Apple’s big hardware event for 2019 just wrapped up at the Steve Jobs Theater over at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino and, as expected, Apple laid out its vision of the future (or the next couple of quarters, at the very least) for iPhone, Watch and most of its Services play. Here’s a rundown of all the major announcements made by Apple at today’s event and my first impressions based on using the new hardware in the demo area.
Apple iPhone 11
First Impressions: The look and feel is largely unchanged from last year’s iPhone XR, but the new 11 features a shatter-resistant chassis. The A13 Bionic is shared with the Pro models and builds on the speed advances Apple showed off with last year’s A12 Bionic, though exactly how much it has improved will have to wait till our full review.
The XR’s single camera gives way to a two-camera setup, with Apple adding in an ultra-wide-angle lens alongside the standard lens, which clearly adds such much-needed added perspective that we’ve already seen in all the top Android flagships of the year so far.
What’s more interesting is that Apple has an all new Night mode which kicks in when there isn’t enough light in the scene. For now, with a brightly lit demo area, this wasn’t something we could test, so we only have the sample images on the phones to go by, and the claimed results have us really looking forward to trying this out.
The biggest news is the pricing—the iPhone 11 will launch in September at a starting price (INR 64,900) that’s twelve grand cheaper than the XR’s launch price, something that will likely sell a lot more units when it launches in India.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max
During the hands-on time, a few things jumped out at me. One, just how bright the Pro series displays were, even in the exceptionally brightly lit demo area. That said, if Apple is able to deliver on the four-hour better battery life, that’s enough to be excited about.
The camera interface too, is much improved – the viewfinder takes up the whole screen, and the zoom dial shows you zoom levels and focal lengths rather precisely. It was tough to get an accurate sense of the A13 Bionic chipset, but the few high res Apple Arcade games I tried, ran smoothly.
The matte finish on the rear feels good in the hand, and that green color is pretty gorgeous in person, even if you can’t make that out from the photos. 3D Touch has been left out, and most folks will likely not even realize it.
How much this phone deserves the “Pro” moniker as compared to the iPhone 11 is yet to be seen.
iPad 7th generation
By borrowing some of the features from the Pro models, the iPad continues to deliver massive bang for the buck. By adding in Pencil and Smart Connector support, the iPad is closer than ever to the iPad Air, but the A10 Fusion and the slightly chunky-in-comparison design differentiates it from the Air.
Of course, it will run iPadOS, which will allow the iPad 7th generation to finally compete with cheap Chromebooks and budget Windows laptops, and the Pencil and Smart Keyboard support up and down the price segments is smart streamlining from Apple.
Apple Watch Series 5
The always-on display is the big upgrade, and it works like this: you can see the watch face, data and complications and all, at a dim-but-glanceable brightness all the time, which ramps up to full brightness when you lift your wrist up. Works as advertised, and you can quickly dim it by placing your palm over the watch face.
The compass had a bit of a slow start in the basement demo area, but when it does work, it can show you walking directions in Maps or tell you where to find that restaurant in the Yelp app. The new titanium finishes are clearly sturdier and more scratch resistant than the rest, if you’re okay with spending significantly more.
Services, Services, Services
Apple’s “subscription-based access to exclusive games” Arcade service is coming September 19alongside the iOS 13 launch to 150 countries, and India gets a sweet deal with a 99-bucks-a-month price point once you’re done with the one-month free trial. With over 100 new, exclusive titles from Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom, Konami and Lego, among others, Arcade games will be playable across iOS, macOS and tvOS devices.
Apple TV+ will roll out November 1 for INR 99 per month with a seven-day free trial. If you happen to pick up a new iPhone or iPad, you’ll get the service free for a year—if that isn’t Apple pushing hard into the services space, I don’t know what is.