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Posts tagged with "iPhone XS"

Apple Launches Smart Battery Cases for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR

Apple today updated its online store with the addition of three new products: Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Every version of the case costs $129, regardless of iPhone size. Each new case is available in both Black and White, and the designs resemble that of the previous Apple Smart Battery Cases, with a silicone exterior and a large bulge on the back to accommodate the battery.

The Smart Battery Case is compatible with Qi chargers, so you can still take advantage of wireless charging while using the case. These are the quoted charge estimates for each case:

  • XS: 33 hours talk time, 21 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
  • XS Max: 37 hours talk time, 20 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
  • XR: 39 hours talk time, 22 hours Internet use, and 27 hours video playback

In the past, Apple hasn't made Smart Battery Cases available for Plus-sized phones, so it's great to see that now, regardless of your iPhone size, you can get a case that raises battery life to meet the needs of heavy use.


Halide Introduces Smart RAW for iPhone XS, Joining a Host of Other Improvements

Since its debut Halide has been one of the best manual camera apps available on iPhone. The month of September brought a number of challenges to Halide's team though, thanks to all the photography work Apple put into iOS 12 and the iPhone XS. And in response, within the span of a few weeks Halide has receive two major updates: version 1.9 on iOS 12's release date, and releasing today is version 1.10 featuring Smart RAW.

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An In-Depth Explanation of Computational Photography on the iPhone XS

Outside of Apple employees, one of the people most knowledgeable about the iPhone's camera is Sebastiaan de With, designer of the manual camera app Halide. It is fitting, then, that Sebastiaan would publish what I believe is the best explanation of the iPhone XS camera system to date. Following up on a piece he wrote about the new camera's hardware changes, the subject of today's article is software – specifically, all the work of computational photography on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

The piece starts with an explanation of the iPhone's new Smart HDR feature, then details the exact reasons why selfies on the new iPhones appear to employ skin smoothing (a theory he soundly debunks). Finally, Sebastiaan details the problem that the XS camera poses for RAW camera apps like Halide, and shares about the forthcoming solution Halide's team came up with: something they call Smart RAW.

There are too many excellent, informative tidbits to quote here, so I highly recommend you check out the article in full. This year's iPhones are so full of interesting changes to the way the camera works, most of which are undocumented by Apple – as Sebastiaan says, it is "a whole new camera" in many ways.

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iPhone XS Line Capturing Selfies with the Appearance of Skin Smoothing

The iPhone XS and XS Max have been in the hands of users for a week now, and during that time many selfies have undoubtedly been taken on the new devices. Some users have noticed an unexpected difference with their selfies, however: their skin looks smoother and less realistic than it should. Juli Clover reports on this for MacRumors:

When taking a selfie in a situation where lighting is less than ideal, such as indoors or outdoors in areas with lower lighting, the iPhone XS Max appears to be applying a drastic smoothing effect that can hide freckles, blemishes, and other issues.

In full outdoor lighting the problem is less apparent, which has led to speculation that the skin smoothing is actually a result of some heavy-handed noise reduction techniques.

You can test the new camera yourself with an iPhone XS Max and an older iPhone like an iPhone X model by taking selfies indoors and outdoors and comparing the differences between the two. In almost all cases where the lighting is low or uneven, photos captured with an iPhone XS Max look dramatically different.

9to5Mac has a quote from one user, Abdul Dremali, who said, "Apple reached out to me yesterday and are working on this issue actively." That isn't necessarily confirmation that a skin smoothing effect is being applied, but it does indicate that something's happening with the XS front-facing camera that wasn't intended.

There's often one controversy or another surrounding the launch of a new iPhone, such as antennas not working properly or iPhones bending under pressure. This issue doesn't seem quite like those past problems, as it should be a quick fix in software if something's not functioning correctly. In 2018 there's a lot that happens in software every time a photo is taken on an iPhone; it wouldn't surprise me if a small tweak arrives in iOS 12.0.1 that helps skin remain natural to the eye no matter the lighting conditions. One way or another, we should hear more from Apple before long.

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Adding Device Frames to iPhone XS and XS Max Screenshots with Shortcuts

Update 10/10: A newer version of this shortcut, which can apply frames to screenshots taken on multiple Apple devices, is available here.

MacStories readers may be familiar with the way I like to present iPhone screenshots in app reviews and other stories – particularly for "hero" images, such as the one above, I want my screenshots to be contained in device frames that resemble official marketing images from Apple. They're prettier, and they do a better job at communicating what an app looks like on an actual device. I could create these images manually using apps like Affinity Photo and Pixelmator on iOS, but the process would be slow, boring, and time-consuming. Instead, for years now I've been using Workflow and its 'Overlay Image' action to get this done in an automated fashion.

With Shortcuts and the new iPhone XS and XS Max, it was time for an update to my old workflow. While I could have kept using the same iPhone X assets for the XS given their physical resemblance, I upgraded to a XS Max this year, which meant that my screenshots wouldn't have fit the old device frames natively anyway. Fortunately, Apple uploaded official marketing assets for the XS and XS Max a couple of days ago, so with the help of my girlfriend (who's better at Photoshop than I am) I was able to update my workflow for the new devices and add a few extra options in the process as well.

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Austin Mann’s Review of the iPhone XS Cameras

In addition to the early slate of iPhone reviews from the press, it's become tradition in recent years for each iPhone to be graded as a camera by professional photographer Austin Mann. I especially enjoyed Mann's review this year of the iPhone XS camera system. He writes:

Most of the time my expectations for camera upgrades on “S” years aren’t so high, but after shooting with the iPhone XS for a week, I can confidently say it’s a huge camera upgrade. There’s a lot of little improvements, but Smart HDR definitely takes the cake. This is a feature and technology that improves virtually everything you capture with your iPhone camera. I think you’ll be really thrilled when you experience the results yourself.

As I shared in last week's issue of MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories, the iPhone XS and XR announcements caught me by surprise in that I expected there to be more change in the devices compared to last year's iPhone X. I've ordered a XS Max, but the primary reason for my upgrade was the additional screen real estate compared to my X; bigger display aside, September's keynote didn't provide much of a compelling reason for me to purchase a new phone this year. However, Mann's review and that of John Gruber have helped provide much-needed additional detail on the camera upgrades in the XS, which sound impressively significant.

One of the standout lines in Mann's review for me comes near the beginning, where he says, "iPhone XS captures what your eyes see." It's hard to find higher praise than that.

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The iPhone XS’ Camera and Neural Engine

Apple describes the XS as sporting “dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras”. This will be obvious to most of you, but in case it’s not, they’re not just dual rear-facing lenses, they’re dual rear-facing cameras. The wide-angle and telephoto lenses each have their own sensors. As a user you don’t have to know this, and should never notice it. The iPhone XS telephoto camera is the same as in the iPhone X — same lens, same sensor.

But the iPhone XS wide-angle camera has a new lens, which I believe to be superior to last year’s, and an amazing new sensor which is remarkably better than last year’s. And last year’s was very good.

Anytime an iPhone review gets too technical about camera details and photography lexicon, I tend to gloss over it and move on. I'm not a camera expert and I usually don't care about the nitty-gritty. But John Gruber's analysis of the iPhone XS' camera stack, A12 SoC, and seemingly unadvertised improved sensor is one of the most interesting camera-focused iPhone reviews I've read in years. I don't want to spoil it – move past the photos at the beginning and keep reading.

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iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max: The MacStories Overview

Earlier today, Tim Cook took the stage at Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater to announce Apple’s fall product lineup. As with past fall keynotes, Apple’s announcements included all-new iPhones. Some of the details of the new iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max leaked earlier this morning, but as usual, there were still surprises.

Design

The iPhone XR marks the completion of Apple’s transition to the new form factor introduced last fall with the iPhone X. The iPhone XR will take some people by surprise. At 6.1 inches diagonally, the new XR has a bigger screen than the XS, but it’s also more affordable than the smaller 5.8-inch device. In contrast, the iPhone XS and XS Max are an evolution of the design of the iPhone X.

The iPhone XR is also differentiated visually from the XS and XS Max by its new color options. The new phone is available in six colors: black, white, red, yellow, coral, and blue. That’s one more color than the iPhone 5c, Apple’s last foray into a large selection of colors. When you account for the four carriers and three storage sizes, that means a whopping 72 variations in the US.

Like the XS, the back of the iPhone XR is glass, but instead of a stainless steel band around the edge of the device, Apple has used aluminum that’s colored to match the back of the device. The XR’s aluminum frame looks good but lacks the shine of the steel used on the XS and XS Max, which sets it apart visually from the more expensive models.

The other design difference between the XR and its new siblings is the camera. As discussed further below, the XR is a single-lens, 12 MP, wide-angle camera, and, like the iPhone 8 it succeeds, it has a flash that’s outside the camera assembly. Instead of being next to the camera’s lens as it was on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus though, the flash on the XR is just below it.

In contrast, the design of the new iPhone XS is nearly identical to last year’s iPhone X, as is the iPhone XS Max, except for the fact that it is larger. The other visual differentiator between the new models and the iPhone X is the addition of a new color option. The XS and XS Max come in three colors: Space Gray, Silver, and a new Gold model.

Apple has also designed the iPhone XS and XS Max with the greatest water resistance yet. Both devices have an IP68 rating which means they can withstand submersion in water up to 2 meters deep for 30 minutes. The iPhone XR, in contrast, is rated IP67, which means it can withstand up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

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iPhone XS and XS Max Cases Join a New Lineup of Apple Watch Bands

The new iPhone XS line and Apple Watch Series 4 are not available for pre-order until this Friday, and unlike in past years, when new device accessories became available immediately after Apple's keynote event, this time the new cases and watch bands will also not go on sale until later this week. But eager purchasers can get a head start on scoping out exactly which accessories they'll order by browsing Apple's website. iPhone XS and XS Max cases and new Apple Watch bands are available to view, but you can't order them until Friday.

One important note is that all Apple Watch bands are now designated 40mm or 44mm, to match the new Series 4 Watch, but they are all fully compatible with prior Apple Watch models which were sized 38mm and 42mm.

Here's the full list of accessories you'll be able to order starting this Friday.

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