Tuesday, September 12, 2017
NEW IPHONE: APPLE SKIPS 7s, LAUNCHES MODEL 8 - VALENTINA PALLADINO
At the first event held in the new Steve Jobs Theater on its new campus, Apple announced the new iPhone 8 handset today. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, and Apple celebrated by doing something very uncharacteristic: skipping the “S” iteration of the iPhone 7 and pushing full-steam ahead with the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models.
The iPhone 8’s design is based on the iPhone 7 in that it doesn’t look incredibly different from Apple’s previous handsets. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are similar in size to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but they have new glass fronts and backs that nod to the glass construction of the iPhone 4. Both models are made with aerospace-grade aluminum, and the glass is reinforced by steel. Each model has a Retina display as well for improved color accuracy, wide color gamut, and True Tone technology.
Glass adds a slick, if fragile, look to the new smartphone, but it also allows for wireless charging. This has been a long-rumored feature for the new iPhones, and Apple confirmed today that the iPhone 8 models will support Qi wireless charging with an optional charging pad. The iPhone 8 models use induction-based wireless charging, which is the same technology used to charge the Apple Watch.
The iPhone 8 models run Apple's new A11 Bionic chip that has six cores and a 64-bit design. It's divided into two low-performance cores and four high-performance cores, with the regular cores being 25 percent faster than the previous A10 chip and the high-performance cores being up to 75 percent faster than the A10 SoC
The cameras have also been improved on the iPhone 8 models. There's a new 12MP camera and sensor pair on the iPhone 8 that supports optical image stabilization. The Plus has the dual-camera setup like the 7 Plus did, but it features new sensors and new f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures. Apple also designed its own image signal processor that produces faster low-light autofocus, improved pixel sensor, and noise reduction. Altogether, these new cameras and sensors should produce better low-light photos and images with finer details than before.
As was rumored before the event, there's a new Portrait Lighting mode that makes use of the dual-camera setup and the A11 chip. This feature senses the scene in which your photo was taken and automatically adjusts the lighting and contours of the face in the photo to produce a better shot. Rather than using filters to change your image, Portrait Lighting actually analyzes your image and then changes it as such. This feature will ship in beta when the iPhone 8 Plus comes out.
Apple took the same approach to the new handset's video encoder that it did with the ISP. Apple designed its own video encoder to produce faster video frame rates and image and motion analysis in real time (for augmented reality purposes). When shooting video, the iPhone 8 models divide each frame into 2 million separate tiles, which the internals then analyze and optimize based on what you're filming. These cameras can also shoot 4K video at 60fps or 1080p video at 240fps, which is much better than the previous iPhone 7 handsets.
With the improved camera and A11 Bionic, Apple touted the iPhone 8's new AR capabilities as top-notch; competitive multiplayer games in AR and real-time stats overlaid on an in-person baseball game were just some of the demos.
The iPhone 8 models will start at $699 with 64GB, and the iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799. Preorders begin this Friday, September 15 with phones arriving September 22. iOS 11 comes on September 19 (and you can expect the traditional Ars Technica OS review soon after).