Last night, Apple chief Tim Cook took to the stage to reveal what the world has been waiting for: the latest iPhones. With a major ten-year anniversary to celebrate, we were hoping to be wowed – and Apple didn’t disappoint.
Even by iPhone standards, there was a huge buzz around last night’s Apple announcement.
After all, this was the iPhone’s tenth birthday – and all eyes were on Apple to pull something genuinely new out of the bag. Would we see a complete redesign of the world’s most prestigious smartphone? Or would they play it safe with a minor upgrade to last year’s model?
In fact, they did both.
For the first time since the iPhone 5C, Apple announced two distinct variants of iPhone in the same event. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus continue the trends established with the iPhone 7 – but it’s the iPhone X (pronounced ‘iPhone Ten’) that really stole the show.
This radically redesigned device rips up iPhone conventions left, right and centre – and today, we’re bringing you the full lowdown, alongside a first look at everything else announced on Apple’s big night.
This is it: the flagship of flagships. Whatever else you can say about it, the iPhone X is undoubtedly the most revolutionary new iPhone since the first device was announced, way back in 2007.
That ‘X’ in the name is no accident. This phone is clearly designed to mark the iPhone’s tenth anniversary – and to prove that Apple can still innovate like it did back then. As Tim Cook himself said during the announcement, “there are a lot of people at Apple who didn’t get much sleep last night”. But have they succeeded?
At a glance, the answer is yes. The iPhone X is a strikingly different device, confidently ditching features like the Home button and the ‘bezel’ – but still recognisably an iPhone. In fact, it’s the most beautiful iPhone in years.
The X features a continuous wraparound glass surface that’s water and dust resistant. It comes in two colours – Space Grey and Silver – both brought to life by the pearlescent glass finish.
This is undoubtedly the most striking feature of the new phone. Chief Apple designer Jonny Ive calls it the realization of a long-held ambition: "an iPhone that is all display".
The display itself is a “Super Retina” display – and because it runs edge to edge, the screen is actually even bigger than the one in the iPhone Plus models – despite the device itself barely being larger than the standard iPhone.
Aside from being truly beautiful, the new screen has major practical benefits: a larger screen is simply more comfortable to read – and allows for a larger and more comfortable keyboard, too.
But it also means the disappearance of the Home button – and that has major consequences for the way you use the device.
With the removal of the Home button, Apple needed a new way to unlock the phone, and their solution is elegantly simple: you just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. To find the app switcher, you swipe up and hold – and to wake the phone from sleep, just tap the screen.
But it also raised another question: how do you secure the phone when it’s locked?
The answer is ‘Face ID’ – and Apple honcho Phil Schiller, introducing the technology, called it “the future of how we lock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information”.
Essentially, you just look at your phone to unlock it. In use, it’s simple – but under the hood, a host of high-tech sensors make it ultra-secure.
It uses infrared cameras to build a 3D model of your face – so there’s no way it can be fooled by a photograph or video. And to make sure it’s always reliable, the camera is always improving its image of you – learning what you look like in hats, glasses and so on while you use the phone normally.
As well as unlocking your phone, Face ID is also the new way to control Apple Pay – in fact, anything that currently uses Touch ID will work seamlessly with the new technology.
But it’s not all business: the X also harnesses its incredible face-tracking powers for ‘animoji’ – animated emojis that precisely mirror your facial expression, promising hours of mischievous fun.
The iPhone X uses a new chip called the ‘A11 Bionic’ – the most powerful Apple have made yet. There’s also dual 12 megapixel camera, allowing for incredible depth effects and super-stable video.
Also, like the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone X features wireless charging for the first time – and because it uses the established ‘Qi’ wireless charging method, there are already dozens of compatible charging mats already on the market.
Pre-orders for the iPhone X open on October 27, with shipping on November 3. There’ll be a model with 64 GB of storage, starting at £999 – and a 256 GB model for £1,149.
In other words, the X won’t come cheap – but we expect its revolutionary design and undeniable beauty will make it a bestseller anyway.
By comparison with the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look a little more like business as usual. On the surface, they’re very similar to last year’s iPhone 7 – but is it fair to call these devices the ‘iPhone 7S’ in all but name?
While its basic shape and size is essentially unchanged, the iPhone 8 does have one striking new feature – an all-glass design. This immediately sets it apart from the previous model, and provides a little visual continuity with the iPhone X.
In terms of colour, the iPhone 8 will come in Space Grey, Silver and a new shade of Gold.
Unlike the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 keeps the Home button and Touch ID – so the interface remains largely unchanged.
But the display itself has received a significant boost. It now uses Apple’s ‘True Tone’ technology, previously seen on the iPad Pro, to adjust the screen’s colours in response to the lighting conditions around you.
The speakers have also received an upgrade. They’re now 25% louder and also promise “more bass”.
As with the iPhone 7, the camera is a 12-megapixel model – but an all-new sensor chip absorbs 83% more light, meaning the photos are better than ever, with a “wider dynamic range of colour”, complemented by new lighting effects and an improved ‘Portrait’ mode.
Finally, like the iPhone X, the 8 and 8 Plus feature Qi wireless charging and Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip – their most powerful processor yet.
The iPhone 8 will come in two sizes, 64 GB and 256 GB, costing £699 and £849 respectively. The iPhone 8 Plus will also come in 64 GB and 256 GB flavours, costing £799 and £949.
If that sounds good to you, pre-orders open on September 15 – with the devices expected to ship a week later on September 22.
While the new iPhones were undoubtedly the stars of the show on the night, they weren’t the full story.
We also saw the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 3, which brings a cellular connection to the device for the very first time – meaning you can finally enjoy all the features of the Watch without tethering to your iPhone.
This is a major game-changer for the high-end wearable – and, like the iPhone 8, you’ll be able to preorder yours from the 15th, with shipping the following week.
Finally, the Apple TV set-top box is getting a long-awaited bump up to 4K resolutions, and ‘High Dynamic Range’ colours mean the picture is brighter and more vibrant than ever.
If Apple set out to impress with this year’s announcement, they’ve definitely pulled it off.
The iPhone X is perhaps the boldest, bravest and most desirable phone they’ve launched since the very first iPhone – a more than fitting way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their iconic device.
The iPhone 8, of course, is less of a dramatic improvement. If you’ve been holding off on an upgrade for a while, it’s definitely worth a look – but we suspect many users will head straight to the X.
In any case, we can’t wait to get our hands on the new phones and try them out for ourselves – and we’ll be bringing you full, in-depth reviews as soon as we do.