Apple unveiled three new iPhones on Wednesday, including its biggest and most expensive model yet, as the company seeks to widen the product's appeal amid slowing sales.

CEO Tim Cook showed off the Apple XS, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year's dramatically designed model , the iPhone X. A bigger version will be called the iPhone XS Max, which looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much bigger.

As with the iPhone X, the new phone has a screen that runs from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark.

This even-bigger iPhone represents Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.

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The iPhone X also got rid of the home button to make room for more screen and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of US$724 ($1100) during the April-June period, a nearly 20 per cent increase from a year earlier.

Worldwide smartphone sales grew just 2 per cent during that period, according to the research firm Gartner Inc. During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.

Here's a rundown of some of the important specs.

Even better battery life

In a feature sought after by most users, Apple says it will add an extra hour and a half battery to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

Dual SIM card slot and eSims

Apple says it will add dual SIM cards to the new iPhones. This will let users easily swap between two different mobile plans, which is common in some countries where users might travel between different network zones.

In the UK and US, this will be made up of a single SIM card tray with an additional built-in eSIM, while in China the phone will come with a specially designed dual SIM card holder.

Apple iPhone XS portrait mode

Schiller says the new iPhone can take even more detailed bokeh photos, these pictures blur the background and give more emphasis to the portrait. Schiller adds the new photos have a post-picture depth of field blurring. This means users can change the background blur of their pictures even after they have taken them.

The iPhone XS camera

The iPhone camera "is the world's most popular camera" said Apple head of hardware Phil Schiller. The iPhone XS with its neural engine can take photos and portraits in more detail than ever before.

The phone includes a 12MP dual lens camera with "smart HDR" with "zero shutter lag" thanks to its new processor, taking multiple frame shots at once, even of moving shots, to combine the pictures together to "merge them into one perfect photo".

The iPhone was described as having the world's most popular camera. Image/Apple.
The iPhone was described as having the world's most popular camera. Image/Apple.

Steps in augmented reality

Apple showed off the work of Bethesda studios, the maker of the game series Elder Scrolls, to show how powerful the iPhone XS's processor is.

Another app, HomeCourt, shows how augmented reality can be used to identify posture and movement of basketball players and track them on a court.

The final app is Galaga AR, an augmented reality game where users can play a starfighter shooting game using augmented reality.

Cost and availability in New Zealand

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will retail for $1899 and $2099 respectively in New Zealand

Customers will be able to pre-order the device from 14 September, with availability beginning on 21 September.

The cheaper iPhone XR, also announced today, will start at $1399. Customers will be able to pre-order this phone from 19 October, with availability starting on 26 October.


- Associated Press and Daily Telegraph