news iphone xs and iphone xs max get stronger and smarter
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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max get stronger and smarter

Among the many things it announced at its special event today, Apple revealed the iPhone Xs (say ten-ess) and iPhone Xs Max, its new flagship smartphones. As "S" devices, these new iPhones build on the design that Apple introduced last year with the iPhone X. The iPhone Xs sticks with the same 5.8" edge-to-edge screen design as the iPhone X, while the iPhone Xs Max crams a 6.5" edge-to-edge display into what Apple calls the biggest-screened iPhone yet.

The heart of these phones is a new A12 Bionic SoC. Apple says this chip is fabricated on a 7-nm process, and it includes two performance cores that the company claims are up to 15% faster than those in the iPhone X and its A11 Bionic SoC. Apple also weaves four efficiency cores into the A12 Bionic that are apparently up to 50% less power-hungry than those in the A11. The company also touted its own fresh four-core GPU design that purports to be as much as 50% faster than the part in the A11.


Some features of the A12 Bionic

The biggest advancement in the A12 Bionic likely comes from its Neural Engine neural-network accelerator. The A12 Bionic's AI block claims 5 tera-ops per second versus the 600 giga-ops delivered by the one in the A11. The enhanced performance of this functional unit has important implications for the speed and capability of Face ID, the phones' Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting effects, Animoji, Memoji, and a burgeoning crop of augmented-reality apps.

Apple says that it's allowing access to the Neural Engine through its CoreML API, and it brought forth the developers of HomeCourt, a real-time basketball tutoring app that benefited from the enhancements in the A12's AI accelerator. In tandem with the new hardware, CoreML allowed those developers to track parameters like shot types, leg angles, release angles, release time, ball speed, and release height. The app could also track the position of swishes and misses that the player made around the court for review.

The screen on the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max remains Apple's Super Retina OLED panel, although it's been upgraded as part of the wave of refinements that coursed through the rest of the phone. While the displays on these devices still support HDR10 and Dolby Vision content, Apple says the display panels themselves have as much as 60% greater dynamic range compared to the Super Retina screen on the iPhone Xs. iOS' system-wide color management ensures that colors and tones will look accurate on these displays throughout the operating system.

The body of each phone starts with the same "surgical-grade" stainless-steel band that defined the iPhone X, and it's sandwiched by panes of newly-formulated glass that Apple says are the most durable it's ever put in a smartphone. The company will make iPhone Xs devices in gold, space gray, and silver finishes. The iPhone Xs boasts IP68 dust and water resistance, meaning the phone can be dunked in fluids as deep as two meters for up to 30 minutes.

The iPhone Xs camera system carries forward the dual-lens system of the iPhone X, although Apple says the size and depth of each photo well in the main 12-MP wide-angle image sensor has been increased for better performance. The company also claims that the sensor itself is "2x faster," likely referring to sensor readout speed. That figure is important for reducing the "rolling shutter" or "jello effect" that can occur with electronic shutters and video. Both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilization for crisper images while the phone is being hand-held in challenging light conditions.


Depth Control in action. Source: Apple

Although the camera hardware itself may be better, Apple is doing much more in post-processing with the pixels it collects. The new Neural Engine allows the company to perform better depth-segmentation for each photo for its Portrait Lighting and Portrait Mode bokeh effects, but the killer app of the new system might be a feature called Depth Control. Depth Control allows the user to adjust the perceived depth-of-field of each shot after it's been taken, from a simulated and super-shallow f/1.4 all the way out to a pin-sharp-all-over f/16. Depth Control works with both rear-camera shots and selfies, thanks to the front camera's TrueDepth system that also powers Face ID and Animoji.

Apple says that it managed to add all those new features and processing power while improving battery life. The regular iPhone Xs gains an extra 30 minutes of run time versus the iPhone X, while the increased size of the iPhone Xs Max allows Apple to cram in "the biggest battery it's ever put in a smartphone." Apple claims the Xs Max is good for an extra hour and 30 minutes versus the iPhone X.

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max will be available in 64-GB, 256-GB, and 512-GB versions. The iPhone Xs will start at $999 for the 64-GB model, while the iPhone Xs Max will start at $1,099. Pre-orders will begin Friday, September 14, while retail availability will begin Friday, September 21. Some regions will have to wait a week longer for availability.

0 responses to “iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max get stronger and smarter

  1. Here in Finland the XS Max 512 GB seems to have a paltry price sticker of €1678 (incl. VAT), roughly $1952. Ouch.

  2. Starting out a post with “I can see the pixels on my mom’s…”

    Um, no thanks!

    LOL, just playin’ with ya…

  3. Really, seriously, no upvotes for the Nicholson-esque speech? I thought it was AMAZINGLY well done. Here, have my 3 upvotes.

  4. $6 million in 1973 is worth $35 million today. That still won’t get you the most expensive phone:
    [url<]https://www.valuewalk.com/2018/05/top-10-most-expensive-phones/[/url<]

  5. OTOH, what other people buy eventually dictates what you can buy, because manufacturers cater to the market.

    Example, try and buy a truck right now that actually functions as a truck, with enough niceness to be livable but enough utility to be affordable. You can’t. You can basically either get the white-box model that includes zero options and was intended to be destroyed in and around an oil field, or you can buy the super-lux trim for more money than you make in three years but hey, there’s a [i<]96-month financing plan[/i<] available. Why? Because lots of people are buying trucks one of those two ways and the manufacturers love it -- they produce one lot for next to nothing and sell large volumes, and they produce the other lot with piles and piles of markup and interest payments. Meanwhile there's nothing left in the middle. And it looks like something similar is happening in the phone and tablet markets.

  6. 2 Krogoths is already well into paradox territory, one of them may dematerialize at any moment. If 3 show up the universe briefly becomes four-dimensionsal before collapsing back into a black hole.

  7. [i<]Did you order the fat pixels??[/i<] alternatively, earlier in the discussion [i<]I want the retina![/i<]

  8. If you can’t see the pixels, you can’t tell the photochop.

    Son we live in a world that has images, and those have to be guarded by men with pixels. Whose gonna do it you, you lieutenant Funkenstein? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for resolution, and you curse the jaggies. You have that luxury, you have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that resolution’s death while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence while grotesque and incomprehensible, to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you talk about parties; you want me on that image, you need me on that image! We use words like resolution, aliasing, line separation. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something, you use them as a punch line. I have neither the time, or the inclination, to explain myself to a man who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I’d rather you just say ‘thank you’ and go on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a pixel, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn, what you think you are entitled to!

  9. All this excess is nuts. I’m using an Acer phone that cost me $160 almost 2 years ago. Back in July the wife bought me a Samsung S9+ 256GB. Top of the line. Thing is though, it’s just way too excessive for me and I’m perfectly happy with my Acer. It’s cheap, it does the job without too much excess, and it’s survived many falls. Not sure I wanna do that with the S9+. So the S9+ mostly sits inside the box. Never even inserted a SIM card into it. Maybe 15 years ago I would’ve gloated if someone gave me such an expensive phone, but as you get older, you learn.

  10. Actually, before you buy this phone you have a fat wallet. After you buy this phone you don’t need a bigger pocket because your wallet will get so much thinner and make space for this new phone.

  11. Where does the Krogoth scale top out? Is that 2/10 Krogoths? 2/5?

    Edit: and for reference, what products have hit the top of the scale? Pentium 4? Bulldozer?

  12. And they’re all bigger than the iPhone 7/8, and the iPhone SE is no more.

    So if you wanted a phone that actually fits in your pocket, eh… get bigger pockets I guess? You’re going to need them for that fat wallet anyways.

  13. Apparently, Google & LG created a 4.3″ 120Hz OLED panel earlier this year (at an insane 5K resolution): [url<]https://www.tomshardware.com/news/lg-google-18-megapixel-vr-display,37094.html[/url<] But we know that'll never come to market because 4.3" phones don't exist any more.

  14. I genuinely feel that the best compact phone on the market is an iPhone SE (4″ version of the 6S). It’s affordable and reasonably priced for something with access to the Apple Ecosystem.

    My feeling is that it’s a good phone precisely because it doesn’t have all the ridiculous stupidity of the X. Headphone jack? Yup. Decent screen PPI? Yup. Adequate camera, storage, performance, build quality? Yup.

    Let’s face it, you’re going to drop your iPhone because statistically, 152% of all iPhones have cracked glass at some point. The difference is that you can buy two iPhone SE’s [b<]and[/b<] a week in the Bahamas for the price of a screen replacement on a iPhone XS MAXX GTX Turbo Championship Edition II.

  15. lol, indeed. Seems a lot of people must be pretty insecure about their own purchasing decisions and must justify it by getting the rest of the planet to agree they themselves made the obvious, superior, correct choice.

  16. If you also offer a more affordable model that benefits from the halo of the high-end model, there’s no reason you have to lose marketshare.

  17. They sure did, but far fewer than the previous years. Gross profit was [i<]the same[/i<] as the previous gen, but sales were way down and profit per device was way up. Milking the rich and building exclusivity; It's a valid strategy but not a good one long-term because you lose ecosystem marketshare.

  18. They will sell plenty. All the same people thought the 999$ iPhone X was crazy, and then it sold like hotcakes. The iP X was 1149 for the 256GB model. I’m sure they sold a ton of those too.

  19. To paraphrase Genghis Khan, “It is not enough that the tech I buy meets my needs, all other alternatives must be considered worthless by everyone on the planet.”

  20. That stuff costs money. Apple can’t afford to just give stuff away.

    I wear wired earbuds all the time and Bluetooth would be nice, and I would always like the option to choose between them dependant on what I’m doing.

  21. No lightning to 3.5-mm adapter in the box. Hooray for cost-cutting!

    [url<]https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/09/apple-wont-include-a-headphone-jack-dongle-with-new-iphones-anymore/[/url<] Also, the SE got canned, so ASP will be way up starting with the 4th quarter in calendar year 2018. Investors will be pleased.

  22. That’s not what torquer is saying at all. He’s talking about random commenters starting tech jihads over their favorite brands.

  23. Yeah, why does a review site like tech report even exist? What do I care what someone else’s opinion is?

  24. Point taken. Okay, SSK is a Skrull…that will be in the Captain Marvel movie next year, so maybe it is a more relevant reference.

  25. Still amused how many people on the internet give the furry crack of a rat’s behind what tech OTHER people buy.

  26. I’m a little confused as to why people have their panties in a bunch over my little post, but maybe people don’t know what the word “factoid” means? Or maybe I just needed to say more clearly why I thought this factoid was interesting? Here’s an attempt:

    1. Just to be super clear here, I do know that the number of transistors in the A12 does not make it equivalent to a 22 core Xeon in terms of its capabilities. For example, Apple could not drop an A12 into a cylinder and have a new Mac Pro. I thought this was so obvious that it didn’t need to be said.

    2. The thing I think is interesting is that TSMC is manufacturing in very high volume a non-trivial 7nm SOC. Yes, I know that a mainland Chinese company with a dubious reputation *announced* that they will be shipping a 7nm part from TSMC this year. But iPhone volumes are another league. This means TSMC 7nm is for real.

    3. I think it’s encouraging for AMD’s future products that TSMC is pulling this off. Yes, AMD’s products draw more power, but it’s still encouraging.

  27. You mean the Xr is 2x right? The Xs in this article is the same resolution as the X, which ran the 3x scale natively (contrast to the Plus which rendered 3x and downscaled to 2x)

  28. Hmm. If Apple is using Intel’s XMM7560 in all of its phones, it probably explains why Intel needs to source some chipsets from TSMC.

    XMM7560 is 14nm. So they need to ship 200 million of them to Apple.

  29. I think the market’s tolerance for a $1499 phone is about to be tested. All the signs are pointing towards another global banking crisis, but hey – there are always rich people to milk.

  30. Yeah, I mean…it’s sharp by 2010 standards, but my 6S Plus from 2015 is much sharper. Even then I can still see jaggies in high-contrast situations.

  31. I like my LG Aristo 2. It does everything that I want with a phone and out the door it costs 60 bucks. I’m just not going to pay 1000+ bucks for a phone when I can use that money to build another computer. 🙂

  32. I can add I can see the pixels on my 7+ (401ppi). Or maybe that is that slight blur your being up..

    Either way it is distracting!

    … time to blow 1499 dollars over two years on a new phone… (I am about 30GB free on my 256GB 7+ without having put any movies on it. (And yes I probably could be more selective about what is on it (although the cracked screen is more the reason)))

  33. Thanks!
    Looking around found multiple other sources (arstechinica, Engadget) also.
    Surprised Anandtech live blog did not mention it!

    You might want to lead with a link which actually has some evidence next time, to save this trouble.

  34. You can repair the older-style (SE, 5S and prior) iPhone devices with relative ease. Not so with anything from the 6S onwards. The older devices are also harder to break with a simple drop…

  35. I have an actual visceral hatred of 3D touch. It’s way too easy for non-technical users to activate without realising, and yet somehow also awkward and clunky to activate intentionally. There was never anything wrong with long-touch, not to mention that splitting your UI across different models is a very dumb and “non-Apple” thing to do.

  36. I can see the pixels on my mom’s iPhone 8.

    I guess Apple has successfully jacked the price of a flagship device by 35% in the last year so I need to adjust my expectations.

  37. Only one of those chips includes a graphics processor

    edit: i was looking at this on my phone in mobile mode, didn’t realize so many people already called this BS. No need for me to pile on. 😆

  38. [url<]https://www.macrumors.com/2018/09/12/live-coverage-iphone-xs-event/[/url<] [quote<]10:48 am: Packed with 6.9 billion transistors. 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, neural engine. CPU has 2 high performance and 4 high efficiency cores. GPU is up to 50% faster. Real blow away thing is the neural engine. 8-core dedicated machine learning engine with smart compute to determined where to run a task. [/quote<]

  39. Do the kids who spend this much on a phone today even remember the 2007 remake of the 1978 remake of the 1956 film?

  40. I suspect it probably has more to do with negative perception from fiscal analysts.

    And the fact Intel cannot say “we’re the best!”

  41. And here is their source per Wikipedia’s footnote
    [url<]https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2017-project-scorpio-tech-revealed[/url<] Apple has not discussed transistor count or die size. We do not know them. (Edit, __I am+was wrong__ Apple did did disclose transistor count. They however did not in either the leading Wikipedia article or the cite from Eurogamer on the Wikipedia article) The only 7nm SoC we had been given a transistor count on is the Kirin 980 to date, which is 6.9 billion transistors in <100mm^2. [url<]https://www.anandtech.com/show/13298/hisilicon-announces-the-kirin-980-first-a76-g76-on-7nm/2[/url<]

  42. My fav part of this news post and TR as a whole is one guy who has a little knowledge posts a wiki for transistor counts that substantiates what he believes to be true. that guy gets rekt by a person who works as the head PR guy for several tech firms.

    Another guy posts a link with an authoritative figure claiming transistor counts are marketing, confirming the post from PR guy.

    THEN there are the other random casual dorks who didn’t read anything, have little understanding and continue to base posts off of made up transistor counts and how it all makes sense to them.

    The numbers aren’t real. This is all confirmation biased circle-jerking.

    But lastly, what would this place be without that?

    Please share your thoughts on how I am correct.

  43. Also using an Iphone SE and very happy with the form factor. The A9 processor is quite enough horsepower for my usage(calls, texting and the occasional checking of weather/travel related webpages etc).

    I read somewhere that Apple wants to kill off the smaller sizes, in order to increase their service revenues. Apparently users of small phones dont generate enough service revenue.

  44. It appears so, and that’s what I meant to express. I didn’t mean to state it was a full-fat 120Hz screen (which would be amazing).

  45. Honestly if they would put the Xr guts into an SE form factor, i’d buy it in a heard beat. I much prefer the old small pocketable iPhone size of lore. Alas, times have changed..

    Adi

  46. I think there aren’t many folks using 3D touch. I mainly use it to expand notifications and act on them but that’s about it.

    Adi

  47. Bingo. VR is for the upcoming Apple AR glasses so no need to up the rez on the display for no reason. I guess next year we might get higher refresh rates à la iPad Pro if the OLED tech improves and battery life doesn’t suffer too much.

    Adi

  48. Umm, no. What I recall reading on the slides is that the digitizer is way more sensitive at 120Hz but not the display itself. Hope I’m wrong on this one and you turn out to be right.

    Adi

  49. Something tells me the 120Hz feature only works with LCDz and or consumes more battery life than Apple was willing to include/sacrifice in the relatively small form factors of the iPhone.

    Adi

  50. Good point — that Broadwell Xeon has a ton of cache, and fabricating SRAM is much easier than logic. The A12 has 2 big CPU cores, 4 smaller cores, 4 GPU cores, 8 NPU cores, an ISP, and various odds and ends. We don’t know yet how much cache, but probably far less than 55 MB.

    The Broadwell Xeon pulls far more power, of course, because it’s put in systems that are plugged into a wall. The density is therefore understandably lower on the Xeon.

    But the thing I find interesting is that TSMC is fabricating at very high volume a 7nm part with a ton of logic. I think this bodes well for AMD and Rome.

  51. 120 Hz is here in the iPhone excess. Edit never mind it’s not.

    Waiting for the iPhone eleven more excess I guess.

  52. To me the benefit of 3D touch was supposed to be lacking the timers of long press, but then most implementations of it had a timer slow you down anyways.

  53. He said that in 2010 with 2010 knowledge. I’m sure he’d have changed his mind had he known what 2018 looked like. Like I said though, the dude was stubborn as all hell. I think he made a few more than worthwhile gambles in his time.

  54. Sorry, that’s what I meant. I didn’t mean to imply they were straight up 120Hz (and really it’s more VRR at <120Hz usually than it is 120Hz) screens all the time. That would wreck battery most likely. I’d love to see it, but I’m just not sure they have the resources in such a small form factor.

  55. I can absolutely see the pixels on my 7 at the same PPI as the Extended Release (326). Everyone seems to have taken that claim as canon since the 4 launched with Retina, but they used specific circumstances for it with assumptions about being at arms length and such. Few hold their phone that far unless their near vision is bad.

    The Plus line was already better at this at 400PPI, but then had to use the non native scaling factor (they render at 3x and crop down to 2x) which induced a slight blur. The X is where it got very nearly perfect imo. So the Xr won’t be.

  56. I’ve read there’s difficulty in driving OLED at 120Hz. I was hoping that the “next years features today” pricing would cover that, but maybe next year I guess.

  57. [url=https://www.phonearena.com/news/Did-you-know-Steve-Jobs-believed-that-no-one-wanted-to-buy-big-smartphones_id82840<]He was insistent that phones could only be so large because people wouldn't buy big phones.[/url<] It was a silly statement when he made it (Android phones were already 4+", and they weren't drastically different in size than the first few generations of iPhones), and it seems even sillier now that 6" phones are gaining popularity.

  58. Am I missing something? I’m not seeing any indication on Apple’s site to suggest these aren’t the usual 60Hz panels.

    The keynote slides said “120Hz touch sensing”, which I’m assuming is not referring to the display refresh rate.

  59. Anyone have any idea what modem they’re using? Intel or Qcomm? I’d be interested to know especially with the unlocked model(s).

  60. I don’t really get this. I know it’s slightly tongue in cheek, but it’s not like Jobs didn’t reevaluate some of his ideas along the way. Dude was really smart and super stubborn, but he knew what he was doing for the most part.

  61. Maybe reread the specs? It might not be exact same thing, but all three new phones have a 120Hz on demand feature.

  62. I think they’re moving away from 3D touch in general. It’s just not super useful, and a “long-press” without all the special sauce of 3D tough seems to be just as useful. Android has had it for ages and doesn’t need any special depth sensors like Apple uses for 3D touch.

    Fine by me to be honest. It’s definitely useful in some niche cases, but in general I’d rather have another feature in place if they’re battling it out.

  63. Display resolution, and it also loses 3D Touch. The resolution doesn’t bother me, and personally I find the OLED off-angle shimmer annoying, but I liked the 3D Touch. Seems odd to have downgraded that given the commodity pricing they must get on those sensors (since they’ve been used in nearly every phone for the last few years, except for the SE).

  64. Perhaps it was too much to hope for Apple to resurrect the headphone jack on the larger model, but the continued absence of the 120Hz variable refresh rate screen from the iPad Pro in their flagship phones is puzzling, considering how much slicker it makes the whole thing feel. I think I’ll hang on to my 6s+ another year.

  65. It has that name only because Marketing said that the “iPhone Gouge” was a bit too specific.

  66. Spot on, but as someone once said, “Nothing succeeds like excess.”

    EDIT: took out > added by mistake

  67. I’m not sure that it matters if you can’t see the pixels any longer, honestly.

    If you look at everything that’s happening with these devices, using a 2x OLED makes sense. 7-nm SoCs are going to be expensive to design and produce, for one, and when Apple apparently set out to keep prices the same, that meant something had to give along the way, and making a display more Retina doesn’t make much sense when it’s already Retina.

    People want both longer battery life and higher performance, not either/or, and keeping display resolution down helps with that, too. Finally, a lower resolution likely makes the panels easier to fabricate and consequently less expensive. Apple doesn’t expect its customers to put these things in VR headsets where an excessive PPI would make a difference.

  68. And uninformed posts like that are why Intel stopped posting transistor counts.
    You are why we can’t have nice things.

  69. There’s also a “4 core” GPU in there, along with a NPU and tons of other stuff that aren’t necessarily inside modern x86 CPUs like Ryzen and Xeon.

  70. Yeah, this is a retina @2x device, like the iPhone 4, 5, and regular-sized 6-8. The X was a @3x device like the Plus-sized iPhones and despite flagship pricing they’re not doing a flagship display.

  71. Apple site > compare models

    2436×1125 on the excessive model, 2688×1242 on the maxi excessive model, XRomeo gets a 1792×828 screen. So yeah, catch is lower ppi despite a slightly larger screen.

  72. Some fun factoids on transistor counts from [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_count#Microprocessors:[/url<] Ryzen 8 core --- 4.8 billion A12 --- 6.9 billion 22 core Broadwell Xeon -- 7.2 billion

  73. So there’s these two things and the iPhone XRay that has an LCD instead of an OLED display with a size is right in between these two, and a single camera on the back and…that’s it? But it’s $250 cheaper than the Excess and $350 less than the [s<]Droid[/s<] Excess Maxx. Were display resolutions discussed anywhere? There's got to be another catch.

  74. Shades of that commercial in [url=https://youtu.be/fl8mQhxhE_Q<]Robocop[/url<]. "Big is back. An American Tradition"

  75. I’m afraid I don’t Love it.

    But I suppose that’s the Game these days.

    I wonder how Set Samsung is to Match them?

  76. Given that the “correct” pronunciation sounds like iPhone [b<]Tennis[/b<], I think Apple might want to ensure that using these things as rackets doesn't cause malfunctions.

  77. If you switch from using Arabic/normal numerals to using letters, I reserve the right to ignore your use of Roman Numerals.

    It’s the iPhone “ecks-ess”, as in x-ray sierra.

  78. iPhone Xs is priced InXS.

    [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLm3Khusq_8<]Don't Change Apple!![/url<]