It’s that time of year again. Just last week, Apple’s Keynote on September 12, 2018 presented the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, the iPhone XR, and the Apple Watch Series 4. Of course, with every generation of Apple products comes the next iOS to support the new models, as well as give an upgrade to the old. iOS 12 released this past Monday, September 17, and it is bigger than big. One focus of Apple over the span of its lifetime has been efficiency and to speed up everyday tasks. They’ve certainly done so over the years and will continue to do so, so long as their products stay in high demand. They’re nothing less than pricey investments. Better quality comes with higher pricing. It’s simple marketing at the end of the day. The fact Apple is now worth over a trillion dollars means people are ecstatic for their products and are willing to meet the prices even though they may not be optimal for them. Just look at opening day; thousands camp out in front of Apple stores all across the world from twenty-four hours to a week before the unveiling of new products. So which device is right for you? Will you choose the XS, the XS Max, or the XR? Will you choose also to purchase the Series 4 Apple Watch? Or will you choose to forgo Apple entirely and continue your love for another brand such as Samsung or Google phones?  

Let’s begin with the iPhone XS and the XMax. Both can be categorized as older and young siblings. Why? Because in essence, the Max is just a bigger XS. In fact, the Max has a colossal screen display for a phone of 6.5 inches, the largest display ever on an iPhone and any smartphone to date. Pretty soon we’ll be looking at tablet sized phone displays at this rate. The previous generation iPhone X had a screen display of 5.8 inches and seemingly was well liked and praised by the market for its unique all hands-on screen connectivity. The future of technology is with the touch of our fingertips, not with buttons and gizmos no matter how small or concealed they might be. The phones keep getting bigger because Apple can create sharper images and better contrast on the larger displays, and they equate more screen to more fun. The regular XS has a 5.8 inch display itself, targeting the market that still favors a slightly smaller display. Additionally, both displays are now the Super Retina HD display. Remember the days when your friend had the Retina Display iPhone 5 but you were still lagging behind with an iPhone 4? Well now if you have a Retina Display phone, you’ll feel the same way. The Super Retina display is simply gorgeous. The quality of the pixels is absolutely phenomenal for a phone and is a step above awesome.  

Size and display are only two of the upgrades. The engineering team for Apple has created something of true magnificence. The A12 Bionic in the Xand XMax speed up the processing system by more than 15% from previous models, and lower power costs by up to 50%. This translates to mean that these models operate at a faster, smoother pace. You can enjoy all the things you do even more, and the phones can be used for a longer period of time before a charge is required. This leads into the battery aspect of things. XS offers a battery that lasts 30 minutes longer than that of last year’s iPhone X. XMax offers the longest lasting battery life in an iPhone that lasts an hour longer than the regular XS. In terms of continuous online use, these phones will last you around half a day. The key word here is continuous. If you are just sending a text or two every hour or a quick round of Clash Royale here and there, you can easily last the full day and perhaps even longer. Keep in mind that these claims decrease as time goes on. The more you charge the phone, the less the battery will last. By year two of use, you may be carrying around a charger everywhere you go. But again, this is very subjective to the user and will vary greatly with more or less usage. A key trick is to not charge the phone so often. It doesn’t always need to be on 100%. Let it drain completely so it shuts off once or twice a month. This gives it a bit of kick to get its gear back on track to perform optimally.  

These days, there are more photographers and video shooters than ever before. Apple tailors to that lifestyle too. 4K video recording has become the next big thing, along with the 12MP camera. With iOS 12, group FaceTime will be possible with up to 32 people. Say hello to group study sessions and conference calls face to face, without having to leave your house or download another third party application. Thanks to the newly crafted dual camera system, everything is sharper, more detailed, and of much higher quality.  

Lastly, the Xand XS Max will be water resistant with an IP68 rating. They can be held underwater up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes. If you’re in fear it’s a lie, don’t be. It’s proven to work. Just don’t get carried away and think you can throw it to the bottom of a pool and pick it up a few hours after you realized where it is.  

The XS and XS Max come in silver, space gray (blackish), and gold. Their storage capacities are 64GB, 256GB, and an extraordinary 512GB. Prices will increase with more storage as always but start at $999 for the smaller model and $1099 for the larger. 

Next is the XR model. This one is slightly bigger than the XS (6.1 inches) but still not as big as the XS Max (6.5 inches). It comes in blue, white, black, yellow, coral (orange), and red. The idea seems to be to bring back the old iPod Touch approach and foster to those who want some colorful pizazz than the standard colors.  

The XR has a Liquid Retina Display, which is the most developed LCD for a smartphone. The phone supports tap to wake, which allows you to simply tap the screen to wake it up, just like the other new models. No home button means you won’t ever have to worry about breaking the button again. The XR also has the A12 Bionic chips to support all day reliability and longevity. This phone takes stunning photos and features so many cutting-edge controls to the camera for more advanced artwork. The battery life for the XR is an hour and a half longer than the 8 Plus.   

Something that countless people have trouble with is remembering passwords for dozens of accounts used online. Apple again brings the innovative trend of Face ID to this year’s lineup. Instead of having to type in a four or six-digit number code, or an extremely secure password with letters, numbers, and symbols, the only code you’ll ever need is your face. And unless you’re Arya Stark from popular book and television series Game of Thrones, your face will never change. No one, not even those who know how to steal your fingerprint, can hack your phone now. There will likely be something along the lines of full hand touches in the future of products.  

Everything is faster, more advanced, and easier to use than ever before. It’s the case every year an Apple product releases. Models start at $749, which is a bit lower than the Xand XMax models. This is basically the “more affordable” option if you aren’t willing to dish out over a grand for a smart phone.  

Despite the hefty prices and all the X’s and S’s and R’s, this year’s lineup is truly magnificent. The XS and XS Max already began pre-orders and likely are all booked. General releases for everyone else are today, September 21. The pre-orders will begin for the iPhone XR on October 19 and will be available on October 26. Whether you choose to buy an XS or XMax or wait for the XR, this technology is hard to resist if you’re in the market for a new phone. Choose wisely.  

Apple Watch Series 4 is an eye catcher for sure. This year’s model did something interesting. They devoted most of their attention towards the health and fitness side of things. The latest and greatest is that if you take an accidental fall from a certain height, emergency services will be alerted if you activate the capability. Additionally, they continue to compete with Fitbit fitness watches for the better tracker or heartrate, calories burned, and daily activity. Apple Series’ are all smartwatches, while Fitbit is more geared towards fitness in general. However, this year is a game changer. The Series 4 is a worthy contender of any Fitbit and has greatly transformed the meaning of what a watch can do and be for the wearer. From phone assistant to life saver, the Apple Watch has come a long way.  

The idea is a healthier, better version of yourself with the assistance given on your wrist. Now you can get alerts for low and high heart rates that are out of the ordinary. You can hold a single finger against the digital scrolling crown and receive a reading of your heart, thanks to the recently developed electric heart rate monitor. There are more types of listed workouts that weren’t on previous generations like hiking and boxing. Workouts begin themselves if you forget to start them. The area of screen is 30% larger than previous models, and the display received an upgrade to its picture quality. This includes a longer battery life to ensure it lasts longer than a day, and more on the side of two.  

Similar to Fitbit, Series 4 offers the ability to compete against a community of other users and challenge friends to achieve great milestones. Runners will be able to see steps per minute along their run, as well as if they are behind or ahead per minute and per mile. Series 4 continues to feature the cellular option that allows for calls directly on your wrist. This will add on an additional monthly fee to your bills. It’s up to you if you think it’s worth it. Nevertheless, it’s a cool option to have if you want to leave your phone at home during a run or workout, or if you forget to bring your phone to work.  

One of the coolest, most ground-breaking features to be added to a smartwatch is the Walkie-Talkie addition. Hold the screen to talk, let go to send. It’s that simple. If someone you know has an Apple Watch, you can communicate faster than text, call, and email combined. Why wouldn’t you want that?  

Series 4 starts at $399 for the non-cellular model and $499 for the cellular models. Let’s not forget the water resistance up to 50 meters in both pool and ocean. Both models also feature sweat and dust resistance, so you can power through workouts and hikes without any worry. The prices are a great deal less than fancy watches on the market and offers countless more options than simply telling time. The downside to a smartwatch is that you must charge it. But what’s more important to you? You could have the ability to tell time, or the abilities to get in shape, send messages on your wrist, navigate a city, track workouts and heartrate, swim underwater, and tell time? You decide what is best for you.  

All in all, this year’s Keynote was phenomenal and a great leap into the future of Apple products. For more information on iOS 12 and watchOS 5, see next week’s article for the full reviews.

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I radiate both internally and externally, an infinitude of passion for creative thought, an unending lifelong code of self and peer-improvement, and an idiosyncratic perspective and outlook on all things good, bad, and in between. I believe that when we are, one day, gone, all that will have mattered is what we did to change this world, for better or worse.