Love or hate Apple, it is irrefutable that they have been exceptionally successful in bringing technology into the mainstream, and making people excited about smartphones.
Every year, we are treated to a couple of big events that then dominate the media as everyone scrambles to discover what the next big thing will be.
These are the hardware announcements that Apple made this year.
Apple TV 4K
Apple have been playing around on the fringes of TV since 2006 with the launch of the first Apple TV. Described as a hobby, it wasn’t until 2010 that it started to take a serious interest in the TV, creating a streaming box running a modified version of iOS. In 2015, Tim Cook took the stage proclaiming that “The future of TV is apps” – launching with it a new version of the Apple TV… that promptly proved that TV hasn’t yet been cracked. It since fell behind competitors.
Apple have rectified that with the Apple TV 4K. Running the same A10X chip that powers the iPad Pro, and 3GB RAM, the new hardware will run native 4K as well as support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, which can both impact the quality of the image more than the resolution.
While these hardware updates really only put Apple back on the same page as everyone else, it is their deals with studios that set them apart. The big announcement for the new Apple TV is that they will be selling 4K content at the same price as HD content ($20 in the US), and any compatible content that you previously purchased in HD will be upgraded to 4K for free. That is a huge offering, and really the only one that makes the new TV compelling.
Amazon Prime TV and Netflix will support 4K streaming at launch, and other providers will follow suit.
The Apple TV 4K comes in both 32GB and 64GB models, and will be priced at £179 and £199 respectively. It is available to order on 15th September.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch Series 3 now comes with a cellular option, meaning you will no longer be tied to an iPhone to make calls, stream music or send iMessages. Apple have done some clever engineering to ensure the watch stays essentially the same size as its predecessor.
It is powered by a new W2 chip which will improve bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, as well as improve battery life. Apple are saying the watch should be good for 18 hours. The dual-core processor is said to be 70% faster, which will now allow Siri to talk back to you.
It comes in gold, silver or space gray, and new bands are being launched alongside it, including an updated woven nylon. The cellular version has a red digital crown.
The Apple Watch Series 3 will be available to order on 15th September, and starts at £329 for a non-cellular version.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
With the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple decided to jump the usual tick-tock S naming convention, but the hardware is still an S in everything but name.
The aluminium back has been replaced with glass, which means that the iPhone now supports wireless charging via Qi, which is a nice addition for anyone who previously owned a smartphone that supports the inductive wireless charging standard.
The display has been upgraded to support True Tone – the same as the iPad Pro – which means it adjusts the screen depending on the ambient lighting of the room to provide more accurate colour representation.
Inside it is powered by Apple’s latest silicone, the A11 Bionic. The six-core chip has two performance cores that are 25% faster than the A10, and four which are 70% faster. The new GPU can deliver the same performance as the old model with half the power consumption, and is otherwise 30% faster.
The cameras have also been improved, with the smaller of the two phones getting an upgraded sensor and optical image stabilization. The iPhone 8 Plus also has new sensors for its dual camera setup, which allows for a new “Portrait Lighting” feature that can adjust lighting for shots. Video recording has improved too, with support for 4K/60fps and slow motion shooting at 1080p/240fps.
And no, they don’t have headphone jacks.
Preorders start 15th September and start at £699 for the iPhone 8, and £799 for the iPhone 8 Plus.
Firstly: it’s pronounced iPhone 10.
With that out of the way, welcome to the future of the iPhone, and if you believe Apple, the future of the smartphone. As we expected from the extensive leaks, Apple have done away with the TouchID button and gone for an edge-to-edge display which comes in at 5.8-inches. It’s an OLED panel with a 2436 x 1125 resolution and support for both forms of HDR. Apple call it the Super Retina display.
In lieu of a home button, you now unlock the device using FaceID, a biometric system that creates a 3D map of your face to unlock the device. It uses an IR system that fires 30,000 IR dots onto your face to identify whether or not it’s you, and Apple says it is more secure than Touch ID. They even went as far as to design a neural engine to process face recognition in real time. This new Face ID will be used to unlock the device and authorise payments via Apple Pay.
The new facial recognition feature also allowed Apple to create ‘Animoji’ – animated emoji that track your face. You can record little videos using various emoji including the chicken, panda or poo, and then send that to your loved ones via iMessage. It’s a cute idea, but hardly a headline feature.
The dual camera setup on the back is improved over the iPhone 8 as well. Both lenses have optical image stabilization, and there is a quad-LED True Tone Flash. The telephoto lens also has a slightly lower aperture than the lens on the iPhone 8 Plus.
It otherwise has the same A11 Bionic chip that powers the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and also supports wireless charging.
Preorders start on 27th October, and prices start from £999.
- Larger Apple stores are now to be called Town Squares, because apparently they are gathering places…
- These Town Halls will include plaza’s, and boardrooms for entrepreneurs
- Although touting the iPhone as the first phone built for Augmented Reality (as apparently the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro never happened…) they kept expectations at bay and didn’t promise the world with the new technology
- The price of the iPad Pro stealthily went up by £50, despite not being updated
- MacOS High Sierra will launch on September 25th
- The first Face ID demo failed
- Apple claims that the Apple Watch is now the number one watch in the world – although it is not clear what metric they are using, and did not qualify that with sale figures
The Verge created a highlights video of the big announcements which is embedded below. To read the liveblog Tom did, follow this link.