Apple aiming to broaden appeal with new elite iPhone X and price cut for its entry-level model
Apple says new facial recognition features on premium handset are the future for security in a switch from Touch ID. A €1,179 price tag, balanced by €419 for the SE, brings improved screen and cameras plus wireless charging, writes Adrian Weckler in Cupertino, California
Apple has broadened its range of iPhones with a new elite model, the iPhone X, and a price cut for the entry-level iPhone SE.
Analysts predict that the new top model, which builds in facial recognition technology and a new all-screen design, will push sales of Apple handsets to 228 million over the next 12 months, a 6pc rise and faster than the general smartphone market.
The iPhone X was one of three new iPhones launched this week by the tech giant, with an iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also making an entrance.
The flagship X model has a new 5.8-inch Oled screen which Apple calls 'super retina'. However, because of its edge-to-edge screen design, the new handset is smaller than the current iPhone 7 Plus despite having a larger display.
The device will cost from €1,179, a new high for a mainstream smartphone. However, Apple has balanced its near-€1,200 top device by cutting the price of its recently upgraded iPhone SE entry-level model to €419. It will also retain its iPhone 6S model on sale from €539.
The iPhone X replaces the home button with facial-recognition scanners for unlocking the phone and for paying in shops.
The new iPhone measures 30,000 facial points, which can't be fooled by beards, hats, tans or the natural aging process, according to CEO Tim Cook.
"Facial recognition is the future of how we will unlock our phones," said Apple executive Phil Schiller from the stage at Apple's new Steve Jobs Theatre at its headquarters campus near San Jose in California.
However, during a stage demonstration, Apple software boss Craig Federighi appeared to suffer a momentary glitch with the technology, which was not ready to be opened using his face.
Previous smartphones that have tried facial recognition technology have met with mixed success.
For example, the feature is sometimes not reliable on Samsung handsets that have incorporated it.
But Apple is betting big on the technology, using it to replace Touch ID for security and Apple Pay payments on the iPhone X handset.
The phone's facial recognition abilities can also be used for new 'animoji', animated emoji that closely mimic a user's facial expressions and which can be used within iMessage.
The iPhone X also has advanced new cameras which are stabilised, shoot 4K video and have new portrait modes that enhance a person's facial lighting from either the selfie or rear cameras.
All of the new iPhones launched will be able to avail of wireless-charging technology, which Apple has signed up to using the Qi open standard.
The new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are more conventional upgrades to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus phones.
Using the same size 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch LCD screens, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models also have better cameras and faster processors. However, they retain the Touch ID home buttons of previous iPhone models.
The company also announced a new Apple Watch Series 3, which will come with a cellular SIM card built in.
The move means that the Watch can be used by runners or fitness enthusiasts to listen to streamed music or check messages and notifications without having their phone with them.
The device is priced at €379 in Ireland when it launches later this month, with Apple retaining the Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch 1 at lower price points.
However, there has been no deal struck with any Irish operator at launch, while EE in the UK will be a launch operator for the Apple Watch 3.
CEO Cook told the assembled audience that the Watch is now the best-selling watch globally, ahead of rivals such as Rolex.
Apple also unveiled the Apple TV 4K, which can play movies and television programmes in high dynamic range (HDR) as well as more than twice the resolution of existing 'full HD'.
The company will automatically upgrade any HD content on customer Apple TVs to 4K (where applicable), while 4K content will cost the same as HD content to download.