CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple unveiled three new additions to its smartphone lineup Tuesday, including a $999 premium version — a phone that hints at where Apple plans to take the iPhone into its next decade.
“Apple laid out a very competitive set of products as it celebrated the iPhone's 10th anniversary,” said Geoff Blaber, research vice president at CCS Insights. ‘The key question now is how much it will prioritize software and services as the engine of future growth," he said, adding that that could help reinforce Apple's successful hardware business.
While Apple took time to celebrate the iPhone’s history and its late co-founder Steve Jobs, it also made clear that it’s forging a new path ahead. For example, Apple skipped the iPhone 7s name altogether — signaling a cleaner break from the last generation of phones.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have glass backs, with an aluminum trim that comes in black, gray and gold. The new devices are speedier with better cameras and improved battery efficiency. The phones will also accommodate wireless charging, a feature available on competing phones. Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller said Apple and others will make charging pad which will appear at partner coffee shops and retail stores, and in some new cars.
Apple is bumping up the base storage of the iPhone 8 to 64 GB at a price of $699. The larger iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799. Both will be available for order on Sept. 15 and ship on Sept. 22.
Yet while Apple touted the features of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, it was the iPhone X that stole the show. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that the iPhone X — a name spoken as the “iPhone 10”— will “set the path for technology for the next decade.”
The iPhone X will start at $999 — considerably more than the base price of the other models. It will be available for pre-order on Oct. 27th, and ship on Nov. 3.
The iPhone X has an advanced array of cameras for facial recognition, which allows the phone to become unlocked just by looking at it. The cameras can learn a user's face and note gradual changes. And it can be used at night or day.
But Apple promised that it would not collect the data on all of those faces. The information would only be kept on the smartphone, not sent to Apple servers.
The facial recognition technology has other applications, as well. Apple introduced "animoji" — animated emoji that imitates your facial movements and lets you record animated messages through texts.
The new high-end smartphone has a 5.8 inch display that covers the entire surface of the phone. Unlike its cheaper sibling, the iPhone 10 comes in space grey and silver and sports a "super" retina display, which Schiller said was much sharper than any other iPhone because it uses OLED display technology.
Notably, there also is no home button. Users must swipe and use gestures to close an app. Calling up Siri can now be done with a new side button.
The iPhone X boasts updated cameras as well, and the battery life is two hours longer than the iPhone 7.
Like the new iPhone 8, the iPhone X can be charged wirelessly.
Overall, while analysts said this doesn’t feel as significant as the first iPhone, Apple did enough to prove it’s headed in the right direction. “The iPhone X will not disrupt the smartphone market the way the initial iPhone revolutionized mobile and many other industries,” said Thomas Husson, vice president and analyst at Forrester. “However, coupled with iOS 11 innovations, it will reinforce consumers’ and brands’ loyalty to the Apple ecosystem as well as illustrate the evolving role of smartphones in an increasingly connected world.”
Apple announced other upgrades and new additions to its products line.
The new Watch, called the Series 3, will have its own cellular connectivity, said Apple’s chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, who is also in charge of Apple’s Watch division. The Watch will be able to receive calls — using your iPhone’s number — and can support apps including Maps and WeChat. The new Apple Watch will also be compatible with Apple Music, meaning you can use it as a music player on its own.
The Watch will have up to 18 hours of battery life across LTE, Bluetooth and WiFi. Starting Sept. 22, the cellular version of the Watch will go on sale for $399. Without cellular connection, it will cost $329. The Series 1 Apple Watch’s price will drop to $249.
Apple is also making a big push to create its own shows and shore up its position in the living room. The Apple set-top box, Apple TV, is now going to support 4K HDR video the company said. The company is also adding live news and live sports sections to the Apple TV app.
The box itself is getting faster processors. The company showed how it could connect eight people online and have them play a video game together.
Versions of films and shows filmed in 4K will cost the same as HD videos on Apple’s iTunes store. The new Apple TV 4K will go on sale Sept. 15 and ship Sept. 22. It will cost $179. While 4K adoption has been slow to get started, analysts say it's beginning to reach a tipping point.
Apple's stock fell as much as 2.5 percent during the event before closing down by just 0.40 percent to $160.86.