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With iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple bets on augmented reality and animated emoji

Dieter Bohn/The Verge

It’s been a decade since Apple announced the first iPhone, which ushered in modern smartphone gaming, and today the company is celebrating the milestone with three new iPhones: the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus; and the anniversary edition iPhone X.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus launch Sept. 22 at $599 and $799, and the iPhone X arrives Nov. 3, beginning at $999.

The X nixes the home button in lieu of a premium edge-to-edge screen and new facial recognition capabilities. The 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus are very much iterative updates to the previous generation with an added emphasis on augmented reality:

  • A new six-core A11 Bionic processor with an Apple-designed GPU and a slew of other enhancements for display and video/audio capture that should also boost future generations of mobile games.
  • A 12MP camera with optical image stabilization now on both models. The Plus model has both f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures. Both devices can now capture 4K video at 60 fps as well as 1080p 240 fps slow motion.
  • Wireless charging using the Qi standard.
  • It’s still waterproof.

The highlighted feature here is augmented reality. Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, called it the “the first iPhone really created for augmented reality, and the first smartphone as well,” which is the most Apple thing to say. The company has been touting AR all since it first unveiled its ARkit platform during its WWDC developer’s conference. (Also Pokémon Go.) The flagship on-stage demo was The Machines, a competitive multiplayer game. Current iPhone users will also benefit from ARkit-powered software when iOS 11 launches Sept. 19.

But the more ambitious device is iPhone X — pronounced “iPhone ten,” numerical order be damned — which represents a radical departure from past designs. The new phone has all the improvements of the iPhone 8, including the A11 chip and wireless charging, but with an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch, 2436x1125 “Super Retina Display.” And the home button? Dead and gone, replaced by an upward swipe gesture on the bottom of the display.

The biggest new feature for iPhone X is Face ID. Using an infrared dot projector and the front camera, the iPhone X can unlock the phone using your face alone. Apple claims it can’t be spoofed by photos but will understand if you wear hats or glasses or change your hairstyle. (Apple also noted that the face data is “protected by secure enclave” and processing is done on the device.) Face ID can also be used in lieu of Touch ID, which is good since Touch ID is gone.

And then there’s also Animoji, the “other” “flagship” “thing” that the iPhone X can do. Using the same face-mapping technology, iPhone X users can animate certain emoji, sending videos as if they were voicing an alien, a robot, a unicorn, or poop emoji. It looks like this:

Dieter Bohn/The Verge


The iPhone X will start at $999 with 64GB of storage, making it the most expensive iPhone ever made. And even if you aren’t interesting in paying that much to upgrade, it’s a clear sign that Apple sees the X as the future template for its platform. Say goodbye to Touch ID and hello to talking unicorn emoji.


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