In Depth

Apple’s iPhone X: is it worth it?

The tech giant is hoping that superfans – and the super-rich – will snap up its brand new all-glass iPhone with face ID

iPhone 8: When is it released and what will it cost?

30 August 

Ten years on from the launch of its first iPhone, Apple is preparing to release its newest iteration and "given the momentous occasion, rumour has it that the tech giant has been holding back some of its most groundbreaking features for this year's model" says the Daily Mirror.

When is the release date?

Although no official launch date has been announced, French Apple-focused site Mac4Ever has quoted several sources who say this year's unveiling will take place on 12 September.

This corresponds to the timescale of previous product launches which normally take place in the first two weeks of September in time for the Christmas shopping season. However, there are rumours the new model will be available to pre-order from as early as Friday 15 September and could be in store by 22 September the following week.

What will it be called?

Based on Apple's 'tick-tock' cycle, which sees the company release a new design every two years and new features in the same casing every alternate year, the 2017 model should be called iPhone 7s. But long-circulating rumours have suggested that Apple is choosing to mark the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone with a dramatic redesign and a new name. While the most likely option is that it will be called iPhone 8, some think the company might opt for a more radical departure with iPhone10, iPhone X, or even iPhone Air among the suggestion being mooted.

How much will it cost?

While the new iPhone will be by far the most advanced ever released by Apple, it is also expected to be the most expensive, with reports suggesting it could smash the $1,000 dollar mark for the first time. Given the huge drop in the pound over the last year, this could see British shoppers having to shell out almost £800 for the new model, almost double the £469 shoppers paid for the iPhone 5c in 2013.

How will it differ from older models?

Much of the increase in price is due to the new OLED display that will stretch across the whole phone and is roughly twice as expensive to produce as the current LCD displays used by Apple.

Last year Apple signed a $9 billion deal with arch-rival Samsung to supply OLED panels which, unlike LCD displays, do not require a backlight and as such lower power consumption, deliver faster response times and produce clearer defined colours.

It is also rumoured that Apple is developing a new curved-edge version similar to Samsung's Galaxy S7 as well as looking to replace the aluminium casing used for the previous 3 upgrades with a new all-glass version. This would improve antenna reception and increase options for wireless charging which is also reportedly among the new features.

What about the Home button?

One of the most-publicised changes to the new model will be the end of the physical Home button. Originally rumoured for the iPhone 7, "it's now looking likely that it will be one of the major changes coming with the iPhone 8" says the Mirror to be replaced by a touch-sensitive digital button.

And Augmented Reality?

According to Forbes, the most exciting feature of the new model is the new duel lens camera system that uses infra red technology to detect location and depth of objects in its field of vision.

This could be enable facial recognition, 3D selfies and augmented reality video gaming. The financial magazine says Apple CEO Tim Cook "has been preparing the ground for Augmented Reality for some time" and "is gambling on AR to be the iPhone’s killer feature".

Speaking to The Independent earlier this year, Cook said he regarded the development of AR as as big an idea as the smartphone.

"The smartphone is for everyone, we don't have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining. I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology."

iPhone 8: Users won't have to touch handset to unlock it with facial recognition

7 August

Apple's forthcoming iPhone 8 can be unlocked without having to be picked up, according to uswitch.com.

Facial recognition software means the smartphone be able to detect its user while it is lying flat and will not need to be touched.

Developers discovered the hidden feature while examining the code of the Apple's as-yet-unreleased HomePod system. The device, due out in December, is designed to work seamlessly with other products from the tech giant so looking into the code for its software has given nosy Apple enthusiasts fascinating insights into the functioning of the next iPhone.

Investigations over the weekend uncovered "code strings for accessibility when the device is 'resting'", uswitch.com says.

"Such a development would put the iPhone 8 way ahead of the game compared with rival smartphones. Constantly picking up a phone is a distraction many users have to deal with, but the ability to fire up the phone by simply looking at it, before completing tasks via Siri, is hugely appealing."

The security feature that allows users to unlock their iPhones by scanning their face was first reported on by Bloomberg.

Sources revealed to the website that Apple "is testing an improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments and launch secure apps by scanning their face".

The system uses a "new 3D sensor", the site adds, which can "scan a user’s face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds". The feature has been "designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table", so users will not need to raise the phone in front of their face to scan it.

ArsTechnica says it could mean the existing Touch ID feature, where users unlock their phone by scanning their finger, "is on its way out".

It argues that fingerprint scanning "has never been the most secure way of unlocking a device or authenticating payments". There are also "scenarios where TouchID just isn't very convenient", whereas face-scanning doesn't require the user to touch the phone to unlock it.

However, researchers Chaos Computer Club discovered that the facial recognition security feature on the iPhone-rivalling Samsung Galaxy S8 could be fooled. The system could be bypassed by taking an image of the user's eye and placing a contact lens over the eye in picture.

Apple's version is "still being tested and may not appear" on the upcoming iPhone 8, says Bloomberg, but the company intends "to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner" with it.

Along with facial recognition, DigiTimes says the new iPhone will come with a stainless steel and glass design - a departure from the current aluminium-bodied smartphones.

AppleInsider reported earlier this year that the Touch ID sensor could be placed under the phone's glass-fronted OLED display, which could appear if the rumoured facial scanner isn't fitted to the mobile.

iPhone 8: Leak reveals new virtual home button

1 August

A firmware leak from Apple's upcoming HomePod smart speaker has revealed several new features that could appear on the iPhone 8.

A report in Wired says a developer discovered an image appearing to show the outline of the next smartphone in the HomePod's firmware. 

The image indicates Apple will replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner with a "Face ID infrared scanner", where users unlock their phone by scanning their face, adds the site. 

Steven Troughton-Smith, another developer working on the speaker, revealed on Twitter that the physical home button may also be go in favour of a virtual version called "home indicator", found underneath the display.

Rumours that Apple will remove the circular home button on the iPhone 8 have circulated for some time, says MacRumors, and seem to be supported by the firmware leaks. 

The discovery also bolsters reports the smartphone will feature an edge-to-edge display, which will wrap around the edge of the device in a similar fashion to the Samsung Galaxy S8, says the Daily Telegraph.

The paper adds that the iPhone 8 is is "due to be unveiled at the beginning of September but may not be released until later in the year".

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