poll in iPhone Life's pri­vate Face­book group, and 73 per­cent of peo­ple said they wouldn't miss the Home but­ton. Per­son­ally, I've been us­ing the iPhone X for a year now, and while it took some time to ad­just, I don't miss the Home but­ton, and I love hav­ing the larger screen. A lot of peo­ple have com­plained about Face ID, but I've found it to be pretty re­li­able. While it's not quite as con­sis­tent as Touch ID is now, it's easy to for­get how glitchy fin­ger­print tech­nol­ogy used to be when Ap­ple first re­leased it. All in all, I think re­mov­ing the Home but­ton from all iPhone mod­els is a move in the right di­rec­tion.

All three of the new iPhones now sup­port dual SIM cards. There are sev­eral use cases for this fea­ture. Hav­ing two SIM cards means you can set up two sep­a­rate num­bers on your de­vice, mak­ing it easy to man­age your work and home num- ber on one phone. An­other use case is for peo­ple who travel in­ter­na­tion­ally. It's typ­i­cally cheaper to pur­chase a lo­cal SIM card in the coun­try you're visit­ing rather than sign up for an in­ter­na­tional plan with a car­rier. Sup­port­ing dual SIM cards means you can use a lo­cal SIM for data, text, and calls, but still have your pri­mary num­ber avail­able in case of emer­gency. For the many peo­ple who fall into ei­ther of these cat­e­gories and who have been forced to use two phones or con­stantly swap SIM cards for the past decade, hav­ing the dual SIM op­tion will be a game-changer. But for the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple, this fea­ture won't be an im­por­tant fac­tor when up­grad­ing de­vices, and may not even be one most of us no­tice.

Per­haps the most im­por­tant update Ap­ple an­nounced was the A12 Bionic pro­ces­sor, which will be in­cluded in all three new iPhones. Dur­ing the key­note, Ap­ple ex­ec­u­tive Phil Schiller an­nounced that the A12 is the in­dus­try's first 7-nanome­ter chip, mak­ing it not only smaller but “with­out ques­tion the smartest and most pow­er­ful chip ever in a smart­phone,” Schiller said. Hav­ing a smaller chip al­lows the pro­ces­sors to func­tion more ef­fi­ciently while us­ing less power. The end re­sult is that per­for­mance is up 15 per­cent, and the chip will use 40 per­cent less power than the A11 chip used. For the end user, that means that apps will open quicker, and your phone will have a longer bat­tery life. A more pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor also al­lows the iPhone to sup­port more power-in­ten­sive apps, such as aug­mented re­al­ity and graphic-heavy games.

“EACH PHONE HAS A UNIQUE SET OF TRADE­OFFS TO AN­A­LYZE.”

iPhone XS

• Price: Start­ing at $999 • Avail­abil­ity: Septem­ber 21 • Fin­ish choices: Gold, Sil­ver, Space Gray • Dis­play size: 5.8 inches • Dis­play type: Su­per Retina edge-to-edge OLED with True Tone and 3D Touch • Wa­ter­proof rat­ing: IP68 wa­ter re­sis­tance in up to two me­ters for up to 30 min­utes (as op­posed to one me­ter for the iPhone X and XR) • Stor­age ca­pac­ity: 64 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB • Pro­ces­sor: A12 Bionic chip with next-gen­er­a­tion Neu­ral En­gine • Bat­tery: Lasts up to 30 min­utes longer than iPhone X • Charg­ing: Wire­less and Light­ning port • Dual SIM: Nano-SIM and eSIM • Cam­era: 60 per­cent greater dy­namic range for photo color than the iPhone X, dual wide-an­gle and tele­photo lens, Smart HDR, Wide Color Cap­ture, 2X op­ti­cal zoom and auto im­age sta­bi­liza­tion • Video: 4K HD video record­ing with ex­tended dy­namic range and four mi­cro­phones for stereo record­ing

iPhone XR

• Price: Start­ing at $749 • Avail­abil­ity: Pre­order Oc­to­ber 19, Ships Oc­to­ber 26 • Fin­ish choices: Red, Yel­low, White, Coral, Black, Blue • Dis­play size: 6.1 inches • Dis­play type: Liq­uid Retina edge-to-edge LCD with True Tone • Wa­ter­proof rat­ing: IP67 wa­ter re­sis­tance in up to one me­ter for up to 30 min­utes • Stor­age ca­pac­ity: 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB • Pro­ces­sor: A12 Bionic chip with next-gen­er­a­tion Neu­ral En­gine • Bat­tery: Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus • Charg­ing: Wire­less and Light­ning port • Dual SIM: Nano-SIM and eSIM • Cam­era: Wide-an­gle lens, Smart HDR, Wide Color Cap­ture, and auto im­age sta­bi­liza­tion • Video: 4K HD video record­ing with ex­tended dy­namic range and four mi­cro­phones for stereo record­ing

iPhone XS Max

• Price: Start­ing at $1,099 • Avail­abil­ity: Septem­ber 21 • Fin­ish choices: Gold, Sil­ver, Space Gray • Dis­play size: 6.5 inches • Dis­play type: Su­per Retina edge-to-edge OLED with True Tone and 3D Touch • Wa­ter­proof rat­ing: IP68 wa­ter re­sis­tance in up to two me­ters for up to 30 min­utes • Stor­age ca­pac­ity: 64 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB • Pro­ces­sor: A12 Bionic chip with next-gen­er­a­tion Neu­ral En­gine • Bat­tery: Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone X • Charg­ing: Wire­less and Light­ning port • Dual SIM: Nano-SIM and eSIM • Cam­era: 60 per­cent greater dy­namic range for photo color than the iPhone X, dual wide-an­gle and tele­photo lens, Smart HDR, Wide Color Cap­ture, 2X op­ti­cal zoom and auto im­age sta­bi­liza­tion • Video: 4K HD video record­ing with ex­tended dy­namic range and four mi­cro­phones for stereo record­ing

The A12 Bionic chip also fea­tures a beefed-up neu­ral en­gine ca­pa­ble of pro­cess­ing five tril­lion oper­a­tions a sec­ond. The neu­ral en­gine pow­ers your phone's ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) and func­tions such as Face ID, Siri, and An­i­moji. Ap­ple is lever­ag­ing the new-and-im­proved neu­ral en­gine to help it process pho­tos, in­clud­ing a fea­ture called Smart HDR. With Smart HDR, every time you take a photo, Ap­ple is ac­tu­ally com­bin­ing four sep­a­rate im­ages taken at dif­fer­ent ex­po­sures and us­ing AI to se­lect the best parts of each photo. Us­ing AI to im­prove pho­tos is an emerg­ing field called com­pu­ta­tional pho­tog­ra­phy and Google has been lever­ag­ing sim­i­lar tech­niques in its Pixel phone. The Google Pixel has been widely con­sid­ered the best smart­phone cam­era, and Ap­ple is play­ing catch-up when it comes to com­pu­ta­tional pho­tog­ra­phy. Nonethe­less, uti­liz­ing a neu­ral net­work for pho­tog­ra­phy will make a huge dif­fer­ence in photo qual­ity of the new iPhones.

In ad­di­tion to uti­liz­ing com­pu­ta­tional pho­tog­ra­phy, the new iPhones also have an im­proved cam­era sys­tem. While the ac­tual lenses on the iPhone XS re­main the same as the iPhone X, there is a new sen­sor that will al­low for greater light sen­si­tiv­ity. This will be par­tic­u­larly help­ful for low-light pho­tog­ra­phy. The cam­era also has a next-gen­er­a­tion True Tone flash. Both the new sen­sor and the new flash are avail­able on all three iPhone mod­els. The dual cam­era lens is only avail­able on the iPhone XS and XS Max (more on that later).

iPhone XR: Stand­out Fea­tures

As men­tioned above, the iPhone XR comes with the A12 Bionic chip. It sports a 6.1-inch edge-to-edge dis­play, which is slightly larger than the 5.8inch dis­play of the iPhone XS. How­ever, the dis­play is LCD as op­posed to OLED. It is a new high-qual­ity dis­play that Ap­ple is call­ing Liq­uid Retina, which they claim is the best LCD in the in­dus­try. OLED tech­nol­ogy, how­ever, of­fers sev­eral ad­van­tages over LCD. OLED dis­plays use less power than LCD dis­plays and of­fer more vivid col­ors and bet­ter con­trast. The fi­nal caveat with the iPhone XR screen is that for some rea­son Ap­ple is not in­clud­ing 3D Touch. While 3D Touch is not a fea­ture I use too of­ten, I think I would miss not hav­ing it.

The iPhone XR comes with only one rear-fac­ing cam­era, although it still of­fers a ver­sion of Por­trait Mode thanks to a soft­ware so­lu­tion (Google has taken a sim­i­lar ap­proach with the Pixel). The cam­era has the same new sen­sors as the iPhone XS but does not have the 2X op­ti­cal zoom. It re­mains to be seen, how the soft­ware Por­trait Mode of the iPhone XR com­pares to the two-cam­era Por­trait Mode of the iPhone XS. Per­son­ally, I re­ally like hav­ing the iPhone 2X op­ti­cal zoom on my iPhone X and would miss not hav­ing it. I also use Por­trait Mode a lot and am con­cerned that it would be in­fe­rior on the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR comes in six color op­tions: Black, White Red, Yel­low, Blue, and Coral. Ap­ple tra­di­tion­ally doesn't of­fer bright col­ors for its flag­ship phones, so these are pretty unique. Be­cause edge-to-edge dis­plays are ex­pen­sive to fix, though, I cover my phone in a pro­tec­tive case. There­fore, I'm not very con­cerned about col­ors, since I'll rarely see them. A lot of peo­ple in our of­fice, how­ever, were ex­cited about get­ting the blue ver­sion. The iPhone XR is made of alu­minum in­stead of stain­less steel. While stain­less steel is a lit­tle stronger, I don't think it's a very im­por­tant de­cid­ing fac­tor.

iPhone XS: Stand­out Fea­tures

The iPhone XS is an up­graded iPhone X—it has the same form fac­tor, the same 5.8-inch edge-to-edge dis­play, and the same price. The ma­jor dif­fer­ences from the iPhone X are the ones al­ready out­lined; it has an up­graded pro­ces­sor and up­graded cam­era. The iPhone XS and XS Max also have a 512 GB stor­age op­tion (twice the ca­pac­ity of the 256 GB op­tion on the lat­est Plus phone). Most peo­ple will not need the 512 GB op­tion, but if you are a con­tent cre­ator who shoots video in 4K or you take a huge num­ber of pho­tos, this will be a valu­able op­tion for you. It also means that 256 GB of stor­age is cheaper for ev­ery­one.

“THE IPHONE XR IS LIKELY THE BEST PHONE FOR MOST PEO­PLE.” “THE IPHONE XS IS THE AWK­WARD MID­DLE CHILD OF THE IPHONE FAM­ILY.”

iPhone XS Max: Stand­out Fea­tures

Two years ago, Ap­ple re­leased the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus had a beau­ti­ful large dis­play but had an even larger form fac­tor, which made it a lit­tle bulky. I opted for the Plus be­cause of the larger dis­play, even though I didn't like how big it was. Then came the iPhone X. The edge-to-edge dis­play al­lowed the iPhone X to have a big dis­play like the iPhone 7 Plus and also a smaller form fac­tor that looks closer to the iPhone 7. Es­sen­tially, it al­lowed me to have my cake and eat it too. The iPhone XS Max has a sim­i­lar-sized form fac­tor as the iPhone 7 Plus but has an edge-to-edge dis­play like the iPhone X (and XS). This means go­ing back to a slightly bulkier form fac­tor, but in ex­change you get a beau­ti­ful 6.5-inch OLED dis­play. The kicker is that it's only $100 more than the iPhone XS. Other than the larger size, the iPhone XS Max has vir­tu­ally the same specs as the iPhone XS. The only other dis­cern­able dif­fer­ence is that the bat­tery life is very slightly longer on the iPhone XS max.

Buyer’s Guide: Which iPhone Is Right for You?

The iPhone XR is likely the best phone for most peo­ple. It's a great bal­ance be­tween price and fea­tures. At $750, it's hard to call it a bud­get phone, but it's still $250 less than the iPhone XS and has an ex­cel­lent fea­ture set. If you are in the mar­ket for a new iPhone but don't feel that you need all the bells and whis­tles, then you can't go wrong with the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XS is the awk­ward mid­dle child of the iPhone fam­ily. It's not as cheap as the iPhone XR and it doesn't have the enor­mous screen of the iPhone XS Max. De­pend­ing on your pref­er­ences, it might hit the sweet spot of fea­tures. It comes down to how much you care about the OLED dis­play and the dual cam­era. If you're will­ing to pay a pre­mium for the OLED dis­play and the dual cam­era sys­tem but don't need a huge screen, then the iPhone XS is a great choice. The iPhone XS is also slightly thin­ner and lighter than the iPhone XR, which is nice.

How you feel about the iPhone XS Max comes down to how ex­cited you are about a larger screen. While, at $1,099, the iPhone XS Max is the most ex­pen­sive iPhone ever made, the $100 price hike from the XS feels rea­son­able for an OLED dis­play that large. In talk­ing to our read­ers, I dis­cov­ered that a lot of peo­ple find the larger screens to be eas­ier on their eyes. If you are in that camp or if you sim­ply watch a lot of videos on your phone, then this might be the per­fect de­vice for you. For some though, the larger form fac­tor is a ma­jor in­con­ve­nience. Not only is it more dif­fi­cult to fit your phone into your pocket or a purse, it's also go­ing to be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to use the phone with one hand.

Many peo­ple were hold­ing out un­til the an­nounce­ment, hop­ing they would be able to pur­chase the iPhone X at a dis­counted rate. In­ter­est­ingly, Ap­ple has dis­con­tin­ued sales of the iPhone X. My per­sonal opin­ion is that if you have an iPhone X, the only rea­son to up­grade de­vices this year is if you want the 6.5-inch dis­play on the Max. The im­proved cam­era and pro­ces­sor will make a dif­fer­ence, but they aren't im­proved enough to jus­tify the cost of up­grad­ing from the iPhone X.

Ap­ple is con­tin­u­ing to sell the iPhone 7 (start­ing at $449) and iPhone 8 (start­ing at $599). I wouldn't rec­om­mend pur­chas­ing ei­ther of these phones. The iPhone 7 has a pro­ces­sor which is now two gen­er­a­tions old. If you're go­ing to in­vest in a new phone, buy­ing one with tech­nol­ogy that's al­ready a cou­ple of years be­hind doesn't seem wise. The iPhone 8 still has a pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor and is a great phone, but it's only $150 cheaper than the iPhone XR, which in my opin­ion is a much bet­ter phone. The main rea­son to pur­chase an iPhone 8 over the iPhone XR (other than price) is if you are at­tached to the Home but­ton and Touch ID.

“WHILE, AT $1,099, THE IPHONE XS MAX IS THE MOST EX­PEN­SIVE IPHONE EVER MADE, THE $100 PRICE HIKE FROM THE XS FEELS REA­SON­ABLE FOR AN OLED DIS­PLAY THAT LARGE.”

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