Apple finally pulled the drapes off its 10th anniversary iPhone today, but the damage is done – the countless leaks in the few months kind of spoiled the surprise.
Still, that’s not going to stop hoards of fans from getting the iPhone X this year. 10 years in and the iPhone brand is stronger than it has ever been, even Samsung’s attempt to steal its thunder the day before its launch backfired (the South Korean company announced a bendable screen on its Galaxy phones next year, but does anyone care right now?).
Despite the leaks, we got to learn more about the iPhone X and its new features during the unveiling, and who better to explain those highlights than Apple’s own executives?
All new design
Right off the bat, this is the biggest change to the iPhone since the iPhone 6. While Apple also announced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus alongside the iPhone X that retains the design from last year’s 7, the iPhone X is a radical departure from the last three generations.
The iPhone X is riding on the bezel-less trend this year with a massive 5.8-inch Super Retina Display panel that covers nearly the entire surface, save for a notch at the top which houses the front-facing camera and advanced sensors (more on that later).
That edge-to-edge screen sports the highest pixel density ever in an iPhone, equivalent to a quad-HD screen. That’s 2436 x 1125 resolution with 458 ppi. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus uses a Full-HD 1080p panel with a ppi of 401.
It’s also the first iPhone to use an OLED panel, so you really get to see the truest black, just like on the, oh I don’t know, the Galaxy S8?
The advantage of going bezel-less is that it helps keep the phone small. The iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen along with a forehead and a chin, which adds more girth to an already huge phone. The iPhone X’s screen is larger by .2 inches, but its only a tad bigger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 8, and the near-borderless design gives the illusion that you’re only holding the screen.
But because the chin is gone, there’s no home button at the bottom – You’ll need to swipe up to unlock, but before that the iPhone will need to ID your face (again, more on that later).
And if you’re worried about damaging all that screen, Apple claims the iPhone X’s display is its most toughest glass yet. You’d probably still crack it if you drop it hard enough.
But that black notch is really going to annoy the heck out of you when you’re watching movies in landscape mode on this thing.
But the all-screen design isn’t really the iPhone X’s biggest innovation, seeing as there have been several bezel-less phones released before it. The real show-stealer is the facial recognition technology baked in, which Apple calls Face ID.
While facial recognition on a smartphone isn’t anything new (Samsung has been toying with this for years), Apple’s implementation is far more advanced.
Firstly, Face ID replaces Touch ID on the iPhone X, as the fingerprint scanner is no longer there. You unlock your phone by holding it up to your face (the sensors are located at the notch where the front-facing camera is). The process is lightning quick, and once the phone recognises you, it’ll prompt you to swipe the screen upwards.
Secondly, Face ID scans your face in 3D. That means you’re not going to fool it with a selfie photo of you. The sensors also adapt to the changes on your face, so it will recognise you if you suddenly change your hair, sport a moustache or wear a pair of glasses, for instance.
Apple claims there’s a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of another person being able to unlock your phone through Face ID. Odds are if you have a twin, he/she could access your phone.
These sensors are so smart, it will keep the screen on and silence notification chymes when you’re still looking at the phone.
Face ID will also work with Apple Pay. Third-party apps that supports Touch ID will also be able to use it.
The iPhone X runs on Apple’s new A11 Bionic processor. This chip has two performance cores, four high-efficiency cores, and a GPU designed exclusively by Apple. The A11 chip is designed to handle AR and imaging without a hitch.
I’ve had a couple of Sony Xperia phones in the past, so I’m no stranger to playing with a virtual T-Rex on augmented reality. But Apple insist it can do AR better.
One demonstration of AR showed how those sensors scan your facial expressions and map them to an emoji (on iMessages for now).
Of course, the new AR tech on the iPhone X will drive mobile game developers to develop immersive AR games. We’ll have to wait and see more AR applications on the iPhone X before we can all agree how good it is.
The iPhone X’s dual 12-megapixel rear cameras are greatly improved from the iPhone 7 Plus. The sensors are larger and faster then previous generations, and both lenses have optical image stabilisation this time.
The main camera has an f/1.8 aperture lens while the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. Between those two cameras is a quad-LED True Tone Flash.
And for the first time, the iPhone X shoots 4K video. You might want to get the highest capacity iPhone X if you want to shoot everything in 4K, as that’s going to take up space fast.
Also new to the iPhone X is the ability to shoot ‘Portrait Mode’ with the front-facing camera, so now you can take those bokeh-licious selfies instead of relying on the rear telephoto camera.
After a long wait, the iPhone finally has wireless charging. You can charge the iPhone X by placing it on top of the AirPower charging accessory supplied by Apple (sold separately).
AirPower also has enough space to charge the Apple Watch and the Airpods case alongside the iPhone X.
Meanwhile, battery life on the iPhone X also gets a big boost. Despite all that screen, Apple claims the iPhone X should last two hours longer than last year’s iPhone 7.
Price and Availability
Apple is placing the iPhone X as its new high end handset, while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are their mid-range line.
The 64GB model starts at US$999 (around B$1,400). That amount can get you a high-specced Windows laptop or probably a 7-day trip in Singapore with more to spare at Changi International Airport.
A 256GB model is also available but the price for that is yet to be announced.
The iPhone X won’t be out until November 3. Also, be wary of scalpers during the first wave of shipment. This phone is going to be so hot in the market later this year, don’t be surprised to see prices exceeding the B$2,000 mark.