by Joe Bursley

I’ve never been one to take a bite out of Apple. My first smartphone was the Samsung Galaxy S4, and I just upgraded this summer to the Google Pixel. While I will admit that Apple products have their place in the technology market and showcase some good key features, I don’t believe they’ve ever really lived up to the hype surrounding their phones and computers. However, with the news of the latest iPhones being released, I decided to tune in, watch the release, and give my take on the iPhone release from the perspective of an Android fanboy.

Fancy (misleading) Wording:

  • “Retina display” is misleading, as it is just a brand Apple owns and slaps on whatever it wants. It discusses the pixel density, where a higher ppi number means a less pixelated and smoother image on the screen. I discuss this more under “Android Already Does This”.
  • A quick search on mega pixels leads to this article detailing how higher MP count doesn’t really do anything for the naked eye. “For instance, a 1080p HD TV has a resolution of 2.1 megapixels, and even the highest-end 4K displays top out at 8.3 megapixels. Considering that nearly every smartphone camera has a double-digit megapixel rating these days, your photos will be in a higher resolution than most screens can even display.”

Image from Gadget Hacks

  • All the talk about “deeper color saturation” is moot without actual evidence or specs to back up, so this is just Apple using enhanced diction to sound cool.
  • They never mention the actual IP ratings for the phones outright, just stating that the phone is “dust and waterproof on a microscopic level.” I analyze what this means in “Android Already Does This”.
  • I still can’t believe Apple is trying to patent a shade of black titled “Space Grey”. Granted, other phone companies are doing this as well, with Samsung’s “Midnight Black”, the Essential Phone’s “Moon Black”, and the Google Pixel’s “Quite Black”, but it is absurd nonetheless.
  • “Super Retina Display” – And just when I thought I was losing respect for Apple after their “Bigger than bigger” campaign…

  • I cannot believe I just heard someone use the term “protect your face data” out loud.

The “Cult of Apple”:

Image from Business Insider

  • The only options for storage are 64 GB and 256 GB. My old S4 was 16GB, and my Pixel is just now 32 GB. I understand that a lot of people like the extra storage for extra apps and pictures/video taken on the phone, but not having those extra options like 32 or 128 GB just seems restrictive and a way to increase price. But I don’t use my phone like the typical urban iPhone cultist user does, so this may be, as Bethesda would say, a bug and a feature.
  • Introducing the iPhone 8: $700-$800 for last year’s iPhone with a glass back. Stunning. And yet, people will still be trading in a year-old phone to upgrade. SMH.
  • The lighting changes are totally filters. Really high-tech filters, but filters nonetheless. If it can be changed after shooting the picture, it is basically a filter.
  • I’m going to be mad about the name for “iPhone X” forever. If you want it written ‘iPhone X,’ then pronounce it that way. It even sounds more exclusive and rare, since that is what you are going for here. Calling it ‘ten’ just allows everyone to make Windows jokes and wonder why “seven eight nine”. In my opinion, this leaves Apple with 3 options for next September: 1.) Name the next iPhone ‘11’ and just pretend there is no such thing as nine 2.) Name the next iPhone ‘9’ and confuse everyone as to why you switched around the numeric system we’ve had for the last few centuries 3.) Completely rebrand the phone for next year in order to avoid getting to the absurdity of “iPhone 17”. This third option seems like the best one for Apple in my honest opinion. If Apple is really looking to usher in the next decade of smartphone standards, they need a rebrand desperately, as the current iPhone line is starting to become stagnant. I think the third is the best option, as Apple has always looked for new ways to be “different” and “innovative”, and having upwards of 20 iPhone editions isn’t going to do that for them.
  • The orgasm in the audience when he announces “One more thing” despite everyone knowing about iPhone X from the leaks is exactly why people call Apple a cult.

Feature Analysis:

  • There is glass on the front and back of all the phones. This seems like an easy way to break the phone, as many people have begun to point out. As my sister has broken multiple Apple products in the past from ordinary use, I can’t imagine how fragile this new product will be. Also, the design isn’t “new”; it just looks like a glass version of the last 3 iPhones.
    • “Glass is more durable ever in a smartphone,” but it is still glass and can break easier than metal. Time will tell if this iPhone design will truly stand the test of everyday use or will shatter everyone’s expectations.
  • I didn’t expect much as far as the colors. Most phones come in a “silver” and “black” version nowadays, despite Apple calling it “space grey.” The gold finish isn’t really gold, but from the pictures I’ve seen is more of a rosy color. They could easily have made an actual “gold” color iPhone to add to the exquisiteness overall.
  • 25% louder than iPhone 7 – I would hope so, or else I would be wondering what the hell Apple has been trying to work on the last year. So far nothing new except louder speakers and an even more fragile phone.
  • Note about the camera feature: If I cared enough about taking quality pictures, I would by a Canon. Having a “super duper even better” camera isn’t really worth the $1000 price I would pay for the phone.

Image from DuoCall

  • There we go with “Space Grey” as Apple tries to patent a shade of black. Also, if this is the exclusive phone, why not go with something unique that would instantly stand out when someone saw it? This is where you make the “solid gold” iPhone aesthetic for the egoists who are going to pay $1000 for an iPhone simply because of the Apple logo.
  • This “swipe up for the home screen” is going to cause so many problems. One I can think about is webpage scrolling off the top of my head. Now, it may be more intuitive than that, but it seems like it will be a somewhat frequent issue for enough people to cause annoyance. Android has the Back button, Home button, and the Overview button, which you swipe up from the bottom to access. It isn’t an automatic process, but simple enough to do what needs to be done (go back to the previous page, go to the home screen, or look at all the running apps).
  • The Multitask option seems so specific and looks like you could easily over/under ‘swipe’ and mess it up. But we’ll see how intuitive the OS is in daily use.

Image from POPSUGAR

  • Getting into the emoji part of the presentation, I will confess that this part sounded really creepy when I heard about it. Like, “Tom Hanks in the Polar Express Uncanny Valley” creepy. Let’s see how it holds up.
    • Yep, it’s really creepy.
  • Are you kidding me? They made 12 different faces you can make for these emojis and they decided it was a good idea to use the POOP emoji for one of them? Unbelievable.
    • Also, having come off the summer with the spectacular failure of “The Emoji Movie,” I’m surprised Apple decided to keep this feature for their new phone.
    • The Apple dude just started clucking on stage while animating a creepy chicken emoji.
    • Now he’s neighing like a horse.
    • Aaaaaaand of course, the poop emoji. This is why aliens haven’t contacted our planet.
  • I have to admit, despite how annoying and boring the camera part of the presentation is with how much time they spend on it, Apple really knows its audience well. One of the biggest criticisms I get for having an Android is “you can’t take good pictures.” They emphasize the camera so much because it’s one of the (only) consistently great features of iPhones.

Android Already Does This:

Image from Tech in Asia

  • Apple touts that the iPhones are sealed against dust and water, but doesn’t give specifics on IP ratings. IP stands for “Ingress Protection” rating, and is an international standard for sealing electrical devices (in this case, a smartphone), from foreign contaminants such as dust or water. The two-digit system uses the first number to rate protection against solid body intrusion, such as sand, dirt, and dust, with a scale of 1 to 7. The higher the number, the better the protection. The second number indicates the level of moisture protection, from sprays to complete submersion, rated on a scale from 1 to 9. Further investigation of the newest iPhones shows IP67 rating for all three phones. This means they are as resistant as possible to dust (7 indicates “Totally dust tight” and has not been practically implemented in a smartphone), but the waterproofing is the same as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: protection from being immersed in 1 meter of water for about 30 minutes. Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have IP 68, which means the phone can be submerged in water deeper than 1 meter for the same amount of time. This rating is also shared by the LG G6, and last year’s Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Active, S7 Edge, and the Sony Xperia XZ and Xperia XZ Premium.
    • Also note: the only way to improve on the IP68 rating is the IP69K, which means the phone would withstand high pressure water spray at 176 degrees F. There are phones out there that boast IP69K, but they look like this.
  • It seems odd that the iPhone 8 is only 4.7 inches; I would have expected at least 5. My Google Pixel is 5.0 inches, and the Pixel XL model is 5.5 – same as the 8 Plus. I know we are past the “phablet” phase of phones, but 5 inches seems to be a great base size standard.
    • Note: The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are 5.8- and 6.2-inch screens, respectively. However, due to the “infinity display” I’m not using them as a fair comparison because their design is more akin to the iPhone X.

  • Apple begins bragging about the ppi specs for each phone, but fails to put that into context of other phones. A ppi number basically indicates pixel density, where higher numbers mean more pixels per inch and a smoother, less pixelated image. The iPhone 8 Plus has a ppi of 400.53, tied with the iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, Lenovo K900 from 2013, LG G Flex 2 from 2015, and numerous other phones that even I have never heard of in the Android market. iPhone X has a slightly higher ppi of 462.63, but places 30th highest on for highest pixel density. The highest on the list is the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium with 801.06 ppi at 5.5-inch display. The Google Pixel, for the record, has 440.58 ppi and is tied with my previous phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, both with more density than the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. The Pixel XL has 534.04 ppi and is ranked 17th, still higher than the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X.
  • Funny that they mention the aperture rating for the iPhone 8 Plus but not the 8, almost as if it was nothing to boast about. The article above states that f/2.2 or lower is optimal for great pictures. 8 Plus has f/1.8 for wide angle and f/2.8 for telephoto lens. 8 has f/1.8, X has same as 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S8 have f/1.7, and the Sony Xperia XZ has f/1.6.
  • The glass back now makes sense for wireless charging, though Apple has been a bit behind the ball on this one. Many previous phones (iPhone 7, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S5) required a special case/special chip for wireless charging functionality, though more phones supported it starting in 2014, such as the Google Nexus series, the Nokia series, and LG phones. Samsung got on board in 2015 with the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge and Active. It now seems to be the industry standard, as most of the phones released this year support wireless charging (so here’s hoping the Pixel 2 does as well).

Image from Samsung

  • I do like the screen taking up basically all of the iPhone X’s front. It has a very “Galaxy S8” aesthetic, although it isn’t as great as the original. It also mirrors the Essential Phone, which is now being shipped out to consumers.
  • “First OLED display great enough to be in an iPhone” – as if Apple’s standards are so high that they waited a few years to introduce OLED displays for their phones. My Pixel has an OLED display, and the Samsung phones (all, not just the Note and S series) have had OLED displays dating back to March of 2013 (yes, my old Galaxy S4 even had an OLED screen). OLED stands for “organic light-emitting display” and creates light within each pixel, instead of requiring a secondary backlight like LCD screens use. This means darker blacks, as only the required pixels for the picture are lit, while the “dark” parts are actually emitting zero light. This has some drawbacks, as OLED screens are even more prone to screen burn than LCD, but this can be fixed by creative screen programming. The iPhone X isn’t special in this regard; it’s actually about 5 years behind.
  • Also, I can tell that Apple really wanted to beat Samsung to the “infinity display” terminology and bragging rights. Their announcement does seem a bit underwhelming compared to the S8.

What I actually like:

Image from Mashable

  • Stereo speakers are a great option on the 8 and 8 Plus, and I wish my Pixel had moved them from the bottom. It makes sense to have sound projecting from the same direction as the screen. This is nothing new from the iPhone 7, including the lack of a headphone jack, which more and more smartphones are moving towards to increase IP ratings and sell wireless headphones. I’m hanging on to my wired earphones for as long as I can, since wireless headphones are expensive for a college student.
    • Note about the Apple Airpods* – not only are they as uncomfortable as regular Apple earphones, but now they have the potential to be lost like spare change. Although, the carrying/charging case is a good way to overcome that issue.
  • I’m vaguely interested in Apple’s AR Kit. While they are not the pioneers of AR, they have recognized its importance in the next step of mobile apps. As a casual Pokémon GO! fan myself, I’m interested to see where this goes and how other phone makers will latch on to this.
  • The AR apps shown are pretty neat, particularly the MLB at Bat and the Sky Guide. Not sure how much is Apple’s work versus the app development companies, but it is impressive regardless.
  • I am actually jealous of the facial recognition software on the X. Using it on my laptop makes it simple and easy to sign in…at least when the lighting is decent. I wish my phone would be able to use facial recognition, so I actually applaud Apple for implementing this. That being said, I don’t see how this couldn’t be an option for the 8 or 8 Plus, unless that is part of the exclusivity. After all, both the Samsung S8 and S8 Plus have facial recognition due to the lack of a physical home button, so Apple I suppose is just emphasizing the exclusivity of the iPhone X.

Image from iGeeksBlog

  • Another admission: the swiping between apps is a genius idea. They should have capitalized on it more, but that’s really going to be great for people in a rush to swipe between apps as they need to.
  • The Snapchat bit is pretty cool and obviously necessary considering the demographic of Apple’s primary audience. This comes off much better than the Animojis from Hell.
  • Also, the Apple charging mat, despite the misleading “AirPower” name, is brilliant. Having one charger for your phone, smart watch and Airpods is a great way to appeal to consumers on the go. It will probably cost a small fortune, but it will be great… when it comes out next year.

In conclusion, Apple released three phones that have some unique features and aspects, but most of the presentation showed nothing new or innovative in the smartphone market as a whole. While the iPhone X might be an improvement over my Google Pixel in some respects, it is certainly not worth $1,000 to upgrade and changing OS systems. The iPhone 8 and 8 plus are lackluster glassy versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and are so immediately overshadowed by the iPhone X that it is a wonder Apple bothered to introduce them at all. I understand what Apple is trying to accomplish with the “exclusivity” of the X, but I don’t know if it will work well unless there is a big change they are setting themselves up for. For the time being, I will be here on my Android phone, waiting for Apple to catch up to 2017.

Sources: YouTube, Gadget Hacks, Reddit, The Forest Scout, Essential, and CNBC

Images: Twitter, Gadget Hacks, Business Insider, DuoCall, POPSUGAR, iGeeksBlog, Tech in Asia, Samsung, Phandroid, and Mashable


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