Apple unveiled three new versions of the iPhone today, with plenty of hyperbole, some new capabilities under the hood and demonstration of apps and games that will move the smartphone wars ahead another step.
In an event at Apple’s spaceship-like campus in Cupertino, Calif. Wednesday, the company revealed the new smartphones. The Xs is pronounced like 10-S, not excess — though there was plenty of that on stage — features a 5.8-inch “plus-size” display. The phone itself is smaller than an iPhone 8, but it actually has a larger display.
Then there’s the Xs Max with a 6.5-inch display. Similar in size to the Plus versions of previous iPhones and competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Note, but the screen takes up a larger chunk of the phone, making it the “biggest display ever on an iPhone,” Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple.
The Xs and Xs Max both have longer battery life than last year’s iPhone X. They come in three capacities: 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. The Xs starts at $999, and the Xs Max costs $100 more.
The Xr features a 6.1-inch display and comes in a variety of new colors. It has a “liquid retina” LCD display that the Xs and Xs Max models don’t have. It starts at $749 for a 64GB version, and there are also 128GB and 256GB versions.
Apple will start taking preorders for Xs and Xs Max Friday, and they will begin shipping a week later on Sept. 21. The Xr will be available about a month later than the other two models, with orders starting Oct. 19, and it will ship a week later.
The phones support dual SIM cards, which means people can put two phone numbers or phone plans on the same phone.
In addition to the phones, Apple announced the next generation of the Apple Watch, complete with a surprising new feature approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that allows users to gather and track heart data.
Executives spent a lot of time boasting about the A12 Bionic chip that powers the new phones. Schiller called it the “smartest and most powerful chip ever in a smartphone.” Customers will see a benefit, with storage of up to 512GB on the new iPhones as well as an enhanced machine learning engine.
The phone specs were leaked hours prior to the event, but Apple managed to gin up some extra interest with a deleted Tweet by CEO Tim Cook that read “No. Who can get it here quickly?” It appears to have played into a Mission Impossible-style video of an Air Pod-wearing person racing across campus to deliver a briefcase to Cook that turned out to carry the clicker for today’s presentation.
Apple also showed off several interesting new capabilities of the new lines of phones, including augmented reality and games. Newly minted Basketball Hall Of Famer Steve Nash appeared on stage to show off an app called HomeCourt that tracks several shooting metrics such as release time, shooting percentage and how accurate players are from different parts of the court.
The new releases by Apple kick off a busy season of releases from the world’s top tech companies. Microsoft is hosting an event in New York on Oct. 2, where it is expected to show off the latest in its line of Surface devices. Google is expected to unveil the third generation of its Pixel smartphone on Oct. 9.