Apple’s much-hyped annual iPhone event took place earlier this week at the new Steve Jobs Theatre, located at what is widely known as the Spaceship Campus, but officially called Apple Park, in Cupertino, California. The event was live-streamed to millions across the globe.
Leading up to the main event, there were leaks about three phones being announced, which were indeed accurate; namely the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and a special edition iPhone X (pronounced 10).
Before we get into all things iPhone, a quick recap of what else was announced: an update to its set-top box, the Apple TV 4K to match your fancy UHD TV; a new Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular so you don’t need to carry your phone to make calls on the go; and the global rollout of iOS 11 on September 19.
Here are six things you should know about the new iPhones:
All of them now have glass fronts and backs That’s right, if you thought you were clumsy with your current smartphone, you will probably need to be extra careful with the new 8, 8 Plus, and X. My suggestion is to get a phone cover the day you get the new phone; and a screen protector for an extra layer of security. However, Apple says it’s the “most durable glass ever” put on a smartphone, and that it is still water and dust-resistant. Going back to previous designs, the glass-backed 4 and 4S were my personal favourites. Available colours this time around are space grey, silver and gold. RIP rose gold.
Your face is your password on the new iPhone X The iconic home button has been replaced with an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch screen, and a new form of authentication – Face ID. The device will only unlock when your eyes are open – not when half-asleep. If your toddler (or anyone, really) waves your smartphone in front of your face, you may have a problem. A six-digit PIN code to unlock it remains the back-up route, as with current iPhones. The 5.8-inch bezel-less display is only marginally bigger than that of the iPhone 8, and smaller than the 5.5-inch 8 Plus.
Still on the iPhone X It is packed with sensors like a dot projector, infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. Combined, these features are capable of facial 3-D mapping using 30 000 invisible dots. The device uses machine learning to adapt to physical changes on your face for Face ID. It works at night; but also brings about a new animated emoji feature called “animoji”. So you can get the fox emoji to say something like “What does the fox say?”. Using 3-D facial mapping, the animoji will be customised to your own facial expressions, tracking more than 50 muscle movements. Wait, what? Yes, it’s every bit as futuristic and fun as it sounds.
Wireless charging It’s not that new – I’ve been using it on another handset for months now. Apple has adopted the Qi (pronounced chi) open wireless charging standard, meaning it will work with third-party accessories like existing Mophie and Belkin ones, instead of being limited to Apple’s expensive proprietary chargers. A new charging pad called the AirPower is capable of charging new iPhones, Apple Watches and a revised wireless AirPods case simultaneously on your nightstand. We will only see the AirPower next year, though. Globally, more than 80 car models support the Qi wireless charging standard. Goodbye, clunky cable.
All three iPhone models have a 12-megapixel main camera and a 7-megapixel selfie cam They are capable of shooting 4K videos at 60 frames per second. Optical image stabilisation, a feature previously exclusive to the Plus models, is now standard on all three, which enables improved video stabilisation and better low-light zooming. However, the dual-cameras on the 8 Plus and X have portrait mode that blurs the background, but with more dramatic lighting effects that can make the background black. New on the front-facing cameras is the portrait lighting mode for next-level selfies. Oh, snap!
Pairing If you’re thinking of pairing your current or future iPhone with the new Apple Watch Series 3, you will love the model that has built-in cellular, using an electronic SIM card. This means the Apple Watch is no longer an accessory to the iPhone, and can be left indoors if you’re heading for a run or swim. Paired with wireless earphones, you can make and receive calls, use navigation and stream music. It looks similar to the previous versions, but a red digital crown is what physically sets it apart.
Watch this space for South African mobile network support. South African pricing and availability are yet to be announced.