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iPhone X kicks off a new generation at a hefty cost

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Oct 31st, 2017

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Pros

  • All-new design is slick and seamless
  • Face ID doesn’t just work—it works well
  • TrueDepth camera makes way for interactive augmented reality

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • No Home button means you have to learn a whole new set of gestures
  • You better put a case on it—or else

When Apple first announced the 10th-anniversary iPhone at their September event in Cupertino, Calif., analysts questioned the decision to stagger the launch of two premium smartphones—and whether a stray from their traditional annual launch strategy would do them more harm than good.

Many enthusiasts decided to wait and see how iPhone X stacked up to its recently-launched sibling. While lineups for iPhone 8 were shorter than previous releases, carriers are reporting record-breaking preorder demand for iPhone X. But is a smartphone really worth a whopping $1,300? We were among the first to put iPhone X through its paces.

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Redesigned from the inside out

The first thing you notice when picking up iPhone X is the gorgeous design. Everything has been reimagined. From the edge-to-edge 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display, to the glass front and back that Apple touts as the ‘most durable ever in a smartphone,’ the stunning curvature of the edges makes this design an engineering feat and resembles a piece of artwork.

 

image2iPhone X remains water- and dust-resistant, featuring speakers 35 per cent louder, and is compatible with Qi-enabled wireless chargers. The device will turn heads and start conversations—though you’re best to throw a case on it, especially if you’re prone to dropping things. You know who you are.

No more Home button

First the headphone jack, now the home button. They finally did it. iPhone X is the first iPhone to do away with the one button that does virtually everything. Instead, users will need to learn a new series of gestures in iOS 11—like swipe up to go to your home screen; double press on the side button to activate Apple Pay; and hold the side and volume button to power off.

There was a learning curve for the first while. You’ll be reaching for the Home button annoyed it’s no longer there, and then cycle through the gestures. You get used to it—and is the price you pay for an all-screen display.

If you’re the type who likes using your smartphone with one hand, the new gestures may complicate things.  There are more swipes from the top, bottom, and sides. Unless you have long thumbs, you may need two hands to perform certain actions.

 

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Facial recognition is the new fingerprint scan

For those who have become accustomed to the fingerprint authentication (known as Touch ID), iPhone X introduces a new facial recognition technology. I was blown away by how quick it learns your face and how effortless it is to use.

Face ID uses a new, front-facing TrueDepth camera that maps over 30,000 invisible dots to your face. It is stored securely on your device and is accurate to 1 in 1,000,000 that a random person can unlock your device. It also adapts to changes in appearance like facial hair growth, and cosmetic makeup.

It is used to do everything from unlock your device, authenticate into apps, and pay for purchases through Apple Pay. And none of the information is uploaded to the cloud, similar to Touch ID.

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Cameras and AR

Camera enthusiasts will see a step-up in quality through not one, but two 12-megapixel rear cameras with dual optical image stabilization. This includes an updated Quad-LED True Tone flash that lights images more evenly and gives you more vibrant and accurate colours.

 

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The popular portrait mode that was once for the rear cameras on iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus is now coming to iPhone X’s front-facing camera—something that will delight selfie takers and up their social media game.

The same TrueDepth camera that maps your face for security also unlocks a whole new world through augmented reality technology. Apple continues to double down on AR as a future way of interacting with the real world, and apps including Snapchat and IKEA are making use of ARKit. New Animojis in iMessage enable users to have 10-second clips of emojis mimicking your expressions and facial movements captured. A lot of fun to use and without a doubt going to be popular with the tweens—that is, if they can afford one.

Is it worth it?

And for the age-old question… The phone is expensive. Over $1,000 expensive. iPhone X will run you $1,319 and $1,529 for the 64GB and 256GB variants, respectively. So is it worth throwing down a month’s mortgage payment on a smartphone that is made of all-glass? It depends on which features are important to you.

iPhone X is without a doubt one of the slickest devices I’ve seen in a long time. The build quality is unlike many other smartphones on the market today. The iPhone changed the smartphone industry and paved way for a lucrative app market. It is the combination of well-built hardware, easy-to-use software, and the potential of apps to personalize the mobile computing experience that put iPhone on the map a decade ago. And the tech giant is hoping to do that all over again.

As preorder sales have proven already, enthusiasts who want to be part of that experience will line up overnight or wait upwards of six weeks to get hold of a device. But for many others, iPhone 8—even iPhone 7—will suffice, especially if the Home button is still of great value. Though, iPhone 8 will still make a dent in your wallet at just under $1,000, off contract.

Apple hopes that choice and category redefinition will help boost sales, after the wait-and-see approach of iPhone 8 resulted in shorter lineups at retail stores.

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Apple TV refresh brings 4K, City to streaming platform

Winston Sih | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 4.36.28 PM

Amidst the iPhone announcements in Apple’s annual September event in Cupertino, Calif., brings a few other surprises including an update to Apple TV—finally embracing 4K technology in the living room. But is the market finally ready, or is it a little too late?

4K HDR

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Physically, the device is the same in size. But it does pack a punch with new technology to bring your TV viewing experience to life. Leveraging the A10X Fusion chip—the previous-model chip in iPhone 7—the tech giant hopes that will provide the needed computing power to stream 4K-resolution content. Quadruple the pixels of high definition, quadruple the crispness, and you notice it from the get-go when you power the unit on. Caveat is, of course, that you need a 4K television—something many households don’t currently have.

If you are an owner one a 4K television set, the colours and depths of the pictures are stunning. Colours are more vibrant, blacks are deeper, and whites are brighter. This is all thanks to the high-definition range that adapts to your television set, finds the optimal performance, and scales the content up or down to fit your display environment. Apple TV 4K follows two leading formats on the market, Dolby Vision and HDR10, and the engineering shines through when streaming content.

From the previous-generation model, Apple says its 4K older sibling is two-times faster, and graphics performance is up to four times faster, though unless you’re streaming 12 things at once, you won’t notice a massive difference. However for 4K content, it will benefit from the spec bump.

Surfacing the TV content you want

Through the new tvOS update, Canadians now get access to the Apple TV app—one of a seven countries this is rolling out to outside of the United States.

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Canadian broadcasters, including City and FX, have joined onto this new platform to unify on-demand offerings in one easy-to-find location for binge-watchers. Users can subscribe and sign into their favourite services, and titles are synced and streamed across Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. HD movies from iTunes are upgraded to 4K HDR at no additional cost.

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There’s an app for that

Thousands of apps are being added on an on-going basis, allowing users to do everything from play games, control your smart home devices, to edit your family photos from iCloud. Selection isn’t as robust as the likes of App Store on iOS devices, and the remote experience simplifies what you can (and can’t) do on Apple TV.

Siri is integrated into the physical remote itself, and for those looking to type on a traditional keyboard, you can do so via the Remote app on your iOS device.

Final thoughts

For those looking to invest in a streaming player, Apple TV is a good choice. It won’t replace your cable subscription or PVR, but it’ll give you plenty of options to compliment your viewing experience—especially if you’re into streaming. The computing power will make using interactive apps a breeze, and while the selection of programs isn’t as robust as it could be, developers will take advantage as more users adopt.

The 4K HDR 32GB variant ($229) is a great option only if you have the display to go with it, otherwise the fourth-generation non-4K model ($199) will suffice—the price difference only being about $30.

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