After months of speculation and rumors, Apple has unveiled the iPhone X and detailed what the luxury device —it costs $1,000—can do. Kinda.
At its first press event at its new Apple Park headquarters on Tuesday, Apple took the wraps off its iPhone X. The device comes with a screen that nearly covers its face and has a powerful processor for handling sophisticated apps and video games. It also comes with the ability to wireless charge its battery along with a new feature, called Face ID, that Apple says will dramatically improve the smartphone’s security.
Apple executives, of course, called iPhone X the “future.” And they may be right. But there are still some big questions the company hasn’t answered. Here’s a look a some of them:
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Is Face ID as reliable as Apple says?
During its event, Apple (AAPL) touted the reliability of the new Face ID face scanner, saying it was better than the company’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor in both accuracy and security. But when Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi showed off the feature, it seemed to work well—that is, after the first device failed to see his face, he moved to a backup, and wiped his face to help it work. And that was someone who has been working with Face ID for some time and knows exactly at what angle it works best. When millions of people get an iPhone X and start using the device, will its face scanner work as well as Apple executives would have us believe?
In other devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8, face scanners work best at certain angles and not at all from others. And there are very real questions about security and how easily hackers can dupe the scanner.
Apple tried to address those concerns during its event by saying that its engineers built safeguards to counter hacking. Apple also said its Face ID can only be duped one out of 1 million tries (versus 1 in 50,000 tries using the fingerprint sensor). But let’s see it in the real world before we believe it.
How prone to damage is the iPhone X’s enclosure?
Both the iPhone X the iPhone 8 have glass backplates. While Apple says the glass is strong, the company’s iPhone 4, which also used glass, was prone to cracking when dropped. Glass technology is stronger now than in 2010, which means it might be less likely to be damaged, but exactly how strong depends on the materials that companies use. Either way, using a protective case for the iPhone X may be a good idea.
How many units will be available at launch?
Before the iPhone X’s unveiling, we heard reports that Apple was having manufacturing problems and that it may not have as many units available as it would have liked. With demand for the iPhone X expected to be heavy, how quickly will Apple sell out of its initial supply? And even worse, will we have trouble getting it anytime near its launch if we don’t pre-order on Oct. 27?
How reliable is iOS 11’s integration?
With no home button, the iPhone X requires some new software-based gestures to activate features. For instance, to see all the apps open on older iPhones, you need only to double-tap the home button. With no home button, the iPhone X now gives you access to that pane by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Apple indicated that its new gestures will work well and get you the same access to features as with the home button. But it’s unclear how convenient those gestures will be.
Will many people really want to pay that price?
The iPhone X is really, really expensive. The 64GB version costs $999, and the 256GB option will cost you a whopping $1,149. Will you pay that much for a smartphone? Even the installment plans, allowing you to pay for the iPhone X over a two-year period, will cost you at least $49.91 per month. Is that really a good value for a new smartphone? Apple apparently thinks so.