By Akshay Asija
Apple has been making iPhones for over a decade now, which is an eternity in the realm of consumer technology. The technology landscape has changed completely since 2007, with smartphones having become the dominant computing platform globally, and with high-speed cellular internet being a necessity and not a luxury. Compared to the speed of the progress in the past decade, the evolution of the iPhone’s design is a really slow one. If someone from 2007, who had seen the original iPhone were to look at the iPhone 8 today, they would recognise it instantly. And that is the iPhone 8 in a nutshell: more of the same, but a little better. Apple knows this and even acknowledges it with the upcoming iPhone X. The iPhone X is what smartphones of the future will look like, at least according to Apple, and that is where their focus lies.
Specifications of the new iPhone
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are the fourth iterations of the somewhat disliked design Apple debuted with the iPhone 6, back in 2014 – big devices with bigger displays than previous, 2012 era iPhones, and large top and bottom bezels.Like all iPhones before it, the iPhone 8 comes with a Retina HD display. It is, however, an accurate display in terms of colour reproduction, and with this year’s addition of True Tone (a technology that changes the display temperature based on ambient lighting), it is the best iPhone display ever—until the iPhone X arrives next month. The battery life is approximately the same as iPhone 7, which is to say, acceptable, but not much.
Improvements in the new iPhone
Indeed, the only noticeable improvements in this year’s model, compared to the iPhone 7, are in the overall performance of the device, and the camera. Apple’s Ax CPUs have for long had a huge lead over competing mobile processors, and this year is no different. The six core A11 Bionic CPU, coupled with the first Apple-designed mobile GPU, all make the iPhone lightning fast. Early benchmarks suggest that the iPhone 8 is faster than the A10X Fusion chip in the new iPad Pro and even the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro. The improvements in the camera are where it becomes apparent that Apple is playing catch up with its competitors—photos taken with the iPhone 8 have more saturated colours compared to previous models and taking a leaf from the Google Pixel’s playbook, the iPhone camera has High Dynamic Range (HDR) always on by default. The Plus model, with dual cameras, can now click Portrait photos in different lighting modes—Standard, Studio, Contour and Stage Light.
The iPhone X
The iPhone X is what Apple’s launch event was all about, and it is the biggest change Apple has ever made to its flagship product. This thousand dollar iPhone completely eclipsed the iPhone 8’s launch. Despite the fact that the iPhone X shares much of its internal hardware with the iPhone 8, it is hard to believe that Apple unveiled the two products in the same year, let alone the same event. The difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 is not in their speed and performance, which should mostly be the same, but in terms of look and feel, the design, and how the user interacts with the device.
The iPhone 8 follows the same interaction model as iPhones have for years—Apps can be accessed from the icon grid on the home screen, while the Home button (in which the Touch ID fingerprint scanner is also embedded) is used to direct the users back to the home screen from any app they have open. Double tapping the Home button allows users to multi-task by taking them to the app switcher while pressing it for long triggers Siri, Apple’s digital assistant that is falling dangerously behind the competition.
Specifications of the iPhone X
The iPhone X brings quite a few changes to the table, which might involve some getting used to, especially by people who have been iPhone users for a long time. As far as the appearance is concerned, the iPhone X has gotten rid of the top and bottom bezels, which were points of criticism about the iPhone’s stagnating design. In doing so, Apple has removed the trusted Touch ID from the iPhone, replacing it with an Infrared based facial recognition sensor called Face ID. The 5.8” display on the iPhone X is thus, larger than that on both the iPhone 8 (4.7”) and the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5”), despite being obstructed at the top. It is also an OLED display, which is based on a technology that allows for richer colours and better contrasts. The changes in the design have also resulted in changes in the way the iPhone is used, with Apple opting for a more gesture-based interaction model. Apple, like always, is proud of the design decisions it has made, and to that end, even instructs developers to design their apps around the notch at the top, rather than ignoring it; a move that many find questionable.
The dual rear cameras of the X are mainly identical to those on the iPhones 8, except that both of those are equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), which helps shoot less shaky video. The iPhone X represents an inflexion point for phone cameras through—a point where the front camera becomes just as important to the overall user experience as the rear one. The front-facing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X is the heart of Face ID, allowing the phone to be unlocked by just looking at it. It even can be used to authenticate Apple Pay transactions and takes into account changes in appearance over time. It also allows users to create animated emojis that take the same form as their faces. Apple says that Face ID is much more secure compared to Touch ID, but some might find sacrificing the convenience of the latter to the former’s security inconvenient. It remains to be seen how successful Face ID will be in the real world. Biometric authentication on phones is a relatively new technique, and with different kinds of systems being developed from time to time (such as a recent technique that involves a heart-based authentication), only time will tell which parts of our body serve as the best passcodes for our smartphones. Whatever be the case, Apple has proven that the iPhone will be the harbinger of such a technology, in spite of the hiccups along the way.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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