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New iPhones squeeze bigger screens into small packages

Apple delivers 'cinematic' video-viewing experience ahead of own streaming service

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- The new iPhones unveiled by Apple on Wednesday include the company's priciest smartphone with the largest screen yet.

The latest releases range from the 5.8-inch iPhone XS to the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, rounded out by the 6.1-inch iPhone XR. Last year's models were between 4.7 inches and 5.8 inches.

This lineup is Apple's answer to demand for bigger screens, especially from users who stream video on their phones and those who have migrated to mobile devices from personal computers. Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, called watching videos on the XS Max a "cinematic" experience.

The XS and the XS Max sport OLED screens, like last year's 10th-anniversary iPhone X. But the XR's display is "the most advanced LCD ever in a smartphone," Schiller said. Apple is preparing a video-streaming service similar to Netflix, and the new handsets appear to have the launch in mind.

But the roomier screens do not translate to larger overall dimensions. The XS Max is virtually the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch display.

The new Apple iPhone XS and XS Max are unveiled at an Apple product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, on Sept. 12. The iPhone 8 Plus, released last year with a 5.5-inch screen, shown side by side with the new 5.8-inch iPhone XS. The latter is smaller overall despite having a larger screen.   © Reuters

The new phones are powered by the A12 Bionic chip, designed in-house with an eye toward augmented reality. The 12-megapixel cameras have advanced bokeh controls, allowing users to manipulate background focus for a more professional-looking shot. "It can take some of the best selfies you've ever seen," Schiller said.

The new models also include dual-SIM capability -- a boon for travelers who frequently switch between carriers. The XR comes in white, blue, black, coral, yellow and red.

All three models lack a home button and feature facial recognition, just like the iPhone X. The XS Max is the costliest of the trio, starting at $1,099, followed by the XS at $999 and the XR at $749.

The two premium models will be available for preorder on Sept. 14 and in stores on Sept. 21 in more than 30 markets including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the U.S. and Taiwan. In locations such as Russia and India, the release will be on Sept 28. 

Preorders for the XR start on Oct. 19, with availability beginning Oct. 26.

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