September 12, 2018

2018 Apple September event takeaways

Here's what you need to know from today's annual iPhone/Watch event.

Apple Watch: This year's Series 4 is the first ever significant Watch redesign with a much more elegant screen to body ratio. It's not quite edge-to-edge, but getting there in a noticeable way. As with any wearable, appearance and design are the primary qualities that consumers care about and people will pay a significant premium for the right design. That's why mechanical watches frequently command 5-6 figures.


The other notable addition is a ECG (electrocardiogram) sensor directly on the digital crown, which is apparently the first direct-to-consumer ECG device on the market, hidden away in a wearable no less. We're just scratching the surface of what will be possible with more advanced technology focused on personal health. Most of Apple's product lines today are mature - and somewhat stagnant - so it's refreshing to see Apple pushing the bar here.

Aside from the new design and health features, Series 4 is 2x faster with other miscellaneous hardware improvements, and of course will include WatchOS 5 with new watch faces, automatic workout detection, a podcasts app, etc.

I've bought every generation of the Apple Watch, but eventually returned or sold them all because they never had staying power versus my daily wear Speedmaster.

iPhone: There are 3 new iPhone models (that are all horrendously named):

iPhone XS
iPhone XS Max
iPhone XR


There was quite a bit of information to digest here with the new iPhones, but here's what you need to know.

The XS is physically the same phone as last year's iPhone X with better hardware (faster CPU, better camera, faster FaceID, etc.) which are all the standard improvements you would expect from a 'S' cycle.

The XS Max is a larger XS (6.5" OLED vs 5.8" OLED) but is otherwise the same device with slightly better battery life due to the larger body size.

The iPhone XR is both the cheapest of the new models, as well as the most interesting. Apple has packaged all of the features that consumers care about in the XS line into an iPhone that is $250 cheaper. Sure the XR uses a 6.1" LCD instead of OLED, but nobody will really notice and it has the same physical screen design and Face ID. In fact, most people will probably prefer the larger screen of the XR (6.1") versus the XS (5.8"). This is very clearly the new mainstream iPhone with several fresh new colors, and such an easy recommendation for family and friends.

One fun fact: the 2018 iPhone models finally share the same network bands, so you can buy one of these and be able to switch to any other carrier. In the X generation, the Verizon/Sprint models were compatible with all carriers, but the T-Mobile/AT&T models were not compatible with Verizon/Sprint.

I have a silver 64GB iPhone X, and will be upgrading to a space gray 64GB iPhone XS through the Apple Upgrade Program. If I wasn't in the program, I would strongly have considered avoiding the upgrade cycle this year.

And if you somehow got to the end and want a little more, just watch this.