Apple introduced its largest iPhone ever and a new line of watches that can detect heart problems.

Say goodbye to your iPhone's home key. And goodbye to a fingerprint reader to unlock your device. Last year's iPhone X broke with the single-button smartphone tradition that Apple itself created in 2007.

For this year's upgrade to the world's best-selling smartphone, Apple has dropped the home button from its flagship device (the iPhone XS) and its larger sibling (the iPhone XS Max) as well as a cheaper model (the iPhone XR).

It's the natural evolution of the interface that Apple created, as I wrote about last year, and a sign of how the smartphone is maturing 11 years after the first iPhone was introduced in 2007.

Apart from the home key, the biggest news is that Apple is introducing a second SIM card, albeit an electronic SIM (eSIM), which has been a standard feature on Android phones for years.

This dual-SIM functionality may enable people to have voice calls through their current number but data through another provider. South Africa's cellular networks are not going to be happy but it will be good news for Michael Jordaan's Rain network, which offers extremely aggressive data pricing.

Apple has differentiated the iPhones into three models, with edge-to-edge screens. The top-end XS remains 5.8 inches but the new XS Max (replacing the Plus naming convention) has a whopping 6.5 inches as the "phablet". 

Image: APPLE
Image: APPLE

Both have an OLED screen, or what Apple calls "Super Retina HD display", and dual 12-megapixel (MP) cameras; and are water resistant to 2m for half an hour. They offer three storage options, with the largest at 512GB matching what Samsung recently announced with its Note 9 phablet.

The third colour option (apart from black or grey) is a shiny gold finish.

The lesser-specced XR has a 6.1-inch screen, a 12MP camera and up to 256GB of storage, and comes in a range of funky colours.

All three have glass backs (which are needed for the Qi wireless charging that is now standard) and the notch design introduced by the iPhone X.

Image: APPLE
Image: APPLE

The Apple Watch Series 4 has also had a revamp, with a bigger screen and more functionality, including a better heart rate monitor. Interestingly, all the new products will be available in SA at the end of September, a significant boost from the usual November time scale we've been accustomed to.

For full coverage of the new iPhones, see Stuff.co.za.

* Shapshak is editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff.


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