Apple Announces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and More

Apple Announces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and More

It's a big year for Apple. This is the year Apple finally introduces some major technological upgrades from augmented-reality and improved cameras to OLED screens in its iPhone lineup. And in doing so, they've released three new models alongside each other, the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. Most importantly for us, however, is that the new iPhones not only feature the best cameras yet, but also more broadly represent the biggest leap in image technology in a single year thanks both to new hardware and software.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus most closely replace the 7 and 7 Plus, while the iPhone X represents a new elite category for the iPhone with a massive 5.8" OLED display. The new iPhones feature a six-core A11 Bionic processor with four lower-clock-speed high-efficiency cores and two faster cores that contribute to more efficient and balanced processing for different types of tasks.

The nearly bezel-less OLED display on the iPhone X looks amazing with the lack of a home button or Touch ID as we welcome in the era of truly secure facial recognition through Apple's new Face ID facial recognition system. Face ID is even more secure than Touch ID and is 20 times less likely to be tricked by a stranger's attempt to unlock your phone. If you're looking for something more fun, Apple has you covered with Animojis (emojis that animate based on your facial response in real time) in the iPhone X.

These features are all nice, but we won't get too hung up on under-the-hood specifications because Apple's tight integration of hardware and software make the numbers on paper a moot point relative to comparing with other phones. Apple always builds the hardware it needs in order to support the software features it wants to support. Whatever the numbers are, Apple will have made sure they work for today's tech.

Instead, we can take the increased RAM and more powerful processing setup as a queue that Apple is, once again, gearing up for more. And this year, that "more" is all about augmented reality, or AR, and the power to take more professional photos seamlessly. While virtual reality has grabbed headlines above its augmented cousin thanks to its ability to transport you to another world, it's augmented reality that has particularly interesting potential as a tool for integrating the digital world into our real world. Trying out a new couch in the living room within an interior design application is just the beginning.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Let's get a little more specific about each model, because there is some larger differentiation this year. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models still feature a home button and Touch ID and do not feature Face ID. However, they also shed the metal back in favor of a glass one that allows for Qi wireless charging.

Meanwhile, Apple is staying with a 12MP camera on the back of the iPhone 8 and dual 12MP cameras on the 8 Plus, but is upgrading the camera by increasing sensor size, power-efficiency, dynamic range, and more. As we know, larger sensors allow for larger pixels, which allow for more light and, in turn, better image quality.

Apple also introduced a TrueDepth Lighting feature that makes use of portrait mode to separate the subject from the background, identify facial features, and edit the photo seamlessly as though a professional photographer lit the subject in a number of different styles.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus also include hardware-enabled noise reduction and improved image processing, including a new system that breaks the each frame of video into two million individual tiles and analyzes them every second to optimize the image based on content to create sharper and more vibrant videos in 4K at up to 60 fps or in 1080p now up to 240 fps.

Meanwhile, new gyroscopes and accelerometers offer improved AR performance.

iPhone X

The iPhone X features a similar form to the iPhone 8 alongside some notable changes. A surgical-grade, polished stainless steel frame and glass back in a pearlescent Space Grey or Silver set this model apart with the embedded OLED display while maintaining the same Qi wireless charging standard and water and dust resistance. Apple made it a special point to note that OLED technologically has historically featured a number of improvements over more traditional LED display types but at the cost of color accuracy and saturation. This display, dubbed the Super Retina Display, however, solves those problems by supporting HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and great color accuracy with the same TrueTone display. It also features the highest pixel density at 458 PPI with 2,436 x 1,125 pixels spanning its 5.8" display.

With an edge-to-edge and top-to-bottom display, the iPhone X features no home button. Now, you tap the screen anywhere to wake, or you can still raise to wake. Swipe up from the bottom of any app to go back home. And speak to the phone for Hey, Siri, or press the larger side button in to activate Siri. Unlocking is done naturally with Face ID, which detects when you are looking at the phone.

The iPhone X features the same 12MP sensors as the iPhone 8 Plus, but arranges them at a 90-degree offset comparatively. Also, an f/2.4 instead of f/2.8 aperture telephoto lens sits on the back of the X while optical image stabilization on both rear cameras on the iPhone X as well as a quad-LED true-tone flash for more even flash lighting help create even better photos.

iPhone X TrueDepth Camera, which uses a combination of front-facing cameras and sensors for Face ID, supports selfies taken with TrueDepth Lighting and Portrait Mode through the front-facing cameras.

In spite of these hardware and software improvements, the iPhone X provides two hours longer battery life than the iPhone 7.

iOS 11

On the software side, the new iPhones will ship with iOS 11, which, amongst many other improvements, makes the landmark shift from using the nearly quarter-century-old JPEG format to a newer format called HEIF (creatively standing for High Efficiency Image File Format — I'm just happy we don't have two F's). The HEIF is a format that supports GIF-style animations, transparency, and more, all while enabling saving space with better compression. A similar quality image to a JPEG is expected to take roughly half of the storage space. And don't worry, whenever you send an image or export it for another application, Apple seamlessly converts it to a JPEG for sharing, but maintains the original as the main file. We can only hope everyone will eventually support the new file type. If history is any lesson, it's only a matter of time.

Wrapping Up

Apple also announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with available in-watch LTE, Apple TV 4K with HDR 10 and Dolby Vision support, and showed a sneak peek of AirPower, a larger charging matt coming next year that will make it easy to wirelessly charge multiple devices at once. Notably absent from these announcements was any discussion around 3D imaging or video, which was rumored to be a large reason behind the change in orientation of the dual-camera setup on the iPhone X. However, Apple has not historically chased after 3D experiences, as it has chosen to concentrate on its AR Kit for which this camera shift could easily be just as beneficial.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be available in 64GB and 256GB options starting at $699. The iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799, while both 256GB models will come at a $149 premium. The iPhone X will cost $999 or $1,149 for 64GB and 256GB options, respectively.

All of the products announced today except the iPhone X will be available for pre-order Friday, Sept. 15 and will ship Sept. 22. The iPhone X will be available for pre-order October 27 and will ship November 3.

The new iPhone lineup keeps nearly all of the devices you could still buy yesterday, but at reduced prices and reduced maximum storage options for some, including the following: iPhone 7 starting at $549, iPhone 6S starting at $449, and iPhone SE starting at $349. There are now 16 separate models of the iPhone available to buy new from Apple, not counting color or carrier options. Including color variations, there are now nearly 50 models of iPhone to choose from. Regardless of your budget, Apple obviously wants you to know there's an iPhone available for you with its broadest iPhone lineup yet.

Update: It's worth noting that although the iPhone X has a larger display, the phone itself is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (and other Plus models before it) since it gets that extra length mostly by having a taller screen without bezels. Still, it's closer in size to the Plus models than it is to the standard iPhone 7/8 size. Correction: The iPhone X is in fact  only slightly larger than the iPhone 8 (non-Plus), leading to reports that it really is an obvious choice if a premium visual experience is what you're after.

Update 2: While not covered in the announcement, the new iPhones support fast charging to 50 percent in 30 minutes. However, you won't be able to take advantage of this without already having or buying a Lightning-to-USB-C cable and one of the higher-power USB-C laptop charging adapters that Apple sells separately or includes with its latest MacBooks and MacBook Pros. It has yet to be explained exactly how this quick-charging works, but if it can't work with a good USB cable and a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0-enabled charger, it does not at first glance seem to be the same as the QC 3.0 technology if it requires these high-power USB-C chargers. More information will follow as it is discovered.

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56 Comments

Kyle Medina's picture

Disappointed in no USB-C.

Adam Ottke's picture

I don't think this will come for a long time -- if ever. The main issue is that USB-C is so horribly not-exactly-standardized. You never know what you're getting, how much power it'll support (if any), what speeds you'll get, etc. Apple doesn't want people worrying about whether or not the cable they get will charge their phone too much or too little or whether the data transfer will be fast enough. They can't control USB-C the way they can control Lightning. So I just don't see them changing this (for better or for worse).

Apple really wants people to care which cable they use. And it's better be properly licensed and priced Lightning cable for 19.99 than Chinese rip-off for 1.99 that will stop working at Apple's sole discretion at some moment of life.

Kyle Medina's picture

That would be dumb! If they don't change their battery. I will leave them. They'll have to add a magnet to the back or else how am I supposed to charge it in the car on road trips. Especially storm chasing, since I use hot spot for my laptop and the battery wouldn't last unless plugged in.

Probably you have to consider nice holder. Not every iPhone user chases storm. Some don't even use cars...

Kyle Medina's picture

Having complete wireless is absurd! I will not buy into it. Having to carry a pad around just too charge....no.

Adam Ottke's picture

Well, it’s. It 100% wireless yet. But even when it is...you have to carry a cable around with you wherever you go now anyway. Wireless charging tech is so convenient that it can and will be (and in some places already is) installed in furniture and into cars, etc., wherever you go. IKEA already supports it in some their furniture. Eventually, people will laugh at plugging in a cable.

Kyle Medina's picture

Unless they put magnets in your phone. Wireless charging in a car will be useless. You have to get it to stay put, any time you turn there goes your phone. Yes I'll carry a cable over a charge pad. I'm not here to worry about who's going to laugh, dumb remark.

Adam Ottke's picture

My point wasn’t about being embarrassed about being laughed at. Ha! It was about what people will be used to. But regardless, many cars already do have wireless charging. They don’t need magnets because they just build a flat area big enough for any phone to fit in comfortably (often in the armrest or front-center console). It works quite well, especially for cars with wireless CarPlay. Same thing goes for Android phones and Android Auto.

Kyle Medina's picture

Fair enough lol. Well I guess I have to buy a new car to use a new phone. I don't use a headphone jack besides at work and thats just for podcast. In the car it is bluetooth. So I'll see you in 10 yrs when we all have wireless charging pads in our cars. Until than not buying a fully wireless phone. It will come before the population gets new cars with Chi pads built in.

Michael Kormos's picture

Given Apple's strategy in moving away from all corded things, you can expect them to probably ditch even the lightning connector currently in use. Once wireless charging takes off, there really won't be any need for cords whatsoever.

Honestly, I'm just interested in next year's 6-core, 32Gb Macbooks, if the recent rumors are true.

Fritz John Asuro's picture

Meh. For that price point, I expect more and something really stunning (except the fact of being too expensive). Yes, those are new features for an iPhone, but not for mobile phones in general.

Spy Black's picture

Actually, apparently eveybody missed Apple's main BIG announcement yesterday...

Here we go again.
Next on every photography related website:

iPhone X Camera beats DxO records.
iPhone X is a beast for photography
Time Magazine cover done with an iPhone X
iPhone X can cook eggs if you tell Siri to.
iPhone X screen will make you a professional photographer
iPhone Face ID will unlock your D850 from Mars!

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Instead of animated emojis, wireless charging and faster processor how about 500% more battery life and a bit of a price drop? Would be more appreciated I think but what the hell do i know?
Seriously, anyone noticing any difference in speed performance after upgrading an iPhone???

"A similar quality image to a JPEG is expected to take roughly half of the storage space."

The goal should be better image quality at the same storage space. iPhone JPGs have great apparent image quality but actually very poor detail when you look closely. You must shoot with a RAW camera app, like Lightroom, to see the quality that the camera is capable of. Apple also destroys fine detail with a huge amount of noise reduction.

Adam Ottke's picture

At the end of the day, you can only do so much with such a small sensor. Whether or not the noise would be worse or the noise reduction would be worse, both would be/are bad overall. The larger sensor in these cameras should help with that. But I'm not convinced compressing a JPEG any less than is currently done would improve the image quality (and if so, likely not by much). I think it's just the nature of small-sensor camera phones these days, as it has been. But it is getting better over time. And the HEIF will allow less relative compression, too, if/where it makes sense. Of course, you could go either way with it (save more space, or have higher-quality files). But there's a limit the range of what makes sense to do...

"At the end of the day, you can only do so much with such a small sensor"

Sure, I was only remarking on the fact that there is better inherent image quality to be had with the iPhone. Apple has chosen to not make that better image quality available to most of its customers, and that's a shame.

That said, I wouldn't dismiss too lightly the image quality of small sensors. The relatively small sensor in a Sony RX100 series camera delivers better image quality than 35mm, and is far more than good enough for magazine covers. And while I love high resolution images, they are not required for such things. The fact that iPhones have been successfully used for magazine covers shows that such a small sensor, with the right lighting, is good enough for such a use.

"But I'm not convinced compressing a JPEG any less than is currently done would improve the image quality (and if so, likely not by much)"

I'm an iPhone user and the difference in detail is stark when you shoot RAW. Apple's noise reduction is really poor and/or too aggressive. It's a shame too because the underlying camera and Apple's apparent handling of image quality, like exposure, is excellent. By using better noise reduction or none at all under good lighting conditions, the files would need to be bigger. This new file type could make that possible.

Adam Ottke's picture

You're right. The raw files are impressive. But even then, I still notice the file falling apart after any zooming in on-screen whatsoever. But who knows? For now, I'm okay with using a third-party app that gives me more controls for that anyway. And I guess I just wouldn't expect apple to put all that into its stock camera app. Maybe a neat pro-interface setting a-la-Apple would be a nice option to turn on, however. Fingers crossed for the future...

Lane Shurtleff's picture

HAHA Apple always late to the party. Too little too late.

How so?

Lane Shurtleff's picture

All these so called "upgrades" have been available on Android or Windows phones for years. Apple has lost its way without a dictator (Jobs) forcing cell providers to cater to what they need to really push the limits. Remember back in 2006 or so when Verizion said no to supporting the first iPhone? They didn't have the data infrastructure to support the phone. So Jobs goes to AT&T knowing they couldn't either. But ATT&T knew they could rake in the money while slowly building the data support needed for the phone, and consequential the entire smartphone market.

I haven't delved into everything new about the new iPhones but Apple has introduced features before not available on other phones, such as force touch.

I agree that they are not the company they used to be with Steve Jobs.

Michael Kormos's picture

If you're referring to Samsung's version of "facial recognition", I assure you - it's a joke. Competing brands are eager to rush half-baked features out the door as means of distinguishing themselves. Unfortunately, they're exactly that - poorly thought out and implemented.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

Amen, but let the fandriod have his hissyfit.

Darren Nana's picture

It's not really about being a Fanboy of either platform. The fact is that most of the tech has been available outside of the Apple prison/eco system for some time. Apple just market it in a different way. That is not to say that there aren't a few minor new things though. I have had an iPhone BTW for years but just dumped it a few days ago for Android.

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

"Outside the prison/eco system for some time. Apple just market it in a different way."

mar·ket ˈmärkət/
verb
1.
advertise or promote (something) and design it to be way better than the rest of the market.

See also:

Doesn't rush predictive tech/products to be first to market.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

Even Apples version of facial recognition is flawed and can easily be circumvented. There a tons of articles on tech blogs describing how simple it is to fool it. It's just another stupid attempt to let Crapple fanboys think they have "the latest and greatest" device in their own flawed little bubble.

Adam Ottke's picture

I'm not sure this has been true, proven, or even tried yet. Face ID, the way Apple does it, hasn't had a chance to be tested. And so far, they say it'll be 20 times more secure. Obviously, they don't/didn't want to have an non-secure system that could be easily fooled and went out of their way and spent extra time to ensure it couldn't be. But we won't really know until the tests are done and people have it in their hands.