After a year of speculation, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) finally unveiled its iPhone X.
In this Industry Focus: Tech podcast segment, host Dylan Lewis and senior tech specialist Evan Niu dive into what we know about the phone so far and how it's different from all the previous iPhones in Apple's line. Listen to this clip to find out what exciting new and almost futuristic features the X will have, some of the coolest new hardware changes Apple is making to the model, how much the phone is going to cost, when people will be able to order them and when they'll start shipping out, and more.
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A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Sept. 15, 2017.
Dylan Lewis: Why don't we start talking about the iPhone X?
Evan Niu: The main event.
Lewis: The main event. This is a totally new form factor. There's no home bezel on the screen, edge to edge display, glass front and back. I think they delivered a pretty cool device.
Niu: I think it looks pretty great. One of the things, if you looked at the Samsung Galaxy S8 earlier this year, one of the big things was, that screen looks awesome because it's edge to edge, has rounded corners, and it looks like a really nice display. And the reviews also reflected that, too. Everyone just loved that device. And it really put a lot of pressure that Apple needs to make the same move this year. Again, they've used this same iPhone design for, this will be the fourth year running. And people are used to it, it's getting kind of old. They need it to spice things up with a really impressive display, and I think they really delivered.
Lewis: And cosmetically, the phone looks quite a bit different, but I think once you start looking at some of the things under the hood that are powering the phone, that's where it starts to get really impressive.
Niu: Yeah. That new A11 bionic chip in particular looks like a beast. It's incredible, what Apple has done over the past seven years on their semiconductor team. These chips are basically comparable to low-end Intel chips that power MacBook Airs, and that's in a phone that you carry around in your pocket, and it's all custom-made by Apple. And for the first time ever, they're now making their own GPU, which we basically saw coming because they told their previous GPU supplier, Imagination Technologies, earlier this year that they would be ditching them. They had this little public spat, and Apple actually said that they told Imagination in 2015 that they were going to stop using their stuff, and Imagination doesn't think Apple can do it. But here we are, Apple has unveiled their first graphics processing unit embedded into the chip itself, and it looks like performance is going to be great. I'm sure there's going to be litigation because Imagination is going to dig into this thing and try to look for their IP, hoping to sue Apple or something. But Apple knows what it's doing, so I think they're probably going to be OK.
Lewis: You talked about all the various components that are in here, and how high-performance they are, I think that's something that can be kind of lost on a lot of the average consumers. Where you do see it on the user experience side is with all of the really interesting AI stuff and machine learning stuff that's going to be super visible for users of the new iPhones.
Niu: Yeah. The big feature on the iPhone X is the facial recognition and the 3D sensing, which they are calling the TrueDepth camera system. But, yeah, the amount of processing that's going to have to go into that to be able to recognize your face under various different conditions, they talked about how if you get a haircut, you grow a beard, you put a hat on, it'll still recognize you, and that's really all being driven by this neural engine that's inside the chip that can handle its type of special processing with AI.
Lewis: And that face ID system that they're going to be using, that's really the new touch ID for them. They are looking to move beyond that, because they think it's a more secure way for people to use their phones. I think they're also developing so much technology that will piggyback on to that getting people used to it is probably a good thing. But, it was pretty darn cool to see the demos of how the spot laser that basically shoots 30,000 dots on to your face, recognizes your face, kicks that all back into that A11 chip and unlocks your phone, actually works. Listeners, if you haven't watched any of the demos from the Apple announcement, I highly recommend checking them out.
Niu: To dig into that topic a little bit further, what's really going on here is Apple is using these small devices called vertical cavity service emitting lasers, which is kind of a mouthful.
Lewis: Say that five times fast.
Niu: Or VCSEL. So, they have these VCSEL arrays, which are basically tiny little lasers, you put a ton of them all next to each other and it becomes an array, and that's the dot projector that Apple was talking about. These lasers can be tuned across a wide range of wavelengths. In this case, they're using IR, infrared wavelengths, making everything invisible to the human eye. The way that these projectors work is, they shoot this pattern of dots out, and obviously, if you were shooting the pattern of dots onto a flat surface, you know it's going to be exactly what you expect. What it does,it analyzes the deformations in the pattern as they appear on your face to determine the depth. There's the projectors on one side, and they have the infrared cameras on the other side to look at this pattern from a different angle, and that's how this whole system works. The Flood illuminator basically shots a large IR Flood so that the system can see in the dark.
Lewis: Which is absolutely incredible. It's definitely next age technology. It's something that gets you pretty excited about getting this device. Looking at the dates, though, no one is going to be owning this anytime soon. They won't be available for order until Oct. 26th, and they'll actually start shipping Nov.3rd. Do you think a lot of people are going to be willing to pony up the just under $1,000 for the 64 gig phone, Evan?
Niu: I think that they will. If there's anything we know about Apple, it's that people always want the latest and greatest one, and they're willing to pay because Apple has incredible pricing power. And, people are also willing to wait. I don't think the iPhone 8 is very impressive. I think the iPhone X looks great. So, I think a lot of people are going to forgo the 8 in favor of the 10, even though the 8 is going to be cheaper and will be available faster.