By Rex Crum The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Among the features of the new Xs models are faster Face ID recognition technology, a portrait mode for the phones' camera that allows for manual adjustment of a photo's depth of field, and water resistance of 30 minutes in up to two meters of water.
The Mercury News
Apple might have started its annual September product event Wednesday with a video inspired by the "Mission: Impossible" movie franchise, but in setting a new bar for pricing its biggest generator of sales, Chief Executive Tim Cook & Co. are saying they think nothing is impossible when it comes to juicing demand for the iPhone.
Apple used the event at its Apple Park campus to show off three new versions of the iPhone X, and Cook wasted little time stating the company's purpose.
"Today, we're going to take iPhone X to the next level," Cook said at the gathering held with Apple Park's Steve Jobs Theater. "(It's) by far the most advanced iPhone we have ever created."
The focus of the event was the release of the iPhone Xs, the iPhone Xs Max and the iPhone Xr. All three models of the iPhone come with glass screens that cover the entire front of the phones. The iPhone Xs has a 5.8-inch diagonal screen, while the iPhone Xr screen measures 6.1 inches and the iPhone Xs Max comes with a 6 1/2-inch screen that is the largest yet for an iPhone.
Among the features of the new Xs models are faster Face ID recognition technology, a portrait mode for the phones' camera that allows for manual adjustment of a photo's depth of field, and water resistance of 30 minutes in up to two meters of water. The Xr has many of the same features of the Xs, but is water-resistant in up to one meter of water.
Apple said the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will be available for pre-ordering on Sept. 14 and begin shipping Sept. 21, and pre-orders for the iPhone Xr will begin Oct. 19, with initial shipping set for Oct. 26.
Depending on the phone model, and the amount of storage in the device, one of the new iPhones could make a sizable dent in someone's wallet: The iPhone Xr starts at $749, the iPhone Xs begins at $999 and the iPhone Xs Max claims the title of Apple's most expensive iPhone, with an introductory price tag of $1,099. All three phones come with either 64, 256 or 512 gigabytes of storage.
But even with iPhone prices now easily reaching into four digits, analysts who follow Apple don't expect demand to decline any time soon.
"That won't deter customers," said Angelo Zino, of CFRA Research. "At the end of the day, consumers are going to view iPhones as a utility and whether it costs them $25 or $45 a month, they can spread the cost out over time. And that allows Apple to continue to upcharge on its iPhones."
Apple also isn't wasting any time trying to get some of those new, expensive iPhone sales on the books for its current business quarter, which ends at the end of September, and also set itself up for the Christmas and holiday shopping season.
"It's classic Apple and Tim Cook," said Clement Thibault, senior analyst with Investing.com. "People reacted well to the $1,000 iPhone, so here's a slightly bigger and stronger $1,100 iPhone. The brilliance of Tim Cook has always been his ability to optimize and maximize Apple's business, and he's done exactly that today."
It wasn't all iPhones for Apple on Wednesday. The company also showed off Apple Watch Series 4, which starts at $399, or $499 with cellular capability. The new Apple Watch comes with a screen more than 30 percent larger than the prior version, and offers features such as the ability to anticipate a person falling, and an app that can take an electrocardiogram of a person's heart.
Cook didn't give any sales figures for the Apple Watch, but claimed it has become the best-selling smartwatch on the market, and best-selling watch overall.
But, even though Apple started the event with updates on the Apple Watch, that device was really just the opening act for the headliner, which was the iPhone.
Apple cut the introductory price of its iPhone 8 line to $599 from $699, and lowered the price of the iPhone 7 to $449 from $549.
"I think it's as exciting an iPhone lineup as they have ever had," said Gene Munster, principal of Loup Ventures. "They checked all the boxes. If you put all of this together, they're putting the screws down in extracting revenue and nailing all the pricing tiers."