Is the world ready for a $1,000 iPhone? That’s the likely starting price for Apple’s soon-to-be-announced iPhone X, which will be unveiled on Sept. 12, but likely won’t be available until weeks later. The iPhone X will be accompanied by two other iPhones, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are the usual phones that Apple introduces in annual incremental updates and supersede the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that will nonetheless remain on sale for many months to come.
The iPhone X is the much-anticipated new design that will feature a borderless OLED screen and that may do away with fingerprint recognition. This is the phone that we previously thought would be called the iPhone 8.
However, the new name and some of the new capabilities were leaked in code said to be the Gold Master of iOS 11, which was examined by two Apple-specific publications, 9 to 5 Mac and MacRumors. The source of the leak reportedly was an Apple employee with access who provided the publications with specific URLs to the code.
The iPhone X name is apparently a reminder that this is the tenth anniversary of the release of the original iPhone. It’s not clear why Apple broke from its established model naming protocol so the news models will be the iPhone 8 rather than a 7S.
The borderless 5.8-inch OLED screen will be the most obvious feature of the new iPhone X. It will be larger than the screen on the iPhone Plus models which measure 5.5 inches. But the chassis will be smaller than the Plus models. The use of an OLED screen and the larger size should improve readability, especially under difficult viewing conditions. It’s also supposed to have more accurate color.
However the larger screen will not have a spot for a home button with its integrated fingerprint reader. In addition, the iPhone X will have new facial recognition software that’s supposed to allow the phone to identify its owner in a manner similar to the finger print reader.
The facial recognition software in the iPhone X includes a setup animation video (also leaked with iOS 11) that indicates the use of a 3D image. This would be a significant improvement over current facial recognition software which can sometimes be fooled by using a photo of the phone’s owner. There’s no word on whether the camera used for facial recognition or the software can distinguish identical twins.
Most of the other functions of the home button have been moved to the lock button on the side of the phone. One security feature that’s being added to the home button is a method of disabling biometric recognition, meaning that the user can turn off fingerprint or facial recognition with five quick presses of the home button.
This means that law enforcement or other government agencies won’t be able to use a fingerprint to unlock the phone, but must use a password. This is important because courts in the U.S. have different standards for compelling the use of biometrics, versus compelling the provision of passwords. In short, biometrics don’t require a warrant, but passwords do.
A similar security change would alter the way the iPhone establishes trust with a computer is handled. Before iOS 11, you simply had to click on a dialog box to say that you trusted a particular computer. With the new software, you will need to enter the pass code to the device to gain access and download the contents of a phone to another computer.
The security changes won’t prevent law enforcement from gaining access to the contents of a phone, but it will require that they get a warrant.
In addition to security improvements and a better screen, the iPhone X will support wireless charging, something that Samsung has been offering for a while. The wireless charging does not appear to extend to the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, however. The iPhone X will have a glass back. However, an advance look at a preview model of the iPhone 8 shows it to have a solid metal back similar to what’s on the iPhone 7.
The other big improvements to the next iPhones will be faster processors, although apparently most of that improvement will go to the 8 Plus and the X, both of which will get 6-core processors. The standard iPhone 8 may have a 4-core processor much like what’s in the iPhone 7.
So the obvious question is whether there’s enough in these new releases to make them compelling for your company. The iPhone X certainly will have a big gee-whiz factor, and if it works well, the facial recognition may be more secure than its predecessors, but it’s also going to be significantly more expensive. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be somewhat more advanced than their iPhone 7 counterparts, but how much of an improvement remains to be seen.
At this point it’s tough to see how to justify the substantial price increase for the iPhone X. The iPhone 8, on the other hand is the next logical step and if prior practice holds true, the price will be the same as the current model. So making the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus your next standard phone makes perfect sense, unless you feel inadequate you don’t pay top dollar for the most advanced available gadget.
For businesses that make smartphone buying decisions for employees, there’s no question that the X will be the latest executive play thing. Your C-level folks will absolutely have to have it. But the cost is much higher, and there’s no word on whether existing iPhone infrastructure, such as Lightening Connectors, will work. If an infrastructure change is required, then you’ll have to determine who gets the new phone and who doesn’t.