Apple launches iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Alex Kidman 13 September 2017

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Apple has three new phones and much more to tempt you.

Apple’s “Meet at our place” event has, as expected, been the launching pad for the company’s newest smartphones, including iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus as well as the iPhone X. The new iPhone 8 models open for preorders on 15 September and will be on sale from 22 September. The iPhone X follows in October.

Apple’s plans were leaked extensively via the iOS 11 Gold Master over the weekend, but in Cupertino this morning Apple formally took away the veil to show off the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

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“[Apple founder Steve Jobs’] greatest gift, his greatest expression of his appreciation for humanity would not be a single product, but rather it would be Apple itself.” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at the launch in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple’s new Apple Park campus in Cupertino.

Cook said that the new venue and campus runs on 100% renewable energy, and once fully open, will include a visitor centre and, rather inevitably, an Apple Store. This will feature Apple’s new “Town Squares” concept, which it intends to add to major city stores across the planet over time.

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Apple kicked off the event talking up its new campus and Apple stores, before launching into its product announcements, firstly with the new Apple Watch 3, including software updates for health tracking around the heart rate monitor feature, which Apple claims is the world’s most used heart rate monitor.

Apple also announced the Apple Heart Study, which will use data from the Apple Watch in partnership with Stanford Medicine to track user’s heart rate data. It will be available in the US later this year. watchOS 4 for existing Apple Watch devices will be available from September 19. Apple also used the event to formally announce the LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 as expected. The new LTE-enabled Watch Series 3 will go on pre-order from 15 September with availability from 22 September.

Apple then moved on to announcing the Apple TV 4K, with 4K and HDR support built in, which will also go on pre-sale from 15 September with 22 September availability.

Still, the focus of the event was always going to be on the new iPhone handsets. “The first iPhone changed how we interacted by introducing multi-touch” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The App store changed the world. iPhone became the most popular way to capture the images of our lives” he said. “Now we can create devices that are far more personal than ever before”.

First to be announced, as expected was iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It will come in silver, space grey and gold finishes only. Apple is describing the new displays “RetinaHD” on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The new A11 Bionic CPU at the heart of the new iPhone are, according to Apple, up to 70% faster with 6-cores, as revealed in the iOS Gold Master. Apple has designed a 3-core GPU for the A11 Bionic, designed for 3D acceleration within games, although Apple also states it’s good for machine learning.iphone-8-camera

On the camera front, the new 12MP sensor on the iPhone 8 is said to be more light sensitive, while the iPhone 8 Plus features dual 12MP sensors with f1.8 and f/2.8 apertures respectively. The iPhone 8 Plus will also have a new “Portrait Lighting” effect, which Apple claims isn’t the product of filters, but instead real-time lighting adjustment based on the environment you’re in. Apple says that the iPhone 8 will feature an Apple-designed video encoder to perform real-time analysis of scenes to enhance its overall video quality. On the fly it can, according to Apple, analyse 2 million frames to optimise for quality and compression. For fans of slow-motion, it will support 240 frames per second video at up to 1080p resolution.

Apple had already announced its major move into Augmented Reality via its ARKit platform, and the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will have cameras specifically calibrated for AR. This includes the ability for AR-based gaming, which was demonstrated onstage by Directive Games’ Atli Mar.

On the wireless front, Apple also (as expected) announced wireless charging capabilities based on the Qi standard. Apple has stated that it’s using the open standard of Qi, which means that the existing chargers should work with iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

The new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will go on pre-sale from 15 September with 64GB and 256GB storage variants, with $699 pricing announced for the iPhone 8 and $799 for the iPhone 8 Plus.

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But of course, there was “one more thing”, and that “one more thing” was the iPhone X. It’s iPhone “10” if you were curious, and it will feature vertically mounted dual cameras and the same heavy duty glass as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, albeit with a full screen display, again as predicted. It will come in only two finishes, Space Grey and Silver. Apple loves its marketing names, and the iPhone X will feature the “Super Retina Display” in 5.8 inch size. If you’re curious, 2436×1125 resolution at 458ppi is what makes a “Super Retina Display.”

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The display is HDR-ready and as expected, it’s an OLED display. The screen will support raise to wake as well as tappable, and the new iPhone X features no front-facing home button. Under iOS 11, a swipe from the bottom of the screen will take users to the home screen. The iPhone X will also enable multi-tasking via the same gesture. For Siri commands, the side button will now invoke Apple’s AI assistant, while control center is invoked via a swipe from the top of the display.

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Unlocking is a key security aspect, and, as leaked in the iOS 11 Gold Master, Apple will use facial recognition using what it calls the “TrueDepth” camera system. This includes an infrared camera, proximity sensor and flood illuminator to detect faces. A real-time map of your face is created and checked against a previous image using Apple’s machine learning and neural networks for verification. The A11 Bionic chip will have an inbuilt neural engine for processing facial recognition. Apple’s claim is that Face ID will learn your face, including whether you wear or don’t wear glasses or grow facial hair. Facial data will, like TouchID, be encrypted on a secure enclave within the phone. Apple estimates that the odds of your FaceID being randomly compromised are one in a million, unless you have an “Evil Twin”.

FaceID will also incorporate Apple Pay, and any app that already works with TouchID will support FaceID. For Apple Pay payments you’ll authenticate with FaceID before tapping onto an NFC terminal for payment purposes.

Apple also revealed its “Animoji”, for animated emoji that you control with your face. Apple’s claim is that they track more than 50 facial movements to create expressions to then be sent via Apple Messages. Animoji can be recorded as short video clips for messaging purposes as well within the Messaging app, although it’s not clear what happens if you send them to non-iOS users.

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The iPhone X camera features dual 12MP F/1.8 wide and f/2.4 telephoto lenses, with both lenses featuring optical image stabilisation for better video and low-light photography. On the front the camera supports portrait photography, including Apple’s new Portrait Lighting feature for selfies.

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Apple says that the new iPhone X will manage 2 more hours of battery life than the iPhone 7. It will also support Qi charging for wireless charging purposes. Apple demonstrated a new Apple wireless charging mat for charging iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X or the Apple Watch Series 3, and optionally Airpods through a new wireless charging case. The new charging mat will be called AirPower. Apple states that it will work with the Qi standards body and that AirPower will be available next year.

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The iPhone X will come in 64GB and 256GB with pre-orders from 27 October with availability from 3 November. US pricing was listed as starting at $999.

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