Ten generations of iPhone and it all culminates to this one-- the iPhone X. This is my experience living with the iPhone X so let’s jump right into it.
The iPhone X almost feels unreal. Early reports of this design almost seemed un-Apple. How could they have this weird notch. But as 2017 kept steaming ahead and more and more phones pushed the boundaries of screen-to-body ratios (and the Essential Phone which came out with a notch albeit a timely one but a notch nonetheless). Now we are left with an iPhone whose main purpose is to define smartphones for the next decade. Apple has embraced the iPhone’s design and 100% of that notch, housing new sensors for one and it’s being implemented as a design UI element to store useful information. But at the moment, the notch is in a pretty poor state of utilization.
You see, the notch right now is being used for a couple of things. On the right hand side, you can pull down your control center. Anywhere else is notification center. And that is all the two functionalities that the notch right now gives you. Inside the UI, in terms of functionality, really gives you a couple of I don’t know how functional these are but they are nice things to have. But I just don’t want them right there all the time. You have your time and GPS indicator. And then on the right hand of the notch, you have your signal status, which honestly I really don’t want that. Your Wi-Fi status, if you’re connected, or LTE (depending on what you’re doing), and then your battery bar without a percentage. If you want to get your battery percentage, you have to swipe down on your control center. That is all you have and that doesn’t really change inside the applications either. Applications that actually utilize the notch basically put the same information and doesn’t display any content. The only way you can use the full display and see everything on this panel from edge to edge is in photos or when you’re watching a video. So for this usage, any application that I have used so far that does utilize the full display of the iPhone X puts that useless information in the notch and nothing else. It’s really stupid, I really want to use (for example) full-screen Safari. I want my content to fill the entire display and not have this pesky information right here all the time, just my two cents.
Now you might be wondering why would I even want to have full-screen experience? Well, this display is so dang good. It’s Apple’s third OLED display in a product but it’s its first OLED display in something running iOS. What are the first two, you ask? Well, Apple Watch and Touchbar-- it’s high in pixel density and passing the 326 standard norm of retina to a 458ppi with this new super retina HD display. It’s insanely bright too at 625 nits. But it’s not poppy or deeply saturated like Samsung’s counterparts even though this panel is sourced and built by Samsung, Apple though would like to remind you they did all the engineering and calibration in-house. And it honestly shows.
The only downside of this display is the absence of Pro-Motion. If you’ve never used a display with 120Hz refresh rate, don’t! Because it will ruin all other displays for you. Also, with technology like OLED, there’s always a risk of burn-in and, yes, even the iPhone X has that infamous blue color shift at off axis. It’s just the technology and we’ll have to learn to deal with it. And before you comment “Marco, OLEDs are notorious for low refresh rates”, well yes, I do know that OLED panels normally top out at 60Hz that’s why you don’t see OLED gaming panels. But it doesn’t mean Apple shouldn’t pursue it. With enough money and engineering at a problem and 9 times out of 10 and it will get solved. Not that the iPhone X needed to cost any more but just because it would be a very cool feature to have: an OLED panel with 120Hz refresh rate.
Now speaking of the price, the iPhone X starts at $999. Unless you live in a state with no sales tax, that is a $1,000+ device. Is that even justifiable? Well, yeah actually. Think about it. You use your phone hundreds of times a day and in terms of usage, it is the most used device you probably own--more than your computer, tablet, and TV probably combined. But Apple doesn’t skimp on the specs when it comes to your money. It’s packed with the A11 Bionic chip with a neural engine, which is marketing talk for a really fast six-core processor and some killer graphics performance. The iPhone X seems like it could outperform an iPad Pro just announced a mere six months ago. It could probably outperform some MacBooks as well but I don’t want to dive into the specs of the iPhone. I strictly want to talk about my experience. When it comes to performance, this has been the slickest iPhone to date, seriously. I’m even including Face ID in that.
If you say iPhone X’s two most talked about flaws is the lack of a fingerprint reader and home button and that notch. Let’s go ahead and talk about the first one here, the lack of a home button and most importantly, a fingerprint reader like Touch ID 2.0. Is Face ID something that will be huge? Maybe, probably for the next at least few years. I think Apple’s going to stick with their guns and go Face ID only on hopefully all their product line. In terms of my experience with Face ID, it’s really worked about 99.9% of the time. I’ve only had a couple times where it didn’t work and maybe because I had an off-angle of my face. But in terms of sunglasses, it works well with polarized and non-polarized, all types of sunglasses. It works in day, night; and yeah, you do need to have your eyes open so you can’t just go up to somebody when they’re sleeping and put their phone up and get into their phone.
In terms of speed and access, I have had a couple of friends tell me that “okay, yeah. I kind of want to see my phone even when I’m at a meeting or something and pull my phone out and see a notification.” And I totally get that. You can’t go incognito in terms of the meeting, you can’t just look at your phone and be discreet about it. But in terms of normal, everyday life, I’ve never really had an issue with the speed of unlocking my phone. By the time I take my phone out of my pocket and look at it, it’s already unlocked about 5 out of 5 times. Only a couple of times when it doesn’t really get it. And sometimes it takes me to swipe up and then it will read my face. Maybe there’s a couple little bugs in iOS. But then, right now, it’s already unlocked. I can go ahead and swipe open and most of the time, in the process of swiping your phone, it’s going to unlock right then and there. So again, speed is really not a huge issue in my book.
But this provides us to the perfect segway into the lack of a home button on the iPhone X and the glorious gestures. Yes, it was weird for about half a day but it quickly became second nature. Swipe up to go home, swipe up and hold for multi-tasking, or if you want a quicker method, swipe up into the right and one set of motion and you go right into multi-tasking. The placement of control center annoys me. It honestly should be in the bottom right corner or bottom left for left-handed folks. Please move it and allow software customization, okay? Thanks, Apple!
The only thing that gets me is the screenshot and power on/off commands. To take a screenshot, it’s power and volume up button. To shut off your phone, you hold the power and either of the volume buttons. Siri is a longer press of the power button but here’s the annoying thing-- I have taken so many accidental screenshots mainly when I wake up funny enough. I have tons of screenshots of my alarms going off in the morning.
So other than those, the iPhone X has been a joy to live with. The camera is amazing. Photos are vibrant and so full of detail. 4K at 60fps is amazing too and having that HDR and P3 wide color gamut built-in to the iPhone just brings out new life to your photos. Portrait mode is great, portrait lighting is crap. Honestly, the iPhone X is hands down the best mobile camera I’ve ever used but I’ve never used a Pixel 2 so take that with a grain of salt.
Battery life, well, if you really want a lot of battery life, this is not the phone for you to buy. You need to go buy the iPhone 8 Plus or the 7 Plus, whichever Plus model you want. That phone has the best battery life of any iPhone. This kind of sits a little closer to the iPhone 8 than the iPhone 8 Plus in terms of battery life. I get about 5 hours of usage of screen on-time, whatever you want to call it. And for me, that’s pretty good. I get through my entire workday and get to go home. Sometimes I charge this in the car, I charge it when I get back home. I have wireless charging pads so I just drop it on there and it charges really slowly but it does charge. I don’t have to worry about the battery life. But again, if you are looking for the most extreme battery life, you need to go over to the iPhone 8 Plus.
But if you want the most cutting edge from Apple, then honestly, this is the only phone that is in the lineup that will fit that bill. It’s a very, very advanced phone in terms of style and courage. If you want the best of the best from the big Apple, then the iPhone X is definitely the phone for you. And you probably aren’t watching this video for buying advice because this phone is most likely in your pocket. But for me, personally, I think the iPhone X is the best iPhone not only from a quality standpoint but just from an overall packaging standpoint. It’s a futuristic phone with a bold statement. Yes, the notch is a little annoying sometimes but honestly for me, it kind of is a hallmark thing now like this will be the hallmark of all iPhones for probably the next ten years. So you’re going to have to get along with this notch for at least nine more years after iPhone X.
And for all of you that are on the fence of buying an iPhone X compared to an iPhone 8, Beau is currently working on a full review of the iPhone X so make sure to stay tuned here on the PhoneDog YouTube channel.