Apple unveils iPhone X with 3D facial recognition, available in Singapore from $1,648 on Nov 3

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Apple rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X with a US$999 (S$1344) price tag, but investors sent the company's stock down.
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Apple's marketing chief talking about the new iPhone X. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

CUPERTINO - Apple has launched the iPhone X (or iPhone 10) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the culture-changing smartphone during a special event held at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Apple Park - Apple's new headquarters.

This premium model iPhone X features a Super Retina display that covers almost the entire front of the smartphone, which has been the trend for many of this year's flagship smartphones like Samsung Galaxy Note8 and LG V30.

The Super Retina display uses OLED technology that is known to exhibit colours more accurately and vividly as well as being more power efficient.

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But with the near-full display, the phone's Home Button and Touch ID feature are gone. Instead, a front-facing system of cameras and sensors - an infrared camera, flood illuminator, front camera, dot projector, ambient light sensor and microphone - called the TrueDepth camera system supports the new Face ID, or 3D face recognition technology.

Users just look at the phone to unlock the iPhone X. Apple said the phone will recognise users' faces even in the dark, or changes in their hairstyles and facial hair.

Bucking the trend of an aluminium unibody chassis that many previous iPhones use, the iPhone X has a stainless steel chassis with a curved glass back instead. As a result, the iPhone X has an almost all-glass exterior.

In addition, the iPhone X features a rear dual-camera system that places the two cameras in a vertical orientation rather than the previous horizontal orientation. It uses a quad-LED flash system for more uniform lighting.

The iPhone X will feature the new A11 Bionic six-core processor that has two cores for intensive processing needs and four high-efficiency cores. In addition, the iPhone X supports wireless charging.

Apple's iPhone X will be available on Nov 3 in Singapore, with prices starting from $1,648 (64GB, without contract) to $1,888 (256GB, without contract). Pre-orders start from Oct 27.

The iPhone X's price was a turn off for some consumers.

Assistant marketing manager Rebecca Koh, 26, said she does not think she will buy the iPhone X "as it is too costly, considering that there are not many new technologies or features" in the new phone. Miss Koh currently uses an Apple iPhone 7.

But analysts said the iPhone X's high price may not be a sore point for some buyers.

Said Mr Loo Wee Teck, Euromonitor International's head of consumer electronics: "The iPhone X is a top of the range product and appeals to a different consumer segment. Its demand will not be deterred by the high prices.

"In most developed markets, including Singapore, smartphones are tied with a contract which helps to defray the upfront cost."

Forrester Research's principal analyst Julie Ask said that loyal Apple enthusiasts will purchase the iPhone X.

"We always think the price tag is high, but consumers buy," she said. "Remember, there are also new phones at lower price points. The hardware amortised over two years is about US$50 per month or one third of total cost of ownership for a consumer in the US."

Some undeterred consumers include Mr Tang Weng Sing, a 45-year-old head of innovation at a software company. He intends to trade in his current iPhone 7 Plus for the new iPhone X, because the new model marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.

"I think the iPhone X will become as iconic as the first iPhone," said Mr Tang.

Meanwhile, Apple has taken away the "S" moniker for so many of its previous "second-generation" models of the same design. Instead of calling them the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, the direct successors will be known as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus respectively.

Both models retain the design ethos of their respective predecessors but now come with a glass back. The iPhone 8 Plus continues to feature a rear dual-camera system, while the iPhone 8 has a single rear camera.

But both iPhone 8 models have been updated with the faster A11 Bionic processor and their 12-megapixel cameras are said to be faster in terms of focusing speed and be able to take better pictures. Both models also support wireless charging.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be available on Sept 22, with prices starting from $1,148 (64GB, without contract) for iPhone 8 and from $1,308 (64GB, without contract) for iPhone 8 Plus. Pre-orders start from Friday (Sept 15). Singtel, M1 and StarHub have launched websites for customers to register interest in buying the new iPhones.

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