iPhone XS Max

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Apple Reveals Biggest, Priciest iPhone At Event

September 12, 2018 - 7:46 am
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CUPERTINO, Calif. (WCBS 880/AP) — Apple unveiled three new iPhones on Wednesday – and one of them won’t come cheap.

The unveiling came as the company seeks to widen the product's appeal amid slowing sales.

Chief executive officer Tim Cook showed off the iPhone XS Max, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year's dramatically designed model , the iPhone X. It'll cost about $1,100, topping the iPhone X, which at $1,000 seemed jaw-dropping at the time. An updated iPhone X, now called the XS, stays at $1,000.

“Last year, we had two new iPhones – the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X – and the iPhone X was kind of marketed as this futuristic, crazy new thing that they were doing that was tomorrow’s iPhone today, and that justified them raising the prices up to $1,000 for the iPhone, which was a big change from the previous years – and it did really well. So this year, they have three new iPhones, and the iPhone XS Max – that thing starts at $1,099,” CNET’s Ian Sherr told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace. “So they’ve increased the entry level price for the biggest, you know, the highest-level phone by $100.”

As with the iPhone X, both new phones have screens that run from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark. The Max model looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much larger.

The iPhone XS Max, which will be available on Sept. 21 — with orders open the week before — represents Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of $724 during the April-June period, a nearly 20 percent increase from a year earlier.

Apple also showed off a cheaper iPhone, called the iPhone XR. It has a traditional, lower-quality screen and an aluminum body; it's physically smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus but has a bigger screen. It'll cost roughly $750 and come out on Oct. 26.

All three new models join the iPhone X in getting rid of the home button to make room for more screen. They will have facial-recognition technology to unlock the device.

Apple also said that its next major update to its iOS operating system will come next Tuesday, followed a week later by a Mac software update.

The release of the new iPhone models comes as Apple is finding that there are not too many new things a phone can do at this point.

“There’s data out there we’ve written about on CNET where the phone industry really isn’t growing anymore. And part of the reason is that these phones have basically gotten to the advancement that they’re going to have, right? I mean at the end of the day, it’s a piece of glass on top of a metal body. What can you do?” Sherr said.

And a CNET's Dan Ackerman said, consumers expect Apple to unveil new phones every year, but most of the time, the improvements are features that have already been added to competitors phones. 

As CNET's Dan Ackerman said, consumers expect Apple to unveil new phones every year, but most of the time, the improvements are features that have already been added to competitors phones. 

Apple also announced updates that push its Apple Watch further into medical device territory. It has a larger screen and a built-in heart sensor that the company said can detect irregular heart rates and perform an electrocardiogram. The latter feature has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company said.

Ben Wood of CCS Insight said getting U.S. regulatory clearance for that is a milestone that underscores the company's leadership in health and fitness. Typically, smartwatches are marketed as consumer devices, not medical ones needing clearance.

These features will be available to U.S. customers later this year, but Apple did not say when it would make it to the rest of the world.

In addition, Apple said the Series 4 Apple Watch will also be able to detect when someone falls — and can tell the difference between a trip and a fall. If it detects a fall and the user doesn't respond in a minute, it'll automatically call for help. This feature may be especially attractive to older people or those with elderly parents worried about falling when no one is around to help.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)