Photo: Apple

Every year, Apple releases a new set of iPhones to much fanfare and this year is no different. Yesterday (Sept 13), it unveiled three phones: the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. We think the iPhone XS and XS Max are really just upgraded versions of last year’s iPhone X (R.I.P.), while the iPhone XR is positioned as being a (slightly) more affordable iPhone option. Before you take the plunge and change out your current cell, we give you the lowdown on what you need to know. Hopefully this makes your decision easier.

The iPhone XS and XS Max is available for pre-order today, while the iPhone XR is available for pre-order on October 19. You can pre-order them on Apple’s website.


There are funky new colours

If you’re feeling nostalgic for Apple’s 5C series, the iPhone XR is for you — this model comes in six striking shades: black, blue, coral, red, white and yellow. The fresh hues will thrill fans who are looking to inject some sass into their phones (without need to slap on a chunky phone cover).

Colours for the XS series, though a little safer, include the newly introduced polished gold and silver, on top of space grey. The iPhone X previously only came in space grey.


They are pricey

All three phones have a hefty price-tag of above S$1,000, with the iPhone XS Max Apple’s most expensive model yet at S$2,349 for 512GB. Even the iPhone XR, considered the lower-cost model, will set you back S$1,229 for the 64GB model (without contract). Will the new features be enough to nudge customers into shelling out? Only time will tell.

Here’s a look at the prices:

iPhone XS Max

64GB – S$1,799

256GB – S$2,039

512GB – S$2,349

iPhone XS

64GB – S$1,649

256GB – S$1,889

512GB – S$2,199

iPhone XR

64GB – S$1,229

128GB – S$1,299

256GB – S$1,469


The cameras are better

For #OOTN lovers struggling to achieve optimal lighting effects for photos taken in the dark, the new models will help boost your pictures by leaps and bounds with a new in-built sensor that detects deeper and larger pixels. This sensor helps improve image fidelity, as well as allows the camera to pick up more light to create better low-light photos.

You can now get more professional-looking photos as well, with a new depth control that allows you to manually adjust the depth-of-field after shooting in portrait mode. This means you can up the “blurry” effect of your background and get rid of unwanted objects — always a plus point.

It is worth noting however, that while the XS and XS Max retains the dual-camera system, which comprises both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras, the XR, in what seems like a step backwards, sports a single, wide-angle camera.


It’s all facial recognition now

Say goodbye to the home button and touch ID sensor. The new models now all sport facial recognition, and thankfully, it’s an improved version from the one in iPhone X (remember how it failed software chief Craig Federighi during last year’s demo onstage?). With their advanced face recognition software, Apple says it can even unlock your phone, even if you’re out-and-about in a pair of shades and wearing a hat. Face ID also automatically adapts to changes in your appearance, such as if you’re wearing makeup or growing facial hair, and can detect even in total darkness. Cool.


Wireless charging remains, but it’s now faster

You know that feeling when your lightning cable goes wonky and you desperately need to rescue your phone before the battery dips below 10%? We do. All three models now support wireless charging, and Apple says their glass back design supports faster charging (although they didn’t say by how much). Hooray!


It’s even more water-resistant

Apple had been behind the curve when it came to water resistance — it only introduced this feature in 2016 in its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, allowing its sets to be submerged 1m underwater for up to 30 minutes. But good news for those prone to accidental drops in toilet bowls — the brand has upped its ante with the XS and XS Max. The phones can now survive being dropped in depths of up to 2m for half an hour. And apparently, your phones are also safe from spills from hot coffee, tea and soft drinks. Do note that the XR does not have this souped up version, so hold your beverages carefully if you choose to go for this one.


The screens are larger

Apple has launched its biggest iPhones yet, with the XS Max and XR sporting screen sizes of 6.5 inches and 6.1 inches respectively (compared to the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5-inch screen and the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch screen). The expanded screen is bound to excite those who love their plus-sized smartphones — watching videos, gaming and reading just got way better. If you’re looking to nab the XS though, do note that it still retains the 5.8 inch screen of its predecessor. By the way, if you were annoyed by the iPhone X’s infamous “notch”, we’re sad to say it’s still there for all three sets.


Better LCD screen display

Both the XS and XS Max versions feature a new Super Retina OLED screen, a technology that is already being used in Samsung’s phones. This means more vibrant colours that pop, making what you see on-screen more vivid and true to life. Unfortunately, the XR still retains the old LCD screen, but Apple says it has upgraded it with a Liquid Retina display that sports Apple’s True Tone technology.


A new smartphone chip

All three new phones are running on Apple’s latest A12 Bionic chip, which Apple says is the industry’s first ever 7nm chip. This powerhouse is said to dramatically boost speeds and performance, while using less power — a relief to many looking to retain their phone’s battery life.


Say goodbye to the headphone jack adapter

We all lamented when Apple dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, opting to use its lightning port for audio. Sadly, this feature is here to stay. All three sets come with EarPods with lightning connector, and here’s the really sad part — it doesn’t look like Apple will be bundling in its lightning-to-3.5mm dongle like past models. If you want to use your regular headphones, you’d have to purchase the adapter from Apple’s shop.