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Apple Introduces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X

At Apple’s special event on 12 September 2017, the company threw back the curtain on the latest iPhone models, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are logically next in line after last year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the ground-breaking iPhone X. (That’s the same Roman numeral X as Apple used in Mac OS X, so it’s pronounced “iPhone 10.”)

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus -- Breaking with tradition, Apple jumped directly from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8, bypassing the expected iPhone 7s. That makes sense because the iPhone 8 boasts a new industrial design and a few major new hardware features — it’s more than an enhanced iPhone 7.

Apple has returned to a mostly glass case, claiming that it’s the most durable glass ever used in a smartphone. We won’t be putting that to the test, but the reason for the glass is that the iPhone 8 supports the Qi wireless charging standard (pronounced “chee”). Charging pads are available, and furniture retailer IKEA has even introduced tables with integrated wireless chargers. Apple said that next year it would release an AirPower charging mat that could charge an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, and a set of AirPods with an optional new charging case. Lightning ports remain standard in the iPhone 8 so you can still plug in to charge.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have reinforced steel innards and are sealed to provide water and dust resistance. The water resistance is IP67, the same as the iPhone 7. The physical sizes are nearly the same as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus as well, varying only by 0.1 or 0.2 millimeters in various dimensions. Between the glass and the steel, however, the new models are slightly heavier, weighing in at 5.22 ounces (148 grams) and 7.13 ounces (202 grams), which are 10 and 14 grams heavier, respectively.

The screens on both the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus sport the same basic technical specs as the previous models as well. However, the new iPhone displays now support Apple’s True Tone technology, which changes the brightness and color of the display based on the ambient light. Apple claims that the new iPhones’ speakers are 25 percent louder than the iPhone 7 and boast deeper bass.

Much has been made of ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality technology in iOS 11 (“ARKit: Augmented Reality for More Than Gaming,” 28 July 2017). To provide the best possible experience for AR and other processor-hungry tasks, Apple has given the new iPhones a new chip, the A11 Bionic, with a neural engine. It also has an updated M11 motion coprocessor. Apple claims that the A11 Bionic is the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone, with a six-core CPU that can deliver up to 70 percent better performance than the A10. The iPhone 8 also includes Apple’s first-ever in-house GPU, which is 30 percent faster than the previous GPU and can deliver iPhone-7-level performance at half the power. There’s also a new image signal processor that provides faster autofocus in low light and better pixel processing, plus hardware-enabled noise reduction.

For better photos, video, and augmented reality, Apple also improved the cameras in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The rear-facing camera in the iPhone 8 is still 12 megapixels, but it sports a new sensor that features deeper pixels, a new color filter, and optical image stabilization. It captures 83 percent more light and is more power efficient too. All that adds up to better color saturation, a wider dynamic range, and lower noise than the previous models. As we’ve noted previously, the camera captures photos in HEIF and JPEG (see “HEVC and HEIF Will Make Video and Photos More Efficient,” 30 June 2017).

In the iPhone 8 Plus, there are once again dual cameras, both at 12 megapixels. One has an f/1.8 aperture, and the other is f/2.8. Again, those are the same basic numbers as the iPhone 7 Plus, but with the new sensors. Portrait mode sticks around and has received some enhancements, but new (and in beta) is Portrait Lighting, which lets you change the lighting of your shot in real-time as you compose the shot. You can even tweak the lighting afterward. These features show that computational photography is where the photography world is going.

Video capture on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is also notably improved thanks to an Apple-designed video encoder. You can now shoot 4K video at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second, whereas the iPhone 7 could do only 24 fps. Slo-mo video supports 1080p resolution at 120 fps or 240 fps, again besting the iPhone 7, which could only provide 120 fps. Video is captured using HEVC and H.264.

In terms of other specs, the iPhone 8 is basically the same as the iPhone 7, with the exception of Bluetooth 5.0 instead of 4.2. Apple’s tech specs page also notes that the iPhone 8 supports “NFC with reader mode” whereas the iPhone 7’s page just said “NFC.” We don’t yet know if there’s a technical difference behind the wording change.

Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are available in two capacities — 64 GB and 256 GB — and in three colors — gold, silver, and space gray. The 64 GB models of the iPhone 8 cost $699, and the 256 GB models cost $849. The iPhone 8 Plus models are $100 more, either $799 for 64 GB or $949 for 256 GB.

Both come with Lightning-based EarPods, a Lightning to USB cable, a 5 watt USB power adapter, and — still! — a Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter if you want to use standard headphones. And, of course, they’ll run iOS 11.

They’re available for pre-orders now and will ship on 22 September 2017. You won’t have to wait that long for iOS 11, though, which will become available on 19 September 2017.

iPhone X -- After the announcement of the iPhone 8, Tim Cook returned to the stage for Apple’s classic One More Thing™ — the much-rumored iPhone X.

Although it shares a few industrial design features with the iPhone 8, such as the glass back that enables Qi wireless charging, the iPhone X boasts an edge-to-edge screen that fills almost the entire front face, dropping the iconic Home button entirely. Its metal edges are surgical-grade stainless steel, and it comes in just two colors: silver and space gray.

The iPhone X screen measures 5.8 inches diagonal, which means that it offers more screen real estate than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus screen, but by losing the bezel, the iPhone X is much closer in size to the iPhone 8 (thank goodness!). The iPhone 8 is 5.45 inches by 2.65 inches by 0.29 inches (138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm) and weighs 5.22 ounces (148 g). But the iPhone X is just 5.65 inches by 2.79 inches by 0.30 inches (143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm) and weighs 6.14 ounces (174 g). The extra size must have given Apple more room for the battery, since it’s supposed to last 2 hours longer than the iPhone 7 (and the iPhone 8 has the same battery life as the iPhone 7).

The iPhone X’s Super Retina display also has way more pixels — 2436-by-1125 at 458 pixels per inch — than any previous iPhone. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus is only 1920-by-1080 at 401 ppi. That means you’ll see quite a bit more detail on the iPhone X than you would on even Apple’s previous Plus models.

Some of these changes were made possible via the switch to OLED — organic light-emitting diode — technology. Historically, OLED screens have provided great contrast, high resolution, and minimal thickness due to not needing a backlight, but they have had trouble with brightness, wide color support, and color accuracy. Apple claims to have resolved these problems, so the iPhone X display supports high dynamic range video in both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats and offers a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio. It also supports 3D Touch and True Tone.

But without a Home button, how do you wake an iPhone X? Raise to Wake still works, or you can just tap the screen. What about Siri? Press the iPhone X’s new side button, much like on an Apple Watch, or just use “Hey, Siri.” To unlock the iPhone X, you just swipe up from the bottom of the screen while looking at the iPhone X, and it uses Apple’s new Face ID technology to recognize your face, much like Touch ID did with your fingerprint in the past. Apple said nothing about whether the iPhone X could learn multiple faces as previous iPhones could learn multiple fingers, but entering a passcode remains an option for families who often share devices.

Face ID relies on both the A11 Bionic’s neural engine and what Apple calls the TrueDepth front-facing camera system — that notch on the top of the iPhone X — which includes a 7-megapixel camera, infrared camera, flood illuminator, and dot projector, along with the proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, speaker, and microphone. Face ID works in the dark, and although you train it quickly on initial setup, it continually adapts to your changing look, so it can handle glasses, hats, beards, and more, all without being fooled by photos.

It almost seemed as though Apple had read Rich Mogull’s “Preparing for a Possible Apple “Face ID” Technology” (18 August 2017) because the company noted that Touch ID has a 1 in 50,000 false positive rate, but Face ID should be more like 1 in 1,000,000. That said, Apple did admit that Face ID might not stop evil twins (whereas Touch ID would, since identical twins do not have identical fingerprints). Also, apps that work with Touch ID, like 1Password, will work with Face ID.

Swiping up from the bottom of the iPhone X screen works across the system for jumping back to the Home screen or (if you pause briefly) opening the app switcher. You can also swipe left and right on the bottom area to switch between apps. The main oddity is that you now get to Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen (to the right of the notch). To access the Lock screen, which replaces the Notification Center in iOS 11, you now swipe down on the upper-left of the screen (to the left of the notch).

Apple uses the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology in a few other ways, including a demo of an upcoming version of Snapchat that could affix a virtual mask to your face in real time. And you can create “animoji” — a dozen different animated emoji characters whose faces mimic what you do with your face while recording in Messages. Technically impressive, but it brings new meaning to that long-ago option in Eudora: “Waste cycles drawing trendy 3D junk.”

The iPhone X sports a pair of cameras, much like the iPhone 8 Plus, but has slightly different specs. One has an f/1.8 aperture, but the other is f/2.4, as opposed to f/2.8 on the iPhone 8 Plus, and lets in 36 percent more light. It also sports optical stabilization (on both lenses) for better low-light photos and videos. Apple says its quad-LED True Tone flash delivers twice the uniformity of light.

As with the iPhone 8, the iPhone X will be available in two capacities — 64 GB for $999 and 256 GB for $1149. Interestingly, unlike the iPhone 8, you cannot buy a SIM-free iPhone X that can work with any carrier; you must select from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon when ordering from Apple. Besides cases, the iPhone X accessories are the same as the iPhone 8, including the headphone adapter. You can pre-order an iPhone X on 27 October 2017 with availability on 3 November 2017.

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone, the question is, do you wait another 6 weeks and pay an extra $300 for the bigger display, Face ID, and other improvements? It’s tempting, of course, but since a lot of new technology debuts in the iPhone X, it’s also possible that it will be plagued with problems, particularly at first. Apple has historically done a pretty good job of addressing problems that seem like hardware issues with iOS updates, but you could still suffer through a month or two of awkward usage if Face ID doesn’t work well for you, for instance.

All that said, I’m getting one.


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Comments about Apple Introduces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X
(Comments are closed.)

So has anybody checked the entire current iPhone lineup? Almost makes me cry. Click on "See all models" at >

There are eight base models being sold in various colors and memory variants. Every price point from $349 to $1149 is covered. It's hardly ever been as clearly demonstrated that Apple is now run by marketing rather than engineering or creative.

The iPhone SE with its 2015 6s internals is the ONLY device at the end of 2017 being sold to people who like to operate their entire phone with one regular sized hand.

Steve is probably rolling in his grave right now. Something tells me he would have sold the X (the screen real estate of the Plus in the form factor of the regular) along with a smaller version for those who prefer a smaller physical size (as a replacement for the SE). Two devices for two different sizes. Two base price points. Add memory and color options. Done. But this new lineup is just ridiculous.
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-09-12 21:53
Steve Jobs once sold iPod socks.
Peter N Lewis  An apple icon for a Friend of TidBITS 2017-09-12 21:54
Yep, no news for those of us who like a smaller phone. Oh well, I'll just continue to enjoy my SE and hope there is a replacement one day.
> Steve Jobs once sold iPod socks.

He picked apples in Oregon too.
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-09-12 22:23
I'm pretty sure that the socks thing shows that the whole "Steve Jobs was an Engineer's Engineer, Sir!" is pretty mythical.

And you know what? The whole simplified product matrix wasn't about engineering, it was about simplifying *marketing*.

So you're wrong on two counts.
Nobody here suggested Steve was some kind of uber engineer. And nobody suggested Apple should do without marketing either.
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-09-12 22:41
Nobody suggested?

"Steve is probably rolling in his grave right now"

Yeah, you did.

I also find it entertaining that in a keynote in which Apple was working hard to explain what HDR was to everyone that they get accused of being marketing driven.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-13 15:48
It's an interesting approach, I think. Rather than maintain a constantly updated product line that hits multiple price and performance points, Apple sidesteps the problem by keeping old products around at lower prices.

This is also tacit acknowledgment that many people don't need the latest and greatest. Last year's iPhone is still magic, even if there's better magic available in this year's iPhone.
Shameer Mulji  2017-09-13 16:33
With the market clearly shifting toward large-screen phones, I don't think the SE is long for this world, nor do I think Apple will make a smaller-screen iPhone X. If anything, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple makes a bigger iPhone X, somewhere around 6.5" but no bigger than an iPhone 8 Plus.
That strategy does have one interesting consequence. Apple will be forced to ensure iOS remains backward compatible with much older hardware. Couldn't have tomorrow's iOS not work on yesterday's iPhone.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-14 10:12
Apple has long been pretty good about supporting older devices, but this does force the issue. :-)
Haha, and the good news isn't over yet!

iTunes is dropping app support. All apps have to be installed on iOS devices directly. No more apps via Mac. No more using old versions. Just in case we didn't know who was boss in our walled garden. ;) >
Henry van Meeuwen  2017-09-13 17:12
iTunes was a hydrocephalus.
Apple should have split iTunes on the Mac into two applications:
A player for playing music, reading e-books etc. And a manager for buying music and apps, manage settings, updates, purchases, back-ups. My preference.
Or a player/purchaser for music, and a manager for everyting else for your phone/pad: apps, e-books, back-up, updates, settings, syncing. Also OK.
With both solutions it must be possible te create a clean, intuitive user-interface.
I fully agree that iTunes is/was overly bloated. I would also like to see them clean up things there. It's more than overdue.

That said, I do not believe that removing (without alternative) the functionality of loading/backing up apps via Mac solves the iTunes bloat issue or is desirable from any other POV - at least on the customer side of things (Apple of course certainly has business motives).
Now there's an excellent TidBITS article on this issue.
Eolake Stobblehouse   2017-09-13 09:37
I can't really see what would make me want an iPhone 8 or 8+. Apart from wireless charging, which I don't care much about, the only differences I note are a lot of small refinements and speedbumps which I'm sure I won't notice. I have the second gen 13-inch iPad, and I don't know why, it feels and acts just like the first one in daily use.

I'm reminded of the Kindle. I loved it, but hated the low contrast of the screen. With each new generation, they claimed that the contrast was higher now, and I could never see it. With Kindle 3, I even took careful comparing photos, and I could still not see any difference.

So the new iPhone camera has "deeper pixels", whatever that means. I'd be surprised if I would notice a difference.
I even still have a 6S+. At first I was excited by the dual camera of the 7, being a photographer, but then I noticed that they were playing fast and loose with the term "tele lens", since the longer lens is equivalent to a 50mm lens, meaning a normal-lens. And on the 8 it doesn't even yet have stabilization (critical since it's longer and slower), you have to go to the expensive X model to get that.

And while the face recognition is technically impressive, I don't see it would be necessary if not for the urge to get full-face screen. (Nearly full, I the the "notch" at the top is rather large.) It is making a virtue of a necessity.

I am rather frustrated.
gastropod  2017-09-13 18:11
Does iOS 11 require the new iTunes? That would be a show stopper for me to upgrade.
Michael Lever  2017-09-14 03:09
Recently the contract for my Samsung Galaxy 6 came up for remewal so I switched to an iphone 7. I was looking forward to return to Apple because I missed not having Things on the phone at least I had been until Things 3 was released which as far as I am concernd is not as user friendly as Things 2. Anyhow within seconds I thought I had made a mistake because the 7 screen is not as large; I could've cancellled but persevered. I am now glad I did because despite the smaller screen I am familiar with the 'mac' os and look whereas with Galaxy and Android I had no idea what they are on about.

I could have waited for the latest iphones because the contract had not expired, I was only in the upgrade eligble period. But it is the phone that I want and the email and messaging, the camera I rarely use preferring to carry a pocket proper camera instead. The one thing that the Galaxy experience taught me is that I can get through 2 years without buying any apps.
Doug Lerner  2017-09-18 21:06
Two questions about the iPhone X...
1.  The notch. What is it going to look like when viewing full size photos and videos in landscape and portrait mode? Is it going to interfere with and become part of the images?
2. No fingerprint sensor. If the iPhone is on a desk do you need to pick it up or lean over it to activate it? How are blind people supposed to use it?
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 11:10
As far as the notch goes, from what I've seen, content will just sort of flow around it, but you can set your view in such a way that the content won't reach the notch. That may change before it ships.
I wonder why the wouldn't just use the notch for time and signal display keeping the background black so it blends with the camera section and only consider the rest of the display "usable" space? Sure you're giving up a few pixels doing that, but you regain them so to say because status info that now takes up space is pushed to the notch.

But having movies and/or photos obstructed by this notch is just silly. Is this some kind of marketing baloney ("oh look it musty be an iPhone because there's this chunk missing in the image!") once again trumping design and common sense?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 12:56
I agree that the status bar could take that space most of the time and the rest it could be blank. But we'll see how it really works out once it ships.
Graham Samuel  2017-09-19 05:05
I don't understand what Apple thinks customers will do: instinctively I would want to skip the iPhone 8 since the X is just round the corner, and I'm not unhappy with my earlier phone (I switched from a 5S to 7 fairly recently - my phone contract discourages switching in less than 24 months). I couldn't afford to buy an 8 and then an X quite soon after. I'm talking about myself here because I think I may be quite typical. It seems to me that Apple are damaging the sales prospects of the 8 with their "And one more thing" coda to the presentation. Perhaps they don't really want to sell that many 8s. I find it puzzling - can anyone see a rationality behind this dual announcement?
Doug Lerner  2017-09-19 09:05
I think they are being cautious. The iPhone X is quite a leap in cost.MaybeThey are not sure what the market is for it.Meanwhile, The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+ have been very successful, and the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8+ are
substantial spec leaps.So I guess they're just covering all the markets.
My guess it's about volume. They cannot get as many OLED screens or similar as they believe there is demand. And since they have boxed themselves into this corner where they need something "yuge" every Sep, they could have just decided to launch the X shipping in limited numbers at an outrageous price while shipping X internals in a 7 case at sufficient volume and what should appear to be modest price points.

Of course that does not explain why they didn't anticipate this earlier and made sure they had enough screens or whatever by Sep 2017. You'd think a true market leader would have that part covered. Maybe they aren't as innovative and forward looking as they like to portray themselves.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 11:12
Yep, this is my understanding. Apple has been stuck in a design rut with the iPhone, because they have to produce SO MANY of them. So they're shipping the relatively easy to manufacture 8 alongside the cutting-edge X. I figure Apple hopes that they'll be able to scale the X up over time so that it becomes the only iPhone.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 11:13
I think we're going to see a downturn in iPhone sales this year. A lot of people are skipping the 8 (notice how easy it to is obtain) for the X, but the X is going to be very hard to get (I've heard rumor that they can only make 10,000 a day!). A lot of iPhone buyers won't get the X, so the question will be: do they settle for the 8 or hold off for next year? Or even worse, get mad and buy an Android phone instead?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 11:16
I doubt that many people will switch to Android based on this — the ecosystem play is just too strong, and it's not as though any of these devices are bad.
At this point I think this could be a good thing. Apple has become lazy and obnoxious. What they need is a solid kick in the pants. Once their market share is in the 10% ballpark (think Apple right before the launch of the iMac) they will have to engineer themselves back into relevance. And hopefully lose a whole bunch of bloat and fluff in the process.
> I doubt that many people will switch to Android
> based on this — the ecosystem play is just too
> strong...

Interesting point. And a truly dreadful thought. People not choosing a device based on its hardware of software merits, but because they're locked into a certain app "market". Reminds me of "need a Win PC because of {insert corporate software here}".
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-19 12:57
All the big companies are doing this now and it's very hard to avoid because the integration is so strong.
Doug Lerner  2017-09-19 13:19
Just out of curiosity, how does Samsung handle their no bezel OLED full screen display? They don't have an issue similar to the iPhone X notch?
They actually have a bezel to hold the speaker and camera. It's on the sides where they have the display roll off so it appears as if there's no edge.

On my iPhone 6 I already end up touching the sides of the screens depending on how I grip the phone, I imagine this would be even worse on their rolling off screen (quite a gimmick IMHO).
Josephine  2017-09-19 17:04
iPhone X is surely expensive, but I am going to get one. I'd rather have it than the iPhone 8.
Kenneth Nellis  2017-09-24 17:16
Saying that the iPhone X is pronounced "iPhone 10" is not helpful. Is that "iPhone one zero"? No, it is "iPhone ten".
Doug Lerner  2017-09-24 18:47
Siri dictatoin doesn't recognize that it should enter an X when you say "iPhone ten." I have to say "iPhone X."
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-25 10:41
Pedant. :-) That's why I said it was the Roman numeral ten.
Who in his right mind when seeing "iPhone X" wonders if that could be pronounced iPhone one zero? Quite obviously it's roman numeral ten. As quite clearly indicated in the article.