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Apple Unveils iPhone X and 8 Models as It Upgrades TV Set-Top Box

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, on stage after the announcement of the new Apple iPhone X. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Apple unveiled iPhone X, its first premium-tier phone, at an event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. Here’s what else the company had to say.

• iPhone X is priced at $999, the most expensive ever for a new iPhone model. It will ship on Nov. 3. (Pro tip: The X is pronounced 10, and not “ex.”)

• The phone has a newer screen technology known as OLED, a type of display that can be made thinner, lighter and brighter with better color accuracy and contrast than its predecessor, LCD.

• The screen on the X has a so-called edge-to-edge display that takes up the entire face by eliminating the borders around the screen. Apple also eliminated the physical home button that has been a signature feature of the iPhone for a decade.

• iPhone 8 is also here, as well as its bigger sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus. The models include a glass body and a faster chip.

• Apple TV, the company’s set-top box that has never been a blockbuster hit, got an upgrade. The device will now be able to stream so-called 4K resolution, which refers to screens with two times the vertical resolution and twice the horizontal resolution of older high-definition TVs.

• Apple took the wraps off a new Apple Watch. Called Apple Watch Series 3, it has cellular capabilities. There’s also a new Watch OS.

iPhone X Pushes Apple Into New Territory on Price

With the $999 iPhone X, Apple moved to a new premium level of pricing. The smartphone will cost $300 more than the iPhone 8 and $200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus.

While that will be too expensive for many people, the company said it saw the iPhone X defining a new era for the smartphone, much like the original iPhone did 10 years ago. Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the device would “set the path for the next decade.” That’s because Apple will likely build on some of the iPhone X’s most notable features, including infrared facial recognition, wireless battery charging and sophisticated camera effects.

Consumer reaction to the new phone will have a big impact on the company’s revenue and stock price. Right now, analysts are betting on a slow uptake of the top-end phone, both because of production delays and the high price. But if it turns out to be an unexpected hit, like the iPhone 6 Plus and 7 Plus, the company’s sales — and stock price — could surge.

Wall Street wasn’t immediately dazzled by Apple’s presentation, however, with the stock price down more than 1 percent by the end of the event.

Vindu Goel

The iPhone X’s design takes glass to the outer edges.

Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for marketing, presented the new iPhone X. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The iPhone X is the first redesigned iPhone in three years, and Apple says it is the blueprint for “the future of the smartphone.” Many of the design details had leaked to the press before today’s unveiling — we’d heard that it would have a new display that stretched across much more of the phone’s front, and that it would do away with the trademark home button.

Much of that turned out to be true. The iPhone X is essentially the same size and overall shape as the iPhone 7, but because the screen occupies all of the front of the phone, it is far larger than that of older models. The screen uses a technology new for Apple (which many competitors already use), called OLED. It produces better image quality than Apple’s older LCD screens.

What we didn’t quite know was how Apple would integrate the new button-free design with the operating system — how would you navigate the phone without a physical button?

It’s quite simple: You swipe. To go home, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. To see other apps, swipe up from the bottom and pause — now you see the multitasking pane. And to unlock your phone, you look at it. The iPhone X eliminates Apple’s Touch ID, and replaces it with a facial-recognition system that Apple calls Face ID.

Whether people will adjust to the button-free system remains to be seen. For better or worse, Apple has used essentially the same interface for the iPhone for the last decade. Swiping is easy, but it isn’t as easy as hitting a button, and it may throw some people off at first. The learning curve will be interesting to watch.

— Farhad Manjoo

The iPhone X introduces infrared face scanning.

Mr. Schiller presenting the iPhone X. One new feature is Face ID, which unlocks the device. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The brand-new feature in the iPhone X that has never existed on any other iPhone is infrared face scanning.

The technology, called Face ID, uses an infrared camera system on the front of the phone to scan the contours and shape of a person’s head to unlock the phone and authorize mobile payments. The technology works by spraying an object with infrared dots to gather information about the depth of an object based on the size and the contortion of the dots. The imaging system can then stitch the patterns into a detailed 3-D image of your face to determine if you are indeed the owner of your smartphone before unlocking it.

For Apple, Face ID has been years in the making. In 2013, the iPhone maker acquired PrimeSense, a company that developed sensors for Microsoft’s Kinect, a camera system that scanned people’s bodies so people could play Xbox games using body movements.

Face ID is a direct response to the face-recognition feature in smartphones offered by Samsung, Apple’s fiercest rival. Experts have criticized Samsung’s face-recognition feature, which could be tricked by holding a photo of the smartphone owner’s face in front of the camera.

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