Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

New iPhone X: Lawyers, Should You Upgrade or Fear Security Risks?

The newest iPhones were announced this week with the usual Apple fanfare. In addition to celebrating the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone at the company's new "spaceship" campus, it announced three new models of their now flagship device: iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, and iPhone X.

While the 8 and 8 plus are merely systems upgrades and updates of the previous models, as is typical with annual updates, the 10 is a complete redesign. However, one of the biggest upgrades might make the 10 a device to avoid initially, at least if security is an important issue for you.

Face ID Makes This a Wait and See

For the iPhone X, Apple removed the Touch ID finger print sensor in the home button because the home button doesn't exist on the new device. However, for the convenience of users, it added a facial recognition feature that will enable users to unlock their devices with a simple glance.

This feature alone makes getting the device a big risk, at least if you plan to use the feature. First off, though the technology Apple is using goes beyond what other consumer level devices have used for facial recognition, the risk of it being easily circumvented will not be known until the device is in the wild. Additionally, like the line of cases determining that a fingerprint passcode is less private than an alpha-numeric passcode (and thus officers/courts can force fingerprint locked devices to be unlocked), it would seem that a facial recognition passcode would follow the same logic.

Are You Overdue for an Upgrade?

OK, so the Face ID feature may be a bit too futuristic for many, but you will more likely than not be able to disable it until more is known about the security risks of using it. As such, you may be thinking about upgrading, especially if you're overdue and your battery is dying. If so, know that the 10 will set you back a thousand bucks (before taxes and other accessories, like a case). You can save $300 by just getting the iPhone 8. Or, you may want to consider getting your battery professionally replaced. Gone are the days of the $200 iPhone subsidies from cell service providers.

If you're an iPhone user that skipped the last generation, none of the new devices have corrected the most controversial feature removed from the iPhone 7: there is still no standard headphone jack. Fortunately, an adapter is still included with purchase. The new line of devices appear to have continued on in the usual Apple fashion of making the display, camera, software, and user experience, better. However, for a lawyer's day-to-day, the new devices don't really do much. Luckily, if you're overdue, and you want a new iPhone that has a headphone jack, the iPhone 6s will still be sold, and at a bargain rate.

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