Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 2018 Apple Event

Apple Watch Series 4 looks like a great upgrade: larger screen, faster, less chunky. I didn’t like the previous Apple Watch hardware, but I think this is something I would actually wear. I think the hardware has finally crossed a threshold. I’m impressed by so many of the details, but I just can’t figure out what I would use it for. The base model costs more than the iPhone SE did.

Names aside, the new iPhones look good. I’m very excited about Smart HDR and the speed of the A12. I want to see how changing the depth of field works for those of us who use Image Capture. I don’t want to have to review all my photos on device, nor use Photos.

I think the iPhone X’s OLED display is overrated and want a thicker phone to hold, so I find the iPhone XR very interesting. It’s quite a bit wider and taller than the iPhone X, so I’m not sure yet how it will feel in the hand and pocket. I don’t quite what Haptic Touch is, but with cursor functionality coming to the keyboard I don’t think I would miss 3D Touch. I’m not sure it has much of a future, anyway.

The pricing of the iPhone XR is not as aggressive as I’d hoped, but I think it will be very successful. It’s not going to be like the iPhone 5c or even the iPhone 8. I don’t think most customers will care about the lower-resolution LCD display, and it may actually be easier to read than the iPhone X’s because it’s larger. Almost all the other specs are uncompromised.

I like the idea of colors but am not crazy about these particular ones except perhaps the red. I wish they were darker and more saturated. I would prefer a screen that scratches less since I’ve never broken any of mine.

I’m sorry to see the iPhone SE go and have little hope that Apple will make another small phone. AirPower’s status remains a mystery.

Update (2018-09-13): Andre Plaut:

If you, like me, are struggling to figure out the differences in Apple Watch Series 4 sizes, hopefully this helps.

Kate Matthews:

This year’s quick iPhone comparison sketch

John Gruber:

AirPower must be well and truly fucked. No one at Apple will say a word about it, even off the record. And as a result they didn’t even mention inductive charging during the event, even though the XS and XR both charge faster than the X.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apple’s intro video yesterday showcased the second-generation AirPods with ‘Hey Siri’, but they weren’t announced as a product; must be coming in hot? AirPods are personal and wearable, so fit this event’s theme perfectly

Edward Sanchez:

This is about the route that girl took on the intro video. She must be new at Apple Park - I probably took similar routes in my first week here.

Ryan Jones:

This is some Samsung bullshit, comparing the battery life to different phones. (red arrows)🙄

Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

Second, the iPhone XR is big — bigger than the XS (and smaller than the XS Max, and yes, that is its real name). This matters less for 2018 and more for 2020 and beyond: presuming Apple follows its trickle-down strategy for serving more price-sensitive markets, that means in two years its lowest-end offering will not be a small phone that the vast majority of the market rejected years ago, particularly customers for whom their phone is their only computing device, but one that is far more attractive and useful for far more people.

Third, that 2020 iPhone XR is going to be remarkably well-specced. Indeed, probably the biggest surprise from these announcements (well, other than the name “XS Max”) is just how good of a smartphone the XR is.


To put it another way, to the extent the XR cannibalizes the XS, it cannibalizes them with an average selling price equal to Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone from two years ago; the iPhone 8 is $50 higher than the former $550 price point as well.

Nick Heer:

For a start, it’s confusing: there are maybe eight people on Earth who can adequately articulate the differences between Haptic Touch, 3D Touch, and Force Touch, which is still what Apple calls the display on the Apple Watch. In the keynote presentation, Phil Schiller compared it to the trackpad in the MacBook Pro, but that’s marketed as a Force Touch thing. I might be an idiot, but this is unfathomable.

Second, it’s conceptually muddy. There seemed to be specific rules Apple was adhering to with their use of 3D Touch on past iPhones — it opens app menus on the home screen, for instance, or allows you to preview something in a list before opening it. But this indicates that there’s either no difference between a long press and a Force/3D/Haptic Touch press, or there’s no consistency in Apple’s application of it. If Apple doesn’t know what the standards should be, users can’t even begin to understand what they should be doing. I like 3D Touch a lot, but if Apple continues to be confused by their own technology after it has been on the market for three years, I don’t think they should keep it around.


There’s always a catch — in this case, there are three. This iPhone lineup no longer includes the headphone jack adaptor; all iPhones still come with a five-watt charger; and all iPhones still ship with only a USB-A cable instead of a USB-C cable. I don’t get it.

ᴺᴼᵀ Jony Ive:

It Just Works.™

Michael Love:

Apple prices 5W and 12W adapters the same on their store. This isn’t being cheap, it’s giving users (most of whom charge overnight) something small and sleek to go with their small and sleek new phone.

Owen Williams:

Wait so the dual-SIM iPhones launch without software support for it.... and some vague restrictions in place? Oh hell no.

Chris Espinosa:

For copy and pasting, it’s the iPhone X 🅂 and X 🅂 MAX

Steve Troughton-Smith:

The real winner this year is gonna be iPhone’s ASP The flagship iPhone line now is entirely above $999, and there’s only one consumer model, at 6.1". Will there ever be an SE 2 with the X-style design and Face ID? I do hope so

Horace Dediu:

New iPhone price graph. (The stairway to heaven.) Use this to estimate where ASP is going.

Mitchel Broussard:

Commenting on this price range in an interview with Nikkei today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We want to serve everyone.”

Ruffin Bailey:

I think we add one more point to this list…

  • Apple was surprised by SE sales, and wishes they’d charged more.

What needs to happen to charge more for a cheaper version of the same internals? Well, first, you can’t pitch it as a spiritual remake of a four year-old design. You have to pitch it as a new phone.


PSA: Apple removing the iPhone SE from sale does not mean you can stop designing for its resolution soon. Non-Plus iPhones can be used in zoomed mode, which means they’ll have the same logical resolution as an SE.

And you’ll have to support the iPhone 8 for about a half-decade

zeynep tufekci:

“Welcome to the big screens” says Apple and women like me with small hands who need the most secure phone for safety reasons are stuck with something they can’t hold and constantly risk dropping. Company that designs $5 billion headquarters without a childcare center for the win.

Matt Birchler:

As I’ve done in 2016 and 2017, I have collected all of the rumors from MacRumors’ main feed in 2018 about the new iPhone lineup and have judged them based on how accurate they ended up being.

Nick Lockwood:

This is what, the 3rd (4th?) consecutive keynote in which Apple has shown us a generic shooty ARKit game on a table that would clearly work much better without ARKit or the table? Stop trying to make AR games happen .

Nick Lockwood:

Interesting... It looks like the iPhone XR has the same virtual resolution (414x896@2x) as the XS Max (414x896@3x) even though the physical size and resolution are lower.

(For comparison, the iPhone X/XS has 375x812@3x, which is more pixels but less usable real-estate).

That means the XR counts as a “plus” size device (that means it supports split view in Mail, etc) even though it’s not much larger physically than the iPhone X/XS.

Michael Love:

First few GeekBench reports for the iPhone XS/XR seem to be up. Looks like roughly a 10% single-core and 6% multi-core increase over the 8/X.


I expect the AI/Graphics speed bumps to be much more impactful, but it seems like for general-purpose computing, phones are going to max out at about the same plateau as PCs.


But certainly CPU-benchmark-wise this is the least impressive ‘s’ update ever; the 3gs (not-just-a-DVD-player-chip), 4s (dual-core), 5s (64-bit) and 6s (> 50% faster) all offered enough extra performance to justify an upgrade on that basis alone for heavy users at least.

See also:

Update (2018-09-14): Chuck Reynolds:

I’m not saying this was on purpose... but the image they chose for the screens is positioned so eloquently so that it just hides the ‘notch’ on the good phones but shows it on the lower-priced model... coincidence?

Harry McCracken:

Apple, I have a question:

Is it iPhone XS or Xs?

Ben Bajarin:

This [iPhone pricing] is achievable because for many this their primary computer. People used to pay $800-1500 for a computer/PC because they saw the value.

Smartphones are arguably more valuable than laptops for the masses.

Update (2018-09-20): See also:

Ben Bajarin:

Continuing my thread of subscribing to iCloud and saving money on higher memory iPhones.. I did the math on my girls and wife needing a new phone this year.

Subscribing to the $120 2TB iCloud service will save us $600 in hardware costs. Minus $120 is $480 in total savings.


“3D Touch is only useful because Apple made certain features hard to use without it.”

— the clearest way i’ve ever heard it explained, and it came from not-a-tech-nerd

Joe Rossignol:

iPhone names solved!

I’ve received official confirmation that it is iPhone XS / iPhone XS Max / iPhone XR, capitalized, unless Small Caps are available, in which case it is iPhone Xs / iPhone Xs Max / iPhone Xʀ.

Apple even updated its iOS 12 press release with caps XS and XR.

Update (2018-09-26): Ken Segall:

So whew, yes, I’m elated with this rebirth of the iPhone product line. But Apple’s return to sanity is not complete. Inexplicably, the company continues to struggle with four naming problems of its own making.

19 Comments RSS · Twitter

I really need a new iPad mini, but the current model is so old, it feels silly to drop > €400 on it. So I was hoping for some announcement, but nada.

> less chunky

It beats a series 2/3, but the series 0/1 is still thinner at 10.5mm vs 10.7 mm along with less overall volume. The GPS and Cellular models interestingly weight the same, which is more than any previous version. Aluminum 38mm specs:

series 0/1: 13,496mm^3 @ 25g
series 2: 14,653mm^3 @ 28.2g
series 3: 14,653mm^3 @ 26.7g or 28.7g (cell)
series 4: 14,552mm^3 @ 30.1g (both)

I feel the XR isn't so aggressively priced because it's not really the current flavor of what the SE was supposed to be. Its only real drawbacks over the XS is the inferior camera, LCD screen (you mistakenly typed LED in your post), lack of a 512GB option, and haptic instead of 3D Touch (your mileage may vary). Otherwise I believe I understand the XR to be the same as the XS. The XR is even bigger than the X was! I really don't see the XR as a "let's make it as cheap as possible" device.

I've not given up on something more akin to an SE2. Maybe something will come along with iPads and Macs later this year. My wife has an SE and really is ready for an upgrade. She definitely does not want to give up the SE's small size.

There's a product red iPhone XR available, too. I don't think that was shown at the keynote, but the store has it.

The XR has a metallic back, whereas the XS is glass. This means it will conduct heat better (less thermal throttling) and not be as ridiculously expensive to repair if dropped ( or even require a repair). The LCD is also less susceptible to burn-in than an OLED.

@Jonathan Thank you for that. I didn’t realize it was thicker than the Series 0, which I did think looked chunky.

@Lee Thanks for the correction. I would love an SE 2 (newer camera + A12, even without Face ID), and I’m tempted to hold onto my SE because the size is so great. But I think that’s really unlikely. I have not seen any evidence that small phones sell well, and I don’t think Apple cares enough to redesign the SE when they are already selling the 7 for $449.

@Karsten Yes, that’s the red I’m referring to. It looks great.

What battery sizes do these have? Apple clearly doesn't want to say, so I'm guessing still not good, perhaps around 3000mAh?

Also: Apple now sells:

- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone XR
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max

We're regressing to Performa/LC levels of product portfolio management (and also product naming).

Lukas: "We're regressing to Performa/LC levels of product portfolio management (and also product naming)."

Preach it, brother. Seriously, who the *Godly Fuck* calls their top-end product "EXCESS MAX"? That is some insanely sub-Sculley level of shit. The Sainted Steve must be rotating harder than a magnetar, may his blessed radiation fall upon them all. #APPL

Karsten: "There's a product red iPhone XR available, too. I don't think that was shown at the keynote, but the store has it."

Yes it was shown, it was specifically presented by Schiller during the keynote.

Fazal Majid: "The XR has a metallic back, whereas the XS is glass."

Wrong. The XR has glass back. Go look at the product page at (my emphasis):

Seven-layer color process.
The beautiful finishes of the back glass are achieved using an advanced process that allows for deep, rich colors.

I wish they didn't only sell phones in big/larger/huge sizes.

What do you mean by “cursor functionality coming to the keyboard” when talking about the XR and lack of 3D Touch?

@Jason With iOS 12, you can tap and hold on the spacebar to enter trackpad mode for moving the cursor.

@Lee Bennett and Michael Tsai

I think the XR is best seen as the replacement for the 8. Iphone 9 under a different name. The pricing is exactly in between last year's 8 and 8+. Like them, it has an LCD at the traditional 326ppi, a single camera, etc.

I am confused about the SE. News reports say it's cancelled, but it's still listed on Apple's website if you click on the dropdown to see other models of phone. Instead of letting your order one from, though, it says "available from selected resellers". So does that mean it's discontinued, or are they still manufacturing them?

@Glaurung I think it just means they’re selling their remaining stock.

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