Apple iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, Apple Watch launch – what the industry experts have to say

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We asked four industry experts and commentators for their views on yesterday’s Apple iPhone and Apple Watch launch….

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight:

“The iPhone XS Max is undoubtedly the star of the show. It builds on the success of the iPhone X and offers one of the biggest displays on the market, but in a design that doesn’t look as though you have a giant 6.5-inch screen in your hand.

“The belated introduction of a larger screen in the iPhone 6 Plus resulted in a surge in demand from Apple fans. The iPhone XS Max fulfils the widespread expectation of a larger display on an iPhone X and will prompt a similar flood of upgrades like the one in 2014. The iPhone XS Max tightens Apple’s grip on the high-end smartphone segment, but more importantly represents a new premium vehicle for Apple’s rapidly growing services business.

“Introducing dual SIMs in all markets is a bold move by Apple too and something that will give mobile operators a lot to think about. Having pioneered the technology on the iPad and Watch, it was only a matter of time before Apple brought it to the iPhone. The potential for new business models is limited while Apple continues to offer a physical SIM card slot alongside the e-SIM capability, but if it eventually decides to get rid of the physical SIM it will have significant implications for how customers buy airtime in the future.

“Apple’s advantage of being able to offer hardware, software and services has never been more visible, particularly in areas such as machine learning and augmented reality. It can do things that rivals which make hardware – but which have to buy chips from third parties and get software from Google – struggle to match.

“Apple will face some inevitable criticism that these products offer only small improvements on prior successes. However, the fact that Apple has sold almost 2 billion iOS devices to date is testament to the success of the iPhone recipe since 2007.

“At the launch of the iPhone X, Tim Cook declared the new device was a platform that would form the basis for hardware, software and service innovation over the coming years. Although the devices unveiled this week are an iteration of what came before, Apple is staying true to its vision.”

“History tells us that every time Apple introduces a new larger-screen iPhone, it prompts a surge in upgrades by existing owners. We expect the iPhone XS Max to have exactly the same effect despite its $1,099 price tag.”
Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight

Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.comsays

“Apple has for a couple of years now moved away from placing all of the impetus on the arrival of its one flagship smartphone, instead choosing to champion multiple devices at its annual launch bonanza.

“Apple’s change of tack acknowledges that as improvements to smartphone technology become less notable and more about refining existing features, mobile users are now choosing to look beyond the allure of the latest flashy tech.

“In this year’s bumper launch, its trio of iPhone handsets builds on the success of the iPhone X by branching out to the enthusiasts with the XS Max while also experimenting with new colours in the XR to reach a more cost conscious crowd.

“As expected, there are no stand-out features here – just a batch of solid improvements aimed at refining user experience, such as longer battery life and cameras that can cope with low light. Despite the fairly modest fanfare, E-Sim functionality is the closest Apple comes this year to a big leap forward.

“Design-wise, the XR, XS and XS Max all double down on on-trend design elements, from edge-to-edge displays and the increasingly ubiquitous notch.

“While not the flashiest of the three, the XR will undoubtedly cause the biggest stir as Apple returns to the attractive yet more affordable blueprint offered by the SE. In comparison to the XS the XR still offers a high end Apple experience with a reduced price tag and some users may feel the slight compromise in tech specs is worth the reduction in price.

“With new research suggesting that an astonishing quarter of iPhone users are still using 6 and 6s models – released in 2014 and 2015 respectively – a number of these cost-wary Apple devotees might see the arrival of the more affordable XR as the time to upgrade.”

James Brown, director of gadget insurance provider Protect Your Bubble:

“For the second year in a row, Apple has gifted us with three handsets in one go and this year the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR have landed at an exciting time for the trillion-dollar company.

“The tech giant has really tried to cover all bases and each handset deserves its own place in the smartphone market, each one appealing to different lifestyles and budgets. While still not bringing the functionality of expandable memory to the devices, half a terabyte of built-in storage won’t go amiss for consumers and their ever-expanding libraries of photos, videos, music and more.

While Apple isn’t reinventing the wheel with these handsets, they have taken the most innovative and exciting aspects of the original iPhone X and made them accessible to Apple enthusiasts at both ends of the spectrum.

The home button is now firmly a thing of the past. All three handsets now make use of Face ID, though it will be interesting to see if Apple has guaranteed the same level of sophistication – and usability – across all devices.

More affordable handsets from Apple have historically been available in a much broader array of colours and the iPhone XR is no different. In following suit with other smartphone manufacturers around the world, Apple are also placing a greater emphasis on appearance as a key differentiator, rather than relying on the hardware alone.

“Having said that, the rich OLED screen included in the iPhone XS and XS Max displays will help users realise stunning shots taken by the phone’s top-end camera. Even the iPhone XR, which looks set to be the more pragmatic, everyday device will boast an impressive LED ‘liquid retina’ screen which certainly won’t scrimp on the visuals either.

“These iPhone handsets are testament to how Apple is constantly looking to innovate in an increasingly busy space – a sector that is now dominated by Asian manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei.”

“While not the flashiest of the three, the XR (pictured above) will undoubtedly cause the biggest stir as Apple returns to the attractive yet more affordable blueprint offered by the SE.”
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com

More resistant to damage?

Julian Shovlin, founder and managing director of iSmash, the UK’s high street tech repair store:

“Much was said in the presentation about the durability of the new range of Apple products, where they highlighted significant changes intended to make iPhones more resistant to external damage.

“Our customer data from previous Apple product launches shows that new models are historically just as breakable as the older versions. With this in mind and given what we have seen today, we expect the break-ability of the new range of iPhone models to be equivalent to previous generations… but only time will tell.

“What will likely change is the cost to repair the new models. The introduction of the super retina OLED display on the XS and XS Max and larger screen sizes could hit consumer’s wallets hard as the cost of replacing a smashed OLED screen is twice as high on average than repairing an LCD screen.”


Apple Watch Series 4

James Brown, director of gadget insurance provider Protect Your Bubble:

“With a screen a third larger than its predecessor, the Series 4 Apple Watch (pictured above) brings a clearer display that avoids adding bulk and slashes the total volume of the device. It’s reassuring to know that this enhanced display and upgrades to its health tracking will not see you charging the device at all hours of the day, with the promise of 18 hours wear time in the Series 4.

“Apple knows all too well that the success or failure of wearable tech hinges on its ability to solve real-world problems, and health is the focus this year, with the built-in ECG monitor. Apple is perfecting the art of engaging an increasingly health-conscious consumer — and with surgical precision”.

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight: 

“After three generations of evolutionary products, the new Apple Watch is the first major update we’ve seen in this product category. It adds a bigger screen, a significant step forward in usability and some impressive health-related features. I think it’ll spark a wave of upgrades from customers with one of the original Series 1 or Series 2 devices.

“Getting FDA approval for the health features on the new watch underlines Apple’s leadership in wrist-worn tech. It’s an arduous process that no other consumer wearable company has successfully navigated. It’s going to be interesting to see how the healthcare industry reacts to this development and it reflects the important role that health is going to play in wearable products.

Apple iPhone XR and Pricing

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight:

“The introduction of the iPhone XR challenges convention by offering a larger display at a lower price than the iPhone XS. Although it might initially cause some confusion, it provides another option for buyers and enables the iPhone XS Max to stand out as the product of choice for consumers wanting the best hardware and largest display.

“The iPhone XS Max once again takes Apple into new territory when it comes to price. At $1,099 it’s the most expensive iPhone to date, but I have little doubt that it’ll be a huge success. It underlines what a powerful franchise Apple has created and that the public’s love affair with the iPhone is stronger than ever.

“Apple continues to break all the rules when it comes to consumer electronics pricing. Once again it’s increasing the price of its flagship device. It comes at a time when rivals like Samsung are under huge pressure, and it simply confirms the premium that people are prepared to pay for Apple products. History tells us that every time Apple introduces a new larger-screen iPhone, it prompts a surge in upgrades by existing owners. We expect the iPhone X S Max to have exactly the same effect despite its $1,099 price tag.”

“The iPhone XR takes Apple into new territory and is a product that competitors will be watching with interest. People generally link screen size to price, but the 6.1-inch display on the iPhone XR comes with a starting price of $749, which is $250 cheaper than the 5.8-inch iPhone XS.

“With this launch Apple is offering its widest portfolio of iPhones to date. The iPhone X S and X S Max will appeal to long-time iPhone owners looking to upgrade, while the iPhone X R offers most of the features of the top-of-the-range devices at a much lower price, albeit with a less capable camera and screen. With the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus all staying in the market, Apple has marshalled a line-up that will daunt its competitors.”

 

Chris Price