Apple has unveiled the iPhone X, its most futuristic ever phone. Available November 3rd.
The company says that the new phone is “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone” and that it “will set the path of technology for the next decade”. It was released alongside the more conventional iPhone 8, at an Apple event in California.
Chief among those new features is a screen that goes all the way over the front of the phone. That display is what Apple refers to as “super retina”, using OLED technology for richer colours and sharper images.
Apple also boasted about how the phone can be unlocked simply by looking at it, because of sensors packed into the notch at the top of the screen.
“With iPhone 10, your iPhone is locked until you look at it, and it recognises you,” said marketing chief Phil Schiller. “Nothing has ever been more simple, natural and effortless. We call this Face ID. Face ID is the future of how we unlock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information.”
It does that by first taking a mathematical model of the users face. It then users those sensors – invisibly and in real time – to check whether the person holding the phone’s face matches up with the one it has stored.
It said that the biometric recognition is far more accurate than the TouchID fingerprint sensor that is used in all of Apple’s phones up until now, including the iPhone 8 that was released at the same time.
But the futuristic phone does borrow some features from that slightly more boring phone. Like the iPhone 8, it has the same wirless Qi charging through the glass back on the phone, the same A11 “bionic” chip included, and many of the same internal specs.
Despite that increased performance, the battery lasts for two hours longer than the iPhone 7, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller said.
That same technology will be used to power “Animoji”. Those are animated emoji that “you control with your face” – tracking your facial movements and then using those facial movements on the emoji.
It also has a vastly improved camera, which can take pictures with fine detail and no noise, according to Apple.
The phone is likely to be release on 22 September, the same date as the iPhone 8. And it’s expected to come at an eye-watering price.
Today’s iPhone launch, coming a full decade after the release of the original iPhone, will feature a device quite similar to Apple’s first ever smartphone. The newest iPhone, whose name has already leaked out as iPhone X, will be like the original in that it will be higher in price than most people are used to paying for phones, it will be constrained in availability due to the difficulty of its manufacture, and it will serve as a status symbol for its owners. Some will purchase it to signal their wealth, many will acquire it as a totem of their Apple fandom, and almost all will desire it simply by virtue of its limited availability and exclusivity.
When Apple launched the original iPhone, it was wildly different from the devices we called “phones.” In 2007, Nokias with T9 keypads were doing battle with BlackBerrys sporting full, three-dimensional QWERTY keyboards. Today, it’s no longer possible for any company to break so far from the norm — the mobile market moves too quickly, leaks are abundant, and phone designs are too mature for such revolutionary change — but Apple’s goal with the iPhone X is to indeed signal a new path for mobile devices. Sure, the Cupertino company will have the usual iterative updates to its lineup in the shape of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models, but the X version will be the one that tells us where Apple wants to go.
The most immediate and obvious change will be in the obliteration of the bezels above and below the iPhone X’s screen. Together with the round home button, those bezels have come to define the iPhone (and even smartphones in general) in simplified graphics and emoji. Apple’s decision to do away with them seems only cosmetic, but it also moves the company away from the fingerprint authentication technology that the iPhone’s Touch ID helped to usher into the mainstream. Where the iPhone X is going, it won’t be needing either a home button or a fingerprint sensor, and the rumors ahead of its launch indicate that Apple will move to less proven forms of biometric ID like facial recognition.
A good way to think of the iPhone X is as a sort of technology preview. Reading through all the leaks and off-the-record Apple reports, a picture emerges of the iPhone X as a radical redesign that strains at the edges of what can be done with current tech. It’s a break from Apple’s traditionally circumspect approach in one key way: the company is relying solely on Samsung to provide the requisite OLED displays, whereas it usually favors a diverse pool of component providers to minimize risk. Maybe for Apple internally, the iPhone X means as much “experimentation” as anything else. The company can’t afford to take many chances with the hundreds of millions of iPhones it sells every year, but a limited-edition model can serve as the proving ground for new technologies.
Much in the same way that the flagship smartphone of today turns into the mid-range device of tomorrow, so too the best elements of Apple’s cutting-edge, limited-edition, super-flagship of 2017 are likely to wind up in the regular iPhone of 2018.
With pricing anticipated somewhere around and above $1,000, Apple is set to position the iPhone X as a whole new class of device. This isn’t an unfamiliar tactic for the company, which in prior times introduced the Retina MacBook Pro at retina-searing prices just for those who really wanted — and could afford — to buy one. Gradually, the Retina MBP took over and became the only MBP option available, but its start was simply as an indulgence for people eager and wealthy enough to be super early adopters. That’s the play with the iPhone X as well, except the iPhone’s influence, recognizability, and social significance are all vastly greater than those of a MacBook laptop.
For regular consumers, the iPhone X will be defined simply by its exclusivity. As with the original iPhone, merely obtaining one will be a feat in and of itself. Beyond being limited in number and difficult to afford, the iPhone X retail units might not even arrive particularly soon, as multiple pre-launch reports have suggested an extended delay after the official announcement.
Odds are that the struggle to get an iPhone X will just feed into the desire for it — much as you might see with rare, limited-edition mechanical watches or special edition sports cars. Apple has spent the past few years cozying up to luxury brands like Hermès, and now it seems to be borrowing a trick from their playbook while serving its own technical goals. By releasing what is essentially the 2018 iPhone in a very early and very limited edition, the Cupertino company is getting the benefits of both experimentation and exclusivity.
The long-awaited and extensively leaked special edition iPhone is finally upon us, and it’s called the iPhone X. This new super flagship phone from Apple features an edge-to-edge screen with a notch at the top to accommodate the front-facing camera and new Face ID sensors. Apple CEO Tim Cook teased the introduction of the the new device with the following words:
“Over the past decade, we’ve pushed forward with innovation after innovation, bringing us to this moment, when we can create devices that are far more intelligent, far more capable, and far more creative than ever before.”
The iPhone X has glass on both the front and the back, and it has “surgical-grade” stainless steel around the sides. It is water-resistant and comes in two colors: space gray and silver. It also has the highest pixel density (458ppi) display ever in an iPhone, with Apple calling it a Super Retina display. It measures 5.8 inches in diagonal size and has a resolution of 2436 x 1125. It’s the first OLED display in an iPhone, which Phil Schiller explains bluntly: it’s “the first OLED display great enough to be in an iPhone.” Like the iPhone 8, the iPhone X also has True Tone display technology.
Apple has omitted the home button for the first time, replacing it with an upward swipe from the bottom of the phone. Along with the home button, which used to house the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Apple is also moving away from fingerprint authentication. The new method is called Face ID and does what the name suggests: it unlocks the phone just by having you look at it. It’s based on the tech in the notch at the top of the phone: it combines an IR system with the front camera and a so-called flood illuminator that beams a light at your face to help it be recognized even in the dark. Apple even went to the extra step of building a dedicated neural engine — based on a dual-core custom chip design — to process face recognition in real time.
Face ID, according to Apple, is orders of magnitude more secure than Touch ID. The company claims a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of a random other person being able to look at your phone and unlock it through Face ID. The new facial authentication will also work will Apple Pay and all third-party apps that already supported Touch ID.
Photos and video playback on this new iPhone will both wrap around the notch at the top of the device, which is liable to grow irritating over time. Multitasking will also be something people will need time to adapt to: to open the iOS Control Center, for instance, you’ll have to swipe down from the top right corner. All the swipe-based interactions have been tried by other phone companies before, with varying degrees of success.
The iPhone X has dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, and it’s equipped with dual optical image stabilization. The sensors are both larger and faster, according to Apple, and the main camera has an f/1.8 aperture while the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. In between the two cameras is a quad-LED True Tone flash with a supposedly twice the uniformity of light. The new phone also has stereo speakers.
The A11 processor that was introduced with the iPhone 8 earlier in the event is, of course, present inside the iPhone X. It has two performance cores, four high-efficiency cores, and the first Apple-designed GPU. Apple has now announced a wireless charging pad to unify the wireless charging of all its mobile devices and calls the overall system AirPower. The AirPower charging pad will be available next year.
Also on the wireless front, the iPhone X supports LTE Advanced and the incoming Bluetooth 5.0 standard. There are still no real gadgets or accessories that you can use with a Bluetooth 5 phone, but the more phones there are, the more impetus there will be for compatible peripherals.
The iPhone X is priced from $999 with 64GB of storage and there’s an upgraded option with 256GB of storage. Preorders open on October 27th, shipping begins November 3rd.