Apple Catches Our Eye with Much Anticipated Devices

If you are among the millions of Apple faithful, you were probably glued to your streaming device to catch a glimpse of the new Apple products announced today.  With so much hype and speculation circulating in recent months, it’s hard to believe that the wait is almost over and these new devices will soon be in our hands.  But which device is the right one for you?   In this article, we will go over some specs of the newly released iPhone Xr, XS, XS Max and the new Series 4 Watch.  One thing is certain… Apple has its eyes on photographers, with improvements across its entire line that will continue the company’s progression in the imaging market.

Is bigger better?  The iPhone XS (pronounced ten-es) and XS Max are nearly identical besides size differences.  iPhone XS is 5.8 inches whereas the XS Max is 6.5 inches and is now the largest Apple phone to date. The XS Max also has a bigger battery (offering up to a full 90 minutes more use). Both phones have dual rear cameras and True Depth Camera for face ID.  XS has a price tag starting at $999 whereas the Max starts at $1099.  You will be able to choose from colors space gray, silver, and gold in both devices as well as 64GB, 256GB or 512GB.  So if you like bigger screens and a higher price tag the XS Max might just be the ticket.

Image result for iphone xs

While these are certainly beautiful devices, as you’d expect from Apple’s legendary design group, one quote from the presentation stuck out for us… and that’s the claim that the iPhone is the “world’s most popular camera“.  Of course, if you pick out only one or maybe 2 years, over the last 10 or so that the iPhone has been in the market with image making functionality, that MAY be true, but it seems a bit of a stretch given all the many options across both mobile devices and traditional cameras.

That said, your inner photographer may be jumping up and down with some questions about the new camera features.  The front and rear cameras on both the XS and the XS Max have the same resolution as last year’s models (dual 12-megapixel wide-angle and telephoto for the rear camera and 7-megapixel camera for the front that is 2x as fast as the last generation).  However, Apple has made several improvements, with upgraded sensors and software your images will be even sharper. There is also an extra plus while in portrait mode, the depth of field can be adjusted after the image has been taken.  Apple’s site provides a full breakdown of the tech specs, but here’s some of the top items on the camera:

  • Dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras
  • Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 apertureImage result for iphone xs
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture
  • 2x optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with five effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono)
  • Dual optical image stabilization
  • Six‑element lens
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Panorama (up to 63MP)
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • Tap to focus with Focus Pixels
  • Smart HDR for photos
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Local tone mapping
  • Advanced red-eye correction
  • Exposure control
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • Photo geotagging
  • Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG

HDR capabilities have been given a face lift to Smart HDR, “It makes taking photos easier than ever to get beautiful results,” Phil Schiller said.  Cnet reports it’s a “step toward Google’s HDR approach in its Pixel smartphones, which stacks multiple underexposed shots into an HDR shot to control the highlights.”

For fans of shooting video on your phone, take a look at this:

  • 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
  • Optical image stabilization for video
  • 2x optical zoom; digital zoom up to 6x
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
  • Time‑lapse video with stabilization
  • Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
  • Continuous autofocus video
  • Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
  • Playback zoom
  • Video geotagging
  • Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
  • Stereo recording

Still more, the TrueDepth Camera offers:

  • 7MP camera
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with five effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono)
  • Animoji and Memoji
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • Smart HDR for photos
  • Extended dynamic range for video at 30 fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Retina Flash
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Exposure control
  • Timer mode

Another VERY awesome aspect for photographers… the top storage option offers 512GB, enough to store (according to Apple), a whopping 200,000 photos on the phone.  If you’re looking at this list and thinking it’s very much the same as the iPhone X (ten) launched in ’17, you’re right… Let’s remember, after all, that this is an “S” series launch, just like when Apple went from the iPhone 6 to the 6S in September of the following year.  From a photography standpoint, though, while not much has visibly changed in the phone or the specs, and these are great optics, the sensor, image processing pathway (between the image processor and the ‘nerual engine’) and the software behind running it all is where Apple has made most of the improvement.  The bottom line here is that Apple is getting closer all the time to a device that you always have with you that can shoot nearly as well in many (or most) aspects as other top cameras. In fact, more professional photographers all the time are shooting portfolios, weddings, magazine covers and more on iPhones (or other phones).

Now, on to the heart of the new Apple devices, the A12 Bionic processor.  Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?  Phil Schiller calls it “the smartest and most powerful chip ever in a smartphone.”  This chip runs 9 times faster than last year’s chips.  (However, Verge pointed out that “Huawei unveiled the 7nm Kirin 980 last month, although that won’t ship till October.” ) But what does this mean for the average user?   Pete Pachal, tech editor at Mashable broke it down in a recent tweet-

What the A12 Bionic means in pratical terms

-Apps launch up to 30% faster

-Realtime machine learning improves visuals like Memoji and group FaceTime

-CoreML runs 9x faster at 1/10 of the power, meaning developers can take advantage of   machine learning, too

For photographers, these amazing Apple chips mean improved image signal processing (i.e. better red-eye reduction, better detail, improved focus, noise reduction, etc.).

These two phones sound like they have all the nuts and bolts of a truly innovative and beautifully designed phone. You can pre-order the XS and XS Max on Friday, September 14.

But if those prices aren’t quite within your range, then check out iPhone XR.  iPhone XR is more affordable than the high-end XS or the XS Max, making it a bit of an easier reach and still a classy choice for a broader range of people and lifestyles.  The XR has a few more colors to choose from too, it comes in 6 colors, white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red, phew that’s a lot.  It’s not just the colors that you should be excited about but the price tag is a little bit nicer too, starting at $749 and you can pre-order this phone on Friday, October 19th.

Don’t worry, though, you won’t be sacrificing style or function for the price on the XR, for its 6.1-Inch Liquid Retina Display, holds itself out as the “most color accurate in the industry.”  Furthermore, the XR still has the A12 Bionic chip processor, a sleek design and advanced camera system.  You can check out more of the iPhone XR specs at Apple’s Newsroom.

For fans of hard living and adventuring, the phones offer 2 splash, water and dust resistance, to a max depth of 2 meters and up to 30 minutes.

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about the new Series 4 Watch. “Apple Watch is not only the No. 1 smartwatch in the world, it’s the No. 1 watch, period,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the”Gather Round”  event at Apple Park headquarters.  There are several new and cool features on the Series 4 beyond the 30% bigger screen and 18-hour battery life.  We like that you’re able to generate your own ECG (electrocardiogram) anytime for your physician and the Fall Detection is a really cool function as well.  This watch is making it easier for a healthier you by providing more ways to track and set personal goals while you workout, and who wouldn’t like that.  The Series 4 Watch starts with a price tag of $399 and pre-orders start this Friday, September 14.

It’s not too soon to start your holiday wish list, nor is it a  bad idea to start saving up for one if not a couple of Apples latest innovations!