Apple unveils the iPhone 8 and X

The new iPhone X.
The new iPhone X.
Image: Quartz/Mike Murphy
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Cupertino, California

After all the leaks and speculation, they’re finally here. In a leather-clad, subterranean auditorium beside its new campus, Apple unveiled its latest iPhones, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and its ultra-premium new phone, the iPhone X.

For the last few years, Apple has released in tandem its newest iPhone and a larger Plus model. It continued that trend today with the 8 models, but it also introduced what’s effectively a new tier above its traditional flagship devices, the iPhone X (pronounced as “ten”). This model features a much larger screen relative to the size of its body, and a starting price of $1,000.

What’s new?

Newish colors, basically the same design. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are now glass on both the back and front, but otherwise they look very similar to the iPhone 7s. They will come in silver, grey, and a new coppery shade of gold (as yet unnamed). For those worried that the glass backs will be as shatter-prone as the all-glass iPhone 4 was, Apple said the glass is as durable as the glass on spaceships. They’re both as water-resistant as the iPhone 7 models were, too (which is pretty water-resistant, but don’t take it on a dive).

Faster processors. The new phones feature Apple’s new “A11 Bionic” chip. It’s a six-core processor that’s 70% faster than the A10 chip in the last iPhones.

Better cameras. The iPhone 8 features a new 12-megapixel camera with a larger sensor that provides better image stabilization. The 8 Plus has two of these cameras on the back. The dual cameras have a new feature called “Portrait lighting” that allows shutterbugs to adjust the lighting on their photos in real time, leading to some exceedingly dramatic shots. (This feature will soon be visible in everyone’s next Facebook profile picture.) The cameras also can shoot 4K at 60 frames per second, producing smooth, high-quality videos.

Augmented reality. Apple showed off a litany of new augmented-reality apps and games, taking advantage of the iPhone’s new operating system, iOS 11, which allows for powerful AR applications without massively draining the phone’s battery.

More storage space. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus start at 64 GB storage space, with a second 256 GB option.

Wireless charging. Thanks to the glass back on the new phones, the new iPhones will have wireless charging. Apple will be using the same Qi charging standard that many Android smartphones use (including Samsung’s flagship phones), meaning you’ll be able to charge your iPhone at any coffee store or airport where there are wireless charging pads.

How about the iPhone X?

New design. The X features a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge diagonal screen, steel edges, and a glass back. It comes in black and white. Even with the large screen, the phone is smaller in the hand than an iPhone 8 Plus.

Sharp screen. The OLED screen has 458 pixels per inch, the highest resolution on any iPhone screen, and one of the highest available on a smartphone today.

Face ID. The new phone features a set of sensors to map out the owner’s face, build a digital model of it on the phone, and check against it every time someone looks at it. Apple says it’s using advanced neural networks to build its model, and the phone should only open for your face, regardless of whether you change your haircut, put on glasses, or grow a beard. It also works in the dark. It apparently cannot be fooled by a picture or even a 3D-print of your face, Apple said. You’ll be able to use Face ID to pay for things through Apple Pay, and download apps.

The depth-sensing cameras on the front can also be used to create “Animoji”—animated emojis that map the movements of your face—in case a Snapchat filter isn’t extreme enough for you.

Better cameras. Featuring the same cameras as the iPhone 8 Plus, the X also has more flashes, double optical-image stabilization, and no shutter lag, meaning you should be able to take stunning photos immediately.

The front-facing cameras can be used to take portrait-mode selfies, meaning they’ll have as much depth as the photos you could take with the cameras on the back.

Better battery life. Although there was no information on the battery life on the new iPhone 8s, the X will apparently feature a battery that lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 7’s did.

AirPower. Apple is also releasing a new charging mat that can charge the new iPhones, the new Apple Watch, and a version of its AirPods headphones with a new wireless-charging case. The technology is based on the existing Qi standard, but the technology to charge multiple devices at once is proprietary to Apple, and will be released next year, the company said.

Storage. The X features the same storage as the new iPhone 8s—either 64 GB or 256 GB.

When will they be out?

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be available for preorder on Sept. 15, and in stores Sept. 22, Apple said.

People seeking the iPhone X, however, will have to wait a bit longer. Apple said the new phone will be available for preorder on Oct. 22, and expects it to ship Nov. 3.

How much will they cost?

The iPhone 8 will start at $699.

The iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799.

The iPhone X will start at $999.