First Impressions After Going Hands-On With New Apple Products

September 12, 2018

By Hope King

CUPERTINO, Calif. ーThe big takeaways for Apple's iPhone event this year? Price and color matter, and the Apple Watch may finally be a must-have.

When Apple released the iPhone X last year, critics said it would be too expensive for customers, with a base price of $999.

Now, the priciest iPhone, the new XS Max, comes with a base price of $1,099 and will set you back $1,449 with the maximum available capacity of 512 gigs.

At its much-anticipated annual fall event, Apple announced three new iPhone X devices: an iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, all with the edge-to-edge display and Face ID that once differentiated the X model.

Overall, the phones look and feel quite similar ー but again, the biggest differences are price and color.

With the iPhone XS Max starting at $1,099, Apple is selling its largest iPhone ever with a 6.5-inch screen. Compare that to the iPhone XS at 5.8-inch screen for a $999 starting price, and the iPhone XR with a 6.1-inch screen for $749. That's more than the base price for the original iPhone 8 when it was released last year. Now a $749 price tag is the "bargain" option.

To make the iPhone XR even more appealing, Apple introduced several vibrant colors unique to the model. There is a coral, pink, yellow, and blue version in addition to the classic black, white, and PRODUCT(RED) iterations.

What Apple seems to be saying here is, "We've got a phone for everyone." And that's likely a welcome message for investors, who worry about a smartphone market that is slowing down.

In addition, Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 8, starting at $599 and the iPhone 7, starting at $449.

One quick thing about the Apple Watch Series 4: I think Apple finally may have built a smartwatch that I've been waiting for.

The new models sport a larger screen and haptic feedback in the digital crown, both of which make scrolling around on the small device somewhat easier. Apple also added an electrocardiogram feature, which earned FDA approval. It's a game-changer that transforms the watch from a mobile device into a medical one. Good luck, Fitbit.

Okay, the stuff of business settled. Onto the event itself.

From my vantage point covering the event from the "Spaceship," a.k.a. Apple's headquarters, many more journalists than last year were present.

All the mainstream U.S. networks ー ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox Business, Bloomberg, CNBC ー were with us on the risers; the press center was filled with digital outlets from all around the world, and the demo area was swarmed (as it always is) with familiar faces from the YouTube tech scene.

I spotted Marques Brownlee and iJustine, just to name two.

I asked Brownlee what impressed him most (and least). Unsurprisingly ー at least to those who know and follow him ー Brownlee said he loved the iPhone XR in red and was a little mixed about the coral. Shrug.

I didn't get a chance to talk to iJustine but she, like many others, was glued to the gold Apple Watch and iPhone XS. There's just something about the color that resembles liquid gold.

All in all, compared to last year's event, Wednesday's announcement felt very different, mostly because this was an "S" year ー an in-between year for big model and design changes.

But if Apple can replicate the success of the iPhone X with more related devices, I think X marks the spot.