Apple Tracker: Will New iPhone Have The X Factor?

18. October 2017.

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Apple is like a glamorous celebrity who seems to have it all together but, beneath the shimmering screen of makeup and high fashion, is actually falling apart. With iPhone X presales starting in one week, the company is still struggling to manufacture the product, and all the while Qualcomm is fighting to get the company and its products banned from China, where most iPhones are made. On the bright side, at least the iPhone 8 batteries aren’t catching fire.

The X Factor

Apple’s iPhone X woes continue as manufacturers struggle to perfect the 3D sensors that would enable one of the smartphone’s most-hyped selling points: facial recognition.

The technology is supposed to let users unlock phones and pay digitally by verifying their identity through facial biometrics. However, the dot projectors in the TrueDepth camera system are reportedly proving more difficult to work with than expected.

Analysts are predicting lower iPhone X production numbers than initially projected, down from 40 million to 36 million. However, they retained confidence that mass production would begin in mid-October as planned, with preorders starting in the third week of the month.

It turns out they weren’t far off: iPhone X preorders will begin next week on Oct. 27. Hopefully consumers will be able to unlock their phones when it arrives…

And hopefully the iPhone X fares better than the iPhone 8, which is underselling the previous model as consumers opt for the older, but more affordable, iPhone 7 handset. AT&T reported 900,000 fewer phone upgrades this cycle than last.

Some are saying this is due to a lack of substantial enhancements in the iPhone 8 model: For $150 more, consumers are basically getting the same phone, plus wireless charging capabilities. Others point to the looming launch of the hyped-up X edition stealing its thunder. And still others are blaming carriers for offering less exciting retail promotions for the iPhone 8 than they did for last year’s iPhone 7.

It’s likely that all three of these factors have played a role in the iPhone 8’s lackluster debut. The true pulse of Apple’s health as a company will not be revealed until the iPhone X hits the scene next month.

Assault of Battery

Some buyers of the iPhone 8 reported that the brand new smartphone had cracked open due to battery expansion. However, by “some,” we mean six people across five different countries, so the incidents are likely isolated flukes — unlike last year’s spate of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery fires, which clearly left consumers and the media a little shaken.

One user in Taiwan said the new iPhone split open while charging normally, using an Apple-issued cable, after five days of use. One in China and another in Japan said the product arrived already damaged, though bearing no marks of burning or explosion. Two reports came out of the U.K. as well.

Apple told The Independent that the batteries had swelled, causing the damage, but that they did not pose a safety threat to consumers.

Access Denied

In the ongoing legal saga with Qualcomm, the mobile tech provider is trying to block Apple from producing smartphones in China, claiming that the tech giant is using Qualcomm technologies without paying for them — an infringement of three Qualcomm patents governing power management and Force Touch touchscreen technology, among others, the chipmaker says.

Apple says that Qualcomm is abusing its position as the largest supplier of smartphone chips, and after filing an antitrust suit against the tech provider, severed its licensing payments to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm aims to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in China — the last thing Apple needs heading into the big holiday season, since more than one-fifth of its sales are done in the Greater China region, and the majority of iPhones are manufactured there.

Access Granted

Apple has apparently been allowing Uber to record users’ screens via the rideshare company’s iOS app. The visibility extends to anything on the screen, including messages and passwords.

No other application in the App Store grants such permissions, and the ability has raised concerns among researchers that creating such access will make personal information on the consumer’s smartphone screen vulnerable to hackers. This is on the heels of other privacy concerns for Uber, including the practice of tracking users’ locations after their rides ended — a practice Uber has since discontinued, but which earned it 20 years of audits from the Federal Trade Commission.

The iOS app permission was granted so that the Uber app could integrate with earlier versions of the Apple Watch, but since the newer version has more powerful map rendering, Uber no longer needs the permission and is working with Apple to remove it.

Fake News

Apple stocks spiked at the announcement that Google would be buying the company for the low, low price of $9 billion. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it was. The fake news went out from Dow Jones on Oct. 10, claiming that the late Steve Jobs had sealed the Google deal in 2010.

Dow Jones said the headlines were the result of a technical error and removed them, but not before some stock market trading algorithms, which make trades based on pre-programmed criteria, took the bait, inflating Apple stocks to $158 before they settled back down to $156. However, it seems few, if any, human traders were fooled.

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