Apple went nuts this week with announcements, confirming three totally new iPhones. Well, one totally new iPhone and a couple of mostly-familiar upgrades.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus mostly build upon the tried-and-true design of last year’s iPhone 7 models, but the iPhone X is something new and exciting: boldly styled, almost all screen on front, and packing some intriguing camera benefits in the mix.
But it’s also a crazy amount of money to ask for a smartphone, especially when the iPhone 8 is going to come in much cheaper (but still not cheap). What makes the iPhone X potentially worth that extra cash despite its striking good looks? Here’s what might make X mark the spot for you come November.
1) IT FILLS THE FACE WITH SCREEN
Scrapping the established look of the last three iPhones, the iPhone X ditches the Touch ID sensor and kills most of the bezel: it’s nearly all screen on the front, with seamless bezels that fade into the curves of the phone.
Oh, except for that obvious cutout at the top: that’s a bit odd, right? Well, it’s necessary, because it houses the TrueDepth camera system, sensors, and the microphone. It’s either that or a full bezel bar, like on the Samsung Galaxy S8. You’ll have to decide whether Apple took the right approach here, but we quite like this shift. Or at least some of us do…
Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 is mostly more of the same, aside from the new glass backing and the wireless charging skill that comes along with that. But the iPhone X also has a glass back and will do much the same with a Qi charging pad.
2) THE HDR VIDEO WILL REALLY POP
Not only is the screen taller and larger, at 5.8in compared to 4.7in on the iPhone 8, but it’s also better: it’s an OLED panel, like those on Samsung flagships, and that means we’ll get improved contrast and deep, deep blacks.
Better yet, it supports mobile HDR (high dynamic range), which makes supported video look spectacular thanks to a wider colour gamut. Once apps such as Netflix and YouTube update on iOS, selected content should blow us away even while on the go.
And while the iPhone 8 sticks with the famously (and weirdly) low 1134 x 750 resolution, the iPhone X bumps up to a better-than-1080p resolution of 2436 x 1125. It’s an upgrade all around.
3) YOU CAN UNLOCK IT WITH YOUR FACE
The iPhone X’s TrueDepth front-facing camera system learns your face and then uses it to unlock your phone, as well as authenticate for Apple Pay. It looks pretty speedy and effective from Apple’s stage demo, although facial scanning hasn’t fully convinced us on other devices in the past.
Hopefully Apple has the killer solution. If not, then the iPhone 8 may have the real leg up here after all.
4) IT’LL ANIMATE YOUR EMOJI TOO
Well, here’s the thing: they’re not just little emoji with stock animations, but rather live faces that mimic the movements of your own. The iPhone X’s TrueDepth system uses the same facial scanning that powers Face ID to deliver custom unicorn and poop emoji animations, among others.
The possibilities are endless! Put a personal touch on your next obnoxious iMessage with ease.
5) GET PORTRAIT-QUALITY SELFIES
The TrueDepth benefits don’t stop at singing poop emoji either: it can also be used to offer up the same kind of DSLR-like Portrait effect that we saw on the iPhone 7 Plus’ back camera last year. Only this time around, it’s up front too.
Since the iPhone X’s selfie camera system can sense depth, it can sort the difference between your goofy face and the backdrop, blurring the further-back scene while accentuating your face. And then Portrait Lighting can help you customise the effect a bit with faux lighting effects. You’ll take no better selfies than with the iPhone X, we suspect.
6) IT’LL NAB A LOAD OF CASH FROM YOU
Yikes! Sorry, we couldn’t resist. It’s true: the iPhone X is wickedly expensive, coming in at $999 for the 64GB base model and $1149 for the one with 256GB storage. Compare that to $699 and $849 for iPhone 8 models with the same amount of internal space on offer and then consider that we don’t even have a clue about South African pricing yet. About R18,000 to R20,000 sounds right to us.
Obviously, that’s not really a benefit, but it’s something you’ll need to consider when sizing up a new iPhone purchase this autumn. Is it really worth an extra premium for those extra benefits? Our brand director thinks so, but your own wants and needs (and budget) may vary.