Today, tech giant Apple hosted its first-ever event at the new Steve Jobs Theater in California. The company unveiled a variety of new software and hardware products, including the company's signature iPhone line. Let's dive right in to the most expensive, highest quality iPhone yet.
In recent years, the general design of the iPhone hasn't changed much. The iPhone X steps away from that trend in a big way.
The iPhone X will be available in just two colors:
- Space Gray
Both of these finishes are significantly more metallic than previous iterations. It's also interesting to note that the company appears to have ditched the white front for the iPhone X's silver variant.
Apple says the glass used on the front and back of the iPhone X is the most durable ever seen in a smartphone. The casing also includes stainless steal, and the whole thing carries the water and dust resistance of the previous generation.
Super Retina Display
The screen of the iPhone X is, by Apple standards, massive. The 5.8-inch 'Super Retina' screen fills the hand, and Apple promises it will blow you away.
It won't be until we've actually gotten a chance to hold the device that we can verify this claim, but here are some of the highlights of the new technology:
- Rounded Corners
- 2436x1125px resolution
- True blacks
- Higher brightness
- 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio
No More Home Button
All of this screen comes at a cost - the home button. The staple of the iPhone has changed over the years, but has remained a constant fixture of the iPhone since the original debuted 10 years ago.
With iPhone X, the home button has been replaced with a gesture. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to unlock your phone and visit your home screen. Siri is now accessed via the lock button on the side of the device, which has been increased in size to accommodate more frequent usage.
With the home button, so goes Touch ID. First introduced in the iPhone 5s, the technology allowed users to access their device, apps and secure files with just their fingerprint. This technology is being replaced by Apple's Face ID, advanced facial recognition technology leveraging software and hardware to produce very compelling results.
Apple says the technology allows your phone to recognize you and grant you access nearly instantaneously with security that's actually harder to tricker than Touch ID. Hear are some of the biggest points about the technology:
- It accounts for changes in your appearance over time
- It is allegedly 20 times harder to trick than Touch ID
- Trained to understand the difference between a face and a photograph
- Trained to understand the difference between a face and a mask
- Knows whether or not you're actually looking at the device
- Works in darkness
- Set it up in a single step
How it works
Apple has designed a ton of custom software and hardware necessary to run this feature. On the software side, the engineering team developed neural networks to be able to process huge amounts of data incredibly quickly.
On the hardware side, the company developed what they call the TrueDepth camera system, which is housed in the top bezel of the device. It contains an infrared camera, a flood illuminator (shoots infrared light at your face so the system works in low light), and a dot projector (shoots over 30,000 invisible dots at your face to build a 3D map of your features).
One of the most underreported thing about the technology so far is that its applications extend beyond security. One of the most annoying things about using an iPhone is that it will dim the screen or lock the device even though I'm using it, if I haven't physically interacted with it in a while.
With FaceID, your iPhone knows when you're paying attention to it. This means it can keep the screen lit, reveal notifications and messages you haven't seen, and lower the volume of an alarm when it knows it got your attention. This is just the beginning, and there are a lot of ideas floating around for even more applications to come.
The technology in the TrueDepth system also has some more artistic uses, which we'll discuss in the Cameras section below.
Every generation sees the iPhone's cameras improve. Considering the cameras on the device are the most widely used in the world, this is a great thing. This year's iPhones have some of the most interesting advancements yet.
The biggest improvements to the front cameras come via the TrueDepth system primarily built for Face ID. The multi-camera system allows for high quality selfies with blurred backgrounds similar to the existing portrait mode for the rear camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Detailed facial tracking also allows for some unique and fun applications, including what Apple calls Animoji. The TrueDepth camera tracks 50+ muscle movements to allow animated versions of your favorite emoji to mirror your expressions.
The new vertically aligned cameras on the iPhone X are 12MP, and they both utilize optical image stabilization. The wide angle lens features an aperture of f/1.8 and the telephoto lens aperture stands at f/2.4. That's a lot of technical terminology to say that this thing takes damn good photos.
The iPhone 7 Plus brought portrait photos, and the iPhone X (and the iPhone 8 Plus) are brings portrait lighting. In portrait mode, software can detect facial features and apply lighting effects in real-time. These are not filters, these are algorithmically generated light masks applied to real world subjects using facial tracking.
There's also been some improvements specific to video. The iPhone X can shoot 4K videos in 60fps and 1080p slow-mo can be shot in 240fps.
This is a first for iPhone. The idea of setting your device on a surface and having charging just happen is something that has been gaining popularity, and it's something that many of Apple's competitors have been doing for a while now.
Many public places and vehicles already have or are adding charging stations that have nothing to do with an outlet. Whether its the table of a coffee shop or a counter in an airport terminal, setting your phone down and having it charge itself is a natural action.
Of course, you can buy your own charging pads to create your own power stations. You'll be able to buy them from third parties, but Apple is developing their own 'AirPower' station with multi-device support, and I'm already sold.
Performance & Battery
Even though the charging experience in the future is looking brighter, everybody is still going to hate it. Thankfully, Apple has been working to reduce the amount of times you have to charge your device throughout the day. According to today's event, the iPhone X's battery will net you up to 2 extra hours of life from the previous generation.
What makes this even more impressive is how much more powerful the device is from its predecessors. The device is run by Apple's 6-core A11 Bionic chip, with a neural engine that can run up to 600 billion operations per second. The device contains four 'efficiency cores' and two 'performance cores', which all run 25-70 percent faster than the A10 fusion chip.
The device also contains an Apple-designed GPU that's said to be 30% faster than its predecessor, which means better games and other graphics-heavy applications. With an increasing focus on augmented reality games and apps (the coolest of which is objectively SkyGuide's AR functionality that lets you point your phone at the sky and find out exactly what you're looking at in the cosmos), this GPU will definitely be pushed to its limits.
Storage, Pricing, & Availability
The iPhone X comes in two storage capacities, at two different price points.
- 64gb - $999.00 USD
- 256GB - $1,149.00 USD
The most expensive iPhone yet opens for pre-orders on October 27th, and it ships November 3rd. You can find out more here.