Business

Apple unveils larger iPhones, health-oriented watches

Philip Schiller, senior vice-president for Apple worldwide marketing, speaking at the launch of the new iPhone XS series.
Philip Schiller, senior vice-president for Apple worldwide marketing, speaking at the launch of the new iPhone XS series.

Apple unveiled larger iPhones and watches based on the design of current models on Wednesday, confirming Wall Street expectations that the company is making only minor changes to its line-up.

The world's most valuable tech company wants users to upgrade to newer, more expensive devices as a way to boost revenue as global demand for smartphones levels off. The strategy has helped Apple become the first publicly-traded US company to hit a market value of more than $1 trillion earlier this year.

Its shares were down 1.2% on Nasdaq.

Apple uses the 'S' suffix when it upgrades components but leaves the exterior design of a phone the same. Last year's iPhone X represented a major redesign.

The new phones are the XS, with a 5.8-inch (14.7cm) screen, the larger XS Max, with a 6.5-inch (16.5cm) screen, and a 6.1-inch iPhone Xr made of aluminum, with an edge-to-edge liquid retina display.

Apple, which is looking for ways to lessen reliance on phones for revenue, opened its event by announcing the new Apple Watch Series 4 range with edge-to-edge displays, like its latest phones, which are more than 30% bigger than displays on current models.

It is positioning the new watch as a more comprehensive health device, able to detect an irregular heartbeat and start an emergency call automatically if it detects a user falling down, potentially appealing to older customers. It said it had approval for the device from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA said it worked with Apple to develop apps for the Apple Watch. The agency said it has been taking steps to ease the regulatory pathway for companies seeking to create digital healthcare products.

Shares of fitness device rival Fitbit fell about 3.7% after the Series 4 announcement. Shares of Garmin lost some earlier gains and were flat in midday New York trade.

Executives made the announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's new circular headquarters in Cupertino, California, named after the company's co-founder who wowed the world with the first iPhone in 2007.

"There's no real game-changer on the table," said Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel.

"It's a matter of getting people to keep moving up."

Have your say
Youtube play icon