The iPhone X — that’s pronounced “ten,” by the way, not “ex” — is a phone of firsts for Apple. A brand-new 5.8-inch OLED screen, Face ID to unlock the phone and no home button. Optical image stabilization on both rear 12-megapixel camera lenses, a portrait mode on the front-facing camera and a new feature to animate emojis.
These are the distinguishing features we saw when we went hands-on with Apple’s newest, largest and priciest iPhone at Apple’s equally new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. — see for yourself in the video above.
You won’t get that enhanced screen and face unlock on the more traditional iPhone 8 and , which were also announced Tuesday. The boldness of the iPhone X design is what makes it Apple’s extra-special cherry on top to mark the 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone in 2007, which revolutionized at that time everything a smartphone could be, and hurled us on the path that led to what smartphones are today.
Now, 10 years after the very first iPhone, Apple adds these one-offs and also one-ups the iPhone across the board with a major feature that Apple’s been dragging on for years. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X all support Qi wireless charging, a Samsung staple that already works with both Qi and PMA standards. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a key addition that could kick-start wireless charging in a way that Samsung and Nokia and Microsoft hadn’t been able to accomplish before.
The iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are also the first phones to launchsoftware, which comes with improvements for Siri, the lock screen and notifications, and all these .
The two biggest questions for me focus on the iPhone X’s most daring design change, ditching the home button. Will actually make the phone more convenient to use? And will using your face to unlock the phone benefit you, or is it just a workaround? Without thorough testing to see how well it actually works, this one will remain pure speculation. If it does work, you can bet Samsung will step up its game to make its own facial recognition software secure enough for mobile payments (right now, that’s just iris scanning and the fingerprint reader).
Heading into a crazy-competitive holiday season, the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus will together lock arms against Samsung’s, and for smartphone supremacy.
This is a developing story. We’ll be back with additional analysis and hands-on impressions from Apple’s campus.
iPhone X price and when to buy it
The iPhone X ain’t cheap. It’ll sell for $999, £999 in the UK and AU$1,579 in Australia. Preorders start Oct. 27, and the phone ships Nov. 3. By contrast, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus start at $699 and $799, respectively. (They’re £699 and £799 in the UK, or AU$1,079 and AU$1,229 in Australia.)
How is iPhone X different from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus?
All three of Apple’s new iPhones support wireless charging, and are water- and dust-resistant. They all come with 64GB and 256GB storage options and the same A11 “bionic” chip. They also all get the same upgraded slow-motion video support (1080p at 120fps or 240fps).
Here’s what’s different:
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus retain the home button with Touch ID
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are cheaper
- Preorder iPhone 8/Plus Sept. 15; they’ll be available Sept. 22
- iPhone X has a larger screen, no home button, OIS in both rear cameras, you can take portraits with the front facing camera
- The iPhone X comes in black and silver, but not gold
iPhone X specs highlights:
- 5.8-inch OLED display with 458ppi pixel density
- 2,436×1,135-pixel resolution (Apple calls this a Super Retina display)
- Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with OIS on both cameras
- Portrait mode with portrait lighting feature
- Front-facing 7-megapixel camera has portrait mode now, too
- No home button
- Face ID to unlock the phone (hold your phone up to your face)
- A11 Bionic processor
- Glass back and front
- Supports wireless charging
- 64GB and 256GB options
- Water- and dust-resistant
- Animojis make emojis out of you
- software with Siri improvements
- Black and space gray (no gold)
No more home button: This is huge
As expected, the iPhone X has done away with the home button. So how do you unlock your phone? Start Siri? Multitask? Use Apple Pay?
Unlock the phone with Face ID
Face ID, which uses a bunch of cameras, including the front-facing camera and IR camera, to scan your face and let you in to your iPhone. What about tricking the phone with photos of yourself? Apple says that won’t happen; it’s made masks to train the phones to distinguish you from your photo… and that of your evil twin. It will work with third-party apps, too.
You just raise the phone, look at it, and swipe to unlock. How do you exit an app and get back to the home screen? Just swipe — see the GIF above to see how.
Launch Siri with a button press
If you’re not using your voice, you press and hold a side button to get Apple’s assistant going.
It’s still here, never fear. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then continue to hold while swiping left or right to switch apps.
Buy stuff with Apple Pay
You can still do this even with no home button. Tap the side button twice to launch Face ID for Apple Pay.
Animojis use Face ID to make emojis out of you
You can create a new, living breed of emojis with iPhone X. Called animojis (a portmanteau of “animated” and “emoji”), the new feature taps into Face ID to lend popular emojis, mostly animals for now, your expressions in a message. There’s a cat, a panda, a unicorn, a fox, a monkey, a pig, an alien, a dog, a rabbit, a rooster, a robot and… poop. Thanks, Apple. Keeping it classy.
Animojis live as an app right inside messages.