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Apple Unveils Highly Anticipated iPhone 10 To Mark Device's Anniversary


Today at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple CEO Tim Cook made a dramatic introduction.


TIM COOK: This is iPhone 10. It is the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.

SHAPIRO: This phone debuts on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. Over the past decade, competition in the smartphone market has grown. Samsung is gaining market share. Chinese brands are outdoing Apple in the important Chinese market. Joining us now to put today's announcement in perspective is NPR's Laura Sydell. Hi, Laura.


SHAPIRO: One of the most striking things about this new iPhone is the price. A thousand dollars is really expensive. What do people get for that?

SYDELL: Right. That is a lot. Well, first off, it has an edge-to-edge OLED screen, and that looks really good. And that means it also will give you a bit more battery power. So you get an extra two more hours out of that. There's no more home button. So there's going to be some changes for people who are used to the iPhone. You touch the screen to wake it up. And there's a way you just kind of swipe up. And you can see your apps and all of that. Also, the new iPhone has wireless charging. And perhaps the most unique part of this is it has this face-scanning technology. And Apple's calling it Face ID. And it means you're going to be able to sign in to your phone just by looking at the phone or use Apple Pay just by looking at the phone.

SHAPIRO: I imagine that'll give Apple a lot of biometrics data. Is there a privacy concern here?

SYDELL: Well, people are definitely raising that - that there could be privacy concerns here. Apple, during the press conference, said, first off, nobody else will be able to get in here other than you. A photo won't work. Even your evil twin won't work. Then there's the question of giving all this data to Apple. Now, they didn't say. But historically speaking, what Apple has done, for example, with its thumbprint data is it's only on your phone. They don't want your information. They've made this really clear. One of the things that Tim Cook has put himself out there as is that Apple is not like other companies that are selling advertising. They're selling devices. So it will be stored on your phone most likely. And, therefore, nobody else will be able to access it, including Apple.

SHAPIRO: Are these features enough to, as Tim Cook described it, set the path for technology for the next decade?

SYDELL: Well, there's some other features on it that I have to say I think people are going to really like and are surprisingly important, I think. So, you know, emojis - very popular they now have these things called Animojis. Animojis will let you actually add your own facial expression to the emoji. Seems small, but these kind of social things can be huge.

SHAPIRO: Like, superimpose my face on a pair of cherries or something like that.

SYDELL: Exactly. You got it (laughter).


SYDELL: And, secondly, it's also got augmented reality features. So you'll be able to play a game as if it's in the real world. You and somebody else can sit in a room and play that game looking on a table in front of you. Remember last summer, there was a big craze with augmented reality. That was Pokemon Go.


SYDELL: So Apple is betting we're going to have a big craze with all these new things now.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about the competition. The iPhone is up against Samsung's Galaxy Note 8, which has gotten really good reviews.

SYDELL: Yes, it does. And it's $950, so also expensive. And it's got the OLED screen and the curved sides - all that stuff. It doesn't have Face ID. But here's what's more important. People don't really want to change ecosystems. If you're in the Apple ecosystem, and you're using their products, you don't want to learn a whole new system. So I think the customers they have are going to want to upgrade.

I also would add that there is now an upgraded iPhone 7 called an iPhone 8. It has some of the features of the new iPhone 10. But it doesn't have face recognition. And it starts at $699, which is a bit more affordable in the universe of Apple's very expensive products. And, remember, Apple's a premium brand. They've never said they were going to be the cheapest. What Apple is all about is giving you the premium experience, the aspirational experience, Ari.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Laura Sydell. Thanks a lot, Laura.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In this report, it’s said that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 does not have a facial recognition feature. In fact, it does.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT
In this report, it's said that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 does not have a facial recognition feature. In fact, it does.
Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.