After signs of sagging demand for the last couple of iPhones, the iPhone X seems to have brought Apple unambiguously back to the premium smartphone throne.
Reuters reports long lines at Apple stores around the world ahead of the device’s launch today. About 400 people queued at Apple’s flagship store in Sydney, Australia, compared to a line of about 30 for the release of the iPhone 8; and a store in Tokyo saw about 550 customers lined up.
Meanwhile, Apple itself has reported “off the charts” demand since preorders opened on October 27th, and said that it expects revenues in the range of $84 billion and $87 billion for the fourth quarter. CEO Tim Cook has said that this is likely to be Apple’s “biggest quarter ever”.
If the iPhone X turns out to have the wild success that appears to be materializing, it could have a profound impact on the mobile sector, particularly with respect to biometric technologies. Apple pioneered smartphone fingerprint scanning with the launch of its Touch ID system in 2013, and now this technology is widespread on contemporary devices. But on the iPhone X it’s replacing that system with Face ID, a facial recognition system based on infrared scanning that can produce a detailed 3D map of the user’s face. Its announcement sent a shockwave through the mobile biometrics industry, with smartphone makers reportedly having slowed down investment in fingerprint scanning technologies and adopted a wait-and-see approach concerning mainstream adoption of facial recognition.
It’s too early to say how everyday consumers are enjoying Face ID, of course, but early reports from reviewers have generally lauded the authentication system, and a new piece from Wired details its impressive security. Going so far as to hire an expert hacker and a Hollywood prosthetics specialist to create a mask of an iPhone X user, Wired reports that its team “ultimately spent thousands of dollars” on its efforts to spoof the Face ID system, and that it failed in every attempt.
That should be reassuring to security-conscious consumers. It could also be reassuring to the many mobile facial recognition specialists ready to offer solutions to other device makers looking to ride the Face ID wave. The industry seems to be on the cusp of a big shift.