Apple needed to pull out all the stops for the tenth anniversary iPhone, and its response is the iPhone X, which will include an edge-to-edge screen, facial recognition, and wireless charging.
The major feature of the device–whose name is pronounced “iPhone ten”–is a 5.8-inch screen with a 2436 by 1125 pixel resolution, giving it 458 pixels per inch. This is the first Apple phone with an OLED screen, but many rivals devices have used them for years, as they are thinner and less power hungry than standard LEDs.
The display covers almost the entire front of the phone, so there’s no room for a Home button. Apple has modified iOS to replace this with on-screen gestures e.g. stroking up from the bottom of the display returns to the homescreen.
iPhone X + Face ID
The Home button was also a fingerprint scanner, so the iPhone X uses facial recognition instead. This is handled with a front-facing infrared camera, flood illumination, and dot projector.
Apple promises Face ID will be able to recognize users even if they add glasses or grow a beard, and there’s only a one-in-a-million chance of a false positive. The system requires the face to be a 3D object not a picture, and the user must be awake and looking at the camera for the device to unlock. Time will tell if the system lives up to these promises.
iPhone X + Qi
The back of this upcoming smartphone is glass so that it can support wireless charging with the Qi–pronounced “Chi”–standard. All users will have to do is place an iPhone X on a pad to recharge it battery, without the need to plug in a wire. This is another feature not unique to Apple; all Samsung’s flagship devices have offered this feature going back to the Galaxy S4.
There was early speculation that this would be the first phone to support the Apple Pencil, but that didn’t pan out.
Dual rear-facing cameras are a feature of most high-end phones, but unlike its rivals each of Apple’s 12 megapixel ones will have optical image stabilization. A quad-LED flash will bring more light on dim subjects, and the iPhone X can do some fancy in-camera lighting effects. In addition, the front-facing camera will be able to take pictures in which the foreground objects are in focus but background ones are not, just like the rear ones.
Powering this smartphone will be a new Apple A11 Bionic quad-core processor, with two high-speed cores that are 70% faster than the A10, and two high-efficiency cores that are 25% faster. Apple never announces the exact speeds of its mobile processors, nor the amount of RAM.
There will be two versions of the iPhone X: one with 64 GB of storage and the second with 256 GB. As had been expected, the starting price will be $999. Potential buyers will have some time to think about it, as pre-orders won’t start until Oct. 27, and the release date for the iPhone X is Nov. 3.
Don’t Forget the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
Those who don’t want to spend quite so much on a new device can turn to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which were also announced today. These are updated versions of Apple’s current models, but with some of the features of the new flagship devices.
They also use the A11 Bionic processor, and have 12 MP cameras, for example. They support inductive charging through the Qi technology. And they will come in 64 GB and 256 GB versions.
At the same time though, both the 5.5- and 4.7-inch models have Home buttons and Touch ID, not Face ID. No edge-to-edge displays here, either.
The iPhone 8 will start at $699, and the 8 Plus will be $799. Apple will start taking pre-orders September 15, and the release date for both is Sept. 22.