Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Apple revamps iPhone and the Apple Watch to go head-to-head with Android phones

What’s on display today is an interesting dichotomy: little in the way of revolutionary new technology, but an emphasis on showing off hardware that will be on sale shortly.

The 9.7in iPhone XS, which was introduced last year and is not backwards compatible with the iPhone 8 and 9, is now slimmer and stronger than its predecessor. Next to it sits the 9.7in iPhone XS Max, a new flagship product that sports a bigger screen than the standard iPhone XS and will cost $999 (£800). Then there’s the iPhone XR, which is said to be a “new design” but is essentially the iPhone XS in a different colour. It is the least expensive, and most affordable, of the three, costing $749.

The Apple Watch has a new watch face that shows off users’ activities, including music streaming, health and fitness. Photograph: Apple

Also unveiled was the new Apple iPad. The iPad Air 2, which was last upgraded in 2014, has been replaced by a 9.7in iPad that sports the latest Apple A12 Bionic processor. It is powered by Apple’s proprietary A-series chips that are the most advanced ever produced by the company.

Apple also revealed that the Apple Watch now has a colourful watch face that shows off users’ activities, including music streaming, health and fitness.

iOS 12.1 includes two new features that are specific to the Apple Watch: Activity points and Hello contact. The Activity points feature can show users the amount of activity that they have carried out, such as walking and running.

Apple’s vice-president of hardware, Phil Schiller, said: “You’re going to love looking at this kind of information and moving it around,” said Schiller, who demonstrated how the Activity points display was now a bit like a slide show. “You can visually look at this behaviour to see it over time.”

As well as giving the Apple Watch the Apple A-series processor, the display has the same laminated display tech as on the iPhone XR. It remains to be seen if people will be thrilled with a chunky 24mm watch face on their wrist.

A brand new iPad Pro has been announced. Photograph: Apple

The new iPad Pro is a bit bigger, too. It adds three more cameras to the iPad range (one front-facing, two rear-facing) and this time not all of the cameras are physical – there is something called the Dual Camera Portal instead. There is also a magnetic Type-C to Lightning adapter, which means users will no longer need to buy adapters in order to use accessories on the iPad, allowing more airtime for those that work with Apple accessories.

By picking up the new iPad, users are getting the last of their old iPad work. Users of iPad Pros with the Lightning connector must now purchase an adapter. It is clear that Apple wants to make the iPad a lot more relevant for people who work in offices rather than a tablet for leisure.

As well as these major updates, Apple updated the existing iPods, creating the iPod touch 10th generation, which features a bezel-less screen, offering a colourful iPhone look to the cheaper, handheld device.

The device also offers an added level of functionality: iMessage stickers.

Apple has not announced UK availability for the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or iPad, but the iPhone XR is on sale in the UK from £749, and the iPad is up for pre-order from £329.

The new products are anticipated to ship in March.

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