During the over-the-top announcement of the iPhone X, which took place at Apple’s new over-the-top headquarters building, the new phone was repeatedly described as the future of smartphones. In some ways, this might be the case, but if it is, that future is shared with Samsung and its new Galaxy Note 8.
That’s not to suggest that the new iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten) isn’t an important step for Apple, because it is. While other smartphones have had the same features that Apple is just bringing to the market, Apple’s share in the enterprise will bring to business what Samsung and others have mainly provided to gamers and others for some time. Good examples are facial recognition and face tracking.
But included in the new technology are advances in security and augmented reality that may become important to the enterprise over time. Still, the price of an iPhone X is getting most of the attention and not all of it is positive. Can business smartphone buyers justify spending $999 for a phone? Can they justify spending $1149 for the one with more memory?
Depending on your needs, maybe not. This is why Apple also introduced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which are the next step up from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone X won’t be available until Nov. 3, so users champing at the bit for a new handset may not want to wait. But the other new iPhones will begin shipping on Sept. 22, so they can be satisfied then.
What the iPhone X brings to the table, other than the future that Apple promises, are better cameras, a screen that covers the entire face of the phone, facial recognition and wireless charging capability. It’s worth noting that the wireless charging pads from Apple won’t be available until 2018, so you either have to use the Lightening connector or buy a charging pad from another vendor.
The 5.8-inch screen on the iPhone X is its most obvious new feature. It covers the entire front of the phone, with no home button. There’s a small notch at the top for the cameras and sensors and there’s a very thin bezel around the screen.
The new 2436 x 1125 screen resolution should provide very clear images with the 458 pixels per inch density. This is Apple’s first OLED screen and it helps the new phone achieve a battery life two hours longer than the iPhone 7.
The facial recognition is an important security feature because it’s much harder to fool Apple’s approach than some others. That’s because Apple uses an infrared projector on the phone to scan more than 30,000 dots on to the user’s face, which are then read by an infrared camera on the phone. The resulting image is compared with one stored on the phone and if it matches, the phone is unlocked.
Apple’s Face ID, as the feature is called, replaces Touch ID on previous iPhones and iPads. According to Apple, Face ID can theoretically be fooled one time in a million, versus one in 50,000 times for Touch ID.
Apple notes that the processing for Face ID is done on the phone and stored in a protected area on the phone, which is more secure than a cloud based process and has the advantage of not needing an internet connection to work.
Apple’s facial recognition is also used by Apple Pay and to animate some new emojis. It will also work with applications that currently work with Touch ID.
Beyond the cool new look, the full OLED screen and the new hardware support for Face ID, the iPhone X is surprisingly similar to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Both phone types use the same six-core A11 Bionic processor and both have the same amounts of memory. They’re both capable of wireless charging and you can get the same memory on any of them.
A notable improvement with the new A11 processor is that it includes a new 3-core GPU that designed to speed up graphic processing in games. But the GPU is also used to provide extra processing power for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. Ultimately, the GPU could make some types of professional applications dramatically more capable, which is something that’s not necessarily available in most smartphones.
The six-core A11, features two high-performance cores that Apple says are 25 percent faster than the A10 predecessor and four high-efficiency cores that the company says are 70 percent faster.
One significant feature is that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, like the iPhone X, will support Apple’s augmented reality. AR is mainly used for a series of apps, most of which are games or other entertainment products. However, the AR developers kit is available to anyone, so you can expect to see AR capabilities move into areas that are related to business.
Both phones will ship with iOS 11, which will be available in a general release on Sept. 19. The new version of iOS adds some important features to the devices it runs on, including a real drag and drop capability, an effective file system, support for multi-processing and better security.
Apple has improved the cameras in the iPhone 8 and the dual-camera implementation in the 8 Plus has gotten better. Both phones support optical stabilization, which will help take blur-free photos. They also have new color filters with improved low-light capability. They aren’t quite up to the cameras on the iPhone X, but they’re an improvement over the iPhone 7.
The question of whether you can justify the price of the iPhone X needs some context. The base price of $999 is only fifty dollars more than the price of an iPhone 8 Plus with 256 GB memory. If you want 256 GB on the iPhone X, it costs $200 more. If you need the extra capabilities of the new iPhone, then the price isn’t out of line.
The biggest draw, besides the cool looks, is the improved security. That might be enough to make the difference.