Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Apple has unveiled its iPhone 11 range of handsets, which feature more cameras than before and a processor that has been updated to be faster while consuming less power.
The company said the two Pro models would last between four to five hours longer than their XS predecessors.
But it did not launch a 5G model, and some rumoured features were missing.
Apple also revealed a new version of its smartwatch, which features an “always on” display for the first time.
The Series 5 Watch adjusts how often it refreshes the screen to as little as one frame per second as well as dimming the image to promise the same 18-hour battery life as the previous version.
It also introduces a compass as well as the option of a titanium case. Its new operating system will alert owners to when nearby noise rises to risky levels, and adds menstrual cycle-tracking.
“I love strategically where Apple is going with its health and safety capabilities, but was disappointed to not see a sleep study or feature mentioned,” commented analyst Patrick Moorhead.
The company added that it will keep its Series 3 model on the market, which will cost $199 – or £199 in the UK – marking a new entry price point for the wearable.
Apple currently accounts for 49% of the global smartwatch market, according to research firm IDC.
It is also the UK’s top-selling smartphone brand by a wide margin.
The new iPhones are notable for introducing an “ultrawide” rear camera, offering 2x optical zoom-out.
The Pro models retain the telephoto and normal lenses found in the last generation’s XS and XS Max, while the basic iPhone 11 only has an ultrawide and standard lens.
Apple made a virtue of a new Night Mode, which automatically brightens the image when required while taking steps to minimise the digital noise produced as a result.
Google, Samsung and Huawei had already introduced a similar feature to their handsets.
A new facility called Deep Fusion was also teased. It takes nine snaps with a variety of exposures and then picks through them “pixel by pixel” to combine the best parts from each to create a superior image.
This will not, however, be available at launch but should be added via a software update before the year’s end.
Other enhancements include the ability to shoot slow-motion videos with the front camera.
The handsets’ processor – the A13 Bionic – has also been upgraded.
Apple claims its CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) are more powerful than those featured in any Android phone.
In addition, the chip’s “neural engine” has been optimised to better handle matrix calculations – a type of algebra used by neural networks – and is said to be 20% faster than the A12.
However, the new models are not compatible with Apple’s Pencil stylus, as had been expected by many. That feature was already offered by its lowest-end iPad.
Nor can they wirelessly recharge other devices, unlike Samsung and Huawei’s premium phones.
The handsets also stick with having lightning ports rather than making the shift to USB-C, as has happened with the iPad Pro – which could have made faster data transfers possible.
The iPhone 11 is slightly cheaper than its XR forerunner in the UK, ranging between £729 and £879 depending on the amount of storage.
But the Pro models are more expensive than the XS ones, costing between £1,049 and £1,499.
They go on sale in 10 days time.
Apple experienced a bigger drop in demand for new handsets than many of its rivals over the past year.
But the firm recently reported that its active install base – the number of iPhones in use – was at an “all time high”.
“Several forces play here,” commented Marta Pinto from IDC.
“Apple designs devices that last longer than an average Android device, and it’s been very good at rolling out new versions of its operating system.
“There’s also a very good second-hand trade in iPhones, and the overall smartphone market is slowing down.
“But Apple doesn’t mind because its focus is now turning to services, and its wearables are also doing well.”
The new iPhone line-up does not feature a 5G model, in part because Intel struggled to develop the required modem.
At a time when consumers are holding onto their handsets for longer before upgrading, that could place a further constraint on sales – especially in countries where 5G networks have already launched, such as the UK.
“Given people’s loyalty to iPhone, if they really want 5G they’ll probably just wait,” said Ben Wood from the consultancy CCS Insight.
“That said, don’t be surprised to see rivals, particularly Samsung, positioning 5G devices as ‘future-proof’ options.
“I’m sure they will be arguing that buying a premium priced 4G smartphone right now would be like buying a TV a few years ago that was not HD-Ready.”
Earlier at the event, chief executive Tim Cook revealed that Apple’s two forthcoming subscription services would each cost $4.99 – or £4.99 in the UK – per month.
Apple Arcade – a video games deal offering exclusive access to games that do not feature in-app fees – will become available on 19 September.
It will be followed by Apple TV+ – a television programme and movie-streaming platform with content not available elsewhere – which will make its first shows available on 1 November.
The latter will be cheaper than rival services from Disney and Netflix, but appears to promise less material at this stage.
“I applaud web access to Apple TV+, but would have preferred an Android and Windows app,” commented Mr Moorhead.
There was no mention of Apple bundling the new services with its existing cloud storage, news and music offerings for a discount, as had been speculated.
But it will offer one year’s Apple TV+ membership to consumers buying one of its computers or set-top boxes.
In addition, the company unveiled a new iPad.
The seventh generation model has a 10.2in (25.9cm) screen – making it bigger than before – and will go on sale at the end of the month.
It will start at £349, a £30 increase on the earlier model.
It has now been nearly 13 years since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone.
Apple has since become one of the world’s most valuable companies, in part because of investors’ hopes that it can pull off a similar trick.
“Everyone wants Apple to have a new ‘wow’ product and its got a pretty good track record,” commented Mr Wood.
“But the next big hit is proving elusive right now. My money is still on smart glasses but I think it could still be years before we see anything.”
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