This is the iPhone X: Apple's flagship, reimagined
The release of Apple’s next iPhone is perhaps the most anticipated tech event each year. With good reason, too; every year brings a tweaked device that’s a little bit sleeker, a little bit smoother, and overall better than its predecessors. Apple tends to do small redesigns every other year, but the overall design language carries over; there are always bezels on the top and bottom, a squared-off LCD display, and the iconic round home button. That all changes with the iPhone X.
Announced today, the iPhone X (that’s iPhone “Ten”, not iPhone “X”) brings the most radical redesign of the venerable smartphone line yet seen. The striking full-body display represents the latest push in the growing trend of bezel-less phones and is a sharp departure from the thick “forehead-and-chin” design of prior iPhones. The 5.8-inch “Super Retina HD” display has a resolution of 2436 x 1125 and a PPI of 458. While not the sharpest display out there, the screen is still gorgeous, and that’s not just due to the increased resolution. The iPhone X is Apple’s introduction to OLED panels, a move Apple deemed necessary to bring HDR support into the fold as well. In a style reminiscent of Andy Rubin's Essential Phone, the full-body screen also has a cutout in the center of the top for the front-facing camera, earpiece, and some other tech.
The redesign also eliminates the iPhone’s most venerable feature: the physical home button. Instead, users will navigate iOS via gestures and touch inputs alone. Swipes are the name of the game here; swipe up to go to the home screen, swipe down to activate the Control Panel, etc. The lack of a home button also eliminates Touch ID. Instead, the iPhone X uses facial recognition to unlock the phone, which Apple calls “Face ID.” The front-facing camera is adept enough to recognize a user's face from different angles which Apple hopes will make Face ID fast and easy to use.
The front-facing camera also features new “TrueDepth” software that allows for some neat party tricks. Instagram enthusiasts will appreciate the improved portrait modes to up their selfie game, and most people will get a kick out of animating emojis by using their face. These seem more like gimmicks than standout features and will likely be fun diversions to explore within the first hours of using the phone.
The two rear cameras are also getting an overhaul. There’s a wide-angle and a telephoto camera now, and the shooters have been flipped from horizontal to vertical with a flash in between. The wide-angle lens has an aperture of f/1.8 while the telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture. Both sensors can capture 12 megapixels, and both feature OIS for steady, clear shots, especially in low light. Video is improved as well, with 4K at 60 frames/second now an option. The depth-sensing tech that debuted on the iPhone 7 is also improved, allowing for more portrait modes and some new studio-lighting effects.
The heart of the iPhone X is Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip. The hexacore CPU features four “efficiency cores” (which Apple claims are 70% faster than the A10 Fusion chip found in the iPhone 7) and two “performance cores” that offer a further 25% boost. The pièce de résistance, however, is the dual-core A11 “bionic neural engine,” a specialized piece of silicon capable of performing 600 billion operations per second. Apple said that the A11 is dedicated to machine learning, which could open the door for AI-driven tasks, such as dynamic facial recognition, improved task management, and data management and analytics that could predict user needs. Apple also touted the iPhone X’s augmented reality prowess, made possible by the A11. In addition, the smaller A11 can offload repetitive or lighter weight tasks from the more power-hungry A11 Bionic chip, which should result in improvements in battery life. Speaking of battery life, the iPhone X also brings Qi wireless charging, a first for Apple. Apple will offer either 64 GB or 256 GB options for storage.
There’s a lot to digest here, but thanks to the myriad of leaks and rumors surrounding the new iPhone over the past few months, the iPhone X is a surprise to few. The design, OLED panel, and even CPU were all leaked before today’s announcement, which is par for the course in our information-driven world. Despite this, the iPhone X looks incredible and is sure to be one of the best smartphones released this year. Be sure to check back with us for a review, which will be coming in the next few months.
Pre-orders for the iPhone X start on October 27. The phone will go on sale November 3 starting at US$999.