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Apple iPhone XS, XS Plus and XC specs, release date, news and features

By reviews / 10. September 2018

Apple’s upcoming iPhone launch is now just days away. It’s expected there will be three iPhone X replacements announced – currently known as the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XC. 

Rumour has it, the iPhone XS will be an upgraded model of the iPhone X, the iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XS Max will be a larger version and the iPhone XC will be a cheaper aluminium-based version of the iPhone X design, replacing the iPhone 8 models. We still might also get an iPhone SE2 to replace the iPhone SE at some point.

Here’s everything we’ve heard about 2018’s new iPhones.

  • The best smartphones available to buy today

Apple iPhone XS and XC release date and launch

  • 12 September announcement confirmed
  • Pre-orders likely from 21 September

Traditionally, Apple has held its September events within the first couple of weeks of the month, with pre-orders for the devices starting on the Friday of the same week. The iPhone X was an exception to that rule, with pre-orders not starting for six weeks after, in late October. But the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were released according to the traditional pattern.

 

Apple sent out invitations for an event scheduled on 12 September at 10 am PST. The show will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park Campus in Cupertino, California.

Typically, these event invites suggest a theme, and this year is no different, with the invite showing the tagline “Gather Round”, which could reference the ring-shaped building at Apple Park or an iPhone wireless charging circuit. The gold colour is also thought to indicate that we’ll get a gold iPhone XS – read on for more on that. 

Apple will livestream this event online and via the Apple TV. 

Beyond the next iPhone models, Apple could introduce the following: a new Apple Watch Series 4 with a larger display; new iPad Pro models with Face ID and slimmer bezels; upgraded Macs, including a low-cost MacBook and a new Mac Mini (though these Macs might be unveiled at a later event, possibly in October); revamped AirPods with wireless charging; and the much-delayed AirPower charging mat. 

What will the new iPhones be called?

Rumours are pointing towards the names: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or Max and iPhone XC. It seems certain that the new iPhones will predominantly continue with the “X” name. Originally, it was thought the key OLED iPhone, or iPhone X replacement, would be called the iPhone XI (pronounced iPhone 11) or iPhone X2, with standard iPhone 9 naming reserved for a cheaper LCD model that replaces the iPhone 8.

Then the ‘S’ name rumours appeared however and given an “S” year typically follows a big redesign year, the iPhone XS, XS Plus or XS Max branding makes sense. It is thought the XI branding may be a 2019 thing instead. The iPhone XS Max appeared on 9to5Mac after it was reported Apple might drop the ‘Plus’ part of the name. The site didn’t offer any substantiation for the name, though given rivals like Samsung also use “+”, Max isn’t an unreasonable suggestion even if XS Plus is also still plausible.

The iPhone XC meanwhile, also makes more sense to us than iPhone 9, especially given the cheaper device is still expected to follow the iPhone X’s design – more on that in a minute. Apple last used the ‘C’ branding in 2013 with the iPhone 5C, which was a cheaper model of the iPhone 5S, available in a selection of colours – exactly what is rumoured for the iPhone 8 replacement.

What can we expect from the new iPhone design? 

  • Touch ID and the home button to be ditched completely
  • iPhone X-style design on all 2018 models
  • Stainless steel frame predicted to remain for all but bottom model

Apple made some big design changes to the iPhone with the iPhone X. It moved away from what has defined the iPhone for the last decade by removing the Touch ID home button on the front and replacing it with a notch at the top of the display, housing a new technology called Face ID.

The iPhone X design will take precedent for all 2018 iPhone models. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said the iPhone X laid the foundations for the next 10 years of the iPhone and all the rumours point to the X design across all three of the 2018 iPhones.

Apple iPhone XS and XS Plus design

The iPhone XS is expected to follow the same design as the current iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Plus or Max is expected to be a larger version of the iPhone X but again with the same design. This means we can expect a combination of stainless steel and glass for both, with all features, ports and buttons likely in the same positions as the iPhone X.

Early on there were rumours that Apple might launch a gold version of the iPhone X this year and a huge, very legitimate-looking image leak reported by 9to5Mac suggests this is very likely. We’re expecting the gold to be an additional option to the Silver and Space Grey finishes already available for the current iPhone X.

Apple iPhone XC design

The cheapest iPhone meanwhile, currently known as the iPhone XC, is likely to be the phone with the most differences both from the iPhone 8 it replaces and from the iPhone X.

It’s been claimed the iPhone XC will be aluminium, as used on the iPhone 7 and before, so may not feature wireless charging. That said, Apple seems pretty set on moving over to wireless charging – we’re finally due to get the AirPower charging mat soon – and with the iPhone 8 models offering glass backs, we’d be surprised if the XC didn’t too.

We’d think it is more likely the aluminium rumour refers to the XC’s core. Stainless steel is the material of choice for the the iPhone X’s core, and likely to be for the iPhone XS and XS Plus, so a switch to aluminium for the XC would allow Apple to cut costs.

Apple iPhone XS and XC displays 

  • Three models likely
  • Sizes ranging from 5.8-inches to 6.5-inches
  • 18:9 aspect ratio expected for all

Apple made a move to OLED with the iPhone X so it comes as no surprise that the company is predicted to continue to offer OLED options in 2018. Analyst Ming Chi-Kuo believes there will be a 6.5-inch OLED model, a 5.8-inch OLED model and a 6.1-inch LCD model.

The analyst shared an infographic that suggests the 6.1-inch LCD model will offer a footprint between the current iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus despite the larger screen, which would be possible should it adopt the 18:9 aspect ratio of the iPhone X, something that’s also shown in the infographic.

An image from case maker Olixar showing screen protectors supports Kuo’s theory of three sizes, as does a separate image from case maker Mous, adding to the speculation. Aside from pixels and size, we’d expect to see a continuation of 3D Touch on all models, the P3 wide colour gamut and Apple’s True Tone technology on some, if not all 2018 models. Apple Pencil support may also come to some of the 2018 iPhones, though if it does, we’d expect this on the XS and XS Plus rather than the XC.

  • What is Apple’s True Tone technology?

Apple iPhone XS and XS Plus displays

Based on Kuo’s infographic and the circulating rumours surrounding the three new iPhones, the iPhone XS will be the smallest with the 5.8-inch OLED display and the iPhone XS Plus will be the largest with the 6.5-inch OLED screen.

In terms of resolution, Kuo predicts the iPhone XS or the 5.8-inch model will offer 458ppi, which is the same as the current iPhone X, meaning a resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels. He also predicted, the 6.5-inch model would offer a pixel density of between 480 and 500ppi.

Apple iPhone XC display

The Apple iPhone XC meanwhile is rumoured to be the cheaper iPhone as we’ve mentioned. It’s therefore expected to be the 6.1-inch LCD model represented on the Kuo infographic, or LED-backlit Retina HD display as Apple is more likely to call it. The LCD panel will allow Apple to keep costs down, like the aluminium core.

Kuo predicts the 6.1-inch model would have a pixel density between 320 and 330 pixels per inch, which is in the same ballpark as the current iPhone 8 which sits at 326ppi with its 1334 x 750 resolution. The iPhone XC will need to have a resolution between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in order to meet Kuo’s 320-330ppi prediction but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Full HD panel on the XC, like the iPhone 8 Plus. 

  • What is Apple’s True Tone technology?

Apple iPhone XS and XC cameras

  • New TrueDepth camera rumoured
  • FaceID expected on all three models
  • XC might retain singular rear camera

Analysts from Barclays Bank claimed in mid-February that the 2018 iPhone would have a smaller ‘notch’ than the iPhone X, based on reports and meetings they had during CES 2018 in January, though this is now expected for the 2019 model. The analysts – Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, Joseph Wolf and Blayne Curtis – believe there will be a second-generation TrueDepth camera system though, which is the element of the iPhone X responsible for FaceID and Animojis.

Following this, Finisar, who provide the VCSEL laser modules for the TrueDepth camera system, hinted in March that the technology will be coming to multiple iPhones this year  – tallying with what we’ve seen in previous rumours including the prediction from analyst Kuo. Finisar is opening up a new plant in Sherman, Texas, with the funding coming from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

This suggests it’s gearing up for its components to be used in a lot more devices than just iPhone X, supporting the idea that all three new iPhones will have the iPhone X design and therefore FaceID. The new iPad Pro is also expected to come with FaceID. 

Apple iPhone XS and XS Plus cameras

The Apple iPhone X features a dual-rear camera, as does the iPhone 8 Plus so we’re expecting the iPhone XS and XS Plus or Max to offer a dual-lens setup on the rear too. It is not yet clear whether this will be the same camera as the iPhone X, but if it is, you can expect a 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide-angle camera coupled with a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto camera.

Taiwanese news outlet Economic Daily News reported in April that it is expecting an iPhone with a triple-lens camera system in 2019 and Bloomberg claimed Apple is developing a “3D sensor” for the back of the 2019 iPhone. We’re certainly not expecting either this year though.

It is likely improvements will be made here and there over the iPhone X, but we’re expecting it to be software rather than hardware. You can bet you’ll see features including Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting, Live Photos with stabilisation, tap to focus and wide colour capture for photos, as the current device offers.

Apple iPhone XC camera

Despite rumours suggesting the iPhone XC will feature the TrueDepth front camera like the iPhone XS and XS Plus, it’s been suggested there will only be a singular lens on the rear.

Many of these reports come from case information we’ve received, so definitely don’t take it as gospel for now but a number of case manufacturers are expecting the 6.1-inch model to offer a singular rear camera like the standard iPhone 8.

If this is the case, it could be the iPhone 8’s 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture camera with optical image stabilisation, a Quad-LED True Tone flash and features including Live Photos, or we could see a different module. Like the iPhone XS and XS Plus, the iPhone XC would likely offer improvements over the iPhone 8 though, even if the same camera module is used, but it is not yet clear whether additional features might be added to the single-lens offering, like Portrait Mode.

  • What is Apple FaceID and how does it work?

Apple iPhone XS and XC hardware 

  • New A11X or A12 chip likely
  • Battery improvements expected
  • Storage will probably start from at least 64GB
  • No headphone jack

All the 2017 Apple iPhone models featured the same A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, a neural engine and an embedded M11 motion coprocessor so it’s likely the three new iPhones will also have the same chip. This chip is likely to be either the A11X processor or the A12 chip, depending on what Apple chooses to call it. Either way, it will no doubt offer performance improvements and almost certainly battery improvements.

Rumours have suggested we can expect around 40 per cent battery life improvements thanks to TSMC’s new 7nm manufacturing process, though KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo puts battery improvements at around 25 per cent in the XS thanks to a new two-cell battery. Either way, the flagship iPhone should last longer – no surprise there. Faster charging tech is expected too, with rumours of Apple upgrading its charging circuitry from 5V 2A to 9V 2A and 5V 3A. 

Current storage options for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X are 64GB and 256GB so we’d guess the same will apply for any 2018 models, unless Apple opts to start options at 128GB. Some rumours are suggesting a top-end storage capacity of 512GB, which isn’t an unreasonable suggestion, especially after Samsung announced this storage capacity as an option for the recently-announced Note 9.

None of the 2018 models are likely to feature microSD for storage expansion as Apple devices never have done, though it has been claimed dual-SIM might make an appearance on the new iPhones. It might be only on the cheaper iPhone though – the XC – and the capability may only ship in certain territories so don’t get too excited.

It’s also been predicted that all the iPhone 2018 models will support gigabit LTE data transmission speeds and 4×4 MIMO standards, something several devices already support. If true, expect faster speeds and the potential of improved coverage in low coverage areas. 

Apple iPhone XS and XC software

  • iOS 12

The software is about the only thing we can be certain about when it comes to the new iPhones. All three will no doubt launch on iOS 12, with the software release likely offered to older iPhone models around the same time as the new iPhones go on sale.

Apple has said it is “doubling down on performance” with this iOS 12 update, plus there are enhancements to Photos, Siri and ARKit to name but a few. Apps also open faster, too.

You can read all about iOS 12 in our first impressions for a full run down of the software experience you can expect on the new iPhones.

  • iOS 12 features, release date, and everything you need to know

Apple iPhone XS and XC price

  • XC likely to be cheapest
  • XS Plus likely to be most expensive 
  • Expecting starting price range between £700 and £1100

The current iPhone 8 starts at £699, creeping up to £799 for the iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X starts at £999.

We’d expect the iPhone XC to therefore start around the £700 mark like the iPhone 8, though it might be a little higher, perhaps closer to the iPhone 8 Plus price.

The iPhone XS is likely to start around the £999 mark like its predecessor, hopefully not creeping over the £1000 mark and maybe even dropping in price slightly. We’d expect the XS Plus to move past the £1000 mark though. As usual nothing is confirmed but we will update this feature on Wednesday when we have all the official information.

  • Pre-register now at The Carphone Warehouse to be first in line for the new iPhone

Original source: http://www.pocket-lint.com/phones/news/apple/142864-apple-iphone-xs-news-release-date-specs-features-price

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