Is the iPhone X a VR-ready iPhone?

November 2017 Apple started selling a very special and innovative product: iPhone X.
no home button, face ID and the best photo camera on a smart phone yet.
But is this pocket gadget a perfect portal into Virtual Reality?
The short answer, unfortunately, is that it is NOT!
Fortunately, it is a great iPhone and it does improve the VR experience greatly.
To start of lets look at the specs of this new and very expensive iPhone and see how this related to the Virtual Reality immersion factor.
There a four main characteristics that make a Smartphone a "Virtual Reality ready" smartphone: The display, its power, its size and its sensors.
Display and Size
The display of this perfectly designed piece of hardware has very large OLED Multi-Touch 5,8 inch display that fills up almost the whole front of the iPhone. Its HDR display has 2436-by-1125-pixel resolution which means it has a Pixel density of 458 (PPI). This is a big improvement when compared to the other iPhone models.
Specially its display size, pixel density and the OLED technology provide a more realistic VR experience. OLED displays have a better contrast-ratio and the black pixel are really black (actually, they are turned off).
Downside of this display is that its refresh rate remains only 60hz which causes lag/latency and motion blur reducing the sense of immersion greatly. Some other brands, especially the Daydream-ready smartphones and the Razor Phone (which has a refresh rate of 120Hz!), have a higher refresh rate, just like high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. The Refresh rate of a display, combined with the latency of the gyroscope sensor are considered to be the most important specifications of a good VR-headset.
The new iPhone flagship ships with a A11 Bionic processor with 64-bit architecture and 3GB of RAM. This is enough power to run great VR games. The iOS metal-layer and AR-Kit also help developers to create powerful content which requires less (graphical) processing power.
The iPhone X has lots of sensors onboard. Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Gyroscope, Barometer and the 3D TrueDepth sensors on the front. The accelerometer and gyroscope enable the iPhone to follow your movements and their quality is therefore, essential for a good Virtual Reality experience.
Although Apple does not mention the improvement of these sensors there is a notable improvement noticeable. This is only natural as Apple is focussing on Augmented Reality which has the same needs.
It is a pity the 3D sensors TrueDepth sensors are on the front of the iPhone. If they would be positioned on the back of the phone, they would improve both Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality, just like a Occipital Bridge does. I am eagerly waiting for Occipital to ships is iPhone X version of the Occipital Bridge, as the Occipital Bridge fills a lot of the missing elements of the iPhone X, when speaking of Virtual Reality.
Occipital Bridge
I've tried the iPhone X in a number of VR-headsets (Freefly, Homido, Merge VR, etc) and it fits in most of the existing headsets.
Most VR-Games and Apps still need to be updated to enhance its experience when using a iPhone model X.
At the moment of writing, only WHTIN Within VR App seems to be fully compatible with the iPhone X.
Augmented Reality, AR-kit and 3D TrueDepth
Apple seems to be focussing more on Augmented reality at the moment. Apple's AR-kit opens a wide range of possibilities for iOS developers to create Augmented Reality Apps. AR-kit enabled iOS software to detect the real world through the camera's and merge it with virtual objects creating AR and MR. Some great AR apps are: AR MeasureKit, ARcade Plane, PowARdup and IKEA Place.
If you want to experience the 3D TrueDepth sensor(s), which is basically a micro MicroSoft Kinetic sensor, then try the AR MeasureKit Face and Apple's Clips App. It will give you a glimps at what the (near) future Apple iPhones will be able to do with Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality when Apple integrated the 3D TrueDepth sensor in the back of the iPhone (which they already should have done on the iPhone X).
The new iPhone X is not Apples Virtual Reality product. It does however, greatly improve the Virtual Reality experience and is the best Virtual Reality iPhone so far. Other high-end phones seem more fit for the job. If Virtual Reality is your number one demand on a smart phone, then consider buying a Razer Phone (check Amazon link), Google Pixel 2 (check Amazon link) or Samsung S8 (check Amazon link) instead.
If Apple want to create an iPhone which is VR-ready, then they should choose a display with a higher refresh rate and integrate 3D TrueDepth on the back of the iPhone (enabling/improving positional tracking).
For those interested, the iPhone X is also available on Amazon and, off course, in Apple's own AppleStore.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. To bad apple is not really on the VR bandwagon. Maybe their next itinerations will be more vr friendly.


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