IPhone X Review

What’s the iPhone X?

The iPhone X — or iPhone 10 — is a hugely important device for Apple.  Not only does its launch coincide with the 10th anniversary of arguably the most significant tech product of the last decade, but it is the first iPhone in four years to undergo a significant redesign.

It is also the finest iPhone I’ve ever used — but it comes at a price tag.  A fairly hefty one.

Pros

  • Stunning screen
  • Much-improved telephoto camera
  • The best-looking iPhone ever
  • Impressive battery life
  • Face ID is so much better than a fingerprint detector

Cons

  • Software requires more optimization for your taller screen and notch
  • No fast-charging plug included
  • Very Costly

 Design

Apple has been coasting for too long with the layout it introduced to the iPhone 6, but that all changes with the iPhone X — in a major way.  You do not want me to tell you that the iPhone X is a massive departure from the iPhone design of older — just look at the pictures.  Not only does it look good, but; Apple has done a wonderful job at really making it feel quite good in the hand.

This phone is simply magnificent.  It is slightly taller than the iPhone 8 (and 6 and 7) but considerably narrower and smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus.  It strikes the perfect balance, particularly because you’re getting a 5.8-inch display here.

The aluminum sides are swapped out for stainless steel — as seen on the Apple Watch — along with the front and back of the unit are glass.  I got the Silver variant for inspection — and, regrettably, it was not long before it was covered in fingerprints, those glistening sides being a specific magnet.  This is a phone that looks fantastic straight after a wipe-down; not so much a few hours after it has been on your greasy palms.

Also of concern is the way the iPhone X will fare over time.  However unscientific they may be, drop tests demonstrate that the finish here does not lend itself well to wear and tear.  After all, the stainless steel Apple Watch I’ve been using is a scratched-up mess.  Because of this, my iPhone X has invested a lot of its time within an Apple case, but this surely sees it lose points in the glamour stakes.

iPhone X vs iPhone 8 Plus

It is around the front of the iPhone X that the magic happens, however.  The iPhone 8 comes with an extensive bezel running around the screen, but the iPhone X does not.  Very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8, Apple has pushed out the screen to the edges here, significantly reducing the bezel.  A noticeable black border stays, but it provides a wonderful contrast to the bright screen.

The absence of a thick bezel means there is no room for your Home button, a feature present on each single iPhone iteration until today.  Because of this, there is no Touch ID fingerprint scanner.  Instead, the iPhone X sees Apple present facial recognition — a daring move.

All the elements for Face ID (infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector) are housed in what is affectionately being known as the ‘notch’.  You’ll get the notch on peak of the screen, where it somewhat disrupts that all-screen appearance.  There has been much controversy regarding the notch with respect to it completely destroying the immersive experience.  As soon as you start using the telephone, however, I have discovered that it simply blends into the background.

Sure, you notice it if the display is on, and it juts into the movie if you are playing something full-screen.  But in the other cases, it fades to the background.  Certain programs — Apple’s Music being one — use software trickery to clean out the top notch, and a few apps clearly have to be updated to make sure important buttons are not hidden by it.

In the distance either side of the notch, you will get the battery indicator and time.  Annoyingly, you can’t find the battery percent remaining or whether you’ve got a pair cans connected without opening the Control Center.  The larger annoyance is that the battery and signal indicators are not in accord with the base of the notch, so that they dip slightly below and look rather bizarre.

I really do feel the elite gives the iPhone X a little bit of character and a distinctive appearance, something dropped by the dismissal of the house button.  I am sure Apple would eliminate it in a minute if it might cram this tech within the bezel, but it does feel as if the company wishes to use it as a distinguishing feature while it’s here.

Face ID

I have used Samsung’s face unlock and iris scanners a good bit, and have not been especially impressed by either their speed or precision.  So it was significant that Apple’s Face ID worked each and every time.  And I need to say I have been thoroughly impressed with Face ID; there has not been one time I’ve wanted for Touch ID instead.

It functions accurately in both the dark and light; it can not be fooled by pictures or masks, and it works if you are wearing glasses too.  There have been reports that twins have fooled it, and Apple told me a few IR-blocking sunnies won’t function, but these are restricted scenarios.  Note that you will need to be ‘actively aware’ for this to work — you can not just shove it in somebody’s face and expect it to unlock.

Face ID is not perfect, however, but then neither was Touch ID; the fingerprint scanner was bad if your fingers were slightly moist or greasy.  This isn’t a issue now.  However, I have discovered that Face ID struggles if my eyes are a shriveled mess, usually first thing in the morning and if the phone is not close enough to my face.  If you’re the sort of person who attempts to sneak a peek at their notifications along with your telephone at pocket-level then you are out of luck.

Programs that formerly used Touch ID as a way of unlocking will automatically be substituted by Face ID without needing an upgrade, and you can, of course, use it to get Apple Pay payments also.

Display

The iPhone X sees Apple switch out its customary LCD screen technician for an OLED panel for the first time.  Samsung, Google, and a number of other Android phone manufacturers have been using this technology for a while now, and it is wonderful to see Apple finally joining the fray with a product aside from the Apple Watch.  This is also the highest-resolution display in the past on an iPhone, using a slightly odd 2436 x 1125 pixels, and there is support for the DCI P3 colour gamut and Dolby Vision HDR.

OLEDs provide better contrast, true blacks, and a more vibrant image, but they are not always perfect.  The LG panels used by Google in the Pixel two XL have come in for plenty of criticism for poor viewing angles and an odd blue tinge.  Even the outstanding display on the Samsung Galaxy S8 is more prone to suffering poor viewing angles.

Apple’s OLEDs come from Samsung, and while there is a little shift to blue if you tilt the device off-axis, it is much less noticeable compared to Pixel 2 XL.  Apple says it has made a fair few tweaks to this panel, along with the business’s optimisation of it’s certainly different to Samsung’s strategy for its own Galaxy S8 and Note 8 panels.  Colours on the iPhone X are more natural and the saturation is not quite so intense.

The iPhone X’s screen also benefits from True Tone, which changes the display temperature based on the environment you are in.  3D Touch makes a return, also, enabling you to carry out alternative actions on applying various degrees of pressure on the monitor.

Whether you are a fan of the iPhone X’s screen will return to what features you value most in a display.  For me, this is the ideal display on any handset I have seen.  I downloaded a few HDR-enabled pictures from iTunes — something that you can not do on Android — and they are stunning.  I would not normally see an entire film on a sub 6-inch display, but on the iPhone X I did — and I was not distracted by the notch in any respect.