Jony Ive Says Apple iPhone X Took Five Years to Develop

And there were plenty of prototypes along the way.

Apple design chief Jony Ive said his company’s new iPhone X took some time to get to store shelves.

Speaking in an interview at the New Yorker TechFest on Friday, Ive said that his team at Apple had been working on the concept for the last five years. He added that his company “had prototypes” of what a smartphone with a display that nearly entirely covers its front panel and a facial scanner might look like.

“For 99% of the time, it didn’t work for us,” Ive said of the iPhone X prototype processor, according to the India Times, which earlier reported on his comments. “For the vast majority of the development cycle, all we had were things that failed. By definition, if they didn’t fail halfway through, then we’d be done.”

However, as time went on, Apple apparently worked out those problems, ultimately culminating in the iPhone X’s announcement last month.

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Apple’s AAPL iPhone X, which was announced alongside the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, is what the company calls the “future” of smartphones. It has a 5.8-inch display with small bezels all around, leaving no room for a physical home button. There are two rear-facing cameras on the back and a glass finish allows for wireless charging support. Apple’s front-facing Face ID scanner is used to verify a person’s identity and allow him or her access to the software or to make a purchase via the company’s Apple Pay mobile-payments service.

All of those features combine to make the iPhone X the most expensive smartphone Apple has ever released with a starting price of $ 999. A model with 256GB of storage instead of the base 64GB will cost customers $ 1,149 when the handsets are released on November 3.

Looking ahead, Ive didn’t discuss in detail what he might have planned for new iPhones. He did say, however, that new processor technologies that combine high power and small designs create “opportunities (that) are extraordinary” for future product designs.


Meet The X-Ray Visionary Looking for Signs of Life on Mars

Abigail Allwood is a translator. But instead of reading ancient texts, she reads ancient rocks, and for the past decade, the Australian astrobiologist has been exploring the most remote wilderness on earth in search of microscopic fingerprints of life.

She uses a tool called the PIXL, which she invented as a postdoc: It fires a hair’s-width x-ray beam at a rock. That energy stirs up the atoms on the surface, which then shoot back their own distinct x-rays. Combined, those x-rays create finely detailed maps of the rock, potentially revealing the past presence of microbes. She previously used the method to study rocks in Australia’s Pilbara region. “I stood barefoot on a seashore that was formed 3.45 billion years ago,” she says.

Now she’s gearing up to repeat her study—on Mars. Allwood is a principal investigator on NASA’s 2020 rover mission, the first woman to oversee a scientific instrument on a Red Planet expedition. “About bloody time!” she says. The PIXL will be one of just seven instruments aboard. “This isn’t going to be a shiny-object hunt,” she says. “It’s not like uncovering a dinosaur bone.” Her spectral science is far more subtle—but just as exciting.

Who: Abigail Allwood, astrobiologist

Idol: Naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough

Productivity hack: Oil painting. “It engages the other half of my brain, which is therapeutic.”

Unlikely hobby: “My husband and I are growing a rain forest on a 101-acre farm in Queensland.”

Last book read: The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Abigail Allwood’s work


2006: Rock Star Allwood identifies the oldest evidence of life on earth in Australia. The discovery lands her on the cover of Nature


2007: Beta Testing As a postdoc at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Allwood looks for traces of past life.


2008: Mars Calling NASA’s Mars program recruits Allwood to join its team of scientists.


2014: Breakout Role The astrobiologist is tapped to be a principal investigator on the Mars 2020 rover mission.


2021: The PIXL Allwood’s invention will scan Martian rocks for microbial biosignatures.

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Hair and makeup by Amy Hanlin for The Rex Agency; prop styling by Amy Taylor