Apple’s annual September product unveiling went as expected by technology forecasters almost to the letter. If anything, the surprise was at how many models of iPhone will be available for the holiday season.
The biggest news was the unveiling of the iPhone X (as in 10), which Apple called the future of the smartphone. As was predicted, it has an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch organic LED screen and no physical home button. To “wake up” the phone, you touch the screen. To reach the home screen, you swipe up. You also swipe up to switch among mobile apps.
To log into your phone, you look at it. Apple calls its facial-recognition technology Face ID, and it uses two front-facing cameras—the standard 7-megapixel (MP) camera and an infrared camera—and a dot projector to map a person’s facial features, images of which are stored on the phone, as is done with its current fingerprint-recognition technology. Apple says the technology adapts over time, so it will work if your appearance changes slightly, such as with a different hairstyle. Apple also says it won’t work if you look away from the phone or you shut your eyes. Most important from a security standpoint, Apple says Face ID can’t be tricked by images or even 3-D masks.
The iPhone X also will have two 12MP rear-facing cameras that each have optical image stabilization; a six-core A11 chip, which it dubbed “the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone”; and Qi wireless charging capability. It also will start just shy of the $1,000 price barrier—$999 for the entry-level 64GB model—when it arrives as expected Nov. 3, 2017. (A 256GB model also will be available.) Orders for the iPhone X are expected to begin Oct. 27, 2017.
The iPhone X wasn’t even the only smartphone that Apple announced. It also announced the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which have the same design as do the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus but with the advanced A11 chip and Qi wireless-charging capability added among other slight upgrades. Those phones go on sale Sept. 15, 2017, with an expected availability of Sept. 22, 2017. Prices start at $699 and $799, respectively, for 64GB models, and 256GB models will be available.
In addition, Apple announced that the following iPhone models will remain in production with new starting prices: the SE ($349), the 6s ($449), the 6s Plus ($549), the 7 ($549) and the 7 Plus ($669). In other words, you’ll have a choice of eight iPhone models after the iPhone X is available in November 2017.
In other product news, Apple announced:
* A new smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 3, which will be available Sept. 22, 2017, with orders to begin Sept. 15, 2017. In perhaps the most significant development of the day, Apple says the smartwatch will have cellular capability as an option, which means that you can take and make calls, receive and send texts and stream music without having your smartphone with you. Apple says the smartwatch uses the same phone number that your phone has and will cost $399. (A model that has only Wi-Fi capability will cost $329.) The Apple Watch Series 1 will remain in production, for $249.
* A new streaming set-top box (STB), the Apple TV 4K. As the name indicates, it has 4K video-streaming capability, but Apple adds that it also will support high dynamic range technologies, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The new STB will go on sale Sept. 15, 2017, with availability Sept. 22, 2017, and will cost $179 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. Apple also says any high-definition movie that you bought from Apple Music will be upgraded automatically to the 4K version, if it’s available. The previous version of the Apple TV will remain production, for $149.