With a display that stretches from edge to edge, Apple's iPhone X is a smartphone marvel. But what does it mean for the rest of the iPhone family, and phones as a whole?
Earlier in September Apple announced iPhone 8 and iPhone X, with the latter – designed as a single sheet of screen with no bezels – being heralded as the future of iPhones and smartphones in general. But is that true? And if so, what does that mean?
The way forwards
“It looks and feels great in the hand,” Gareth says of Apple’s bezelless wonder. His first impressions of iPhone X at Apple’s event were mostly pretty positive, but what does its sleek design say about the rest of the market?
“I think ‘bezelless’ is the way forwards now. If you compare an iPhone X and an older phone side by side, the lack of bezels on the former make it feel a lot more futuristic – it even makes a lot of phones from earlier in 2017 look archaic.”
That makes sense, but what you might not expect to hear is just how long Apple’s future plans may involve two different iPhone designs…
“It’s clear that this is the way Apple is going to continue to go for its flagship smartphones, but I also think we’ll see the traditional design – with the home button etc. – for a good number of years.”
Gareth suggests that’s because of the ongoing popularity of older iPhones: “there’s still a big market for ‘cheaper’ iPhones,” he says, and adds that, although iOS on iPhone X removes the need for a home button, having two kinds of phones (and software) won’t be a big issue:
“iOS has already been split a number of times due to things like different screen sizes and the difference between iPhone and iPad, so adding in a version like this with gesture controls isn’t really an issue,” he says. “I think a version that needs a home button is likely to be supported for a number of years, while the one without will exist at that more premium tier.”
But even with a home button-sporting iPhone staying with us for some time, what does Gareth think iPhone X’s design means for the rest of smartphone-kind?
“In terms of design, I can’t see how any other manufacturer can’t and won’t catch up with the bezelless display trend eventually. There will always be people who just want a cheaper phone that works, without all the fancy extras, but at the premium level everyone has to go bezelless now – or at least find something that’s equally as impressive to look at.
“Eventually we’ll probably see iPhones with no ports at all, wireless-only charging and who knows what else, but one thing’s for sure: the future of flagships is bezelless.”
Of course, it’s not just about the design; iPhone X brings with it a number of new hardware and software features that aren’t as immediately obvious. One such change is Face ID, which Gareth is keen to test out:
“Some big question marks remain over Face ID,” he tells us. “If it isn’t flawless – or at least as good as TouchID – then Apple will have a really big issue on its hands. Unlocking your handset biometrically is still the most secure way to go about it, but if that’s made even a little bit harder 100 times a day, that’s going to get annoying.”
The proof will obviously be in the pudding here, but Apple’s track record for innovation is stellar, so it’s unlikely that Face ID would make the cut if the tech wasn’t up to the task.
There is, however, one game-changing addition that Gareth’s fully onboard with: wireless charging. Or rather, the kind of wireless charging sported by iPhone 8 and iPhone X:
“It’s almost as if there’s been an uncoordinated effort from both Samsung and Apple here, and the fact that Apple’s chosen Qi as its wireless charging standard [the same as Samsung] is massive in terms of making wireless charging infrastructure finally all-pervasive and everywhere.
“And really,” Gareth says in closing, “if you look at wireless charging and bezelless displays as trends, those are examples where – because the two biggest smartphone manufacturers are now doing the same thing – everyone else will have to follow suit.”
Interested in Apple’s new iPhones? Head over to Vodafone.co.uk to grab yours; anyone ordering before November 13 2017 an 8GB plan or above from Vodafone UK will receive 10GB of extra data each month!
Where to next?