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Apple iPhone X preview: iPhone 10 has edge-to-edge display, prohibitively expensive, face unlocking

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Apple iPhone X preview – It might be uncharitable to say it, but I’m glad that’s all over. The iPhone X is at last official – alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and despite all the secrecy and speculation, it’s much as everyone expected it to be.

The iPhone X has a screen that occupies nearly the entirety of the phone’s frontage, it has an improved dual camera (now arranged vertically instead of horizontally) with better portrait features than before – and the price? Well, let’s just say that it’s going to be the most expensive smartphone on the market.

If you’re not already foaming at the mouth at that $999 starting price (which translates to £999), you might also be interested to discover that the iPhone X represents the start of a new era for Apple smartphones: it’s the first iPhone to have an OLED display, the one with the biggest screen (5.8in) and that it dumps the home button and fingerprint reader in favour of Face ID.

iPhone X preview: Key specifications and release date

  • 5.8in 2,046 x 1,125 OLED display with 458ppi
  • 64-bit 6-core Apple A11 Bionic processor
  • 64GB and 256GB storage
  • Dual 12MP rear-camera f/2.4 and f/1.8 with OIS
  • 7MP front-facing camera
  • Wireless charging
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Available in Space Grey and Silver
  • Price: $999 / £999
  • Pre-orders: 27 October 2017
  • Available: 3 November 2017

iPhone X preview: Design, key features and first impressions

Even before you lay your eyes on the iPhone X’s OLED screen, however, it’s clear that this is the model Apple lavished the most attention on. It might have a larger 5.8in screen than anything we’ve seen on an iPhone before, but it’s considerably smaller and lighter than the 5.5in design that Apple has been using for the past three years.

With Apple’s rival Samsung squeezing its 5.7in Galaxy S8 into a handset much smaller and lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus, it’s been a long time coming and even from a distance it looks fantastic, with the glossy glass rear of the iPhone 4 and 4s making a comeback and the vertically arranged dual-camera adding a dash of something different as well.

In fact, as Victoria Woollaston put it in her hands-on piece for our sister site, Alphr.com: “At first glance, and feel, the iPhone X doesn’t feel like an iPhone at all, and that’s not a criticism. It feels luxurious, sturdy and expensive,” and the glass panelling, “makes a vast difference to how expensive the phone feels. It doesn’t feel as cold as the metal handsets of yore and there’s something reassuring about how its warmth adds to how attached you feel to it, even after a couple of minutes of use.”

Available in Space Grey and Silver colours – an all-glass rear – the iPhone X is a stunner and, in the metal, it retains that allure. It’s available in two storage options, 64GB and 256GB.

Apple has been hard at work, it appears, as have the software designers and hardware integrators, but the big consequence of all this work is that there’s no longer any room for a home button on the front of the iPhone X nor, surprisingly, a fingerprint reader. Instead, Apple is moving to a new biometric approach, with Face ID the primary means of unlocking the phone.

Face ID works by projecting infrared dots onto your face – 30,000 of them, in fact – and producing a 3D model of your face that it stores internally. And Apple claims the likelihood of someone who’s not you unlocking your phone using the new system is 1 in 1,000,000, making it more secure than Touch ID.

Assuming this works well for everyone, (including glasses wearers, and beardies like myself), you’ll now only need to look at your phone and then swipe up to get into it, although sticklers for tradition can use a PIN if they really want to. There’s no other way of unlocking the new iPhone X.

That’s all well and good, but it’s the display that really captures the attention with the iPhone X. With a resolution of 2,046 x 1,125 and a pixel density of 458ppi, it’s quite possible the best iPhone display ever made, especially with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support and True Tone added to the mix. We’ll have to reserve final judgement until we’re able to clap our colorimeter onto its glossy surface, but if you’ve ever coveted a friend’s Samsung Galaxy phone, you’re in for a treat.

The iPhone X follows on from the iPhone 7 and 8 with the omission of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Inside, you’ll find an Apple A11 Bionic processor. This is a 64-bit hexa-core chip that, if Apple’s previous record is anything to go by, will power through anything you throw at it. We can’t wait to get our hands on it to benchmark it against the iPhone 7, to see how things have progressed since last year’s model.

A new dual 12-megapixel rear-camera features at the back of the iPhone X. These have an aperture of f/2.4 for the telephoto and f/1.8 for the wide angle camera with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on both. A front-facing 7-megapixel camera is your go-to for selfies and unlocking your shiny new iPhone X and this makes use of the technology used for Face ID to produce portrait images with blurred backgrounds, just the those the rear-facing dual camera can produce.

The other big new feature for the iPhone X is the same Qi wireless charging as featured on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. This is a widespread standard – the same used in some Ikea furniture and most existing wireless charging pads – so, for once, you won’t have to spend extra on an Apple accessory.

And, elsewhere, Apple isn’t letting up on the software front, either, with the Face ID camera employed to deliver the new Animoji (which are Emojis responding to your facial expressions in real-time), and peer-to-peer Apply Pay on the way.

Just like the iPhone 7, the new iPhone X is water- and dust-resistant.

iPhone X preview: Early verdict

The iPhone X moves things on at last in terms of design, at last, drawing level with Samsung in terms of pure aesthetics, introducing what looks like a genuinely innovative means of accurately recognising faces and finally introducing wireless charging after years of shunning the technology. Unfortunately, it will be the price that takes all the headlines for Apple’s groundbreaking handset.

With prices starting at an eye-watering £999 for the 64GB version and a frankly silly price of £1,149 for the top spec 256GB phone, Apple’s celebratory smartphone will be out of reach for most; it’s even more pricey than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which is £869.

Still, if you’re not feeling rich, at least there’s the iPhone 8 (£699) and Samsung’s equally sexy Galaxy S8, which these days retails for a far more reasonable £550.

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