Mobility Apple

Apple unveils iPhone 8, 8 Plus as 'first smartphone designed for AR'

At the September 12 Apple event, the Cupertino giant unveiled the latest of its flagship smartphones. Here are the details and specifications.

Video: What you need to know about the iPhone 8

Apple's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, revealed at a special event on Tuesday, represent the firm's first major hardware move into the augmented reality (AR) space. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said it is the "first smartphone designed for AR."

While Apple's ARKit is a big part of the company's AR strategy, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have some upgrades that will make them more usable as AR companion tools. The iPhone 8 has a 12MP camera, new camera sensors, deeper pixels, and more color saturation. The iPhone 8 Plus features dual 12MP cameras as well.

Apple has indeed added some hardware features in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus that support its AR efforts. But Google introduced similar features in its Tango AR phones, like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, more than a year ago. Those devices have two cameras used for 3D mapping and a time-of-flight sensor to measure depth in an environment. And the Phab 2 Pro only costs $499.

SEE: Apple's first employee: The remarkable odyssey of Bill Fernandez (PDF download)

Software and developers are also key in moving Apple's AR vision forward through ARKit. While a developer community has been built up around ARKit--evidenced by the Made With ARKit website--and the platform is fairly easy to use, its plane finding for horizontal surfaces can buggy and it has some other limitations, one user told TechRepublic.

Mobile AR is still in its early days, though, and there is a lot of growing room. One thing is clear, though, and that is that partners and integrations will determine the winner. Google Tango partnered with Lowes to add indoor mapping to 400 of its stores in early 2017, but hasn't announced a ton of other partnerships. Although Apple didn't do itself any favors in showing off its AR capabilities, choosing to focus on a couple of mobile games that didn't exemplify its features.

Outside of its focus on AR, Apple showed off a few other features of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus as well.

A new feature called portrait lighting for iPhone 8 Plus uses machine learning to customize lighting for portraits. Additionally, the phones can shoot 4K video at 60FPS and 1080p video at 240FPS, enabling incredibly slow motion video.

The phones feature a familiar design, with a glass body supported by aerospace-grade aluminum. According to Schiller, the 8 and 8 Plus will be available in silver, space grey, and a new gold color.

For those worried about the glass design, Schiller noted that the glass is the "most durable" used in any smartphone design.

The new stereo speakers for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are louder than iPhone 7 with deeper bass, Schiller said. Both phones also feature wireless charging with the Qi standard, which Apple is working with other partners to develop integrations for.

The iPhone 8 will start at $699 and the iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799. Preorders start on September 15 and ship on September 22.

On these dates, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the UK, the US and US Virgin Islands, according to the Apple website.

Beginning September 29, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in Andorra, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, according to the Apple website.

iOS 11 will be available on September 19.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Apple has released its iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are designed to work with augmented reality applications.
  2. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have new cameras, sensors, and software, and can also shoot 4K video at 60FPS and 1080p video at 240FPS.
  3. Both phones feature wireless charging with the Qi standard, have new speakers, and will ship on September 22.

Also see

Image: Apple
Visit TechRepublic