September 12, 2018
Well that was sort of a bummer.
Don’t get me wrong, the XS looks like a great iteration over the X, but all in all what was missing from this event certainly loomed large over it.
Starting from the beginning, I enjoyed the silly intro video, and it was awesome to get to see more of Apple Park. I did pick up on what I assumed to be hints at the new AirPods. Hey Siri and waterproofing seemed to be specifically highlighted to get people excited. And since I was keeping up with Twitter I enjoyed the tie in to Tim’s fake missent DM. At least Tim quickly dashed my hopes soon into the video with the callout that we were only going to be hearing about two products today, which I assumed to be the iPhone and the Watch, but because of the intro video I figured they just weren’t counting the many accessories they were surely going to launch! Nope.
As I knew would happen, I was more tempted by the Series 4 than I thought I would be. My intention when I got the S3 was to skip this years model, and when I saw the leaks a few weeks ago, as nice as the larger display looked, I was still feeling good about that decision. But as always, the leaked product images didn’t show everything. The ECG functionality is really impressive, and the fall detection is something I’ve been waiting for since the launch of HealthKit in iOS 8 (I never liked that there weren’t apps to write the Time Fallen data type, and even tried to make my own a few times to varying degrees of success). But once I saw that prices were lifted across the board, and that the cheapest cellular Stainless Steel model I would want would be $750, I’m back to feeling like I’m waiting for the S5.
iPhone XS and XS Max (sigh), while certainly seeming like a solid iteration over the X, also don’t really call out to me. I have the Focos to adjust my portrait mode photos, and the rest of the improvements fall into the typical ‘S year’ category, impressive but not necessary for me. What I am very, very happy about is that there doesn’t seem to be any compromises between the two sizes. Unless I missed anything there weren’t any features of the XS Max that weren’t also present on the smaller phone. I’m very happy about this development, and hope this remains true in the future. I’m still gonna be passing on this phone though. I love my iPhone X, and because of the iPhone Upgrade Program if I did opt to upgrade I would have to trade it in. I would much prefer to just skip this S year and hold onto my iPhone X as a seconday phone for the forseeable future.
Then came the XR. It’s beautiful, the colors are great, and it’s also a great update to the X with reasonable compromises to hit that lower price point. I don’t like that they are now doing software Portrait mode like Android phones, but what can you do, it’s a popular feature and the single camera phones were starting to look bad against Android phone cameras. What I’m dissapointed in is that they never acgknowledged the weirdness of this model. It’s a cheaper phone than the XSs, but with the same screen size (in points) as the Max. So now the story seems to be that small size is a luxury, but then getting the bigger XS is also a luxury? Are they just understanding that most people will want the smaller XS so they’ll price gouge on that desire? It seems very odd that the cheapest 2018 iPhone model has more screen real estate than this year’s flagship. We obviously knew this based on leaks for months now, but I was expecting Apple to tell a compelling story to rationalize this strangeness. They choose not to.
So then what was missing? AirPower and new AirPods (at least a case) were my safe bets. It is starting to look like something went very wrong with AirPower. Perhaps they’re having trouble covering an adequate amount of the surface area with chargable space, or there were distinct spots that were more reliable to charge on that they didn’t want to ship with? I really wish there were some public, or even off the record talk about what’s going on with this really exciting product that now hasn’t been mentioned in a year. Still have a few months before it’s officially ‘late’, but it’s looking elss and less likely now.
And then iPads. They were looking like a long shot, but it would have been really exciting to see the entire iOS line come into the future today. That appears to be being reserved for an October event, so I guess we’ll just hope that we come out of that event more excited than this one.