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iPhone XS, XS Max and XR: 10 things you need to know

iPhone XS XR Malaysia

Apple has announced 3 new iPhone models this morning and it will be available for pre-order in first wave countries starting tomorrow. If you want a TL;DR version of what’s new, here are 10 things you need to know.

The new iPhone X trio for 2018

After releasing the iPhone X a year ago, Apple has introduced two updated versions that’s called the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS has the same 5.8” Super Retina HD display while the iPhone XS Max is a much larger device that features a 6.5” Super Retina HD display. In terms of specs, both are identical and the iPhone XS Max has a similar footprint as a typical 5.5” iPhone 8 Plus.

The third model is the iPhone XR and this is positioned as an affordable alternative which comes with a 6.1” IPS LCD display that has a pixel density of 326 ppi (pixels per inch). As a comparison, the more premium iPhone XS and XS Max are pushing a higher pixel density of 458 ppi (pixels per inch) on an OLED panel. It’s also worth pointing out that the iPhone XR’s display doesn’t support 3D Touch.

New Colours

For the iPhone XS and XS Max, both are available in Silver, Space Grey and Gold. For the iPhone XR, you get a total of 6 options namely, Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral and Red.

All-new 7nm chip

Powering all three models is Apple’s new A12 Bionic Chip. It’s manufactured on a 7nm process and it has a hexa-core CPU that claims to be up to 15% faster while being up to 50% more power efficient that its previous A11 Bionic chip. The updated 4-core GPU offers up to 50% faster performance and it also gets a new Neural Engine that can perform real-time machine learning tasks up to 9x faster than the A11 Bionic chip.

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512GB of storage

Last year, Apple had offered 256GB of storage for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. For those who demand more storage, Apple is now offering 512GB which is the largest storage capacity for an iPhone. This is available only for the iPhone XS and XS Max, while the iPhone XR maxes out at 256GB.

Updated Rear Cameras

The cameras on the iPhone XS and and iPhone XS Max have been upgraded with a newer sensor. While it still retains the same 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens as the iPhone X, the latest models have a larger 1.4-micron pixel size which should offer better low light performance when compared to the current iPhone X’s 1.22-micron pixel size.

The new portrait mode now allows you to adjust the amount of bokeh from f/1.4 to f/16, and there’s a new Smart HDR mode which replaces its current Auto HDR setup.

The iPhone XR also shares the same 12MP f/1.8 main camera but it doesn’t come with a secondary tele-photo shooter. However, it still gets OIS and it can take portrait mode shots from a single camera.

4K Video recording with stereo sound

The iPhone XS, XS Max and XR are capable of shooting 4K videos with up to 60 fps and it can capture 240fps slow-mo in 1080p resolution. The latest iPhone models can record audio in stereo and it can also playback audio in stereo with a wider sound separation.

IP68 dust and water resistance

The iPhone XS and XS Max come with an IP68 rating. According to Apple, these devices can withstand being submerged up to 2 metres deep for not more than 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the more affordable iPhone XR retains the same IP67 rating as the previous models. This allows submersion of up to 1 metre for not more than 30 minutes.

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Slight improvement in battery life

With the newer A12 chip, the iPhone offers slightly more battery life compared to its predecessors. According to Apple, the iPhone XS can last up to 30 minutes longer while the iPhone XS Max can last up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X. Meanwhile, the 6.1” iPhone XR’s battery life is said to be 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. Apple don’t usually disclose the actual battery capacity for the iPhone so we probably need to wait for a teardown to find out.

Dual SIM

For the first time for Apple, they are finally offering dual SIM capability for the iPhone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean you can slot in two of your SIM cards at the same time. For global markets, the iPhone will allow you to enable a secondary mobile provider via an eSIM which is only supported by selected telcos. Only Chinese units will be able to support two physical SIM cards at the same time.

No Fast Charger included

The latest iPhone models can support fast charging but you’ll need to purchase additional accessories. By default, Apple is still supplying the same 5W charger and if you intend to juice up your iPhone XS, XS Max and XR quickly, you’ll need a USB-PD charger and a USB-C to lightning cable. With this setup, you can charge from 0-50% in just 30 minutes. The new iPhone models also support Qi Wireless Charging.

Based on Singapore’s pricing, the iPhone XS is expected to be priced from around RM5,000 while its top of the line iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage could hover around the RM7,000 mark. Meanwhile, the iPhone XR is likely to be priced from around RM3,700, similar to the iPhone 8 at the time of launch. In terms of availability, we expect Apple to release the iPhone XS and XS Max in Malaysia officially as early as mid-October, while the cheaper iPhone XR could go on sale the following month.

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Alexander Wong