The iPhone 8 and iPhone X have arrived: here’s what you need to know  // Update 21 September 2017 II
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The iPhone 8 and iPhone X have arrived: here’s what you need to know // Update 21 September 2017 II

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 12.09.2017
Responsible for translation: Eva Francis
A few minutes ago, Apple unveiled its three new iPhones at a press conference. Was the hype justified? Is the iPhone 8 just an upgrade rather than an innovative new device? You might be asking these and a whole host of other questions. The good news is, I now have the answers.

First things first: Rumour has it that Switzerland won’t be included in the first wave. In other words, Apple wouldn’t be prioritising deliveries to Switzerland. When we heard about that in-house, our product management team saw it as a challenge. We’re doing our best to make sure you have the new iPhone in your handbag or trouser pocket as quickly as possible. Watch this space.

The new devices were unveiled in a presentation streamed live from the Steve Jobs theatre. But of course, Apple didn’t use Google Chrome, as they’re still at loggerheads with their competitor. So instead, I had to use Microsoft Edge – argh!

Apple paid homage to its founder with the new theatre building that will only be used to show off new Apple products to the world. The live stream opened with Tim Cook on the stage. After the death of Steve Jobs, he was the one who took over as CEO. Tim began with a tribute to the Apple co-founder: «We can now reflect on him with joy, instead of sadness.» He continued by saying that the new Apple campus and theater aren’t just good for the environment but also creativity. Where there once was a concrete jungle, there are now over 9,000 trees.

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The Apple campus site is now home to over 9,000 trees. 9,000?

It goes without saying that there is also an Apple store on site. This isn’t your traditional kind of shop, though. As well as being a place where you can buy devices, it’s also a space for learning more about them – before hopefully whipping out your wallet and buying one. Because let’s face it, that’s what the business is all about. The presentation was laid on a bit thick, as at the end of the day, they’re only here to sell a mobile phone, a computer or a watch. However, they’ve worked with member of the Wu-Tang Clan The RZA and done other collaborations in the name of creative entertainment, which is really cool.

Three new iPhones

iPhone 8 is the spitting image of its predecessor. Even though the device features a whole host of innovations hardware-wise, it is still disappointing. One visibly new aspect is that the device is now made of glass and comes in gold, black and white. And now after years of talking about it, the phone finally boasts wireless charging.

iPhone 8 (64GB, Space Gray, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
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Apple iPhone 8 (64GB, Space Gray, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
iPhone 8 (64GB, Silver, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
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Apple iPhone 8 (64GB, Silver, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
iPhone 8 (64GB, Gold, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
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Apple iPhone 8 (64GB, Gold, 4.70", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Space Gray, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
599.–
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Space Gray, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Silver, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
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Apple iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Silver, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Gold, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)
599.–
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (64GB, Gold, 5.50", Single SIM, 12Mpx)

Apple seems to know what we’ll be thinking, as they only show a short clip of what the phone will look like. The Plus model comes with a dual camera and the normal models feature a single cam. The iPhone 8 features the A11 Bionic processor as well as improved speakers. According to Apple, the processor is the fastest chip ever, with its six cores, four of which are high performance. The performance controller is also supposed to deliver 70% faster multithreading. It’s all sounding good to me so far.

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Breaking news: the new iPhone 8 looks like any other iPhone

This is the first time Apple has custom-built its own GPU, which has been optimised for Apple Metal 2 framework. The single camera delivers 12 megapixels and a wide range of colours. It also has a new sensor and filter. Those improvements should help boost video quality. Both of the iPhone 8 Plus cameras offer 12 megapixel and different apertures, such as 1.4 and 2.8. This means portrait mode, also known as the mode with shallow depth of field, has been improved. The cameras can also provide professional exposure for portraits – only in a virtual capacity, of course. Thanks to machine learning, the images are analysed and exposed in real time. You can even digitally enhance the photographs afterwards.

At this point, Melanie turned and gave me a cynical look, exclaiming «What do they think Instagram filters are for?»

The new iPhone is capable of shooting slow motion videos at 240 frames per second (fps) as well as 4k at 60 fps. The iPhone 8 is designed for augmented reality. For the AT fans out there, I recommend the game Warhammer 40,000. The Imperium of Man can finally smash the tau or the necrons in Migros carpark. Come on, ultramarines!

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Ultramarines. Coming to a Swiss city centre near you

There’s bad news for fans of 128 GB models. The iPhone 8 will only be available with 64 GB or 256 GB.

The new Apple Watch

The new Apple Watch Series 3 finally comes with no phone in sight. But it still features an e-SIM so you’re permanently connected. Your mobile phone number is now going to be the same one people use to reach you on your watch. Do you think we’ll go around calling it a watch number? The purpose is to let you take calls when your iPhone isn’t nearby. Even if the technology is flawless – which is to be expected as it’s a new Apple Watch – we were wondering if Swisscom and all the other providers will support this service. Based on what I’ve heard from other people, having two SIM cards is rather unusual in Switzerland. At least there is also an e-SIM-free model.

WeChat is also supposed to work independently of the phone. As ever, Apple is showing a great interest in the Chinese market. They also seem intent on conquering the messaging app market in a similar they did with the music segment thanks to Apple Music.

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The new Apple Watch

The concept of the Apple Watch is fast growing in popularity. «Apple is the number one watch in the world,» said Tim Cook. Their smartwatch has even pushed Rolex off the top spot.

But the people at Apple weren’t happy to rest on their laurels. Instead they went ahead and created innovative features for the new Apple Watch. This included a much improved heart rate monitor and an overhauled fitness app. The watch now lets you see your resting heart rate. It collects data from the accelerometer and the pulse monitor to work out how fast your heart beats at rest. «That’s pretty cool,» remarked our smartwatch tester Melanie Anna Lee, who is watching the live stream with me. Heart rate is one of the key features of the analysis. «Checking how fast your heart rate returns to normal after exercise is a good indicator of your fitness level.» This is especially useful for endurance athletes. The app also provides improved features for swimmers.

Beware: Data protection specialists are warning that Apple will collect heart rate details from all watches so it can analyse big data from all Apple Watch users.

All of these updates are great, but we’re ready for the juicy details about the watch itself.

  • The Apple Watch Series 3 features a dual core processor
  • It’s compatible with Siri
  • There are new bands, including a light elastic one
  • Nike Plus Run Club has been updated
  • Two extra colour options have been added to the Apple Watch range: ceramic and grey
  • Apple Music will now be available on the Apple Watch, giving you a choice of 40 million songs to stream.

    During the presentation, we realised Apple was sticking to its guns about keeping shtum on figures. We just got details like «70% faster» or «it’s 50% more durable». But without concrete figures on processor speed and battery size, these percentages aren’t much use. What is impressive, though, is that in spite of all the new features, the new watch is the same size as the old one.

    «Wow, he managed to put on that watch quickly,» said Melanie. She wondered if Apple had improved the mechanism on the band. During the phone call demo with Apple’s own Deirdre on her stand up paddle board, Melanie noticed the sound quality didn’t alter when the Apple employee moved her mouth away from the watch in order to paddle. I was grateful to have the smartwatch tester by my side when the speaker on the stage promised the watch was water-resistant. Melanie piped up: «It only says swimproof. It doesn’t mention waterpoof or give a specific depth». She reckons the Apple Watch will be more up for paddling than plunging.

Apple TV finally gets 4K

4K was highly anticipated by Apple TV users and it’s finally here. The new TV lets you stream in 4K. This would be impressive had a leak a few days ago not mentioned: «You need a really fast internet connection for 4K». In fact you’ll require 15 mbps. That shouldn’t be a problem in Switzerland. The slowest Internet package from the provider UPC Cablecom is 50 mbps, while the slowest Swisscom provide is 40 mbps. If you’re an Init7 customer or have a contract with another fibre optic Internet provider, you don’t need to worry. All in all, it looks like 4K will be all plain sailing in Switzerland. The only exceptions might be remote hamlets, such as Eschlen in Rorschacherberg on Lake Constance.

As well as 4K technology, Apple TV will also deliver high dynamic range (HDR). This means higher resolution as well as richer colours. Apple overhauled its screen savers so customers can enjoy the 4K HDR experience even if they’re not watching the latest films or TV series. «That’s as long as the TV doesn’t play up,» says Melanie, whose job involves tuning TVs in the Zurich shop showroom to make sure the image quality is up to par. From a technology point of view, the device comes with an A10X Fusion processor. This is another part of the presentation where they fail to give reliable or meaningful data.

However, it was revealed that upcoming live events will be listed separately with live scores of each game. Sport fans will be getting their money’s worth. The fifth generation Apple TV is also set to come with games.

One more thing

As Tim Cook neared the end of the presentation, he tried to build tension by telling us there was «one more thing». Something new. It would be the future of smartphones. And it was fitting that he could unveil it on the iPhone’s tenth anniversary in the Steve Jobs Theater.

He was obviously talking about the iPhone X. The X stands for the number 10, as in OSX, which is incidentally now known as macO.

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Yup, the hype was justified.

The iPhone X seems almost edgeless. The cameras are now positioned vertically rather than horizontally. It’s a quantum leap as far as design technology goes and it looks really interesting. This is exactly what the tech scene has been waiting for. The front and back are made of glass, while the edge is stainless steel, of the clinical sort they use in hospitals. It’s waterproof, dustproof and comes in black as well as white. The iPhone X features a super retina display, a 5.8 inch screen, 2436 x 1125-pixel resolution and a pixel density of 458 ppi as well as an OLED display. That translates into high contrast, high resolution and a slimmer model.

With the Home button gone, Apple had to come up with a new way to lock the phone. The iPhone X relies on face unlock. Apple’s version is called Face ID. If the leaks from 11 September are to be believed, these are all the aspects the unlocking system will use.

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This is how Face ID is rumoured to work

Face ID doesn’t just need the camera, it also uses infrared light to project more than 40,000 (invisible!) dots onto your face. These are then read by the infrared and normal cameras. Face ID is supposed to work irrespective of minor changes, such as if you’re wearing glasses or hat or not and if you have a beard at the time or not.

It is reportedly impossible to trick the system. Apple even trained it using professionally made masks and photographs to make sure it only worked on real faces. Just like fingerprint technology, Face ID will save the scan in a secure location on your phone. This is important because you’ll be able to unlock Apple Pay with your face. You can also this technology to animate emojis. Melanie seemed to be pleased about that. «I’ll be able to animate the poo emoji and finally tell people what I think of them,» she laughed. The animations were impressive, as the Face ID system identifies a lot of points.

All of the Home button functions have been replaced by a swipe up with or without a short pause. There is a separate button on the side for Siri.

If there’s one word they keep using in this presentation to describe the iPhone X it’s «incredible». According to the specs on the screen, the cameras are as good as those on the iPhone 8 Plus. The only difference is they’re faster. There is also a dual cam built in the front. This gives you the same options as the iPhone 8 cameras, including shallow depth of field, neural network portrait mode. It’s all rather impressive.

As with the iPhone 8, the iPhone X is available with 64 GB and 256 GB storage options.

Other news in brief

  • The AirPods are getting an update. You’ll now be able to check the charging progress on the outside of the little case, which looks like a dental floss container.
  • You’ll also be able to charge AirPods wirelessly.
  • A new charging pad called AirPower will let you charge several devices at once.
  • The first accessory manufacturers have already announced covers and cases. This includes ITSkins, who have already unveiled their protective cases.
RP-PC058 Wireless Charger (Quick Charge 3.0, Fast Charge, 10W)
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RAVPower RP-PC058 Wireless Charger (Quick Charge 3.0, Fast Charge, 10W)

Update 14 September 2017 // 8.19am

An anonymous reader in the comments brought it to my attention that the Swiss Apple Store is listing the new Apple Watch as waterproof to 50 metres. Thanks for letting me know, anonymous.

Update 21 September 2017 // 10.00am

According to Apple, the Watch Series 3 models officially go on sale on 22 September 2017. However, deliveries will be slightly delayed. We’ve just heard from our suppliers that they haven’t received their order of Apple Watches yet. We’ll keep you up to date.

Update 21 September 2017 // // 4:55pm

Yippee! The Apple Watches will be on their way to us starting tomorrow. Pre-orders will be delivered by Saturday or Monday.

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Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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