Vegetarian Festival in full swing nationwide

Business has picked up significantly on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok now that the Vegetarian Festival is in full swing with both Thais and foreigners buying vegetarian food to join in the tradition.

Festivities have also kicked off in Phuket province where the Jui Tui Shrine has engaged in a Ko Teng pole lifting ceremony to signify the start of the Vegetarian Festival. The shrine is to host a variety of activities over the nine days of the festival, including displays of supernatural feats believed to be possible during the annual happening.

In Songkhla province, Thais of Chinese descent in Hat Yai district also lifted a Ko Teng pole with the Tao Bo Keng Foundation providing vegetarian dishes to attendants.

On Bangkok’s Yaowarat Road, a ceremony was held to call upon the Nine Emperor Gods, which are believed to bestow blessings upon those that engage in the festival. People of Chinese heritage have been seen donning white and taking part in spiritual ceremonies since the start of the tradition, most saying they are wishing for health for their families.

Tai Hong Kong Shrine has prepared two vegetarian meal dispensaries for those taking part in the celebration. The meals are free and available three times a day from 7-9AM, 11AM-1PM and 4-5.30PM.

Bangkok maintains position as top international destination

BANGKOK, 30th September 2018 (NNT) – For the fifth time, Mastercard has named Thailand the most popular international destination in the world.

Government Spokesperson Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on the weekend that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was pleased to hear that Thailand had been voted the world’s best destination for the third consecutive time this year and five times in the past six years.

According to Mastercard’s report known as Global Destinations Cities Index, Thailand in 2017 was visited by 20 million overnight visitors. The average length of stay was 4.7 nights. Each foreign visitor spent 5,500 baht per day.

The cities of Phuket and Pattaya were voted 12th and 18th best respectively.

Thailand was the only country to have three cities in the top 20, which reflected the country’s well developed infrastructure, the quality of hospitality services, and affordability.

Mastercard examined 162 cities worldwide to come up with its Global Destinations Cities Index. The ranking is based on the number of visitors, the amount of money they spent, and the average length of stay in 2017.

By Mastercard’s assessment, Bangkok is more affordable than Paris, Singapore or Seoul.

 

Information and Source

Reporter : Thammarat Thadaphrom Rewriter : Rodney McNeil National News Bureau & Public Relations : http://thainews.prd.go.th

15 reasons to visit Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

15 reasons to visit Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

 

1. Ganga Aarti

The Varanasi Ganga Aarti takes place every sunset at the holy Dasaswamedh Ghat, near Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The aarti is performed on a stage by a group of pandits, all draped in saffron colored robes with their puja plates spread out before them. It commences with the blowing of a conch shell, and continues with the waving of incense sticks in elaborate patterns and circling of large flaming lamps that create a bright hue against the darkened sky. The movement of the lamps, held in the pandits’ hands, is tightly synchronized to the rhythmic chants of hymns and clang of cymbals.

 

2. Dip in holy Ganges

There are plenty of ghats in Varanasi, from where devotees can take a holy dip in the Ganges and it is considered to be the most auspicious moment by all Hindu religion believers. You do not want to miss the chance to fulfil the millennia old tradition while you are at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

3. Boat ride

Some say the majesty of the Ganges River is best appreciated as the sun is rising and setting. In the morning you can experience the red sun rising in the east, shining on pilgrims as they start their bathing rituals. In the evening you can experience Ganga Aarti too.

 

4. Seek blessings at temples

The Vishwanath Temple of Kasi (Varanasi) is one of the oldest and most sacred Hindu temples in India. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas – important centres of Shiva worship. The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple of Varanasi is said to have been established by the renowned saint Goswami Tulsidas and reconstructed by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya in the early 20th century. Located quite close to the Vishwanath Temple, is the Annapurna Devi temple where the Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the giver of food and nourishment.

5. Enjoy the street food

Street food is an essential part of Indian culture and cuisine. There are a number of street foods from across the country that are famous, but nothing that beats the hot and crispy kachoris and samosas from Benaras. Vegetarian delicacies are majorly prepared in desi ghee and mustard oil, be it spicy, sweet or sour. Most Varanasi sweets have a milk and ghee base like the Magdal, Sankat Mochan ke Laddoo, Parval Mithai, Kheer Mohan and Launglata among others.

6. Soak in music and dance of banarasi gharana

Varanasi also developed as a great center of Dhrupad style of singing. In the 16th century, Govind Chandra ruled Varanasi and during his regime Dhrupad became the count music. With the development of Dhrupad, other styles like Dhamar, Hori and Chaturang also grew. The famous Assarwari, “Ghunghat ke pat Khol” was made famous by the Nirgun singers of Kashi while Meer Rustam (the Nawab of Awadh) patronised music festivals like Jhoola, Jhoomar, Kajri, Birha, Dangal, Gulab Bari as well as music on boats. Varanasi is also associated with many great instrumentalists. Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan is famous worldwide while Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has earned wide acclaim throughout the world.

7. Weavers of Varanasi

In the city as old as time, with a weaving tradition that is equally historic, Benarasi saris have kept abreast with changing tastes. The sarees are among the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are made of finely all had said this should be about Banarasi weaving including carpets etc and not just saris. Woven silk and are decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.

 

8. Take a holy dip in triveni sangam

The Triveni Sangam, where the Kumbh Mela takes place, is the meeting place of three rivers: the Saraswati, Yamuna, and Ganga. The Triveni Sangam is considered to be a very sacred place in India to Hindus, who believe that taking a dip there will wash away sins and free them from the cycle of rebirth, thereby achieving Moksha.

 

9. Visit the Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of humanity at any one. 100 millon people attended the Kumbh at Prayag in 2013! That is 1/10 of India’s population! All other congregations pale in comparison with the Kumbh. The ocean of humanity, the sea of tents, the colourful flags, countless pilgrims taking a dip in the water, the smell of smoke from holy fires, the beautiful sunrise it is a breathtaking panorama.

 

10. Discover the grandeur of UNESCO heritage sites

Unesco World heritage sites have always been a big attractions for traveler from all over the world and people like to visit these places very much. Specially travelers who love history and architecture love to visit world heritage sites all over the world. Delhi also have three Unesco world heritage sites – Red Fort, Humayun’s tomb and Qutub Minar and these are must visit when you are in Delhi.

 

11. Visit Chandni chowk – An ideal symbol of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhava’

Chandni Chowk has emerged as an ideal symbol of Sarva Dharma Sambhava. It was initially shaped as a square at the centre of which was a pool that shimmered in the moonlight which is what the market is named after. The shops around the bazaar were arranged in a half moon pattern around the square. Delhi’s most famous mosque, Jama Masjid, was built in 1650 in the vicinity. The Gauri Shankar temple, the Central Baptist Church and the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib are also located nearby.

 

12. Shopping in Delhi

The vibrant atmosphere of Delhi markets can make shopping lots of fun. In fact, Delhi has the best markets in India, selling a huge array of items including handicrafts from all over the country. These top markets in Delhi are a treasure trove of goods waiting to be discovered. The Delhi Haat, Tibetan Market on Janpath, Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Market, Khan market are some of them.

 

 

13. Visit Akshardham and Lotus Bahai Temple

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in New Delhi epitomizes 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind. The Lotus temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven Major Bahai’s temples built around the world. Completed in 1986 it is set among the lush green landscaped gardens. The structure is made up of pure white marble. The architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate.

14. Relish local delicacies

The best way to know a city intimately, is to romance its food. A lot has been written about Delhi and its food, and justifiably so. Delhi loves it food. And more than that, it loves sharing its food with those who love all things delicious. If you wish to enjoy it, shed your high-brow attitude to soak in the flavours and delicacies. The streets are lined with halwais (sweet-sellers), namkeen wallahs (sellers of savouries) and paranthe wallahs.

15. Celebrate Republic Day including the parade at Rajpath

Republic Day honors the date of 26th January 1949 when the Constitution of India came into force as the governing document of the country. It marks India’s identity as a republic nation. The Republic Day Parade refers to the ceremonious parade on Rajpath, New Delhi, held every year on the same date. The parade showcases India’s Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage. The Republic Day Parade takes places along Rajpath, in Delhi. Its route is more than five kilometers long. The parade sets out from Raisina Hill near Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Palace) and follows Rajpath past India Gate to the Red Fort.

 

Source: http://www.pbdindia.gov.in/en/15-reasons

15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2019

Day #1 21 January, Monday

Youth PBD & Uttar Pradesh
State PBD

Joint inauguration of Youth PBD by External Affairs Minister and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports. The event will bring limitless opportunities for the young Diaspora to engage with New India. Uttar Pradesh PBD is a unique opportunity for Pravasis from Uttar Pradesh to reconnect with the roots.

TimeSession/Programme
09:30 hrs-11:00hrs
  • Inauguration of Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
  • Special Guest His Excellency Mr. Himanshu Gulati, Member of Parliament, Norway
  • Guest of Honour His Excellency Mr. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Member of Parliament, New Zealand
11:30-13:00 hrsPlenary Session: Engagement with Younger Members of Indian Diaspora
13:00-14:30 hrsLunch hosted by Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports
14:30-21:00 hrs
  • Interaction with Banaras Hindu University Students (Banaras Hindu University Campus Campus)
  • Dinner hosted by Shri Chetan Chouhan, Minister of State for Sports & Youth Welfare for youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas participants
11:30-Onwards
  • Inauguration of Uttar Pradesh State Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Simultaneous event)
  • Cultural programme (Showcasing dance and music of Uttar Pradesh) in the Evening
  • Dinner hosted by Shri Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for State Pravasi Bharatiya Divas participants

 

Day #2 22 January, Tuesday

Inauguration of PBD Convention
by Prime Minister

Inauguration of 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2019 by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India in the presence of Prime Minister of Mauritius, H.E. Pravind Jugnauth.

TimeSession/Programme
10:00 hrs-12:30 hrs
  • Plenary I: Inauguration of 15th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas Convention 2019
  • Chief Guest His Excellency Shri Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius
  • Address by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
  • Joint Unveiling of Plaque of Mauritius Diaspora Centre by both Prime Ministers
  • Bharat Ko Janiye Quiz Award Ceremony & Group Photo
13:00-14:30 hrsLunch for delegates
14:00-15:30 hrsPlenary Session II: Developing Cyber Capacity of India
16:00-17:30 hrsPlenary Session III: Giving Back to India: Opportunities and Challenges
18:00-19:30 hrsCultural Programme (Organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations)
20:00 hrs onwardsDinner hosted by Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs

Day #3 23 January, Wednesday

Valedictory Session & PBS
Awards by President

Conferment of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards and Valedictory Address by President of India.

TimeSession/Programme
09:00-10:20 hrsPlenary Session IV : Indian Community Organizations Working for Indian Nationals in Distressed Situation
10:20-11:40 hrsPlenary Session V : Indian Diaspora’s Role in Capacity Building of Artificial Intelligence in India
11:40-12:00 hrsTea Break
12:00-13:30 hrsPlenary Session VI : Role of Indian Diaspora in Capacity Building for Affordable Waste Management
13:30-15:00 hrsLunch hosted by Shri Ram Naik, Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh
15:00-16:30 hrsPlenary Session VII : Role of India Diaspora in Capacity Building for Affordable Solar Power
17:00-18:30 hrsValedictory Session and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards Ceremony by Hon’ble President
20:00 hrsDinner hosted by Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President, Indian Council of Cultural Relations

Day #4 24 January, Thursday

In Prayagraj (Visit to Kumbh Mela)

Participants would arrive in Prayagraj by bus (Volvo AC Bus). Arrangements for holy bathing at Sangam

Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth, during which participants bathe or take a dip in a sacred river. The founding myth of the Kumbh Mela—attributed to the Puranas (collections of myth and legend)—recounts how the gods and demons fought over the pot (kumbha) of amrita, the elixir of immortality produced by their joint churning of the milky ocean. During the struggle, drops of the elixir fell on the Kumbh Mela’s four earthly sites, and the rivers are believed to turn back into that primordial nectar at the climactic moment of each, giving pilgrims the chance to bathe in the essence of purity, auspiciousness, and immortality.

The festival is held at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik every four years by rotation and is attended by millions of people irrespective of caste, creed or gender. Its primary bearers, however, belong to akhadas and ashrams, religious organizations, or are individuals living on alms. Kumbh Mela plays a central spiritual role in the country, exerting a mesmeric influence on ordinary Indians. The event encapsulates the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, ritualistic traditions, and social and cultural customs and practices, making it extremely rich in knowledge. Knowledge and skills related to the tradition are transmitted through ancient religious manuscripts, oral traditions, historical travelogues and texts produced by eminent historians. However, the teacher-student relationship of the sadhus in the ashrams and akhadas remains the most important method of imparting and safeguarding knowledge and skills relating to

Day #5 25 January, Friday

In Delhi

After Kumbh Mela, participants would travel from Prayagraj to Delhi by train (two-tier AC coaches).

 

Day #6 26 January, Saturday

Witnessing the

Witnessing the 70th Republic Day Event Republic Day Event

Special passes for foreign delegates of PBD 2019 have  been arranged for the Republic Day Parade.

Source: https://www.pbdindia.gov.in/en/program-schedule

‘Loveyatri’ releasing on 5th October, 2018 at Major Ekamai, Rama 3 & Pattaya

 

Loveyatri is an upcoming Bollywood musical romantic drama produced by Salman Khan Films and directed by debutante Abhiraj Minawala. The film stars Salman Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma and newcomer Warina Hussain in lead roles. The film releases on 5 October 2018.

 

Directed by Abhiraj Minawala
Produced by Salman Khan
Salma Khan
Screenplay by Niren Bhatt
Starring Aayush Sharma
Warina Hussain
Anshuman Jha
Ram Kapoor
Ronit Roy
Music by Songs:
Tanishk Bagchi
JAM8
DJ Chetas-Lijo George
Background Score:
Sanchit Balhara
Cinematography Jishnu Bhattacharjee
Edited by Ritesh Soni
Production
company
Salman Khan Films
Distributed by Yash Raj Films
Release date
5 October 2018[1]
Country India
Language Hindi

Aadhaar Verdict so far: What the Supreme Court has upheld and struck down

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act and scheme, while striking down some provisions and reading down others.

The judgment was pronounced by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

The majority judgment delivered by Justice AK Sikri (for himself, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar) revealed what aspects of the Aadhaar scheme the Court has kept and which ones have been modified or done away with.

Here is list of where things stand:

– For obtaining bank accounts – Not Required

– For mobile numbers – Not Required

– School admissions – Not Required

– Examinations [NEET, CBSE etc] – Not Required

– Aadhaar-PAN linkage – Required

– Section 33(2) [disclosure of Aadhaar information to  an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India] – Struck Down

– Section 33(1) [disclosure of information on the basis of a court order] – Read Down. The Court has held that the individual should be given opportunity of hearing

– Section 57 [use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person] – Struck Down

– Section 47 [no court shall take cognizance of an offence under the Act except on a complaint made by UIDAI] – Modified. Should include a provision for an individual to file a complaint

While the majority judgment upheld the passing of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill, Justice DY Chandrachud dissented on this aspect.

“Passing of bill as money bill when it does not qualify as a money bill is a fraud on Constitution, it violates the Basic Structure”, he held.

‘Andhadhun’ releasing on 5th October, 2018 at Major Ekamai, Rama 3 & Pattaya

Andhadhun is an upcoming Indian mystery thriller film directed by Sriram Raghavan. The film stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte in the lead roles.

#AndhaDhun #MovieTrailer He sees what he shouldn’t. She sees what he couldn’t. So the question is, does he see it or not?

Watch the AndhaDhun trailer to know. AndhaDhun starring Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana & Radhika Apte releases in cinemas 5th October, 2018. Directed by Sriram Raghavan Join the conversation –

#AndhaDhun

PRODUCED BY VIACOM18 MOTION PICTURES | MATCHBOX PICTURES PVT. LTD. TABU | AYUSHMANN KHURRANA | RADHIKA APTE | ANIL DHAWAN | MANAV VIJ | ASHWINI KALSEKAR | CHAYA KADAM | ZAKIR HUSSAIN

DIRECTED BY SRIRAM RAGHAVAN DOP: K U MOHANAN

MUSIC: AMIT TRIVEDI LYRICS: JAIDEEP SAHNI TRAILER

MUSIC COMPOSER : SANDEEP SHIRODKAR

WRITTEN BY SRIRAM RAGHAVAN | ARIJIT BISWAS | POOJA LADHA SURTI | YOGESH CHANDEKAR SOUND DESIGN: MADHU APSARA

EDITOR: POOJA LADHA SURTI

ACTION: PARVEZ KHAN

PRODUCTION DESIGN: SNIGDHA PANKAJ & ANITA DONALD

COSTUME DESIGNER: ANAITA SHROFF ADAJANIA | SABINA HALDAR

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: RAKESH SAIN | POOJA LADHA SURTI EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: VISHAL BAJAJ | ASHISH KATPAL

VISUAL PROMOTIONS – PENTACLE CREATIONS PVT.LTD

PUBLICITY DESIGN – MARCHING ANTS PVT.LTD.

TRAILER MIXED AND MASTERED BY ABHISHEK GHATAK

Anup Jalota and Jasleen Matharu relationship under the scanner: Is it really real?

Bigg Boss 12: Anup Jalota and Jasleen Matharu have set tongues wagging with the revelation of their romantic relationship. But is it for real or is it only to establish themselves in the controversial house of Bigg Boss?

Everyone’s favourite show Bigg Boss is back and how. Two episodes in, the show is already making headlines not for a controversy related to a contestant or an ex-lovers spat, but due to the ‘vichitra’ jodi of 65-year-old Anup Jalota and his 28-year-old partner Jasleen Matharu. The two have set tongues wagging with the revelation of their romantic relationship. But is it for real or is it only to establish themselves in the controversial house of Bigg Boss? The question has popped up in just two days of their stay in the show.

During the premiere episode, the bhajan maestro introduced Jasleen as his student and nothing more than that. In the words of the veteran singer, his and Jasleen’s was a “guru-shishya” relationship. But then, Salman Khan played an audio-visual of him and the young singer accepting their relationship. Jasleen called Anup Jalota her “partner” whom she has been dating for last 3.5 years in the AV. On being asked by Salman, what movie title will she dedicate to Anup, Jasleen replied with the title of Salman’s film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. It couldn’t have got more bizarre.

Just when we started to believe their love story, Jasleen’s thoughts about love and romance went for a toss. From being a die-hard romantic singing “raat akeli hai” for Anup, Jasleen transformed into a mature person. “It’s a different kind of a liking. There’s no name to this relationship. It’s just that both of us are way too important for each other. He is my teacher. We are like family,” she told co-contestant Saba Khan.

Trying to make a point, Anup Jalota added, “Mohabbat kayi tareeke ki hoti hai. Ye nahi keh sakte ki I am very much in love, (There is a different kind of love. You cannot say I am very much in love).”

Now, if you think the two are faking it for the show, wait! In the ‘BB Press Conference’ task, the two flipped yet again. Anup Jalota in his defence said, “Hum dono ek hain. (We both are one).” But Jasleen’s reluctance to accept her relationship with the 65-year-old singer was brought up by Dipika Kakar. Unable to defend herself, Jasleen, when prodded further, went on to give statements like, “Anup ji and I are teacher and student and are very important for each other” and “Considering his age, do you expect me to call him my boyfriend?”

Now, with such contrasting statements coming from this ‘vichitra’ jodi, just like Karanvir Bohra, we are also confused. Meanwhile, Jasleen’s father has reacted on his daughter’s relationship with Anup Jalota which was under the wraps until now. In an interview with News18, he said, “This news was a shocker for me as well as for my family. However, I don’t want to comment anything on her personal life till I meet her. She is on the Bigg Boss 12 house and want her to stay positive and emerge as the winner of the show. There are many other contestants who have controversial past, my daughter has not done anything wrong. I wish her all the best for the show and be an inspiration for the society.”

Harsh Vardhan Shringla likely to be India’s next ambassador to US

Shringla is likely to be replaced by Riva Ganguly Das, current director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh, is expected to be India’s next ambassador to the United States.

He would replace Navtej Sarna, who is slated to retire at the end of this year, reports UNB.

Shringla will likely be replaced by Riva Ganguly Das, current director general of the Ministry of External Affairs’ cultural arm, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, reports the Times of India.

Shringla’s shift is a part of a series of changes the Indian government is planning as it sends envoys to a number of important world capitals, the Times of India said.

However, when contacted, a diplomatic source in Dhaka said nothing has been finalized. “It will take time,” the source said.

Shringla was appointed Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka in November, 2015.

Source: https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2018/09/12/shringla-likely-to-be-india-s-next-ambassador-to-us

iPhone XS and 6.5-inch XS Max announced

Dual SIM support, improved cameras, and a 512GB option

Apple has announced its next generation of iPhones, and one of them is by far the biggest iPhone yet. The two new models are called the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. They look almost identical to their predecessor, but there are two immediate differences: for one, they’re both available in gold, unlike last year; and more importantly, the XS Max is huge. It’s not just the biggest iPhone ever, it’s one of the biggest phones out there, period.

In addition to the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple also announced a lower-cost model that splits the difference in size, called the iPhone XR. You can read more about that in our other article. We’re going to focus on Apple’s two new flagships, the XS and XS Max, below.

As with other S years, this year’s iPhones are mostly defined by spec upgrades. That includes a display with better dynamic range, wider stereo sound from the speakers, and speed increases to Face ID. Water resistance has been improved on both models. And the processor is getting a big boost as well, using Apple’s newly unveiled A12 Bionic processor, a six-core chip that’s among the first in the industry to use a 7nm process. Tim Cook called the devices “by far the most advanced iPhone we have ever created.”

But the real news this year is the introduction of the “Max” model, which has a huge 6.5-inch screen. That’s far bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inches) and bigger even than the Galaxy Note 9 (6.4 inches). It’s not as though Apple is jumping into unprecedented territory here, but it is leaping into a size class that, even in a world of large phones, is still considered fairly large. It’s an admission that large phones will continue to rule. And while it may have taken Apple a bit too long to catch on in years past, it’s happily jumping into the six-plus-inch fray as phones get ever larger.

Because the iPhone XS and XS Max have a wider screen ratio than the traditional iPhone, neither phone will be quite as big as it sounds. The iPhone XS, for instance, which has the same 5.8-inch screen size as the iPhone X, is actually smaller than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus. The XS Max is definitively larger than the other iPhones that came before it, but keep in mind that its extra screen size will come more from height than from additional width. That means it shouldn’t be much harder to hold than any Plus-sized iPhone.

Apple also says that the XS and XS Max feature an all-new camera system, though the specs seem largely the same on a high level. The wide angle and telephoto rear cameras both still have 12-megapixel sensors with optical image stabilization; but the wide angle camera now uses a new sensor with larger pixels, and the telephoto includes a wider aperture, so both cameras should do better in low light. The selfie camera on the front is supposed to be faster as well, but aperture and megapixel count haven’t changed.

The bigger upgrade may be to the way these cameras take photos. Apple is introducing a new method called “Smart HDR” that sounds very similar to what Google does with the Pixel — it takes many photos and stitches them together into one properly captured image. That’s not altogether different than the HDR methods that Apple has used in the past, but this year’s sounds like it’s just doing more of all that. Which, if it works, is great. And for Google, it’s definitely works.

Apple is also adding more options to its cameras’ portrait mode, which automatically isolates a subject and blurs out the background. You can now fine-tune those photos even more, adjusting exactly how blurred the background is, which could let you make the effect a bit subtler.

There’s another new feature that many people won’t notice, but could be make-or-break for buyers in some countries: dual SIM support. Both phones will support the use of two phone numbers and data plans, using a single physical SIM card and Apple’s integrated eSIM. That means carriers will need to add support for the eSIM in order for this to work (and many have been reluctant to); but it’s still a big addition, since Apple has never offered this before.

This feature won’t be available at launch, however. Apple says it’ll be enabled in a software update “later this fall.” And in China, where the eSIM isn’t allowed for some reason, Apple will instead ship a special version of the XS Max that includes two physical SIM trays.

Both phones are going to see improved battery life, with the XS getting an estimated 30 additional minutes and the XS Max getting an additional hour and a half. They’ll also each support gigabit LTE speeds.

The phones will both come in three capacities: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Those first two tiers are the same as last year, but 512GB is a new one for Apple. It’s not the first company to hit that incredible storage point in a smartphone, but it’s still relatively quick to get there. The 64GB configuration of the XS will sell for $999, the same as the iPhone X, and the 64GB XS Max will sell for $1,099. Preorders start Friday, with the phones shipping out September 21st.

The last time Apple introduced a new size of the iPhone was in 2014, when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched. Both models represented new sizes for Apple, which had spent the prior two years making phones with four-inch screens. As Apple stuck by its small phones, the door opened for Android competitors, which grew in size and popularity. That’s continued to happen, and Apple has generally kept up with the trend. With today’s announcement, it may even surpass it, planting a definitely large stake in a large phone world.

 

Source: iPhone XS and 6.5-inch XS Max announced

iPhone XS and 6.5-inch XS Max announced

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