Apple launches three new iPhones – what do they offer?

Image credit: Apple

Any Apple product launch is always a big event. Yet after months of leaks and whispers, it was probably the worst-kept secret in the tech world that Apple was preparing not one, but three new devices for its traditional September unveiling.

And so it turned out to be. At a packed event at Apple's shiny new California headquarters, the phone maker unveiled three successors to last year's iPhone X – the standard iPhone XS, the cheaper iPhone XR and the premium powerhouse that is the iPhone XS Max.

So, what can we expect from each of these gadgets, and which one will be right for you? Here's a quick run-down of the key features:

Display and design

The most direct successor to last year's iPhone X, the XS features the same 5.8-inch screen as its older brother, while the XS Max boasts a huge 6.5-inch display. Both come with a custom OLED design that supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 and what Apple describes as the "best colour accuracy in the industry".

Both phones offer a "million-to-one contrast ratio with remarkable brightness and true blacks", while showing 60 per cent greater dynamic range in HDR photos than previous models. The XS Max offers over three million pixels as part of the largest display ever fitted to an iPhone, though the company notes the device has a similar overall size to the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to its almost bezel-less design.

The iPhone XR, meanwhile fits in the middle of the range in terms of display size, with a 6.1-inch screen. However, instead of the OLED display, this is an LCD screen that – while not quite reaching the quality of the XS and XS Max – still promises to deliver the premium experience that Apple customers expect.

Both the iPhone XS and XS Max will also be offered with a choice of silver, space grey, or gold colours. The iPhone XR, meanwhile, comes with a selection of six colours – white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red.

Performance

Inside, all the devices in the range benefit from the premium features and innovations that Apple has become known for, including a new A12 Bionic processor that promises to be faster and more efficient.

At the launch, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller described the iPhone XS as a "huge step forward" for the smartphone market that is packed with next-generation technologies.

He said: "Everything is state of the art, including the industry-first seven-nanometer A12 Bionic chip with eight-core Neural Engine, faster Face ID and an advanced dual camera system that shoots portrait mode photos with Smart HDR and dynamic depth of field." 

What this should mean in practice is a much faster, smoother experience, whether you are using the phone for video-editing, gaming, photography or power-intensive apps. Despite the additional power, Apple claims the iPhone XS offers 30 minutes longer battery life than the iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Max offers an hour and a half longer than the iPhone X between charges.

The Neural Engine, meanwhile, promises to improve the phones' machine learning capabilities for cases such as photography and augmented reality.

Cameras and photography

The iPhone XS and XS Max feature a 12-megapixel dual camera system with dual optical image stabilisation and 2x optical zoom, while a new sensor is twice as fast and Smart HDR creates photos with more highlights and shadow detail.

When it comes to editing, new Depth Control features enable users to dynamically adjust the depth of field of their snaps from the Photos app, including for selfies. Depth Control is also offered on the iPhone XR, which comes with a 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture wide-angle lens with an all-new sensor to deliver faster auto-focus.

In terms of video, Apple promises that the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max deliver the highest quality video capture in a smartphone, thanks to larger pixels and larger, faster sensors that enable improved low-light performance and video stabilisation. Four microphones also let users capture full stereo sound. 

Pricing and availability

The iPhone XS and XS Max will hit shelves on September 21st, with customers able to preorder them from today (September 14th). You'll have to wait a little longer to get your hands on the iPhone XR, meanwhile, as it will be available from Friday October 26th, with pre-orders starting on October 19th.

Pricing for the iPhone XS begins at £999 for the 64GB version, with 256GB and 512GB options also available. The XS Max, meanwhile, comes in at £1,099 for the 64GB model, which the high-end 512GB option will set users back an eye-watering £1,449, making it the most expensive iPhone ever offered.

If this is a little out of your price range, the iPhone XR, which is Apple's equivalent of a budget option, might sound like a bargain. This offers 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage options, with prices ranging from £749 to £899.