Online pre-orders open today for iPhone X but you’d better be lightning fast if you want one this side of Christmas. In Australia, pre-orders open at 6.01pm, AEDT with non-official estimates of as few as 3 million handsets available this year globally.
It was always interesting to see how supply would match demand for iPhone X. On the one hand, a phone costing from $1579 mightn’t be for everyone. Some Apple devotees may prefer to upgrade to iPhone 8, saving money, and keeping the familiarity of home button functionality.
But the big issue has been supply, or lack of it, this year.
Reports initially centred around the manufacture of Apple’s new face-recognition technology.
Face recognition is Apple’s way of making it easy to unlock iPhone X without a home button.
Apple said at its September launch that its new Face ID camera would scan 30,000 points to verify a face. It was good enough to recognise you if you grew a beard or wore glasses. It used machine learning to adjust to your face.
But overseas reports say manufacture of this technology was a sticking point. Bloomberg reported that Apple told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture. But Apple vehemently denied this.
Still, estimates of available iPhone X units this year are well down on 74.5 million iPhone handsets sold in the December quarter last year, with KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo telling Apple insider site MacRumours that only 2-3 million units would be available this year.
If this is correct, the pre-order phase this week could be a sales frenzy, with users forced to commit to an iPhone X in the first minutes of preordering if they want a handset anytime soon.
Tweets from the US suggest significant numbers of users there will be getting up in the early hours to pre-order also.
In the MacRumours report, Kuo identified other factors holding back iPhone X production. They started with the antenna.
“Special materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are required for antenna FPCB, as the specifications for iPhone X antenna are higher than those of iPhone 8 and only Murata and Career Tech can meet Apple’s requirements,” he told MacRumours.
“Murata (originally with a 60pc order allocation or higher) won’t be able to resolve its issues before 2Q18, and thus has been fully replaced by second supplier Career.”
Still, for many, the wait will be worth it.
iPhone X offers early adopters several other changes, apart from getting rid of the home button and substituting it with Apple’s Face ID face recognition.
It has a large 5.8-inch edge-to-edge high resolution display, and for the first time for Apple, an OLED display. Here Apple is playing catch-up. Rival Samsung has been using OLED displays for years.
The iPhone X camera has optical image stabilisation in both back facing lenses, a faster f/2.4 aperture, and it can take portrait photos with the background blurred on both the front and back cameras.
X debuts Apple’s ‘Animojis’ — animated emojis, that can mouth your outgoing voice messages in iMessage.
You can pre-order in Australia here. The phone officially goes on sale next Friday, November 3.