My 5 takeaways from Apple’s 2018 iPhone Event

I finally had a chance to jot down my thoughts about Apple’s 2018 iPhone and Apple Watch event. With a lot more products, with many more markets and demographic segments to service, you could tell that Apple was no longer the Apple of old. More influencers. More video bloggers. More international press. Oh yes, this is a trillion dollar company with trillion dollar problems. And it knows it. I think Tim Cook is a great CEO for a trillion dollar company. Anyway here are some of my notes.

Apple Watch is putting on some weight

I have an Apple Watch. Series 1. I don’t ever wear it. But I love the strap. The Milanese. It is just amazing design — most Milanese straps in the market are junk. I bought the watch, just to enjoy the strap. I am old school when it comes to watches — I love my Grand Seikos, so no surprise that there is hardly any motivation of buying the new Series 4 Apple Watch. As someone with cardiac disease, I should — but I won’t. I want to be analog when it comes to watches.

Anyway, when I picked up the watch, I was impressed by how much better it felt compared to the first version. I was also impressed by the lack of weight — that should tell you how I treated my original Apple Watch. I made a mental note to myself to see how it compared to the old watch I owned.

The original series 1 watch — the 42mm version (made from Aluminum) weighed 30 grams. The Series 2 watch (with GPS and cellular) put on weight and was 34.2 grams when it came out. Series 3 went up in weight as well — 34.9 grams. Series 4 watch weighs 36.7 grams. In other words, it has put on weight, but is packed with new technologies, more chips, and had a larger screen with much higher resolution. All this is thanks to the S4 chip and Apple’s crown jewel — its silicon group.

The Best iPhone Ever

So what new iPhone should I buy? I have been asked that question from many friends and colleagues who know I was at the Apple event. My theory on spending — you should spend on a few things, but on the very best thing.

My pick, hands down is the iPhoneXs — the 5.8-inch screen version. The OLED screen has the same resolution has the Max version 458 pixels/inch. That means, it has more screen space than any plus iPhone, is light, and is jam-packed with the right features. It is right sized — you can hold it in your hand and not feel a cramp in your hand.

The iPhone MaXimum is great, but if you have to use it all the time, I can guarantee you will have the extended thumb problems. The iPhoneXr is a budget version and for me lacks two things that matter as an end customer — beautiful screen and an amazing camera — when compared to its more lush version, the IPhoneXs. When it comes to phones — always buy the best and then use it till it feels like your granny’s computer.

Big Bionic 12

When it comes to the new iPhones, many including some members of media are participating in a collective shrug. Bloomberg was impressed by the “pricing” and not the technology? When I read that, I went really? I mean that new shiny new A12 Bionic chip with more cores in its neural engine, ability to do way more with its GPU and CPU isn’t enough technology? I mean seriously — this is the most impressive work. Steve Jobs would be so proud! I mean, this is some chip nerd nirvana. Here are some facts about the A12 Bionic. It has:

  • 6.9 billion transistors.
  • Two high-performance CPU cores deliver 15% more speed and 40% greater efficiency compared to the A11.
  • Four other CPU cores are 50% more efficient than those on the prior chip.
  • Six-core GPU designed by Apple. It is 50% faster than the block on the A11.
  • New neural engine sports eight cores, versus two in the A11, giving it a nine-fold performance bump vs. A11.
  • CoreML machine-learning framework can hit 5 trillion operations/s, versus 600 billion ops/s on the A11 using one-tenth of the energy.
  • Made using 7 nm technology.

What does all this mean?

This is the first serious edge computing device with more oomph than many laptops. The neural engine can now do a lot of those things Google does in the cloud — on a device. When it comes to automatic video editing and stuff such as the identification of faces, we are going to see the power of this chip.

The gaming demos and the ARKit 2 demos, should be enough of a clue as to what this new chip can enable. And when you get really amazing selfies/photos from the phone without saying “Deeper Pixels” or “Computational Photography” you will probably know that there is something special about the iPhoneXs. And that’s Bionic!

The Story Problem

Like the Porsche design, iPhone is a product that is available in many variations of the original, which was so good that it can only be tuned, not reinvented. I think like Porsche, iPhone to gets a lot of improvements under the hood. And it is hard for Apple to make the normals care about how much effort it puts into the making of the phones. The guts of the iPhone are as beautiful as the outside.

Too bad there is no easy way to tell this story in words. As I was watching the keynote and it became pretty clear that Apple’s biggest challenge is in telling normal people why all these performance gains matter. This is now the Achilles heel of all smartphone (and iPhone) marketing.

iPhone MaXimus

How is that for a simple name instead of iPhoneXsMAX? And I am not even a marketing guy, but I know a terrible name when I see one. And I am not shy to say that on television!

iPhoneXsMax — When I heard the name and saw it up on the stage, I shuddered. Apple’s name for its newest, biggest iPhone made one Microserf quip on Twitter: “And I thought we sucked at naming. #AppleEvent iPhone Xs Max September Refresh CTP1”

Microsoft and other technology companies were mocked by Apple for their naming conventions. But now Apple is doing the same — fighting hard to come up with names that are fighting Samsung, Huawei, and many others when it comes to being tongue twisters.

It is pretty sad to see that a company that took pride in its ability to communicate clearly and succinctly about its products, the company that was able to name them with such elan and made them memorable, has come. iPhoneX(s)Max.

If they spent as much energy in their naming conventions as they put in say, their, A12 Bionic chip, then we won’t have this problem.

September 12, 2018, Cupertino

PS: I was live posting my notes from Apple’s Watch & iPhone event on my Telegram channel and sharing them on Twitter. If you want to catch up on those notes, here are links to these notes: 1, 2, 3, and 4. You can follow the @omsays channel on Telegram and here is how you do it.

A letter from Om

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