iPhone X Review
Apple got a lot of hate when they announced the iPhone X together with the iPhone 8/8 Plus. Apart from the back-to-back release which made the iPhone 8 “pointless”, they also priced the iPhone X at a whopping $1,000 for the 64GB variant. I’ve been using the iPhone X for over a week now and I’d like to give you guys a hype-free full review. By the end of this post hopefully we can determine the following:
- If you should skip the iPhone 8 Plus and go for the iPhone X
- If you should go for an Android Flagship like the Galaxy Note 8 over the iPhone X
- Skip the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X and wait for the next variants
That said here’s a quick refresher on the specifications:
Apple iPhone X Spec Sheet
- Apple A11 Bionic CPU
- 3GB RAM
- 64GB or 256GB Storage
- 5.8-inch Super Retina HD (OLED), 458 pixels per inch
- Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with OIS
- 7.0-megapixel front camera
- LTE, WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
- Wireless Charging, Water Resistant
- iOS 11
Let’s jump right into it.
Price of a Full Screen Design: The Dreaded Notch and the Death of the Home Button
Apple finally made a smartphone that can go head-to-head with the cutting edge designs of the best Android flagships. Gone are the annoying big bezels and we now get a full screen, glass-encased, thin, and elegantly built iPhone that’s worthy of the “X” title.
The full screen is the best display ever made on an iPhone. One of the sticking points is the “Notch”, the black strip at the top middle of the iPhone X which houses all the technology for Face ID. It is ever-present and was terribly annoying at first but I eventually forgot it was there after using the iPhone X for a few hours.
When it comes to brightness, the Super Retina HD (OLED) holds up against most well-lit occasions. I didn’t have too many problems with it even under direct sunlight. I personally prefer the quality, brightness, and saturation of the display of the Galaxy Note 8 but the iPhone X isn’t too far behind.
The iPhone X Needs a Case
Before we get to Face ID and all the new features, let me just say that if you’re getting an iPhone X, you need to get it a case. While Apple says that the iPhone X has the most durable glass ever, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s made from glass. I tried using it without a case for a few days and there are already a few noticeable scratches and dings. Before it got worse I bought a case for it.
Also take note that there are reports saying that fixing a broken iPhone X is far more expensive compared to previous models. Get it a case.
Face ID: It Works 99% of the Time But I Still Prefer the Home Button
Gone is the beloved Home Button and Touch ID. In place we have the Notch and Face ID. The good news is that setting up and using Face ID was virtually perfected by Apple. Face ID worked 99% of the time even if I tried making faces, wore glasses, or put on a cap.
What surprised me the most was how great it functioned even in low to no light conditions. This was the main problem of facial recognition features of Android flagships in the past. That’s not an issue at all with the iPhone X. To Apple’s credit, it just worked, and it worked well.
I just have one complaint with the iPhone X. When I unlock the iPhone X with Face ID there’s an additional step of swiping up the screen to get to the home screen of the phone. This is an unnecessary step. Apple should give us the option to remove it and go straight to the Home Screen just like what you get with Touch ID and the Home Button on previous iPhone models.
The New iPhone X UI/UX: Gestures All Around
- To go back to the Home Screen you need to swipe up from the bottom of the iPhone X.
- To access Notifications swipe down from the upper left to the middle part of the screen.
- To access Control Center swipe down from the upper right part of the screen (used to be swipe up from the bottom).
- To check all apps open and switch apps, swipe up from the bottom and pause at the middle.
- To turn on Siri, hard press on the power button at the right side of the device.
- To turn off or restart the iPhone X, hold down the volume button and the power button.
It looks like a lot to learn but Apple made it intuitive and easy to get the hang of. I was swiping away like a pro after a day of using the iPhone X. You should be able to get used to it quickly as well.
That Annoying Space at the Bottom of the Keyboard
If there’s one thing I hate about the new full screen user interface is the huge blank space at the bottom of the keyboard. It’s so noticeable and the lack of function for it is a huge waste. Apple should ship an update for that and maybe put scrolling emojis under it versus just leaving it blank.
Speaking of blank spaces, not all apps have updated their UI/UX to fill in the large screen space of the iPhone X. The most notable ones being Spotify and Google Maps. When you fire up these apps there will be a big black space at the top and bottom. Apple did do a good job though of making sure that the most popular apps (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) all had fully optimized apps come the iPhone X launch.
Animojis: A Novelty that I Quickly Got Tired Of
I’m probably NOT the market for Animojis. Sure they were fun and I used them in the first day of the iPhone X. However I stopped using them altogether because there was no need for them. Maybe once my wife gets her own iPhone X or I have kids later in life then this feature would make more sense.
Apart from that it works as advertised.
Selfie Camera: Glorious Selfie and Couple-Fi Portraits
This is the feature that I love the most.
The new selfie camera of the iPhone X can take portrait shots (creamy bokeh background, studio lighting, etc). In good lighting condition it works pretty well though there are times when the software and camera isn’t able to fully make everything smooth.
As you guys can see in the photo above it’s not perfect. The Bokeh effect isn’t 100% clean as the edges of my hair in the photo still get caught in the blur. Ideally the whole subject should be separated from the blur effect.
It’s the same in the photo above. The upper right part of my hair gets caught up in the bokeh effect. So yes, it’s not perfect but if I just need nice looking and non-professional photos for Instagram and Facebook, it gets the job done.
What I love the most about it is that the selfie portrait mode also works when there are two of you in the screen. It’s the perfect couple-fie selfie camera because of the dramatic effect the bokeh adds. My wife and I have been enjoying this feature a lot.
HOWEVER this isn’t new. We’ve actually been doing this already for the last year with the first generation Google Pixel. It’s just nice to see it on the iPhone.
Rear Camera: One of the Best in the World
Before we get to it, here’s a quick detailed refresher on the camera specs on the iPhone X:
- 12Mp main camera with wide-angle f/1.8 OIS lens
- 12Mp telephoto camera with f/2.4 OIS lens
- Phase-detection autofocus with touch focus
- Quad LED true-tone flash with slow sync mode
- Portrait mode with portrait lighting
- 4K video @ 60fps
- 7Mp “selfie” cam with f/2.2 lens, face detection, and portrait mode
The iPhone X camera is one of the best in the industry. You don’t even have to take our word for it. DXOMark, a third party measurement for smartphone cameras, already rated the iPhone X as the best smartphone camera to deliver stills.
Here are some shots that we took using the rear camera in various lighting conditions. Don’t forget to read the captions.
When it comes to everyday use, the iPhone X camera is versatile, fast, and reliable. It takes great photos in various situations and the low light captures have noticeably improved compared to the iPhone 7.
You can read a more detailed and sophisticated review of the iPhone X here by DXO Mark. It’s highly detailed, comprehensive, and we highly recommend you guys read it.
Live Photos is So Underrated
iOS 11 brought a lot of improvements to Live Photos. I enjoy using it a lot because it brings previous shots, especially my favorites, to life (preserves special micro moments).
Here’s a quick rundown of Live Photos effects and features. Take note that this should be available on previous generation iPhone models as well as long as you have iOS 11.
You can add three effects:
- Loop replays the action in the shot over and over
- Bounce plays the video forward then backward
- Long exposure blurs anything moving within the frame like a DSLR camera
For editing, you can now now enhance, crop, add filters, trim, and mute your Live Photos. Plus, Apple gives you the option to pick your own “key photo” as the main image.
What I do is I took time to “heart” or “favorite” my top photos and memories so that they’re all easily accessible via the Favorites Album on the Photos app. Suggest you guys do it to because it’s a fantastic way to reminisce!
Battery Life: Finally an iPhone that Lasts
Improved Battery Life is the most underrated and under-hyped upgrade of the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus. While the battery itself didn’t get any bigger compared to previous models, the A11 Bionic CPU is much more efficient with resource management. In my real world use, either the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X would still have around 20%-30% when we got home at night (unless thoroughly abused like extended gaming or video viewing).
I also made it easy to top up the battery life by putting wireless charger plates in the office and at home. When not in use I just leave the iPhone on the pad and it charges.
Pro Tip: Make sure you check the power output (W) of the wireless charger that you buy. The iPhone X and iPhone 8 can charge at a maximum speed of 7.5W. Most wireless chargers in the market are just at 5W. Read the label to see if it’s at 7.5W or 10W to maximize the capability of the iPhone X or iPhone 8.
Verdict: It’s the Best iPhone for Android Defectors and Diehard Apple Fans
Apple took their sweet time in building a new design for the iPhone as the last 3-4 models looked almost exactly alike. The iPhone X is the iPhone that we all deserve in 2017. The new all-screen design combined with the gesture-based UI/UX, Face ID, and the constant iOS improvements makes it modern, competitive, and future-proof.
The new features and build of the iPhone X makes it the best device for Android defectors because they won’t feel like they’re missing out on anything anymore. Most of the features they had with their Android flagships are now here and even refined better with the iOS experience.
Diehard iPhone fans will love the iPhone X as well because the new features will keep them from defecting to Android. The bells and whistles of the iPhone X will most likely kill their lingering curiosity to shift to the Galaxy Note 8, Pixel 2, or the LG V30.
For those who don’t like change and don’t want to take the jump into Face ID and gesture-based UI/UX, you can just pick up the iPhone 8 Plus. It’s just as good as the iPhone X save for the portrait selfie camera and Face ID.
Is the iPhone X worth the price? If you’re up for retention on your postpaid plan and the cash out won’t be too much, then by all means go for it. However if you’re in contract and you’re going to buy this straight, we would suggest you just wait it out for the next iPhone with a full screen display. Always remember that there’s always a new iPhone every year. There’s no rush or need for you to always get the newest one.