Apple has unveiled the latest addition to its smartphone portfolio, the iPhone X, but experts have questioned whether the new device is a compelling enough proposition to entice users to upgrade.
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The top-of-the-range phone was the headline act as Apple unveiled its latest set of products at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California.
The iPhone X follows the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 in featuring a near bezel-free screen. It has a 5.8-inch Super Retina display, which almost covers the whole front of the phone. The home button has been removed and now only a cut-out at the top for the camera, speaker, microphone and various sensors remains. The display is also an OLED panel, which is a first for an iPhone product.
Geoff Blaber, vice president of Americas at analyst CCS Insight, said the change from LCD to an OLED panel has set a precedent for future products.
“An OLED display and the new design is likely to be standard on future iPhone models, but Apple must first tackle the challenge of obtaining sufficient supply,” he said.
“The iPhone X is a long-term investment by Apple that sets a template for the next generation of iPhone hardware. We expect OLED displays and the new design to become standard iPhone features for years to come. A staggered introduction of OLED technology and the new design enables Apple to steadily ramp up scale in its supply chain and maximise profits.”
The front-facing camera on the device is 7MP but Apple has added a new feature, known as Face ID. Users can use their face as a way to unlock the device or authorise Apple Pay purchases.
The technology works by mapping 30,000 dots on the user’s face and reading the pattern when the face verification is needed. Apple claims that this will stop scenarios such as a hacker using a picture of the owner as verification. Face ID also has machine learning so that it can recognise faces even when they develop.
In terms of other specifications, the X has a new A11 Bionic chip and two 12MP cameras on the back, which are capable of recording in 4K. It is built from glass and has a splash, water and dust resistance, along with support for wireless charging.
The device will available in 64GB and 256GB versions, with pre-orders starting from 27 October and the release date of 3 November. The base model is £999 and the higher capacity phone is £1,149. Blaber added: “The relatively high prices of the iPhone X are a necessary and important mechanism to control demand in the near term.”
Apple also announced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, with the former having a 4.7-inch display and the latter having a 5.5-inch. These devices have similar specs to the X in terms of an A11 Bionic processor, 12MP back cameras, supporting wireless charging and being made from glass with water and dust resistance.
Both are also available in 64GB and 256GB, however, the designs are more like the previous generation and Face ID is not included.
Pricing starts at £699 for the base model iPhone 8 and £799 for the 8 Plus. These two along with the X come with the latest iOS 11 out of the box, with a release of the operating system for older devices coming on 19 September.
Richard Holway, chairman of research firm TechMarketView, said convincing existing iPhone users to upgrade will be a challenge: “The real issue for Apple is whether both the new iPhone 8, which is just a small evolution, or the iPhone X, which is just a slightly bigger evolution, will make the many iPhone 6 users decide to upgrade. I – like many others – have already kept my iPhone for three years – longer than I normally do. So, not only is there is a big potential market but I, firmly, am it.”
Apple Watch Series 3
Developers at the conferences were also introduced to the Series 3 of the Apple Watch.
The biggest difference with this device and the previous generation is the incorporation of a cellular connection, so users do not need their phone with them to receive and send text messages and make phone calls.
Siri can now speak like on the iOS devices and the watch has integration with Apple Music, so users can stream songs again without an iPhone.
The cellular version of the watch starts from £399, although at launch, connectivity is only supported on EE in the UK.
Apple TV 4K
The final product announcement at the event was the Apple TV 4K. This latest iteration offers a higher resolution and High Dynamic Range for more vibrant colours. It also supports live streaming of content like Sky News, in addition to the on demand services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and the iTunes library.
The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K are all available for pre-order on September 15 and will be released on September 22.