At its keynote at the Steve Jobs Theater today, Apple revealed the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10), its top-of-the-line handset for 2017 that features a bezel-less design, an OLED screen, a glass front and back, and dust- and water-resistant stainless steel housing.
Designed to commemorate the original iPhone’s 10th anniversary, the iPhone X comes with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge Super Retina display that maxes out at a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels, making for a pixel density of 458 ppi – the highest on any iPhone ever.
It does away with the Home button, since you can simply tap the screen to wake it up. To go to the home screen, you only need to swipe up.
You can now use a new technology called Face ID to unlock the iPhone X. That’s made possible by a TrueDepth camera system on the front, along with a dual-core Neural Engine on the six-core A11 Bionic chip for real-time facial recognition that looks at 30,000 points on your face. It’s built to recognize your face no matter whether you’re wearing a hat, glasses, or growing a beard.
Face ID can be used not only to unlock your phone; it can also authenticate Apple Pay payments and log in to secure apps like 1Password. Apple is confident that the tech can’t be spoofed by photos, masks, or even slowed down by poor lighting.
In addition, ARKit gets face tracking capabilities for new AR experiences; for example, in Snapchat, you can add masks that conform to the contours of your face. The camera also lets you capture your own expressions and project them on emoji characters to send in your chats. You can even record messages with animated emoji characters, complete with face tracking and audio. These appear as looping videos in iMessage.
The iPhone X comes with dual 12-megapixel cameras on the rear, with larger and faster sensors than on the iPhone 7. There’s also a new color filter and deeper pixels, and apertures of f/1.8 for the wide-angle shooter and f/2.4 aperture on the zoom camera (which Apple says allows in 36 percent more light than before).
Imaging is aided by Apple’s new Image Signal Processing tech on the A11 Bionic chip. Dual optical image stabilization and zero shutter lag should help with better low-light photography and Portrait Mode pictures. There’s also a quad-LED True Tone flash, which Apple promises will deliver more uniform lighting. Plus, there’s the new Portrait Lighting feature to play with and replicate various studio lighting effects on your subject’s face.
Apple also said that it’s now using machine learning to optimize image quality before pictures are taken, for better results. That’s clearly a feature that needs testing, so we’ll reserve judgment on it for now.
Back to the front: The TrueDepth camera on the front fascia isn’t only for Face ID; it’s also the front camera that’s capable of Portrait Mode selfies, along with Portrait Lighting.
With the A11 Bionic chip, Apple hopes to eke out 25 percent faster performance than on the A10, and two hours of additional battery life when compared to the iPhone 7. And thanks to its glass back, the iPhone X is compatible with Qi wireless charging accessories.
Apple also showed off what it’s calling an AirPower mat, which can wirelessly charge the iPhone X, the Apple Watch Series 3 and a special EarPods case all at the same time. It’s slated to arrive next year, and the company will work with the Qi standards team to help bring more such products to the market.
With that, Apple is gunning to raise the bar for phones this year – perhaps a fair bit higher than what Android device makers have accomplished so far in 2017. Between improved cameras, a sexy new edge-to-edge display, AR and high-end graphics capabilities, and facial recognition, the iPhone X certainly seems like a compelling choice – if you can afford it.
The iPhone X will be available in 64GB and 256GB configurations, starting at $999; you’ll be able to pre-order it from October 27, and they’ll start shipping on November 3.
Stay tuned for all this and more from us in tandem with Apple’s event on September 12 at 10AM PT – follow our coverage here. We’re also hosting a live chat during the event, in which we’ll discuss the new products and updates: join us on this page.