A H Khan

2018-09-13 06:13:39 BdST

Apple unveils premium iPhone XS, health features for watch

Apple unveiled three new iPhones on Wednesday in a bid to bolster its spot in the premium smartphone market, along with an upgraded smartwatch that takes
electrocardiograms and detects falls.

The California tech giant said it would begin selling its 5.8-inch iPhone
XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max later this month, keeping the starting price of
the company’s top-end model at $999 but bumping the entry price for the
version with the larger screen.

Apple also announced a new iPhone XR starting at $749, available in
October, with a 6.1-inch display to broaden its pool of buyers.

The phones are updates to last year’s iPhone X (“10”), which marks the
10th anniversary of the smartphone — stretching the screen while keeping the
overall handset size at or near that of previous models.

“I think Apple did extremely well here,” GlobalData analyst Avi Greengart
said after checking out the new offerings at the unveiling at the company’s
headquarters in Cupertino, California.

“Overall, this is going to be a very good year for Apple.”

The analyst expected the line-up to be a hit, pushing up the average
selling price of Apple smartphones.

The new iPhones have more powerful processors and cameras, and a dual-SIM
card feature for top-of-the-line devices. Home buttons were replaced with
screen swipes, taps and facial recognition capabilities.

“We are going to take iPhone X to the next level,” chief executive Tim
Cook said.

While the iPhone has made Apple the world’s most valuable company, worth
more than $1 trillion, it has slipped to third place among smartphone makers
as Chinese-based Huawei has grabbed the number two spot behind Samsung.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy said Apple had done
enough “to keep its smartphone growth going until the competition responds.”

Apple said the XS models would be sold from September 21 and the XR from
October 26.

– New smartwatch features – Apple also introduced a fourth generation of
the Apple Watch with a major redesign — and a series of features designed to
improve its performance as a medical and health device.

The watch, sold in the United States from $399 and up, will be available
in stores on September 21.

“Apple Watch has become an intelligent guardian for your health,” chief
operating officer Jeff Williams said.

The smartwatches are able to detect hard falls, and an electrical heart
rate sensor can take an electrocardiogram.

“This is the first ECG product offered over the counter directly to
consumers,” Williams said. “Now you can take an ECG anytime, anywhere, right
from the wrist.”

The fall detection upgrade is expected to appeal to worker safety concerns
in factories or other industrial settings, as well as to elderly or disabled

“Identifying a fall may sound like a straightforward problem, but it
requires a lot of data analysis,” Williams said.

If a person falls, and then is motionless, the watch will call emergency
services, he added.

Moorhead said the health features for the new devices were notable.

“I can see kids buying one for their parents and grandparents,” he said of
the smartwatch.

“I believe Series 4 will sell better than all previous models.”

The current version of Apple Watch is the most popular watch in the world,
according to Cook.

Apple stressed its devotion to data privacy, saying all health information
gathered is encrypted on the smartwatch to be shared only as users see fit.

– ‘Crossroads’ –

Research firm CB Insights said Apple is at a “crossroads” a decade after
introducing the iPhone.

“Looking for the next wave, Apple is clearly expanding into augmented
reality and wearables with the Apple Watch and AirPods wireless headphones,”
the firm said.

“But the next ‘big one’ — a success and growth driver on the scale of the
iPhone — has not yet been determined. Will it be augmented reality, auto,
wearables? Or something else entirely?”

Apple’s event comes with the global smartphone market at near-peak
saturation, and without a major catalyst for sales ahead of a likely rollout
of 5G, or fifth generation, wireless networks, expected in 2019.

Research firm IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to decline 0.7
percent in 2018 to 1.455 billion units, with growth likely to resume as 5G
devices become available.

Cook said Apple was nearing the two-billion mark for devices with its
mobile operating system known as iOS.

“We are about to hit a major milestone. We are about to ship our two
billionth iOS device,” he said.

“This is astonishing — iOS has changed the way we live.”

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