The tech behind Apple's latest iPhones

Investigating Apple's brand new technology that's built inside iPhone X...
The tech behind Apple's latest iPhones

What makes Face ID, animojis and AR possible?

There’s no denying that iPhone X is set to be the most revolutionary, technologically-advanced iPhone ever. It features a 5.8-inch OLED screen - covering almost the entire face of the phone - a dual lens camera, and it’s packed with clever tech to make its headline features possible.

But what’s going on behind the scenes? What makes the likes of Face ID, animoji, and Apple’s augmented reality possible?

TrueDepth camera system

A lot of the magic happens through iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera system - the black cut-out that dips into the display at the top of the handset. Housed inside the tiny space is a flood illuminator, an infrared camera, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a speaker and microphone, a 7MP front-facing camera, and a dot projector. This is what they all do:

  • Flood illuminator: Able to see and identify you in low light when unlocking the phone with Face ID.

  • Infrared camera: This camera takes the image of your face for processing, feeding it through to the phone’s neural network to create a model of what it can see.

  • Proximity sensor: It can understand depth, and how far away something is from the phone. This also helps it decide how far away your nose might be from your mouth, for example, to securely identify your unique features.

  • Dot projector: 30,000 dots are mapped over your face, letting iPhone X determine who you are, and if you’re its rightful owner.

How safe is Face ID?

Apple claims that the chances of someone being able to unlock your phone with Face ID is one in one million, however that number could be significantly less for those with a twin (evil or otherwise).

There also question around what would stop an opportunist thief from stealing your phone and holding it front of your face before making a run for it. Thankfully, Apple has thought of this too. If you don’t look directly at the camera, or have your eyes tight shut, it won’t unlock. Or you can squeeze both sides of the phone to temporality disable Face ID.


As well as being able to unlock your phone using just your face, you can also use the TrueDepth camera system to play with Apple’s animated emojis, AKA animojis. For those readers who may be new to emoji, we’re talking about the small pictures used when messaging to express various emotions.

Apple’s range of 12 animojis include a robot, alien, puppy, kitten, monkey, pig, fox, panda, chicken, rabbit, unicorn, and people’s favourite – the poop.

Using a lot of the same features we talked about above, you can record and create real-time emojis that mimic your facial expressions, to send to friends through Apple’s Messages app on iOS 11.

Augmented reality

Next up is augmented reality, or AR, which layers moving images on top of your surroundings, creating the illusion that you’re right in front of the action.

Apple’s A11 Bionic processing chip that makes it all possible, powerful enough to allow even the most demanding of games and AR experiences a smooth ride. Apple says the A11 is “the most powerful and smartest chip ever in an iPhone, with a neural engine that’s capable of up to 600 billion operations per second”, which basically means it's really good at multitasking.

The CPU itself is split in six cores, called a hexa-core system - similar to the big.LITTLE system used in some Android phones. The smaller cores take care of the little tasks – like messaging and GPS – whereas the big ones looks after your HD games and recording 4K video.

Are you looking forward to iPhone X hitting the shelves? Let us know about your favourite features in the comments section below. And register your interest for iPhone X by following this link

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