Late last night, Apple had their Special Event gathering at the new Steve Jobs Theater at their new head quarters in Cupertino, California. Yes, the one that looks like a spaceship landed in a forest. It boasts a spinning elevator. No, you read that right. An elevator that spins. I can only imagine how much your brain explodes when you get in it. Anyway, as expected, Apple launched some new products during the special event, and at least one of them, the iPhone X, is dividing Apple fans down the middle.
The star of the show is the all-new Apple iPhone X (iPhone Ten), starting at $999 for the 64GB model. It’s as un-Apple as you could possibly imagine. It lacks a Home button. It lacks a fingerprint sensor. A little more than 80% of the front of the device is just a 5.8-inch OLED Retina display, with a cut-out in the display for the front-facing camera, the face scanning and recognition system, the proximity sensor, the infrared camera, and the speaker and microphone. The phone is powered by Apple’s new A11 Bionic chipset, which boasts six ARM-based cores, a brand new GPU designed entirely in-house, and some hardware logic dedicated to machine learning algorithms that allow things like the face recognition system to recognise you even if you suddenly decide to sprout a beard or wear glasses. There’s LTE Advanced support as well as Bluetooth 5.0.
Apple stuck to the dual-camera approach at the rear, using two 12MP cameras with apertures of F/1.8 and F/2.4 respectively, with both boasting larger pixels for their sensor size, and the different apertures and zoom levels allowing for some camera hacks to do things like lossless zoom and bokeh depth of field. Four LEDs are used for the flash, and are true-tone calibrated. The front and back of the phone is covered in what Apple calls “shatter-resistant” glass, it supports Wireless Qi charging plates (including a new AirPower charging mat designed by Apple), and the iPhone X is IP68 certified for water and dust resistance.
Still no headphone jack, though.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
As expected, Apple also revealed the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. These phones reiterate the design of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but are updated with new cameras shared by the iPhone X, along with the A11 Bionic chipset. Storage options range from 64GB all the way to 256GB, and the phones are likewise IP68 rated. There is still no headphone jack, but there is also now support for wireless charging, which means that Apple’s charging mat will work with these new phones.
Other than the hardware changes internally, the cameras, and wireless charging, not much changes for Apple’s best-selling products. The new imaging sensors and A11 processor’s imaging processor allows for some really neat photography capabilities, which is Apple’s calling card for the iPhone family, and they’ve put a lot into the camera’s recording capabilities, including support for UltraHD 4K recording at 60Hz and 1080p 240Hz video. Apple said that they only managed to get this to work by using a tiled renderer for the video encoder that allowed them to squeeze in the extra frames without noticeably dropping image quality.
Apple TV 4K
Also announced was an update for the Apple TV, which now supports HDMI 2.0 connections up to UltraHD 4K resolutions. Unlike the new iPhones, it sports the Apple A10X chipset previously shipped with the iPad Pro, and it’s enough for decoding 10-bit H.265 video with HDR support. AppleTV owners with an existing library get a free upgrade on all their content that has a 4K version, and Apple has chosen to not price full HD and 4K video content separately. However, owners of older Apple TV devices can only purchase and play the HD versions of their content, whilst they can purchase, but not play, any 4K content.
There’s also support for the Metal 2 API thrown in to enhance video games played on the console, and there is support for games played using the included remote. Apple still hasn’t added in controller support from third parties like Sony, Microsoft, Steam, or Nintendo, so there’s just the flimsy gimmicky remote to contend with.
Apple also announced that the new version of Apple TV OS will soon offer live sports broadcasts in its store. No details were released about which sports and which providers Apple is partnering up with, but it’s safe to say that they are probably not getting live rugby streams from SuperSport. For 4K movies, Apple is also partnering up to offer movies in the iTunes store from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures.
Apple Watch Series 3
Lastly, Apple’s Watch family got a new member in the form of the Watch Series 3. It’s everything the old Watch 2 was, but now it has an updated chipset called the Apple W2, it supports cellular networks for voice calling and streaming media, houses a lightweight version of the Siri personal assistant, and has just a little bit more battery life. It’s still rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, and can now also stream music to Apple’s AirPods, those tiny wireless headphones which threaten to go walking every time you take your eyes off them.
Apple is using some black magic to support cellular networks and voice calling. Underneath the display is the watch’s antenna, and the watch uses your phone’s SIM and cell number to allow voice calls. It’s essentially a cloned SIM card that works alongside your regular one, and Apple didn’t go in-depth with how that will work on cell networks where having cloned SIMs is usually a recipe for disaster. Thanks to an update with WatchOS 4, there are some new fitness tracking capabilities including the ability to alert users to possible heart issues, and the ability to detect arrhythmias and heart attacks.
The Apple TV will get a price cut down to $149 for the 32GB model, and Apple is discontinuing the versions with more storage in favour of the TV 4K. Pre-orders for the TV 4K start on 15 September 2017 in the US starting at $179 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model.
For the Watch Series 3, pricing starts at $329 for the base model Watch Series 3, creeping up to $399 for the Series 3 with cellular capability. Series 1 watches get a price cut to $249, allowing more users to jump on to the platform, and the Watch 1 will still get the updated WatchOS 4. Pre-orders for Series 3 start on 15 September 2017, with general availability on 22 September 2017 in the US.
As for the iPhone family, there’s a lot of movement. The iPhone SE gets a price drop to $349, the iPhone 6S family now starts at $449, and the iPhone 7 family now starts at $549. The new iPhone 8 family starts from $699, Apple’s usual price point for their flagships, while the iPhone X starts at $999 for the 64GB variant, with a 128GB and 256GB model coming soon. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus starts selling later this month, while the iPhone X will only start shipping on 3 November 2017. Pre-orders will be the only way you’ll get the iPhone X for a while.
Apple fans! Sound off in the comments about your feelings on the iPhone X. It’s going to be a weird time for Apple users, I bet.