After using it for a good part of last three days, here are my initial thoughts and impressions on iPhone X.
This is not exactly a review of the device. That will come later. Our resident reviewer Joel Barron is working on it. These are just my initial personal thoughts on the device after having used it as my primary phone in the last few days.
Lets start with Face ID, the marquee feature of iPhone X. It works like “magic.” I might have unlocked the phone 200+ times so far in whatever time I have spent with the device and it has never failed to work for me even once. Light or no light, glasses or no glasses, facial hair or not, in bed, walking or standing – it just works. It might not be as fast as Touch ID in all conditions and situations, but it’s 100 times more convenient as it eliminates having to touch a button to authenticate. It’s like having the old swipe to unlock back on the Lock screen minus the passcode entry part for authentication. Using Face ID truly feels like the future.
Face ID also makes it possible to hide incoming notification previews on Lock screen until the phone sees your face. You can see it in action here. This is super useful and is alone reason why you’ll prefer having Face ID as your authentication method instead of something like Touch ID.
As for the “all-screen” OLED display, it is absolutely stunning with crisp, clear, accurate colors and no unnatural over-saturation bullshit. It literally feels like a high quality printed paper slapped onto a glass slab. And I’m not making this all up. Extensive tests from both Tom’s Guide and DisplayMate have crowned it the best display to ever put on a smartphone.
Coming to the “notch”, I never had a problem with the notch to begin with. I was all for #teamembracethenotch even when nothing was official and now having used the phone, my thoughts on it haven’t changed. It blends in beautifully, looks futuristic, and makes the design of all other phones (including Essential Phone) with foreheads and chins look outdated in comparison. In a world where it’s so hard to distinguish between the design of the phones, iPhone X’s design stands out in the crowded market and looks very different to the likes of Note 8, S8/S8+, Pixel 2 XL, LG G6, V30, Mate 10 Pro, Mi Mix 2, etc. which all look very similar with their thin foreheads and chins on top and bottom. I won’t be surprised if other manufacturers follow suit in copying the “bezel-less” front design of iPhone X in their 2018 flagships.
On the battery life, I’m not in a great position to comment on it because I haven’t had a chance to use iPhone X “normally” as yet. Most of the first three days have gone in setting up the device (backing up, restoring, downloading apps, indexing photos and files etc.). Having fast and wireless charging helps and works as advertised though but should have been included as part of out-of-the-box experience instead of having to shell extra $$$ for the luxury.
Same goes for cameras too. Haven’t put them through enough testing yet to comment on how good (or bad) they are when compared to previous-gen models. I will say this though, the Portrait Mode on front facing camera is a pretty neat addition, even if the resulting shots aren’t always as sharp around the subject’s edges as I would like. Portrait Lighting (in beta) on front camera is amazing too when used in ideal conditions. Everything from the rear shooter has looked spectacular as well in whatever little testing I have done with the device. If DxoMark scores are anything to go by, it’s the best camera on a phone for taking photos. Take it for what it’s worth.
Coming to the software, iOS 11.1 is blazing fast on this device. Before the switch to iPhone X, I was using iPhone 8 as my primary device for a month and a half and iOS 11 experience on it was shoddy at best, with random lag and stutter all over the place. Same goes for iPhone 7 Plus which I was using for over a year before switching to iPhone 8 (although iOS 11.2 betas have improved this situation). The likely reason as to why I have found iOS 11.1 working butter-smooth on X compared to 8 might come down to Apple having more time to optimize iOS 11.1 to work better on this 2017 flagship device, then say 8, cause I don’t see any other reason as both iPhone X and iPhone 8 are powered by the extremely fast A11 Bionic chip and mostly share same specs when it comes to CPU, GPU etc.
As you may already know, iPhone X is the first Apple phone which does away with the iconic Home button. When Apple announced iPhone X, I was a bit skeptical about its removal and having its functionality replaced by a combination of Face ID, Side button and software-based systemwide gestures. All the actions you used countless times a day, such as going back to Home screen, invoking App Switcher, Reachability etc. have all been replaced by gestures which you perform by swiping in different directions on ‘home indicator’ at the bottom. I’ll be lying if I say that these gestures don’t take a while getting used to as initially I found myself trying to hit a non-existent Home button more often than not as I battled my way through the muscle memory developed during last ten years. Once you get the hang of the gestures though (took me about a day to master them!), it will be hard going back to using any “classic” iPhone model with the Home button. Apple has nailed it with the execution of these gestures on iPhone X as they feel very natural to use, and being an iPad Pro user, I don’t find that too surprising either as gestures on iPads have always worked fantastically well way back from iOS 4 days, and the latest ones introduced for iPad Pro in iOS 11 have only made them better. The new quick app switching gesture on iPhone X is by far my favorite of the bunch. It can be seen starting from 0:33 mark in the video below:
Animoji, another iPhone X exclusive feature, is a lot of fun too. It’s too early to say whether the novelty of using them will wear off with time, but right now, they are very fun to use and is one of those features that are great to demo when showing off the device to someone. It doesn’t fail to impress anyone!
My biggest gripe so far is with the weight of the phone. It feels noticeably heavier than any other phone I have ever tried or used. This might not necessarily be as bad a thing as the added weight gives it a premium feel in the hand but it certainly will take sometime for me to get used to it completely. The overall glass+stainless steel design of the device is very nice though.
I personally went for Silver variant having previously used Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus. I went with Silver over Space Gray mainly because I think being the 10th anniversary model, this color pays great homage to the silver aluminum back and black front of the original 2007 model. iPhone X truly looks like the 2017 version of it with its all-screen black front (no white!), shiny stainless steel frame (which looks fantastic!), and shiny glass on the back.
Another thing I wished iPhone X had was 120Hz ProMotion display of iPad Pro. If you have ever used 2017 iPad Pros, you know what I am talking about here. Being a regular iPad Pro user and used to that amazing smoothness offered by 120Hz refresh rate, it’s tough looking at screens with lower refresh rate. I really wish Apple had brought same tech to iPhone X too. The new Razer Phone launching this month has it as well. Maybe Apple saved it for next year.
A small annoyance in software that I have is the inability to view battery percentage all the time in Home and Lock screens. Yes you can check it by invoking the Control Center but that is an extra step and is kinda annoying. Thankfully, it’s something which can easily be fixed in a software update. Hope Apple figures out a better way of implementing battery percentage in the status bar in the next version of iOS for iPhone X.
All in all, I have never felt this excited for an iPhone launch in many, many years. Last time my excitement got this close was back in 2010 with iPhone 4 and the X is the first phone to have surpassed that for me. It’s now easily my favorite iPhone model of all time. Apple’s marketing slogan for iPhone 4 was “This changes everything. Again.” and rightly so as at that time it was the biggest leap forward for not just the iPhone, but smartphone market in general since the OG model in 2007. To me, with all the massive internal and external changes in iPhone X, it is worthy of a similar slogan. At least for me, it changes everything. Yet again.