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September 14, 2017

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Apple unveils iPhone X as ‘future of smartphone’

APPLE Inc finally released the much anticipated iPhone X, which represents a decade from the debut of the first-generation iPhone, and the technology giant touts the new model as the “future of smartphone.”

But as technology journalist, I am a little disappointed at the lack of disruptive technologies. As Wang Qiao, my friend and long-term tech insider, said the news event is “like a rebroadcast of those already-leaking news.”

The iPhone X (pronounced ten) is one of three new iPhone models that Apple released on Tuesday in the United States. The other two are the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus.

But I am still excited about new technologies adopted in the iPhone X, one of the most advanced smartphones in the world. More importantly, the technologies will be widely adopted now that Apple has joined the bandwagon — like wireless charging, facial recognition and other in-processor artificial intelligence services.

The iPhone X, with a 5.8-inch screen, features wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. The home button found on previous iPhones is also gone, and users tap the device to wake it up.

But Apple is not the first to adopt such technology. South Korea’s Samsung has already launched its latest Galaxy smartphone models featuring facial recognition. I can unlock my Galaxy S8 even without feeling the unlocking process at all.

Meanwhile, Galaxy S8 and the new Note 8 have other tech options like fingerprint and iris identification.

Besides Samsung, professional startups, like Face++ from China, have also developed services similar with Apple’s Face ID and these services can be provided to all Android smartphone vendors.

On wireless charging, the Qi standard has attracted many giants like Samsung and Qualcomm and is already being used in public areas like airports and restaurants.

Apple is still the world’s No. 2 smartphone vendor, and the most profitable one, with 1.2 billion iPhones sales over the past decade.

Apple’s Face ID, with 3D facial recognition, is “good for security and safe, convenient and fast for payment,” said IDC’s researcher manager Tay Xiaohan.

With Apple’s adoption of Face ID sensors, the 3D sensor module market size is expected to grow to US$14 billion in 2020 with an annual growth rate of 209 percent, said TrendForce, a Taiwan-based research firm.

Another sector is the screen technology. Apple’s iPhone X uses OLED screen, which offers better display.

The screen technology will cover 43 percent of new smartphones in 2020, compared with under 20 percent now, according to TrendForce.

Industry officials also expect huge potential on argument reality in smartphones.

“It has great imagination space on AR in smartphones, in games like the popular Pokemon Go,” said Xie Tianmin, business director of Epic Games, the world’s biggest game engine firm.

“There’s a lot of potential actually (on Apple’s AR),” said Tay, referring to maps and directions by using the camera to superimpose in real life and being directed where to head for.


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