The iPhone X is the biggest update to the iPhone’s lineup since its inception. It’s the most expensive iPhone to ever be released and it has many features that are a first for an iPhone. If you’re interested in the specifications, you can find them here. My goal is to share my impressions with you and not to really bore you with the specs that, chances are, you are already aware of. If not, click here.
Let’s begin with the design. As someone who is using the iPhone 8 Plus before the iPhone X, I found the design to be very familiar. The glass front and rear and stainless steel just screams quality but I found that it does slide off on nearly every single surface I set it on. Since the fee to repair a cracked screen is $279 and $549 to repair the rear glass panel, you’re going to want to put it in a case therefore rendering the premium design somewhat pointless.
The display is easily one of my favorite smartphone displays on the market. It extends to each corner with enough bezel to hold the phone without an unwanted finger registration. It’s vibrant and it’s saturated without appearing too over the top like a Samsung panel in some cases. It may be the perfect medium between color accurate and saturated. The AMOLED display used in the iPhone X is produced by Samsung so it’s of very high quality relative to the competition. The panel still has a blue tint to it when the iPhone is shifted, that’s just a characteristic of AMOLED panels but it has not bothered me in the slightest.
The notch, however, has bothered me. But what’s bothered me more with it is not so much the physical obstruction it has on the display but the sensors and the poor software implementation to move content around it. The notch houses a bunch of sensors that makes Face ID functional. Face ID is the equivalent of Touch ID except it uses your face to unlock your phone instead of your fingerprint. In my experience, Face ID works about 7 out of 10 times, whereas Touch ID worked about 9.5 times out of 10 in most scenarios. In my opinion, Apple should have put a fingerprint scanner in the Apple logo on the rear and just removed the notch to make room for more display. Just about every time I want to unlock my phone, I have to pick it up and hold it in front of me or power on the display and move my head over it if it’s on a desk. It’s not so bad every once in a while but if you’re using this phone a lot, it becomes pretty annoying especially in certain situations. I was at a concert and while it worked in near pitch black lighting conditions, I still had to hold my phone in front of me for a few seconds for Face ID to work. When I’m in my car, I have to hold my phone in front of me to use it. I can’t be stealthy about unlocking it while sitting in the car or driving. You shouldn’t use your phone when driving but when it’s safely in a car mount or something, it becomes a little bit frustrating.
When it registers your face and it unlocks your phone, you still have to swipe up to open up your phone. It’s a two-step process that takes more time than Touch ID. Also, when you install a new app, it doesn’t just automatically detect your face and start downloading. You have to double tap the Siri sleep on/off button on the side for it to activate Face ID and start scanning your face. Those are just software issues that can be fixed with an update thankfully but it’s not the most efficient process.
iOS 11 also doesn’t work that well with a notch. It’s getting better but the notch creates more problems than it fixes. For starters, there’s the fact that not as much info can be viewed to the left and right hand side of the notch. You can’t view your battery percentage, for example. Some apps don’t properly make use of the notch either. Apps have to be developed with the notch in mind, complicating the developing process and hindering the aesthetics, functionality, and experience for the end user.
The notification drawer can be viewed by swiping down from the top left section of the notch while the control center can be viewed from the top right. The placement of control center is not very convenient. It’s hard to access with one finger. Previously, it was a swipe up from the bottom, which was much easier to access. But you can’t do that with the iPhone X.
Navigation is done via a series of swipes and gestures. You swipe up from the bottom of the display to go to your home screen and you swipe up and over in one motion to bring up your overview tray. Now if you quickly swipe up and over, the tray will open up much faster than if you swipe up and hold. I don’t actually mind this for navigation because it’s unnecessary when you don’t have a home button. But the option to bring up the control center and open up the recent apps tray through some other method, no matter how unaesthetically pleasing it may be, would be nice.
iOS 11, as a whole, has been extremely buggy. But what’s funny is that I had more problems with it on my iPhone 8 than the iPhone X. The updates have helped stabilize things a little bit. Since the iPhone X is so new, each app has been updated to support the bigger display. You’ll probably find that many of your apps aren’t scaled to fit the display. So do keep that in mind.
The iPhone X does perform very well however. I did find apps to open up quickly and multi-tasking to work very well. I made a speed test video comparing the device with a couple other top of the line Android handsets and it was right up there with the Note 8 in terms of performance and multi-tasking. I just wish the software was better. I wish I can run two apps on the screen at the same time. I wish I could install widgets on the home screens. I wish notifications were stacked. And I wish the settings drawer was simpler. When I go to the display settings, I should see all the display settings here. I shouldn’t have to go to General > Accessibility > Display Combinations just to turn off auto brightness. I also shouldn’t have to go to the settings drawer to configure the settings of the camera. The settings of the camera should be in the camera app, right? These are just some of my complaints.
The iPhone X’s image quality is superb, performing just short of the Pixel 2 in overall quality. When I use this smartphone, I feel confident that it’ll take some of the best photos possible for a mobile smartphone in each scenario that I’m presented in. Low light, the f/1.8 aperture main sensor performs well and captures images with relatively low noise. In direct sunlight, the dynamic range is fantastic. I especially like the blue skies because they look just so good with the iPhone X’s camera. Detail is spot on even with the telephoto sensor, thanks to the optical image stabilization support. Generally speaking, photos tend to come out more warm than other photos but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it makes portraits look a little better.
Portrait mode also works well but it’s not perfect. It does have problems with objects and feathering the edges of a subject. The portrait mode available via the front-facing sensor is not very good however. It has a lot of trouble focusing on my ears and hair. The effect just looks very artificial.
The stereo speakers sound great and they’re even louder than previous iPhones. I do wish there was a headphone jack with a DAC. That would be pretty nice to see.
The battery life is okay and it does seem to be improving the longer I use the phone. But coming from an iPhone 7 and 8 Plus, the battery life is just not up to par. If I have a bunch of errands to run for example, I usually end up charging this phone 1.5 times on average per day. For comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus almost always lasts me through a full day of heavy usage with around 20-30% remaining.
Wireless charging is nice to have. I use wireless charging to charge the iPhone X every night. I wish Apple would have included a fast charging cable and wall adapter in the box with the iPhone X. It’s around $70 separately and just makes this $1000 smartphone even more pricey.
So in previous iPhones, I have found the hardware and software features to be more even. But with the iPhone X, the hardware clearly outshines the software. The design, display, processing power, camera, and speakers make this one incredible piece of hardware. It might be the most impressive, mass-produced piece of tech ever. But it’s 2017 and the importance of good functioning software is becoming more and more important. Unfortunately, the software isn’t able to keep me from switching to another device. To be completely honest with you, after this review, I’ll be switching back to the Pixel 2 XL.