The following post also appeared in today’s Seacoast Sunday and Foster’s.
This week, Apple introduced its new lineup of iPhone smartphones, as well as some other product updates. This has become an annual tradition this time of year, to get a jump on the upcoming holiday shopping season.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, so there has been widespread speculation that Apple would do something dramatic to mark the occasion. Reaction to this week’s announcements has been mixed, at best. Stalwart Apple fans are applauding the launch and longstanding Apple detractors are calling it less than exciting. So let’s dig in and see what you think.
The major announcement was of the iPhone X, as in iPhone 10, not the letter X. To date, I’ve heard no one refer to it as iPhone 10, only X. Apple’s got a branding issue on their hands with this. I suspect the marketing team is less than pleased.
Regardless of what you call it, the iPhone X is a rather significant development in terms of hardware and capability. In addition to the iPhone X, Apple also introduced the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. These are what I would call incremental updates to the iPhone 7 that premiered a year ago, so let’s first look at the iPhone X.
The major design change you will notice is a large 5.8-inch edge to edge super high-definition screen. Gone are the strips of casing above and below the iPhone screen as well as the slight edge on the left and right. The entire phone is the screen. The circular home button, which also serves as the finger print reader is also gone. In its place, Apple has introduced Face ID facial recognition using a series of innovative cameras and sensors across the top and center of the phone. Face ID replaces your fingerprint as the biometric to unlock your phone, make payments with Apple Pay, etc.
Some have raised privacy concerns about Face ID, wondering how the facial recognition data will be safeguarded from nefarious actors. Apple insists the technology is safe. Apple claims it is nearly 1 million times safer than a fingerprint. Time will certainly tell.
Size-wise, the iPhone X is slightly larger than an iPhone but not as large as an iPhone Plus.
The camera has been redesigned on the iPhone X, using a vertical orientation for the dual cameras, whereas the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus retain the horizontal configuration. Apple has made several enhancements to the camera, including some impressive lighting capabilities when using portrait mode.
Under the covers is where the major enhancements have occurred. Apple has introduced a new processor called the A11 Bionic. It’s the most powerful processor ever in a smartphone and outperforms all existing models of iPhones and iPads. It really is a powerhouse computer in your pocket. In addition to the processor, an enhanced graphics engine will support intense gaming graphics and augmented reality features in the new version of the operating system.
When it comes to battery power and charging, here too Apple has made some significant improvements. Apple claims longer battery life in all of the new iPhones, but we won’t know for certain until real world performance benchmarks are tallied. The biggest change when it comes to power is how these iPhones will charge; wirelessly. Apple has moved to a glass back on the iPhones to support wireless charging, something several Android phones have offered for some time now. Apple believes the wireless technology they have chosen will begin to show up in public spaces, like coffee shops, hotels, airports and others, allowing you to place your iPhone on a public charging mat to grab a quick charge wherever you may be.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are not terribly different from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The main difference is the wireless charging and the A11 Bionic chip. Aside from those features and some camera enhancements, the 8s look nearly identical to the 7s.
Price may be the determining factor whether you decide to upgrade or not. The iPhone 8 starts at $699 for the smallest version at 64 GB. The iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799 for the same capacity. Here’s where you may really get sticker shock, the iPhone X. It starts at $999 for the 64 GB version or $1,149 for the 256 GB version. Those are hefty price tags. We will see if any of the carriers offer incentives to upgrade, though it doesn’t seem likely in the near term. Almost every carrier has moved to monthly installment payments over a two-year period for a new phone, so it will be interesting to see how well these new models sell.
There are not enough column inches to give a more thorough review of the new model in this column. Hopefully I have provided enough information to help you decide if an upgrade is in your future. I’m sure we will see the iPhone X in people’s hands soon. Just maybe not as many hands as Apple hopes. Time will tell.