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Apple unveils edge-to-edge screen iPhone X – but with a live demo fail

No home button, face recognition, wireless charging and a head-spinning price tag for Apple's latest handset. PLUS: iPhone 8, new Apple TV.

Wed, 13 Sep 2017

Apple unveiled its latest flagship handset this morning NZ time – and it turned out all the rumours were true, with the iPhone X (“ten”) featuring

  • A 5.8-inch, edge-to-edge “Super Retina” display (that is, the largest ever iPhone screen; the 7 Plus was 5.5-inches)
  • No physical home button (see above)
  • Facial recognition log-on (fingerprint logon has disappeared)
  • A glass back
  • Wireless charging (Qi-standard wireless charging mats from Belkin and Mophie will be sold separately*)
  • A bumper price tag: an iPhone X with 64GB of onboard storage will cost $1799, a 256GB model $2099
  • Full tech specs here
  • Pre-orders open October 27, with delivery from November 3

Apple fans won’t like to admit it but an edge-to-edge display, wireless charging and face recognition were all introduced in generation-before-last phones from Samsung.

Still, as always Apple is trying to do it better.

The company says its facial recognition can’t be fooled by a photo – although it was caught out by the Curse of the Live Demo in front of millions of livestream viewers this morning as Apple’s executive, Craig Federighi, tried and failed to use the technology.

When the face recognition is working, a new “TrueDepth” camera system – which includes an infrared camera, flood illuminator, front camera and dot projector – detects your face, takes an IR image, and uses more than 30,000 IR dots to model your face. Apple’s first “neural engine” – specialised hardware for machine learning algorithms – processes the information. And voilà; your phone should unlock, even if you change your hairstyle, put on glasses, grow a beard, or as your face changes.

Apple says that only one in a million faces should be able to trick Face ID, so beware of your evil twin.

Apple event attendees try out the iPhone X (@harrymccracken)

For the cheap seats
Apple also introduced the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 (from $1249) and 5.5-inch 8 Plus (from $1449) this morning. Pre-orders open Friday. 

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus retain the conventional bordered screen, and feature fingerprint ID rather than facial recognition. They do have the same glass back and wireless charging option as the iPhone X, however (full tech specs here).

Apple TV refresh
The new Apple TV 4K was also unveiled this morning. The new model supports 4K (aka ultra high definition and HDR, as long as you’re signed up to a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime that includes 4K HDR content). A 32GB model costs $299, a 64GB model $399. (Full specs here).

Watch gets cellular chip
The demo was rounded out by the Apple Watch Series 3 (from $539, pre-orders from Friday), its first model that has a built-in cellular chip, freeing it from the need to be tethered to an iPhone. However, it was not immediately apparent if the option to connect directly to a cellular network would be available in New Zealand (it was pushed at the US launch but there is no mention of the feature on the Apple NZ page; NBR has a query in).

* Apple promises its own wireless charging station, which will be able to charge an iPhone X or 8, Airpod earbuds and a Watch at the same time. However, it won't be released until some time in 2018.

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Apple unveils edge-to-edge screen iPhone X – but with a live demo fail