By Stephen Nellis
CUPERTINO, Calif. (Reuters) – Apple Inc on Tuesday rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.”
The phone features wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. The home button found on previous iPhones is also gone, and users will instead tap the device to wake it up.
But in an embarrassing moment for Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi, the face ID unlocking did not work on his first attempt during the on-stage presentation.
The phone, which is priced at $999 and ships on Nov. 3, as well as the holiday shopping season that will follow are the most important for Apple in years.
Shares of Apple were last down 1.3 percent after erasing gains of up to 1 percent during the launch event.
The company has sold more than 1.2 billion iPhones over the past decade and ushered in the era of mobile computing, but last year had a substantial decline in revenue as many consumers rejected the iPhone 7 as being too similar to the iPhone 6.
The screen on the iPhone X is about the size of the current iPhone 7 plus, though the phone itself is smaller. It features richer colors thanks to a new technology called OLED that other vendors such as Samsung are also rolling out.
Apple also introduced the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, which resemble the iPhone 7 line but have a glass back for wireless charging.
The new phones feature Apple’s first proprietary graphics processor, which provides greater speed, improved cameras and some features for augmented reality apps.
The cheapest phones have 64 gigabytes of memory, up from 32 gigabytes in previous models, and will sell for $699 and $799.
The company also introduced an upgraded Apple Watch, which can make phone calls and access the internet without the user carrying an iPhone. The Series 3 watch will cost $399.
Apple did not provide sales figures for its watches, but Cook said sales had risen 50 percent from the year before and that the Apple Watch was now the best-selling watch in the world.
Gene Munster, an analyst with Loup Ventures, believes sales of the watch could double or even triple because of the new connectivity.
The upgraded Apple TV will support the high resolution display known as 4K and will also feature more programming options as Apple steps up its efforts to cut content deals and produce its own shows.
FLASHY NEW CAMPUS
Cook opened the event at the Steve Jobs Auditorium on Apple’s new campus with a tribute to the company’s co-founder and former CEO Jobs, who died in 2011.
The Apple building itself was considered to be Jobs’ final product, and Cook spent a few minutes boasting about the design, energy-saving features and public spaces at the new campus, including a flagship Apple Store.
The theater, never before open to the public, features an expansive glass-enclosed lobby, with two massive white stone staircases leading down to the auditorium. Inside, the decor is similar to that of Apple’s stores, with hard maple flooring and tan leather seats.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)