Apple’s Phil Schiller took the wraps off Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup today, showing off the much-anticipated successors to last year’s iPhone X — the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS is essentially a direct upgrade from the iPhone X, featuring the same basic size, form factor, and 5.8-inch OLED “Super Retina” display. The iPhone XS Max becomes the modern OLED successor to Apple’s “Plus” models, although in this case it includes all of the same features of its smaller sibling, merely expanding the screen to a 6.5-inch diagonal, in the same general physical dimensions of an iPhone 8 Plus.
Both models are made from surgical grade stainless steel, and now feature a gold version in addition to the same silver and space gray available with last year’s iPhone X. Schiller also added that the new glass formulation makes it even more durable than before, and Apple has taken the waterproofing up a notch with an IP68 rating this year, conducting testing with a wide variety of liquids.
Other than the size difference, both models feature the same Super Retina OLED display, with a 485ppi display density. The iPhone XS has a resolution of 2436 x 1125, while the iPhone XS Max comes in at 2688 x 1242 simply due to its larger size. Both displays boast a 60 percent greater dynamic range than the iPhone, while featuring the same high contrast ratio, HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10, True Tone display, wide color support, and 120Hz refresh rate.
Schiller also briefly touched on improved sound in the XS and XS Max, suggesting that the new models feature “wider stereo sound” due to better speakers and software improvements, although he didn’t elaborate further on the technology. Likewise, he noted Face ID improvements resulting from faster algorithms and a faster secure enclave.
Both new models are powered by Apple’s latest “A12 Bionic” series chip, which is the industry’s first 7nm chip — a six-core CPU and four-core GPU featuring 6.9 billion transistors. Two performance cores provide up to 15 percent faster performance over last year’s A11 with 40 percent lower power consumption, while the four efficiency cores run at 50 percent less power than the A11. The four-core GPU also boasts up to 50 percent faster performance. The Neutral engine is now an eight-core processor that can process up to 5 trillion operations per second. The storage processor in the A12’s system-on-a-chip (SoC) is also now capable of addressing up to 512 GB of internal storage, opening the door for a higher-capacity model.
The new Neural Engine in the A12 allows for real-time machine learning processing, which will allow apps like the Camera to enhance Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting features, mapping facial muscles in Animojigs during a live FaceTime call, and of course improved and more powerful Augmented Reality applications. There’s also an update to Apple’s Clips app coming that will allow for even more powerful Selfie Scenes. Apple is also opening up the Neural Engine’s capabilities to developers through Core ML, which is also gaining a performance boost of up to nine times while running with as little as one tenth of the energy of the A11’s Neural Engine.
Unlike prior iPhone models, Apple’s new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will feature identical dual-lens camera systems, with 12 megapixel wide-angle and 12 megapixel telephoto cameras, and an improved True Tone flash that will offer advanced flicker detection. The wide-angle camera features an all-new sensor, a six-element lens, and a maximum f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto lens can go as wide as f/2.4. Both lenses will feature optical image stabilization.
Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max also feature an improved 7 megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front, which supports Face ID, Portait Mode, and other advanced applications, with an f/2.2 aperture and a faster sensor.
An improved Image Signal Processor (ISP) in the A12 now works together with the Neural Engine to provide significant photography enhancements that allow for face detection, scene detection, facial landmarking, instant red-eye reduction, and better segmentation masks for Portrait mode. The ISP is capable of performing one trillion operations on every photo at the moment it’s taken. This new technology also allows for a new “Smart HDR” feature, which takes HDR photography to a new level, with zero shutter lag and a four-frame buffer that can capture critical moments, which takes four main frames along with a series of secondary interframes taken at different exposure levels for highlight and shadow details, which are then analyzed and merged to create an optimal final photo.
Courtesy of the A12 Bionic ISP, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will also now allow users to edit depth-of-field effects after a photo has already been taken, with a new Depth slider in the Photos app that will allow for the f-stop to be adjusted dynamically.
The new iPhones also gain battery life improvements over prior models, with the iPhone XS getting 30 minutes more than the iPhone X, and the iPhone XS Max, which includes the biggest battery Apple has ever put in an iPhone, gaining a 1.5-hour improvement over the iPhone X. Both models will also feature faster networking with “Gigabit-class” LTE, and even more LTE bands for worldwide roaming.
Apple is also introducing Dual SIM capabilites to its 2018 iPhone lineup, incorporating Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) and eSIM technology to allow users to provision a second phone number — even on a different carrier and have both lines simultaneously active for receiving calls. The second SIM will take the form of an eSIM, which means it will only be availble on a limited number of carriers at launch, like the Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular model last year, although the system is designed to be software-provisionable, allowing users to set up a second line as easily as scanning a QR code on supported carriers. Schiller did not that due to the limitations on eSIM availability in China, Apple will be releasing special models of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max in China that provide support for two physical SIM cards in a single slot — one on each side of the SIM tray.
The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will be available in 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, starting at $999 and $1099, respectively. Both models can be pre-ordered this Friday and will be available in stores on Sept. 21 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the U.K., the U.S., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Apple is also accelerating its global rollout compared to prior years, with the XS and XS Max expected to arrive in 22 more countries on Sept. 28, including Andorra, Armenia, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and South Africa.