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Apple iPhones are getting bigger, faster and pricier. What you need to know

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Apple chief design officer Jony Ive (left) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the new iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. AFP PHOTO | NMG 

Apple on Wednesday released three new series of its X (pronounced as ten) model and a remake of Apple Watch as it looks to maintain the growth that saw it become world’s first trillion-dollar company.

The new round of iPhones released Wednesday are bigger, faster and more expensive. The three new models released by the company are iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is a low cost smartphone with a few but significant upgrades from previous models.

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are almost identical but the latter is bigger with a screen size of 6.5 inches, larger than even Samsung Galaxy Note9 which has a screen size of 6.2 inches.

The XS models released features significant upgrades from the X model that was announced last year. Here is what you need to know about the latest iPhones:

The new iPhone XS has a 5.8 inch screen while the XS Max features a bigger screen of 6.5 inch, the largest ever for an iPhone. The low-cost XR model has a 6.1 inch screen, larger than XS.

Both the XS and XS Max have an OLED HDR screen (Super Retina) while the XS has LCD screen. The home button at the bottom of the screen is long gone. Like in the previous iPhone X, users can unlock the screen by a Face ID. The new models now have “advanced and faster Face ID” that possibly fixes the issues that were experienced in the X version.

The new Apple iPhone Xs (L) and iPhone Xs Max

The new Apple iPhone Xs (L) and iPhone Xs Max (R) are displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. AFP PHOTO

Apple’s new phones have displays with better dynamic range.

“The custom OLED displays on iPhone XS deliver the most accurate colour in the industry, HDR, and true blacks. And iPhone XS Max has our largest display ever on an iPhone,” reads a statement on Apple’s website.

By industry standards, the XS Max is one of the biggest smartphone is the market and trends suggest the future belongs to large screens.

During the unveiling of the new iPhones, Apple indicated that what they are releasing to the market would be the fastest out there in the market. XS, XS Max and XR, all have A12 bionic processor which is a six-core chip. The new processor, Apple says, will give the designs and other in the future the “speed and fluidity” that is needed to run applications and perform tasks.

 A visitor inspects the new Apple iPhone XR

A visitor inspects the new Apple iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. AFP PHOTO

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The most expensive iPhones yet have an “all new camera system”. The XS and XS Max both have two rear cameras, wide angle and telephoto, with 12 megapixel sensors. The upgrades will see users take photos even in low light environments. Apple says that the “New secondary frames, a faster sensor, and the powerful A12 Bionic chip bring more highlight and shadow detail to your photos”.

The front camera, for selfies, has the same aperture and megapixel as of X model, is faster as a result of the speed upgrades.

The XR has a single 12 megapixel wide-angle camera and 7 megapixel selfie one with almost similar upgrades as with XS.

The new Apple iPhone Xs (L) and iPhone Xs Max

The new Apple iPhone Xs (L) and iPhone Xs Max (R) are displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on September 12, 2018 in Cupertino, California. AFP PHOTO

Apple is promising longer use for a single charge. The XS and XS Max have 30 minutes and an hour longer battery life compared to X. XR users will have an hour and a half more on battery life compared to iPhone 8 Plus.

All the three models will come in capacities of 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. According to Apple, 512GB is a new phone capacity and it will give users more space to store files.

The XS is the lightest of all the new models released. It weighs 177g while XS Max is 208g. The XR is 194g.

All the models released have an improved water resistance and a wider stereo sound. They as well have improved resistance to dust.

Apple says the new iPhones will start at $750, $1,000 and $1,100, which is an increase from last years starting prices at $700, $800 and $1,000.

The biggest news that will excite some users is that the new iPhones will come with a dual sim option, meaning, users will now have the option of two numbers in a single phone.

XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note9

While most observer have been quick to say that the larger iPhone, XS Max, is in response to Samsung’s Galaxy Note9, there are similarities and differences worth noting.

As similarities can dim the differences, the most notable difference between the two competitors is the weight. At 201g, Note9 is lighter than the new iPhone XS. Despite the latter being heavier, its thinner.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9. FILE PHOTO | NMG

As in the previous model, the new iPhone has a cut out space at the top of the screen to accommodate the from camera. Note9’s scree is all rectangular.

The two top competitors have two rear cameras in their latest models, a telephoto and wide-angle. Apple is all for Face ID while Samsung features a mix of fingerprints, iris and facial recognition.

There is about $100 difference in price. Samsung’s starts at $1000 while Apple has set theirs at $1,099.



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Lights, camera, action! Artistes brighten economy

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Covid-19 had negatively impacted entertainment revenues.

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KRA must ease tax filing to boost revenues

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Nikhil Hira Independent tax consultant and Director Bowmans Coulson Harney (law firm). [Courtesy]

Anyone who has been following Kenya’s budgets over the last few years will recall headlines each year saying that the country has set its largest-ever budget. 

The upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year is no exception, with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announcing a budget of Sh3.6 trillion – yes, the biggest ever! A little over Sh2 trillion will come from government revenues, with approximately Sh1.8 trillion of this from tax revenues. 

The balance will be borrowed – another common feature of the last few years. 

This year’s budget comes amidst an economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the inherent assumption that the pandemic will come to an end before the start of the next financial year. 

Given surges in infections that are being seen globally, and indeed in Kenya, this assumption may well be the deal-breaker. 

The Ministry of Health has already said that Kenya may see another wave of infections in July, fuelled by the Indian variant. This could result in more lockdowns with the associated impact on the economy and indeed revenue collections. The lack of vaccines is an issue that the government must address as a matter of great urgency if the country is to get through the pandemic without further economic woes. 

While deficits in government budgets are not uncommon, Kenya seems to be annually widening the gap between expenditure and revenues. 

If one applies this model to their household budget, the upshot will almost certainly be bankruptcy. 

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What is actually required is curtailing recurring government expenditures, which is something that the government has acknowledged in the past with proposed austerity measures. 

The reality is that Kenya has not succeeded in doing this, and the pressure on revenue collection is exacerbated. 

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When you add to the high level of wastage and corruption we are witnessing, the deficit will almost certainly continue to widen. 

The responsibility for tax collection and enforcement lies with the Kenya Revenue Authority better (KRA). 

There is no doubt that the authority has improved significantly in this task since it was set up in 1995. 

The taxman estimates that 4.4 million tax returns were filed by June 30 last year, up from 3.6 million in the previous year.  While this is a significant improvement, when compared to the country’s population, this number of returns seems unusually low. 

The increase in the number of tax returns, is to a large extent, due to the online reporting system, iTax, and a major push by KRA through taxpayer education.

There is no doubt that the online system has made filing tax returns significantly easier and gone are the large queues of people witnessed at Times Tower on deadline day. 

That said, there is still much to be done to make filing returns a seamless and painless exercise. 

System downtime during filing periods is something that all of us will have experienced, although, in typical Kenyan fashion, we inevitably wait until the last day to file our returns as we do with most things! 

The spreadsheet that one uses to file a return is by no means the simplest to use.  One key issue seems to be that taxpayers are not alerted to changes in the model until they try to upload a return. 

The spreadsheet does not allow one to make it more relevant to their sources of income – in essence, it is too rigid and inflexible. KRA should be able to rectify this without too much effort.

Last year was unusual in that different rates of tax were applicable in the first quarter as compared to the rest of the year.  This followed the Covid-19 relief measures that were introduced in April 2020. 

There was much debate about whether the changes were meant to apply for the whole year or whether some form of apportionment was needed. 

In the end, the decision was made for apportionment. One can argue about what the correct treatment should be, but the issue was how long it took for the decision to be made and, indeed, to amend the iTax system. 

The age-old notion has always been that the more complex and difficult it is to file a tax return, the more likely it will be that taxpayers simply won’t file their returns. While the issue with the system has been resolved, there is an inherent administrative issue here that must be addressed. 

KRA has to be significantly more proactive in dealing with changes in rates and law to ensure the least inconvenience to taxpayers. 

The writer, Nikhil Hira, is the Director of Bowmans Kenya.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Bowmans Kenya  

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The age of gentrification is truly upon our country

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Never mind the businessmen outside Nairobi could be richer. Rural folks aspire to one day moved to a new county (city).

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