NOTICE AS OF 6/1/2020: This is a revised edition of the Apple September 2017 Event Recap video that we did years ago. For the website, we decided to convert it into an article only, along with adding some tidbits here and there to make it a bit more of an interesting read. Hope you guys enjoy this as we continue to make more content for both our website and YouTube channel. 😉
Hey everybody, this is Sage once again, and today, as we usually do, we’re going to recap Apple’s September event for 2017!
But before I do begin, I want to give a couple of disclaimers:
- I’m only going to be focusing on the products that enticed me, so anything that I’m not completely interested in will probably not be in our recap.
- We’re gonna be discussing a little more about the new products announced during the conclusion portion. (If you disagree with us, that’s totally fine, but please don’t jump on us. We have every right to speak our thoughts on this stuff.)
So anyways, without further ado, let’s begin.
Apple Watch Series 3
The first thing that was announced at the event was the Apple Watch Series 3, the third generation of the Apple Watch.
It’s similar to the Series 2 in terms of design, and it comes with watchOS 4, which we already covered during WWDC 2017; most of it was just a recap of the new features added, but we now have a release date for it: September 19th.
Hardware-wise, the Series 3 is going to come with built-in cellular, which means you can now receive calls directly from your watch, and you no longer need to bring your iPhone with you when you want to call people using the Watch.
Now I know what you’re going to ask: How does this work? If there’s going to be native support for cellular on the Watch Series 3, surely there has to be some sort of SIM card in there, right? Actually, you’d be wrong: There’s an integrated electronic SIM chip in the Series 3 (soldered to the board), so you don’t have to put in a SIM card every time you buy one or switch carriers.
Along with this, you can now use the Apple Music service (and the over 40 million songs available on the service as Apple claims) directly on your Watch. You can also talk to Siri directly through your Watch.
When it comes to the specifications, all we got was that the Series 3 uses a new Apple-designed S3 dual core processor, and has a new wireless chip in it called the W2, which contains performance improvements for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
You may have also noticed on the Watch Series 3 that the crown’s top has a red dot on it…what does that represent exactly? Well, it actually represents the fact that it has cellular in it; all non-cellular models don’t have the red dot.
Just like with the original Watch, the Series 3 comes in three different colors: Gold, Silver, and Space Gray, and some new Watch loops were made available as well. As for pricing, the non-cellular Apple Watch Series 3 goes for $329 USD, while the cellular version goes for $399 USD. The Apple Watch Series 1 continued to be sold at a reduced price of $249 USD, while the Apple Watch Series 2 was discontinued.
Pre-orders for the Apple Watch Series 3 started on September 15th, and was made available a week later, on September 22nd.
Apple TV 4K
Now let’s move onto the second new product of this event: the Apple TV 4K.
The Apple TV 4K, as you would expect, has 4K HDR support, which we’ve seen already with other digital media players, such as the Roku and Chromecast. The Apple TV 4K also has a somewhat new design with the height increased slightly compared to a standard Apple TV.
There’s not much to talk about in terms of specs, other than it uses an Apple A10X Fusion system-on-a-chip, the same one used on the 2017 iPad Pro.
One of the exclusive software features of the Apple TV 4K is the ability to watch live sports…again much like we’ve seen on other digital media players. But at least you can play iTunes 4K HD movies, and any eligible HD movies will be upgraded to 4K for free. 4K HDR titles from Netflix and (later on) from Amazon Prime video are also supported.
As for pricing and availability, the Apple TV 4K was priced at $179 USD for the 32 GB model, with the 64 GB model going for $199 USD. The normal Apple TV continued to be sold as a 32 GB configuration only, at a price of $149 USD.
Pre-orders for the Apple TV 4K began on September 15th, with the product being released a week later, on September 22nd.
But that’s not all we’re here to talk about, right? Of course not. We’re just getting started…
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
The main attraction of this event were, of course, the new iPhones, and for good reason: 2017 was the year the iPhone celebrated its 10th anniversary.
So as you would expect, they started off talking about the 10 years of the iPhone: The multi-touch innovation with the original iPhone (unofficially known as the iPhone 2G), the launch of the App Store on the iPhone 3G, the Retina display and FaceTime features of the iPhone 4, the Touch ID and Apple Pay system with the iPhone 5S, and finally the Telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Afterwards, the next-gen iPhone was announced: the iPhone 8. (Apparently, they skipped 7S for some reason.)
Design-wise, the iPhone 8 is almost similar to that of the iPhone 7, and it comes in 3 colors: Silver, Space Gray, and a new Gold finish; the Rose Gold and Jet Black options from its predecessor were removed.
Hardware-wise, The iPhone 8 has a True Tone display (making it the first iPhone to have one), along with enhanced stereo speakers with a deeper bass than its predecessor. It’s also powered by a new Apple-designed 64-bit SoC (System-on-a-chip) called the A11 Bionic. (Obviously you should know by now that every new iPhone is faster than the other, both in performance and graphics.)
The iPhone 8 also has a 12 megapixel camera with a new image signal processor, which is claimed to provide faster autofocus, as well as a new pixel processor for better sharpness and texture. It also has a new color filter and a quad LED True Tone flash. And much like the iPhone 7, the Plus model retains the dual camera setup with the Telephoto lens, as well as its Portrait Mode.
Speaking of that, the iPhone 8 Plus add a new feature to Portrait Mode thanks to the new A11 Bionic: Portrait Lighting. Basically, how it works is when you shoot a photo in Portrait Mode, the subject gets separated from the background, and with machine learning, the Portrait Lighting creates facial landmarks and changes the lighting of the face, all while composing the shot. Different lighting effects for Portrait Mode are also available, accessible before or after you’ve taken the photo.
On the video side of things, the A11 Bionic has a built-in Apple-designed video encoder that provides faster frame rates, enabling it to record up to 4K at 60 frames per second. (Slo-mo videos can also be recorded up to 1080p at 240 frames per second.)
Another thing, I also want to mention about the iPhone 8 is that it’s ready for Augmented Reality (AR), a technology where you place virtual objects or whatever in a real environment shown through the phone’s camera. (Basically, the technology that Pokémon GO uses.) The cameras are not only collaborated for AR, but also offer low light, 60 frames per second, and (supposedly) accurate motion tracking.
Other new features consist of support for LTE Advanced and Bluetooth 5.0, and for the first time in an iPhone, supports Qi wireless charging, with the use of charging pads you can buy from third-parties.
And of course, much like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 doesn’t have a headphone jack.
Now let’s get to the price and availability: the iPhone 8 starts at $699 USD, and comes in two configurations: 64 and 256 GB. The iPhone 8 Plus (the one with the larger screen and Telephoto lens, much like with the 7 Plus) starts at $799 USD, and also comes in 64 and 256 GB configurations.
Pre-orders started on September 15th, and shipped the following week, on September 22nd. iOS 11, much like with watchOS 4, would be released on September 19th.
Now you might be saying: “Well, that was pretty disappointing.” And you’d be right…so far. We’re saving the best for last…
One More Thing…iPhone X
After the iPhone 8 announcement, Tim Cook pulled a One More Thing…the iPhone X.
Claimed to be the “future of the smartphone”, the iPhone X has a radiacally new design: For the most part, the entire front of the device is all screen; there’s no home button, has the infamous notch, and it looks sort of similar to some Androids I’ve seen in the past…hmm.
The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch OLED “Super Retina” display (because Retina simply wasn’t enough), and has a resolution of 458 pixels per inch, a lot more than the iPhone 4’s Retina display, which had a resolution of 326 pixels per inch. And just like the iPhone 8, it is also a True Tone display, and supports HDR, as well as Dolby Vision and HDR 10.
Now since there’s no home button on the iPhone X, how do you get to the home screen? Well, all you have to do is swipe up from the bottom in any app (or from the lock screen), and that’s how you’d get back to home. (To multitask, you’d simply do the same thing, but stop midway through.) To activate Siri, you would hold down the side button.
But what about Touch ID? Well, there is a replacement for that on the iPhone X: it’s called Face ID. To summarize, it lets you unlock your iPhone X with your face, instead of placing your finger on the home button. It’ll also adapt to changes (such as if you grow a beard), and it works in both day and night settings. It’s also secured with protections against spoofs (such as a photo of someone’s face), has attention awareness, and also works with Apple Pay.
Now the way the Face ID tech works is it uses a dot projector, which is located on the TrueDepth Camera (found on the Notch portion of the phone); the dot projector is used to recognize your face; it supposedly will detect the parts of your skin on the face, and then store it away securely on your device. (Obviously, it won’t get sent to Apple or any other third-party, because privacy reasons.)
Getting back to the TrueDepth Camera, it consists of an infrared camera, the front-facing “FaceTime” camera, the ambient light sensor, the microphone, and of course, the dot projector.
Much like with the iPhone 8, the iPhone X uses the A11 Bionic SoC, which also happens to take advantage of the facial recognition processing with the use of a built-in Neural engine inside the chip. The chip also has something called Secure Enclave, where the device protects your face data, used for Face ID; that information is stored on the phone and never sent to Apple as I’ve stated before. It’s also claimed to be more secure than Touch ID: According to Apple, there is a 1 in 50,000 chance that Touch ID can be compromised; with Face ID however, it’s 1 in a million; so unless you have an identical “evil” twin (which there is a 99.9% chance you don’t), then compromising the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology is pretty much impossible.
But the dot projector isn’t just used for Face ID…no no no. They decided to take emojis to the next level…with Animojis. (Spoiler Alert: It’s as gimmicky as it sounds…but I’d also be lying if I said it wasn’t entertaining enough for me to try it out myself.) Basically, you use your face to animate the emojis’ expression…such as a poop emoji.
So that about wraps up the facial stuff, let’s move onto the camera:
The back camera on the iPhone X is similar to that of the iPhone 8 Plus (albeit vertical instead of horizontal): It has the dual 12 megapixel cameras, as well as optical image stabilization, improved video stabilization, quad LED True Tone flash, Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, tuned for AR, the works.
The front camera on the other hand, adds support for both Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting, thanks to the better technology used in the TrueDepth camera.
Now let’s talk about the battery life: The iPhone X lasts 2 hours longer than the iPhone 7, and also supports wireless charging, much like the iPhone 8. (And for some reason, they never mentioned the battery life on the iPhone 8.)
And while we’re on the topic of wireless charging, Apple also announced a new accessory called AirPower, their wireless charging mat (to be sold separately) that let’s you charge more than one iDevice at a time; that includes the Apple Watch and AirPods. It also allows the user to monitor the battery life of each device via the iPhone.
AirPower was planned to support the iPhone 8 or higher, along with the Apple Watch Series 3 or higher, and the AirPods. It was scheduled to launch the following year in 2018.
Sage’s Fun Fact: A year after its announcement, all mentions of AirPower disappeared from Apple’s website; rumors began spreading that the product was suffering multiple technical issues, mostly related to heat management, among other things. Despite several mentions of it in the packaging of later Apple products (including a software update that supported it), the product would be officially cancelled by Apple on March 29th, 2019, marking the first time since the mid-90s that Apple had cancelled an announced hardware product. Most recently in 2020, it was rumored that the project had restarted, with prototyping currently underway, but other than that, nothing much has surfaced.
Now let’s move on to the price and availability: the iPhone X came in 64 and 256 GB configurations, and starts at (get ready for this) $999 USD.
Pre-orders started on October 27th, and began shipping the following week, on November 3rd.
So rolling into the 2017 Holiday Season, you’ve got the following iPhone lineup: the iPhone SE (1st generation), the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and finally, the iPhone X.
iPhone Discussion and Conclusion
So that wraps up what enticed me in Apple’s September 2017 event. So you know the drill…time for a little discussion.
Now obviously we won’t be going into the Apple Watch Series 3 nor the Apple TV 4K, as while both were key products announced, they’re NOT the main focus of this presentation.
We’re here to mainly discuss about the new iPhones, so why don’t we start off with the iPhone 8?
In my general opinion, the iPhone 8 looks pretty much similar to the iPhone 7 design-wise. The camera was much improved from the iPhone 7 though, especially with the ability to record 4K at 60 frames per second. The upgrades in the hardware are also pretty good too, but aside from that, there’s not really much to talk about.
Now for the iPhone X; personally, I think it looks cool, has some pretty impressive technologies, but it’s also got that Animoji gimmick (which we’ll get to later), no headphone jack, and…that high price.
Speaking of looks, let’s talk about its design.
Before I get to my general opinion though, I want to point out that compared to its competitors, the iPhone, before the iPhone X, had some form of uniqueness to it that made the iPhone what it is: the physical home button, the camera positioning, the lack of external storage, etc.
Some (if not most) of the Androids out in the market at the time had no home button (instead at the bottom of the screen), center-positioned cameras, microSD card slots for external storage, etc. (One of these phones was the Motorola Razr M, which I used for a while, before I got my first iPhone.)
Before the iPhone came out, Android wasn’t even officially released yet, and phones still had those clunky plastic keys and rather small screens. After the iPhone came out, all of their competitors were like: “We could do better”, and thus began what Apple considers the “copycats” (but in a way, they’re also not similar enough to the iPhone that would make Apple want to sue).
Now, getting to my opinion on the design: the iPhone X does look cool as I’ve stated before, but that initial uniqueness that I mentioned earlier is pretty much gone…mostly. The unique camera positioning is still there, but other than that, the notch, and the fact that there’s no buttons on the front anymore…makes it kinda look similar to the Droids at first glance.
Anyways, now let’s get into Face ID. As some of you probably know, Apple has been known to try to perfect technologies, and face recognition is no exception; the facial recognition that other platforms (such as Android and Windows) had wasn’t necessarily hack-proof. Apple really made sure Face ID was hack-proof, and if they managed to nail it, great. (Obviously, there’s going to be people out there who will try to get around the Face ID security system, but only time will tell.) But there is one thing about Face ID that I have to ask: What if you perform a plastic surgery? Obviously your face won’t get recognized…at least I think. (Most likely you’ll have to reset it, which I guess, for lack of a better word, is fair enough.) As for the face data being stored away: Honestly, with Apple’s stance on privacy protection lately, I’d be better off with that instead of having to deal with Google.
Getting to my general opinion on it, Face ID looks cool, but I wouldn’t really take advantage of it. (Probably because I’m too used to Touch ID, lol)
Next up, Animojis. In my general opinion: They’re cool. While the ability to animate characters with advanced facial tracking has been done before somewhat with FaceRig (which is available on PC, and previously iOS and Android), having it built-in to the system is a pretty neat feature to have…if you’re looking to waste time.
But while I do like the technology behind it, I still have to be honest: This feels like a gimmick. I mean, what market was this feature aimed that? Consumers? Families? The Kids? I don’t know? I don’t really see the point in people using them in a business setting, as Apple showed in the presentation. (Could be wrong though.)
But at least it does give Apple a reason to take “What does the Fox say?” a bit seriously with that Fox animoji.
Next up: Wireless charging. In my general opinion, the concept of wireless charging is pretty cool, but it’s been done already with wireless charging cases and such, and if you really want to compare with the competition, Androids. But much like with Face ID, I don’t see myself using it often. Plus, I’d rather stick with wires: It’s faster in terms of transferring data and charging speed.
But who knows? Maybe we’ll live in a future where wireless charging pads will both charge and sync data to your computer.
And now we come to the last aspect of the iPhone X: the price being a thousand dollars. Now I know what you’re going to say:
“It’s too expensive.”
“Is this some sort of a joke?”
“I’d rather buy a gaming PC.”
(I also recall someone saying on Twitter that “there will be a time where your phone will be more expensive than your house”.)
Anyways, let me get to my opinion: The iPhone X price is indeed rather high, yes, but if you really think about it, it makes sense: The advanced technologies including Face ID, among other things, isn’t easy to perfect unlike competitors. Also, the $999 USD price only applies to buying the phone upfront; there is a much lower price if you decide to pay for it monthly through a carrier. So while I think the price is somewhat reasonable, I can understand the complaints.
Anyways, that about wraps up our discussion on the new iPhones. Overall, the presentation was okay: The new products look cool, the iPhone 8 and X presentations were okay, and it was a rather nice way to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.
But there is one thing that bothers me about this presentation: Near the end of the iPhone X portion, Phil Schiller brings up an old Wayne Gretzky quote:
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
When Steve Jobs brought it up back in 2007, the quote was more geared towards Apple, the company that envisioned the future. However, this was more targeted towards a single product: that being the iPhone X, a product that “envisioned” the future…of the smartphone. In that context, it didn’t leave any emotional impact on me unlike when Jobs brought it up; a minor problem, but still gets overlooked.
So that concludes our recap. Hope you guys enjoyed this read, and as always I will see you all next time. Peace. 😉