Apple Unveils iPhone X and 8 Models as It Upgrades TV Set-Top Box

Sep 13, 2017, 12:00 PM

Apple unveiled iPhone X, its first premium-tier phone, at an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. Here’s what else the company had to say.

• iPhone X is priced at $999, the most expensive ever for a new iPhone model. It will ship on Nov. 3. (Pro tip: The X is pronounced 10, and not “ex.”)

• The phone has a newer screen technology known as OLED, a type of display that can be made thinner, lighter and brighter with better color accuracy and contrast than its predecessor, LCD.

• The screen on the X has a so-called edge-to-edge display that takes up the entire face by eliminating the borders around the screen. Apple also eliminated the physical home button that has been a signature feature of the iPhone for a decade.

• iPhone 8 is also here, as well as its bigger sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus. The models include a glass body and a faster chip.

The brand-new feature in the iPhone X that has never existed on any other iPhone is infrared face scanning.

The technology, called Face ID, uses an infrared camera system on the front of the phone to scan the contours and shape of a person’s head to unlock the phone and authorize mobile payments. The technology works by spraying an object with infrared dots to gather information about the depth of an object based on the size and the contortion of the dots. The imaging system can then stitch the patterns into a detailed 3-D image of your face to determine if you are indeed the owner of your smartphone before unlocking it.

For Apple, Face ID has been years in the making. In 2013, the iPhone maker acquired PrimeSense, a company that developed sensors for Microsoft’s Kinect, a camera system that scanned people’s bodies so people could play Xbox games using body movements.

Face ID is a direct response to the face-recognition feature in smartphones offered by Samsung, Apple’s fiercest rival. Experts have criticized Samsung’s face-recognition feature, which could be tricked by holding a photo of the smartphone owner’s face in front of the camera.

The new iPhone 8 line includes the iPhone 8 and its bigger sibling, the 8 Plus.

The phones include a six-core processor that will handle more complex tasks and 3D games more quickly and efficiently than previous iPhones. The phones generally look the same as their predecessors, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with the exception of glass bodies, as opposed to aluminum.

Apple improved the phones’ cameras with new sensors and added new motion sensors to better support applications made for augmented reality, which use data to digitally manipulate the physical world when people look through a smartphone lens.

In particular, the dual cameras in the iPhone 8 Plus take photos with sharp details in low light. Apple also added a new portrait mode to improve the lighting on faces regardless of the background.

Another notable new feature is the introduction of magnetic induction to the iPhones. Similar to Apple Watch, the iPhones can now be charged by being placed on a charging pad as opposed to being plugged in with a cable.

The new iPhone 8 line will be one of the most important for Apple. Wall Street analysts have estimated that more than half of iPhone buyers will buy the 8 and 8 Plus over the next year. The models have a slightly higher starting price than their predecessors: The iPhone 8 starts at $699, up from $650 for older iPhone models.