The legendary co-founder of Apple, Inc., Steve Jobs, detested big phones and wouldn’t produce them. His successor, Tim Cook, apparently felt differently; borrowed a leaf from Samsung’s playbook on big phones, and produced iPhone 6S, which is the first large-screen iPhone.
The result was the astronomical rise in Apple’s capitalization; thanks in part to the then newly-bred middle class in China. Now it seems that Apple can’t stop! One of the iPhones unveiled last week Wednesday, 12 September 2018; called iPhone XS Max, would be the biggest iPhone ever, with a diagonal of 6.5 inches. It is also the most expensive phone that Apple has ever produced. People love large-screen smartphones, the same way they love large-screen TVs. Research has shown that people with larger phones use them more.
Besides the XS Max, the XS and XR models were also unveiled at last week’s event. The XS is like the regular annual upgrade, to iPhone X in this case. This is basically the new iPhone. The XS Max is the larger version of this, or the upgrade of iPhone X Plus, while XR is a budget-friendly version of the new phone. The XR could also be seen as reincarnation of iPhone SE, which was the relatively cheap, reduced-capability, and unsuccessful iPhone. The XS has a 5.8-inch display, while XR has 6.1 inches.
The starting prices for XS Max, XS, and XR are $1099, $999, and $749, respectively, for US consumers. The XS models will have disk storage options of 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB; while XR will have 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB. Note that with a 5.8-inch-diagonal screen, XS is taller than the old iPhone 8 Plus, which has 5.5 inches. The prices of XS Max for 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB are $1,099, $1,249, and $1,449, respectively. The corresponding prices for XS are $999, $1,149, and $1,349. As for XR, the 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB phones will cost $749, $799, and $899, respectively.
The materials of the phones are stainless steel for the XS models and aluminum for XR. The XS versions have dual Rear cameras whereas XR has a single Rear camera. All Rear cameras are 12 megapixels (12 Mp). All the models have a 7 Mp Front camera. The phones also come with Face ID facial recognition for unlocking the device. The XR comes in a range of 6 colors.
The XS models have OLED screens while XR has an edge-to-edge LED screen. All the phones have a more powerful engine relative to the previous iPhone versions. Olivia Solon has this to say about the new engine, in her 12 September 2018 article in The (UK) Guardian: “All three devices also come with a more powerful ‘A12 Bionic’ processor which allows developers to build more sophisticated video games, augmented reality experiences and other apps with real-time features that couldn’t previously run on a mobile device. Apple demonstrated one app, HomeCourt that uses the camera viewfinder to track and analyze basketball shots to provide real-time feedback that can help players improve their technique.”
Apple’s Kaiann Drance is also quoted as saying “No other chip in the world would allow you to do this.” Pre-ordering started Friday, 14 September 2018 for XS and XS Max, and the devices ship on 21 September 2018. For XR, you can pre-order on 19 October 2018, while the device ships on 24 October 2018.
The device names XS and XS Max are clumsy and difficult to pronounce. They are tongue-twisters. I am surprised that Apple, with its Insanely Simple philosophy, would accept these names for their devices. Jobs must be turning in his grave. Besides the difficulty in pronouncing the names of the new phones, the names themselves are not intuitive. Of course, the confusion started last year when, instead of calling the then new device iPhone 9, it was named iPhone X. Even then, the “X” is not pronounced as “X,” but rather as “ten.” These aren’t “simple.”
In terms of which model I would recommend, the XS models are quite pricey, which makes the XR attractive; especially with a screen size that is right between those of XS and XS Max. However, the XR has fewer pixels per square meter – 326 compared to 458 for the XS models. This means that pictures with XR will not look as sharp as they would on the XS models. With only one 12 Mp camera, XR will not offer the stabilization of images as do the XS models, which have dual cameras. (Note that dual lens cameras allow for better portraits and higher quality videos even in low light.)
The optical zoom and depth control features are also not as decent in XR compared to the XS models. Furthermore, XR is waterproof up to one meter, compared to two meters for the XS’s. The XR also does not have 3D Touch capability that allows quick access to “deeper” phone features. If you are obsessed with having superb quality pictures, you probably will not go for XR.