As expected, Apple’s announcement yesterday of its latest range of iPhones has sent hordes of its fans into a frenzy, in anticipation for the newest items to reach store shelves this fall. It’s all about the bigger screens, a faster, more efficient processing chip, and greater water resistance for the new iPhone XS and XS Max (available for pre-order beginning tomorrow and purchase in-store next Friday, 21 September). There’s also the slightly more wallet-friendly and colourful iPhone XR, which you’ll have to wait a month to pre-order, starting Friday, 19 October, or purchase in-store a week later.
But for those who have already gotten their hands on an iPhone X, this news might not be quite so exciting. Aside from the upgraded A12 Bionic chip (reportedly 15% faster than its predecessor) and next-gen Neural Engine, a flashy new screen, plus the ability to control depth of field in photos, we’re not entirely sure if it warrants an instant phone upgrade come end of September — although inevitably there will still be the snaking queues of Apple fans hoping to get their hands on the latest wares.
Our eyes, meanwhile, are fixated on the new Apple Watch Series 4, which has undergone a complete redesign, with a number of brand new features.
For one, the fourth generation of the Watch is twice as fast with the new S4 chip’s custom 64-bit dual-core processor, as well as extended battery life (which can be variable, but now runs for up to six hours on outdoor running mode). Available in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, the larger redesign is every bit as functional as it is tactile and pleasing on the eyes. Aside from a slightly more curved silhouette, the microphone has also been relocated between the digital crown and the side button to reduce echo for better sound quality, and the speaker is now 50% louder — great for phone calls, Siri and the new Walkie-Talkie feature from watchOS 5, which uses WiFi or cellular connection, and works for global conversations. The back of the Watch Series 4 is made up of sleek black ceramic and sapphire crystal, allowing for better cellular service; while the digital crown now gives off haptic feedback, so you can feel incremental clicks as you turn it.
We also particularly like the new gold stainless steel with matching Milanese band. When it comes to stylistic details, the Watch’s newest features don’t go unnoticed. Brand new watch displays take advantage of the slightly larger size, allowing for intricate data display on the Infograph face, larger app icons and fonts, as well as a whole new suite of animated faces, from Breathe — which syncs its movement to a deep breath — to other motion faces where vapor, mercury and fire can dramatically lick the edges of the case.
Two groundbreaking health features have been added to the Watch Series 4: for one, users can now use it to take an ECG reading with the new app — just touch the digital crown for 30 seconds to get your heart rhythm reading, which can even detect signs of Atrial Fibrillation. Results can be stored in the Health app and shared with doctors via PDF file, but this function with watchOS 5 can also work in the background, sending a notification if your heart rhythm falls out of a specific healthy threshold.
There’s also fall detection, which can sense when the wearer takes a particularly hard fall. An alert pops up, and if there’s no reaction after 60 seconds of immobility, the watch automatically calls emergency services and sends the location of the wearer to emergency contacts. If you enjoy extreme sports, hiking solo or in this kind of weather, typhoon wakesurfing (which we wouldn’t recommend) — it can be quite handy to essentially have a stylish Life Alert emergency response kit with you at all times.
Speaking of hiking, we’re ecstatic that the new Apple Watch Series 4 now includes workout tracking for hiking and yoga — perhaps two of the most popular activities in Hong Kong — and also provides more sophisticated stats for indoor and outdoor runs. If you’re like me and often forget to tap “Start Workout” at the gym, automatic workout detection can now start the activity tracking while giving retroactive credit (!). What’s more, you can also challenge other Apple Watch wearers to join a 7-day mini competition to see whose activity rings get the most love.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is priced at HK$3,131 for GPS; HK$3,916 for GPS + Cellular. Both — as well as brand new Nike+ and Hermès collections — are available for pre-order starting Friday, 14 September, and officially available in-stores starting from 21 September.