Special to USA TODAY
Published 5:22 AM EDT Sep 11, 2019
What Apple’s latest product unveiling event lacked in surprises – as most of the news about new iPhones was leaked online ahead of Tuesday’s media gathering – it made up for it with a host of impressive devices.
You no doubt heard about the just-unveiled iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro (and larger iPhone 11 Pro Max) – and be sure to read Ed Baig’s coverage of the event here – but you might have missed some of the iPhone 11’s lesser-known (but still intriguing) features, as well as info on other devices and services.
Here’s a look at five things you should know about Apple’s new lineup.
A way better battery
While it might not be the sexiest of features to look for, any iPhone user will tell you battery performance is incredibly important.
The new 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro (from $999) and larger 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max (from $1,099) have a battery that lasts up to 4 hours longer than 2018’s iPhone Xs and up to 5 hours longer than the iPhone Xs Max, respectively.
This is a big deal.
And available on Sept. 20, iPhone 11 (from $699) also outperforms the battery in last year’s iPhone XR by about an hour, the device maker says, getting through an “entire day” on a single charge.
iPhone 11: Are Apple’s latest iPhones worth the money?
Airpods, 5G and binging Apple TV+: What Apple didn’t talk about at its event
iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are also said to have the “toughest glass ever in a smartphone,” says Apple, plus it’s IP68 for water resistance up to 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes.
Yes, it’s cool to have an ultrawide-angle lens to capture more detail on the iPhone 11 –and the addition of a telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro – but Apple needed to up its game in the low-light photography department. Google Pixel, Huawei and Samsung all excel here.
Well, Apple now does, too, with its Night mode feature.
A new wide-angle sensor enables much brighter images, with more natural colors and reduced noise (“grainy” photos), Apple says, and offering up to three times faster autofocus in low light.
Even better, you don’t need to turn on this mode, which comes on all three new models. Apple says Night mode will be enabled automatically if the phone senses the photo is being taken in a dimly-lit environment, indoors or outdoors.
An “always on” Apple Watch
As author of the book “Apple Watch For Dummies” (shameless plug, sorry), a common complaint from readers is wishing Apple Watch’s display would always stay on, instead of turning to black after a few seconds, to help preserve battery life.
Users will now get that perk as Apple Watch Series 5 (from $399, available Sept. 20) is the first to have an always-on Retina display, therefore the watch face is always visible, to glance at the time and personalized “complications” (such as activity levels, weather, UV index, and more).
Offering up to 18 hours of battery life, the Apple Watch screen intelligently dims when your wrist is down and returns to full brightness with a raise or a tap.
Made from a wider range of materials (including aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and titanium), Apple Watch Series 5 also introduces a built-in compass, so you can see which way you’re facing when looking at maps, and get additional information in a Compass app.
For world travelers, those with the cellular versions of the watch can now complete international calls to emergency services, regardless of where the device was originally purchased (or if the cellular plan has been activated).
Inexpensive gaming, video services
While it didn’t get as much coverage as the new hardware, Apple spent considerable time talking about new services – that won’t break the bank.
A gaming service called Apple Arcade will be available on the App Store beginning Sept. 19, with a subscription cost of $4.99 per month (after a one-month free trial). It gives gamers unlimited access to more than 100 new, exclusive games – all playable across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV – and all without in-app purchases or advertisements.
Also for $4.99 per month, Apple TV+ is a new video subscription service with all original shows, movies and documentaries, including “The Morning Show,” “For All Mankind,” “Dickinson,” “The Elephant Queen,” and “See” (with an extended trailer shown at the Apple event). Starting November 1, the service will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac and other platforms.
What’s a slofie?
While it made a splash among attendees at the Steve Jobs Theater, there doesn’t seem to be much coverage of a fun new way to take slow-motion selfies – or “slofies,” for short.
By activating iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro’s Slo-Mo mode on the front-facing TrueDepth camera, you can shoot at 120 frames per second – perhaps while tossing your hair, making a funny face or capturing movement with your friends.
Speaking of friends, if you turn your iPhone sideways, to landscape mode, the camera automatically zooms out to fit more people in.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at www.marcsaltzman.com.