Technology

Apple Engineers Raced Against Time To Launch iPhone X This Year

You have pre-ordered the iPhone X, and are eagerly waiting to get your hands on the device on Nov.3. When Apple says the iPhone X is the “smartphone of the future,” you should believe it. Apple originally did not intend to launch iPhone X in 2017. The device was initially supposed to hit the store shelves in 2018. But engineers at Apple raced against time to launch iPhone X this year to mark the 10th-anniversary of Apple’s iconic product.

Apple Launch iPhone X
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

Apple’s decision to launch iPhone X is paying off well

The iPhone X comes with many new features including the Face ID facial recognition system, a bezel-less OLED screen, wireless charging, augmented reality, and more. The phone also has several hidden features that you’ll find useful. Demand for the device is so strong that waiting periods for pre-orders have stretched to 5-6 weeks. Pre-orders are estimated to reach upward of 40 million units. If you are unable to buy the device this holiday season, just remember that it was originally not intended for this year.

In an interview with Mashable, Apple’s hardware Senior Vice-President Dan Riccio said the company had envisioned launching an all-screen smartphone “since iPhone one,” but the device wasn’t supposed to launch until 2018. It took “a lot of hard work,┬átalent, grit, and determination” to be able to deliver the futuristic iPhone this year. Riccio said he was proud of the teams that delivered not one or two, but three iPhone designs in one year.

Apple had no time to explore the in-display or rear fingerprint readers

Riccio claims shortening the timeframe meant there was no scope for second-guessing decisions. It contradicts previous reports that Apple wanted to use an in-display fingerprint technology but turned to Face ID only after facing technical difficulties with the in-display solution. Riccio told Mashable that the company spent “no time” looking at the rear-mounted or in-display fingerprint readers.

They went “all in” when they decided to replace the Touch ID and home button with the Face ID facial recognition technology. The Cupertino company was in such a rush to launch iPhone X in 2017 that it had locked down the phone’s design in November last year. It means the notch, the bezel-less OLED screen, and the narrow body were frozen a full year before the phone arrives.

The timeline was challenging because Apple needed to develop and refine several technologies in a limited timeframe. Delivering a phone with no home button required a lot of software changes as well. Any one of the new technologies and features could have posed obstacles and prevented Apple from launching the iPhone X this year.

Riccio added that the decision to add a neural engine in the A11 Bionic chip was made in 2014, when Apple engineers started preliminary work on the processor. At the time, Apple didn’t even know what the neural engine would be used for, but it knew that the decision had to be made ahead of time, said Apple’s hardware chief. The tech giant also confirmed that the iPhone X’s OLED screens are made by Samsung.

Talking about the iPhone X, Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said it was one of those projects where “you set out to do something where at the outset you think there’s no way we’re going to pull this off.” There were a dozen things that had to be solved. Both he software and hardware engineers knew where they were going “with the industrial design.” But only after the final prototypes arrived that they were able to “truly assess what worked and what did not” and then finalized the device.

iPhone X to affect the sales in other categories

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty has told investors that the iPhone X “supercycle” would affect other retailers in a big way this holiday shopping season. Given the $1,000 starting price of the iPhone X, it is estimated to “absorb” about $30 billion of discretionary spending during the holiday season. Customers will be attracted to the phone’s beautiful design and new features.

Kuberty says consumers will try to cut back their spending in other categories to be able to afford the iPhone X. In total, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X would “absorb” about $53 billion from other categories. Huberty says consumers will reduce their spending on apparels, which she described as “a wallet share donor to other categories.” People who purchased the shiny new iPhone X would think, “I just bought a $1,000 phone last month, I don’t really need another pair of jeans.”

The hidden cost of iPhone X

It’s not just that the iPhone X is expensive. An even bigger worry is the repair cost. The phone has a glass panel both on the front and back, which makes it vulnerable. The AppleCare+ protection for the device costs $199, much higher than any other iPhone. The two-year AppleCare+ plan protects the phone against two accidental damages, though you’ll still have to shell out $29 fee for screen damages and $99 for other damages.

If you don’t purchase the AppleCare+ plan, you’ll have to spend $279 to get the display repaired in case of accidental damage. For other damages, Apple will charge you $549. The iPhone X has high maintenance costs, which most of the enthusiastic buyers do not realize.

Do you welcome Apple’s decision to launch iPhone X in 2017? Let us know your view in comments below.