Apple iPhone XS: News, release, specs, and more

The iPhone X is growing up. Meet the iPhone XS and XS Max

It’s official, Apple has a new range of iPhone models for 2018, and has announced them and plenty more during a special event held at its futuristic Apple Campus in Cupertino, California. Rumors galore were rampant ahead of the event, telling us we should expect three new phones, and a new Apple Watch, too.

Sure enough, that’s what we got — the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR. You can read more about the iPhone XR here, and the Apple Watch Series 4 here, but carry on here for everything about the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

The iPhone XS is the first new iPhone to launch, and it’s the sequel to 2017’s iPhone X, which means it has an almost bezel-less 5.8-inch screen with a notch at the top. It has a Super Retina, OLED screen that measures 5.8 inches and has a 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution, for a 458 pixel-per-inch (PPI) density.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s joined by a model with a 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED screen, which Apple calls the iPhone XS Max. The resolution is increased to 2,688 x 1,242 pixels and matches the iPhone XS’s 458ppi density. The new models come in gold, silver, and space grey, and the body has an IP68 water-resistance rating. The glass is also new, with a higher durability rating. Like the iPhone X, Apple calls this the iPhone 10, with the X being a Roman numeral.

Each is powered by a new version of Apple’s A-series processor — the A12 Bionic. The company says it’s the first mobile processor built using a 7 nanometer (nm) process, beating the Huawei Kirin 980, which has been announced but not released yet. It contains a dizzying 6.9 billion transistors, can process 5 trillion operations each second, and has up to 512GB of storage memory. The A12 Bionic is a six-core CPU with two dedicated to high-performance tasks, and is 15 percent faster and has 40 percent lower power consumption than the previous generation. The four remaining cores are for efficiency and consume 50 percent less power.

iPhone XS and XS Max cameras

The iPhone XS and XS Max have new cameras. The main six-element lens has a new 12-megapixel, wide-angle sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, and a 1.4nm pixel size. The second telephoto lens also has 12 megapixels with OIS, a 2x optical zoom, and an f/2.4 aperture. The front camera has a new 7-megapixel RGB sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, plus an IR camera and a structured light transmitter for Face ID and animojis. For video, the front camera shoots 1080p at 60fps with video stabilization.

iphone xs max and xr photo galleries apple hands on 4

Smart HDR is a new camera feature that goes a step beyond the HDR mode we’re already familiar with. Here, multiple images are captured almost instantly, at the same time, and all at different exposures, shadow levels, and more. The software and new A12 Bionic chip merge them into one photo for the best results. Apple has also improved the bokeh blurred background effect, which is helped by the A12 Bionic chip, and there is a new depth setting to change the level of blur in the background. This is activated using a slider in the camera app.

Apple has boosted the iPhone XS battery life. With a 2,716 mAh battery, you’ll get 30 minutes more time from the iPhone X on the iPhone XS, and a 3,174 mAh battery will give you 90 minutes more from the iPhone XS Max. Apple also says it has improved the wireless charging but has not gone into detail about how.

Other features include Gigabit-class LTE and dual-SIM with dual-standby technology. This uses eSIM, just like the iPad and Apple Watch, so there is no need to put in an extra physical SIM. In China, the eSIM option won’t be offered; instead, a traditional dual-SIM phone will be sold. The phones will also have Bluetooth 5.0, wider stereo sound from the speakers and stereo recording for video.

iPhone XR

The third new iPhone is the iPhone XR, which is the more affordable model, but it’s still no budget phone. It has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD screen, which Apple calls the most advanced LCD display available, and it has a 1792 x 828 pixel resolution for a 326ppi density. There’s no 3D Touch, but Apple has added a similar feature it calls Haptic Touch, which provides clever shortcuts, just like the full 3D Touch feature. It shares the same camera, Face ID system, and A12 Bionic chip with the iPhone XS range, while the 2,942 mAh battery promises 90 minutes longer use than the iPhone 8 Plus.

iPhone XS
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You can read more about the iPhone XR in our guide.

Price and release date

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will be available for pre-order on September 14, and go on sale September 21, through Apple stores and other retailers. The iPhone XS starts at $1,000 and the iPhone XS Max at $1,100. Expect to pay considerably more for the biggest 512GB versions.

The iPhone XR comes in October and starts at $750. Apple will continue selling the $450 iPhone 7 and $600 iPhone 8.

Updated on September 12, 2018: Added all the news from the Apple event.

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