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It’s a new year, and maybe you’re considering picking up some new and upgraded tech in the near future.
Apple released four new mobile devices in the latter half of 2018, and lead contributor Craig Grannell reviewed the lot. To help you decide whether these products are worth your hard earned cash, we’ve rounded up his thoughts on the iPhone XS Max, Apple Watch S4, iPhone XR, and iPad Pro.
Editor’s note: there’s no specific review of the iPhone XS – but it’s identical to its bigger brother in all but size and cost, so consider the iPhone XS Max review to double up for both devices!
Read on for Craig’s final verdict on each device, or click through to the full reviews for even more detail on each one.
iPhone XS Max
During my two weeks with this iPhone, there has been so little to grumble about. Sure, it’s still a bit heavy and big, but then short of Apple rewriting the laws of physics, that’s just the way things are. There is, though, something in software I’d like to see change – the Home indicator is an abomination that needs to die (or get an off switch). But that’s a minor gripe in an otherwise stellar smartphone experience.
There is, naturally, an elephant in the room – one made of cash. And that’s because the iPhone XS Max also maxes out the price tag. The 64GB option is $1099/£1099, but with a phone that shoots 4K and supports amazing apps, you’re going to want at least the 256GB model – and that comes in at an extra 150 bucks. At that point, you’re into laptop territory. Even dropping down to the technologically identical (bar the smaller battery and display) iPhone XS only ‘saves’ you $100/£100.
Still, Apple’s never been about low prices, and at least with its latest flagship you know it’s not just the price that’s been maxed out – Apple’s also ramped up the tech, the usability, the power, and the sheer enjoyment of using an iPhone.
Apple Watch S4
Two weeks in, I feel like a convert all over again. My Apple Watch is on my wrist from the moment I get up until bedtime. Despite the irksome price rise, it feels like a device I can finally recommend if you like the idea of a high-end Apple-made timepiece, communications device, and health tracker.
That said, there is one downside: the experience confirmed Apple’s wearable is very iPhone in one way – it needs upgrading on a periodic basis. This isn’t a single timepiece you’ll love forever; you must make peace with the fact you’ll need a new one every few years as technology blazes into the future.
In all honesty, I’m not quite as blown away by the XR as I was with the XS Max, but that’s in part because I’ve been wowed by Apple’s flagship for over a month now. But what is clear is the stark difference that used to exist between Apple’s high-end phones is gone.
Recall the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The former’s screen was merely OK. Its camera was… fine. Then the following year, the iPhone X pointed at the future, and made the iPhone 8 Plus look like the past. Now, the XR offers a reasonably priced iPhone X-level experience, with only relatively small compromises, and the odd surprising plus point beyond the noticeably lower impact on your bank account.
It’s hard to answer the question of whether you should buy an iPad Pro. If you’re already a fan and invested in the ecosystem, you’ll be happy to discover this is easily the finest tablet Apple has ever offered – although you do pay plenty for the privilege.
If you like a larger display but your needs are more “YouTube, a couple of games, and the odd trip to Safari”, the iPad Pro is of course overkill (albeit a really cool flavor of overkill); still, if you’re gripped by the tablet bug and want to go all-in, you’re not going to get anything better.