Apple has updated its iPhone X handset with three more powerful models, two of which are larger than before.
The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5in (16.5cm) display. The iPhone XS has the same 5.8in-sized component as the original. The iPhone XR’s screen is 6.1in but is lower quality.
A new smartwatch was also launched with an added fall-detection function.
There had been concerns that the relatively high £999 entry price of iPhone X would limit its appeal.
But Apple said it had consistently proven more popular than either of the lower-priced iPhone 8 models. Market research firms suggest it also outsold rival companies’ flagship devices.
That helped propel Apple to become the world’s first company with a market capitalisation above $1tn (£768bn).
However, China’s Huawei still managed to overtake it in terms of overall smartphone market share in the April-to-June quarter, putting Apple into third place.
“Huawei was able to overtake it because Apple is not playing in the mid and low ends of the market,” commented Francisco Jeronimo from IDC.
“But Apple is very well positioned in the premium segment, and we don’t expect that to change over the next 18 months.”
The XS Max will become the most expensive handset Apple has sold to date, with its price ranging from £1,099 to £1,449 depending on its amount of storage.
The XS will match the original X’s £999-£1,349 cost, while the XR will be £749-£899.
Apple highlighted that the iPhone XS Max’s display was significantly larger than the 5.5in display of the old iPhone 8 Plus despite the two handsets being similar in size.
“Even if the screen on the iPhone X last year was larger some people who were on the Plus models missed the feel of a larger device which is exactly what the Max is addressing,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at the consultancy Creative Strategies.
The iPhone XR also has a bigger screen but uses LCD (liquid crystal display) rather than the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology found in the more expensive models. This will mean black appears less deep and its colours appear to have less contrast.
In addition, its chassis is made from aluminium rather than steel, which means it is likely to be less damage-resistant. However, unlike the more expensive models it comes in six different colours.
Analysts suggest the wider range may help encourage iPhone owners who did not upgrade last year to do so this generation.
“Retention has become very high for both Android and iOS – switching is largely a thing of the past,” suggested analysts at UBS.
“Put simply, the replacement for iPhone is iPhone, the only question is when – and the when is driven in large part by form factor, namely the screen.”
The latest phones feature a fresh processor – the A12 Bionic. It the firm’s first to feature seven nanometre transistor technology, which should aid energy efficiency and computation speeds.
Its inclusion means the iPhone XS will last about 30 minutes longer on a battery charge than the X, Apple suggested.
The firm also said that its Face ID system would now work faster than before and it demoed several apps, showing off its augmented reality prowess.
Huawei recently announced it had developed a rival 7nm mobile chip of its own.
Despite rumours that at least one of the new iPhones would feature three rear cameras – like Huawei’s P20 Pro – Apple stuck with two 12 megapixel lenses for the XS and XS Max. The XR only has one rear camera.
However, Apple did unveil a new feature that will allow users to alter the depth-of-field of their photos after they have been taken – effectively changing the degree to which the background is blurred.
“Apple will face some inevitable criticism that these products offer only small improvements on prior successes,” said Ben Wood from the consultancy CCS Insight.
“However, the fact that Apple has sold almost two billion iOS devices to date is testament to the success of the iPhone recipe since 2007.”
Earlier at its California event, Apple unveiled a new smartwatch whose display extends further towards its edges than earlier models.
The firm said the Watch Series 4’s usable screen was more than 30% larger despite the device itself having similar dimensions to its predecessor.
It also gains the ability to detect if its wearer has fallen and to take electrocardiogram heartbeat readings.
Apple overtook Xiaomi and Fitbit to become the world’s bestselling wearable tech company in the second half of 2017 thanks to strong demand for the last generation of its smartwatch. It has held on to the top spot ever since, according to IDC.
“The reason it performed so well is that many network operators are only willing to focus on smartwatches with their own [built-in cellular] connectivity,” said Mr Jeronimo.
“That’s why they are shipping about as many watches as the whole Swiss watch-making industry.”
Several insurance firms and employers already offer the Apple Watch because of its health-tracking features and its new facilities should add to its appeal.
Apple said that the Watch would warn users if it detected abnormally fast and slow heart rhythms, and added that it had already been given “clearance” by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“Getting FDA approval for health features on the new Watch underlines Apple’s leadership in wrist-worn tech,” commented Mr Wood.
“It’s an arduous process that no other consumer wearable company has successfully navigated.”
Apple added that a fall-detection facility had been made possible because of the introduction of “next-generation” gyroscope and accelerometer sensors that sampled data eight times faster than before.
If it believes the user has fallen and remained immobile for a minute or more, it will call the emergency services for help, if set to do so.
Apple has never told us how many Apple Watches it has sold since the first device was released in 2015, other than to say it’s the top-selling device in its category.
Analysts, though, think sales are in the region of 50 million. Minuscule compared to the iPhone, but this is a device that’s clearly on the up.
It began life as a fitness device, but this update will, and this isn’t marketing puff, help people stay alive.
Fall detection, and the ability to conduct an ECG to measure heart health, are both major new features that the healthcare industry is tremendously excited about.
I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, and one concern for me would be false positives – it thinking I’ve fallen over when I’m perfectly fine. And, if this is going to be marketed at elderly consumers, Apple’s boast of packing the interface with more “complications” will make it, well, more complicated.
But make no mistake. With US regulator approval – the first device of its kind to be given that clearance – insurance companies will be ordering these by the bucketload. The world is aging, and access to health is getting more expensive.
It’s not often a Silicon Valley company creates a product with the over-60s firmly in mind. Apple making a big leap into this market will make the Apple Watch, not the iPhone, the talking point of Apple’s year.
IBM Simon: The first mobile phone to offer a touchscreen user-interface – but its battery only lasted an hour.
Siemens S10: The first handset with a colour display – although only red, green, blue and white could be shown.
LG Prada: The handset debuted a capacitive touchscreen – detecting finger taps by changes in the display’s electrical field rather than pressure.
iPhone: Apple made use of “multi-touch”, detecting several points of contact – allowing pinch-to-zoom and other interactions.
Nokia N85: First phone with an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display, letting it show deeper blacks and better contrast.
Samsung Galaxy Note: Although not the first “phablet”, the handset proved there was demand for a 5+ inch display, despite claims it was “comically huge”.
LG G Flex: The curved design was derided as being a gimmick, but points the way to the true “bendy” phones of the future.
Sharp Aquos Crystal: The phone’s “edgeless” look foreshadowed today’s trend to keep bezels to a minimum.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: Samsung’s first handset to wrap its screen over one its sides used the extra space for notifications and app shortcuts.
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: The smartphone premiered a 4K display before it was easy to obtain such ultra-high definition mobile content.
Essential Phone: The start-up beat Apple to featuring a camera notch in its display, which allowed the rest of the screen to extend upwards.
Vivo X21: The Chinese firm beat rivals to offering a fingerprint reader beneath its screen.