iPhone X: An Important Landmark in Smartphone History

Wednesday 20 September 2017, 02:52 PM

Michael Briers
Journalist , Freelance

After 10 years and 14 iterations, the iPhone continues to rule over the smartphone history. Let’s recount how that came to be…

A decade is a lifetime in the smartphone industry. 

Cast your mind back to the year 2007, at a time when England welcomed the grand opening of New Wembley and literary fans longed for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final chapter in J.K. Rowling’s fantastical saga. 

Leave it to Apple, then, to come along and steal headlines left, right, and centre with the launch of the first generation iPhone. Within three months, upwards of 1 million units had been sold, and Apple’s crown jewel was well on its way to reinventing the smartphone. 

Because prior to 2007, the notion of using a fully interactive touchscreen on the go was a far-flung fantasy—the kind reserved for science fiction. Thanks to BlackBerry, Sony and other industry giants at the time, mobile users had grown accustomed to hammering their thoughts and text messages into a physical keyboard, which in turn reduced screen real estate—that is, the amount of space available for the actual screen—to only two-thirds of the handset. The iPhone changed all that and more. 

Indeed, when Steve Jobs first conceived the iPhone more than ten years ago, the late innovator envisioned a device birthed from simplicity—the perfect marriage of hardware and software. Such blue-sky thinking not only led to the inaugural iPhone, but also the creation of similar ground-breaking trinkets as the accelerometer, a tactile, mobile version of Safari, and the App Store, which pierced the tried-and-tested distribution model with a digital, consumer-friendly storefront teeming with millions of pint-sized applications. 

Over the years, Apple continued to build on those rock-solid foundations, pumping out high-end models in the vein of iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone SE, the 4-inch powerhouse designed to be the cheapest iPhone on the market. 

Fast forward to the present day, and after 10 years and 14 iterations, Apple stands on the cusp of greatness. The iPhone X (pronounced iPhone “Ten”) is officially out in the open, and it’s a pocket-sized monster. Held up as the biggest technological leap since the original iPhone before it, the X comes packing a huge, edge-to-edge display, AR (Augmented Reality) capabilities, Face ID, and surgical-grade stainless steel, which ought to negate any fears of cracking that super-sized screen.

With iPhone X, Apple wants you to say hello to the future—whether that gesture come in the form of a finger swipe, a voice command, or a simple glance. Yes, bolstered by the A11 chip and all of the additional processing power it brings, Apple’s soon-to-be-released flagship can be unlocked by Face ID. 

The advent of facial recognition has been long rumoured and sure enough, the iPhone X will call upon its TrueDepth camera system to illuminate and scan your face, so be prepared to take your selfie game to a whole new level. The Powers That Be claim Face ID isn’t confused by varying hairstyles or hats, while it’s understood the X can also recognise your face through “most” sunglasses. Not only that, but the chance of someone unlocking your phone via Touch ID is said to be one in 50,000; with Face ID, it’s one in a million. 

Security is a potential concern, of course. Can Face ID be fooled by a static photo, for instance? Or worse, what if a mugger steals your phone and simply holds it up to your face? Don’t fret; Apple has reportedly implemented a range of software protections to ensure the iPhone X won’t unlock when you least expect it. So you needn’t worry about a trickster (or the kids!) gaining access to your shiny new device by holding up a high-res photograph to the 7MP front-facing camera. As a final precaution, Apple says squeezing the iPhone X buttons on both sides temporarily disables Face ID. 

All in all, though, the X is an important landmark in smartphone history. Gone are the days when Apple’s vision was restricted by rudimentary technology; as CEO Tim Cook noted during the iPhone X’s reveal, this is the phone Apple always envisioned, one “so immersive the device itself disappears into the experience.”

Sure, there are those who believe the iPhone X failed to live up to the hype, while augmented reality, like virtual reality before it, won’t be adopted overnight.

But if Tim Cook’s bold claims are true, the iPhone X will blaze the path of technology for the next decade—just like the original iPhone before it. Whether that holds true is another question entirely, but with its super-sized screen, AR capabilities and facial recognition, there’s a very good chance that Apple is once again standing on the cusp of greatness. True to Steve Jobs’ initial promise, the smartphone has been radically reinvented. What’s next? 

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