The iPhone 8 and 8+ feature some excellent improvements, but are largely incremental updates. Most of the attention surrounded the launch of the premium iPhone X (pronounced ten).
Multiple leaks and rumours led to few surprises at the big reveal, so let’s summarise what this means outside the reality distortion field.
For the first time Apple are using the OLED technology, and clarity looks to be vastly improved with the Super Retina display. The True Tone technology should make colours appear more natural in different lighting conditions.
A major upgrade, the A11 Bionic chip has six cores with an overhauled GPU that will be handy for augmented reality apps. This phone will be fast.
The demonstrations showcased some interesting and innovative uses of AR.
An estimated two hours improvement over the 7+ which is already fairly robust.
OK this is nothing new as Samsung and other manufacturers have offered this functionality for some time. It is welcome though.
Improved optics and software. Portrait Lighting uses sophisticated depth mapping of faces to provide studio type lighting effects, and could be very useful for photographers.
Being able to unlock the phone with your face is a great feature, and allegedly more secure than Touch ID. It does potentially present some issues though which we’ll come to later.
Apple have always been a premium brand but the top of the range iPhone X will cost £1,149. Admittedly few people buy handsets outright, but expect mobile packages to become a lot more expensive. It is also debatable as to whether the market will stand this, as mobiles are being upgraded less frequently.
Lack of AI
It seems a missed opportunity to focus on hardware to the detriment of Siri. Apple are in some respects losing ground to the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and cognitive computing platforms such as IBM Watson. A beautifully designed piece of hardware that maximises machine learning and AI to deliver an intelligent user experience would be a true innovation.
This seems to be an amusing novelty, but mapping your face in real time to an emoji has limited long term appeal.
As different platforms have different emoji standards it is unlikely this will work outside of iMessage. Given the huge numbers of people using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp this might not take off. Although the technology used is more advanced, the results are not significantly different at first glance from what is available on Instagram and Snapchat Stories.
Facial biometrics are still a relatively new technology, and a less proven means of identification than fingerprints. If Apple have perfected this there are no concerns, but the Jury is still out on this for many.
Premium is the new normal
We have reached the point where a new smart phone is more expensive than a high end laptop. Is this desirable, or have we reached a tipping point?