Apple introduces iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR with better Portrait Mode and Smart HDR
|iPhone XS and XS Max|
Apple has unveiled the next generation of its iPhone X in the form of three variants: the 5.8" iPhone XS and 6.5" iPhone XS Max with OLED displays, and an iPhone XR with 6.1" LCD "Liquid Retina" screen. iPhone XS and XS Max offer dual-camera modules like the X, while the XR uses a single 12MP wide-angle camera.
The iPhone XS and XS Max's dual-camera module includes a new, larger 12MP sensor behind the wide-angle lens, with 1.4 µm pixels (up from 1.22 µm). The telephoto camera is still 12MP, and both lenses offer optical stabilization as they do on the iPhone X. The rear camera's True Tone flash as been improved, and the front-facing camera has been updated with a faster 7MP sensor.
The iPhone XR uses the same updated 12MP sensor as the XS and XS Max, and is still able to produce Portrait Mode effects without a secondary rear camera – Apple says it uses the sensor's focus pixels to produce a depth map.
On the software side, Apple has put some effort into improving the bokeh effect in Portrait Mode and now allows for post-capture adjustment of depth-of-field for stills in the native camera app, which is available on all three new phones.
...the camera will buffer four frames pre-capture for a "zero shutter lag" effect
A new Smart HDR mode is also available in all three devices, and leans even further into computational photography. When a moving subject is detected, the camera will buffer four frames pre-capture for a "zero shutter lag" effect. An image signal processor works with the device's CPU to analyze scenes and do a better job of isolating Portrait Mode subjects. Apple says the camera captures secondary interframes at different exposures to capture highlight and shadow detail, analyzes the information and merges it into one image.
The XS and XS Max include an IP68 water resistance rating, while the XR offers an IP67 rating consistent with the iPhone X's.
Both XS and XS Max offer a Super Retina OLED HDR screen, and Apple claims the displays offer a 60% improvement in dynamic range compared to the iPhone X. We considered the OLED display on the X to already be class-leading in its dynamic range and wide P3 color gamut, so this is an impressive accomplishment. The XS screen is (not surprisingly) spec'd identically to the iPhone X's with 2.7 million pixels and 458 ppi, though the XS Max's display is the largest to appear in an iPhone to date with 3.3 million pixels at 458 ppi. Both screens will render HDR photos and HDR streaming content from the likes of Netflix with high contrast and a wide color gamut.
The XR stands on its own with an LCD, a 1792 x 828, 326ppi display Apple designates as "Liquid Retina." It's not designated an 'HDR' display like the XS models, and there's no 3D touch present, but the display provides haptic feedback. The device uses the same updated front-facing camera as the XS and XS Max (yep, there's a notch on this one too) enabling Face ID and front-facing Portrait Mode.
iPhone XS and XS Max will arrive first, shipping September 21st in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations. The XS starts at $999; the XS Max starts at $1099. The iPhone XR will ship October 26th starting at $749 with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB configurations.