Apple sets stage for “next 10 years” of mobile technology with iPhone X
Apple has revealed the iPhone X, the company's latest model in its popular smartphone range, that it described as “the beginning of the next ten years for iPhone.”
At the inaugural event to be held in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s enormous new ‘One Infinite Loop’ campus headquarters, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, and Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, ran through the features of the company’s flagship smartphone, laying to rest all the rumours that have circulated about the new design throughout the year.
The iPhone X (ten, not ex) features an all-glass design with a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED panel edge-to-edge display; Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip; wireless charging capability and an improved rear camera with dual optical image stabilisation. The handset also introduces Face ID, a highly secure new way for customers to unlock iPhone X, authenticate and use Apple Pay, using just their face, all enabled by the new front-facing 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera.
The all-screen glass display of iPhone X follows the curve of the body design, including the rounded corners. Apple says the all-glass front and back feature the most durable glass ever used in a smartphone, while a polished, surgical-grade stainless steel band wraps around the edge to reinforce the handset. The phone is also microscopically water and dust resistant.
“For more than a decade, our intention has been to create an iPhone that is all display. The iPhone X is the realisation of that vision,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer.
With the removal of the physical Home button and with it Touch ID, as featured on all recent iPhones, a new security feature was required. This is Face ID, taking advantage of the iPhone X’s Super Retina display. It uses the TrueDepth camera system, comprised of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator, all powered by the A11 Bionic chip to map and recognise a face. Face ID projects more than 30,000 invisible IR dots onto the user’s face and the IR image and dot pattern are pushed through neural networks to create a mathematical model. This data is sent to a secure enclave on the A11 chip to confirm a match, at which point the phone will unlock.
The system is designed to work in a fraction of a second and even functions in the dark and can adapt to physical changes in the face appearance over time, e.g. ageing, growing a beard, wearing glasses or changing hairstyle. All of the facial information is protected by the A11’s secure enclave to keep data secure and all of this processing is done on the device, not in the cloud, to best protect user privacy. Face ID will only unlock iPhone X when customers look directly at it with both eyes open and the developers say the system is not easily spoofed by holding up 2D photographs of a face or even by 3D prosthetic masks.
At the launch event, Apple revealed that the existing Touch ID thumbprint security system present in current model iPhones has a 1 in 50,000 likelihood of one person being able to unlock another person’s iPhone, having a close enough thumbprint match. With Face ID, that likelihood reduces exponentially to 1 in 1,000,000.
The iPhone X also features an improved rear camera, drawing on and extending the dual-lens technology and features of the iPhone 7 Plus. The new dual 12-megapixel rear camera system has dual optical image stabilisation and the ƒ/1.8 aperture on the wide-angle camera joins an improved ƒ/2.4 aperture on the telephoto camera for better photos and videos.
The Portrait mode from iPhone 7 has been extended to bring Portrait Lighting to both the front and rear cameras in iPhone X. This controllable real-time studio lighting effect (albeit in beta at launch) allows users to capture portraits with a shallow depth-of-field effect, further enhanced by five different lighting styles, all of which react to the available natural light at time of shooting. These lighting effects can also be adjusted post-shot, creating either subtle or dramatic results, as desired.
The new camera features also deliver higher-quality video capture, with better video stabilisation, 4K video up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps. The Apple-designed video encoder provides real-time image and motion analysis for optimal quality video.
Augmented reality is also on the agenda for Apple and the iPhone X cameras have been custom tuned, each one individually calibrated, with new gyroscopes and accelerometers for accurate motion tracking. The A11 Bionic CPU handles world tracking, scene recognition and the GPU enables incredible graphics at 60fps, while the image signal processor does real-time lighting estimation.
The A11 Bionic chip powering iPhone X is billed as Apple’s most powerful yet, in any smartphone, featuring a six-core CPU design with two performance cores that are 25 per cent faster and four efficiency cores that are 70 per cent faster than the A10 Fusion, the iPhone 7’s chip.
The iPhone X’s new performance controller can harness all six cores simultaneously, delivering up to 70 per cent greater performance for multi-threaded workloads, according to Apple. The new A11 Bionic neural engine has been designed for specific machine-learning algorithms and is a dual-core design, performing up to 600 billion operations per second for real-time processing. Despite this, the iPhone X battery life - as tested by Apple - is predicted to last two hours longer than iPhone 7.
“iPhone X is the future of the smartphone. It is packed with incredible new technologies, like the innovative TrueDepth camera system, beautiful Super Retina display and super fast A11 Bionic Chip with neural engine,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “iPhone X enables fluid new user experiences... it is the beginning of the next ten years for iPhone.”
One more new item pertaining to iPhone X revealed by Apple at the event was AirPower, the company’s new wireless charging accessory pad, due for release in 2018. The pad is large enough to simultaneously charge three devices, e.g. an iPhone X, an Apple Watch Series 3, and the new optional wireless charging case for the AirPods wireless earphones. The glass-back design of iPhone X uses the already established Qi system, meaning third-party charging mat solutions will be available in tandem with the launch of the iPhone X.
The iPhone X will be available for pre-order from Friday October 27 and for sale in stores from Friday, November 3. Two models will be available: 64GB or 256GB models, starting at £999. The handset will also be available through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme, with monthly payments starting at £56.45 in the UK.
Apple also launched the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus smartphones, iterative updates that largely stick to the same design originally introduced with the iPhone 6.
Both 8 models feature Apple’s new glass and aluminium design, the A11 Bionic chip, new cameras with the Portait Lighting feature, wireless charging and AR optimisation as standard.
The third iteration of Apple Watch, Series 3, was also announced, bringing cellular connectivity to a wearer’s wrist, meaning calls can be made and received without requiring an iPhone to be in range. The Watch shares the same phone number as its paired iPhone and automatically switches to 4G cellular when it is separated from the iPhone. The Series 3 Watch also has improved fitness features - such as 50m water resistance and a barometric altimeter that measures relative elevation - streaming Apple Music and a faster dual-core processor.
Apple also showed off its new Apple TV 4K media streaming box, which offers support for both 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) images and movies and comes with Siri, Apple’s digital AI personal assistant, to enable users to ask questions and search for content via the Apple TV app.