I often start writing a review within a few hours of using a product. I didn’t do that for the iPhone X. In part because, like many people who wanted an iPhone on release day, I’m a little late to the party. Reviewers from major blogs got to spend a day with the iPhone X to make a review before the release, so a first impression post would have been pointless. Plus, for the first time with a new iPhone, I didn’t get it on launch day. The site wouldn’t refresh on any of my browsers (yes, I was clearing the cache between refreshes), and I wasn’t able to place my order until 3:07am, Eastern Time. By then, the rest of the country had a 7 minute head start, which was enough to sell out of all the stock. I suspect Apple did a roll out with their webpage, and some people, myself included, were just unlucky.
So, I didn’t have the phone on launch day, and couldn’t rush to write a review. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Instead, I’ve had some time with the phone, time to really test it. I just took notes over the past few weeks, forcing myself to create a “long term” review, not a first impression. That, I realized, is something rarely seen in iPhone reviews, as every blog and website is rushing to get the word out about Apple’s latest device. However, the result, I think, is a far more accurate review of a phone. You wouldn’t own the iPhone X for a day if you bought it, you’d have it for at least a year. Shouldn’t a review reflect long term usage, rather than first impressions? Instead of reading about all the excitement of getting a new phone, the iHoneymoon phase, you get the good and the bad, the times it has surprised me and the times it frustrated me. That’s what I’ve put together here, and I hope it helps you make a decision about whether or not the iPhone X will be your next smartphone.
Oh, is the screen different on the iPhone X? I hadn’t noticed! I kid, of course I noticed, at least for the first few days with it, now it’s sort of becoming expected. I see something with larger bezels and can’t understand how I ever put up with that. I can’t even look at my iPad Pro anymore. The iPhone X screen has incredible clarity and color accuracy. I love the True Tone effect, which, more often than not, keeps my screen looking a little warmer than other screens that don’t have it. It’s definitely easier on the eyes. The screen isn’t perfect, though most of its problems have to do with software. No, not “the notch,” in fact, you usually forget it’s there, only noticing it for a moment when you full screen a video. The real issue is that Apple has a lot of work to do on iOS (a recurring theme you’ll find in this review, so I put a section for it at the bottom).
The large screen is beautiful games like Life is Strange, Alto’s Adventure, or when watching movies. However, when you full screen a video, you usually lose the top and bottom of it. This is because most videos, even those made for a large cinema screen, are sold to consumers in 16:9 format. Fortunately, many box office movies have a black bar on the top and bottom, which is all you lose when going to full screen on Apple’s display, which is close to 18:9 (2:1). It’s just slightly taller than twice as tall as it is wide, if that makes any sense to you. Basically, you could fit two perfect squares on the screen and still have a few pixels between them. However, you really notice it when you can’t have a video fill the screen without losing either the top and bottom of the content, or getting black bars on the sides. Furthermore, apps that still haven’t been updated for the iPhone X (what’s taking them so long?!) have black bars on the top and bottom of the screen that you just have to deal with, there’s no way to remove them. Thanks to the OLED display, which makes black pixels look like they’re just part of the bezel, this makes your iPhone X look like an iPhone 8.
It’s strange, having such a large screen in such a small phone. It feels natural though. I don’t have difficulty reaching the bottom or most of the screen with one hand, it looks fantastic, and it’s great for watching videos. I did occasionally notice a bug in some apps that left the home indicator on the screen during a movie. This is obviously a huge problem. Ignoring the notch isn’t too difficult, but ignoring the glowing white bar at the bottom of your movie or game is just about impossible. Beyond this and some slight blue color shifting when angling the phone to try to reach the top of the phone for Control Center, I have no real complaints about this screen. This is the best screen I’ve seen on a smartphone. It’s large, covers most of the front of the device, has a high resolution, accurate colors, and adapts to your surrounds. Truly, Apple knocked it out of the park with this screen.
Face ID (and Animoji)
When rumors surfaced that Face ID was going to completely replace Touch ID, I was pissed. Facial recognition didn’t seem like it could ever be as secure as Touch ID. After all, twins have the same face, they don’t have the same fingerprint. It’s still true, for identical siblings, the iPhone X is less secure than the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It also is less secure for children, and with improper training, you can actually make it less secure if you’re not careful. Apple says its far more secure than Touch ID, but that’s not true for everyone.
I can’t tell you if it’s less secure for me, no one has been able to unlock my device by looking at it but me. But I can tell you that it’s far more convenient than Touch ID. Unless you’re at risk of someone trying to get into your phone, Face ID will likely be completely secure. If you’re worried, you can press and hold the volume and lock button to disable Face ID. You can also press the lock button 5 times quickly to call emergency services and lock out Face ID. However, if you’re really worried, the best thing is still an 8+ character passcode.
Actually, the biggest complaint I have about Face ID? It doesn’t work in landscape mode. If I was watching a video with it propped, I have to tilt my head or pick up the phone. It’s a strange oversight. Other than that, you forget it’s there. You get used to just picking up your phone and using it. That’s exactly what Apple wanted, security that you don’t notice.
Oh yes, there has to be a section dedicated to Animoji. When I saw them, I knew it would be bigger than Apple thought. They’re so much fun to play with, and they make for some adorable messages. Even cynics have admitted that they’re fun to play with. I do wish I could more easily mute them though. Sometimes I send something from the office that doesn’t involve speaking. I don’t want the background office chatter to go over to my friend. I want them to just see a little fox smiling and winking. Also, Apple, fix winking. It’s super difficult to do with Animoji, and they look so cute when it works right. Finally, I think Apple needs a stand-alone animoji app. Let us craft reaction videos and gifs, perfect them after taking them, silence them, and share them with our friends.
I waited to write this section of the review last. Why? Perhaps it’s because, in my notes, I just wrote “Dat camera. Seriously, amazing.” It was hard to think of what to say about this incredible camera. I would sometimes go to a party or an event with a small compact camera. It was a good camera, good lens, could shoot HD video, and had a ton of manual options. However, I really don’t need it anymore. The iPhone has caught up and surpassed it in quality. Sure, it only has 2x zoom vs the 5x zoom that camera offered, but the actual quality of the shots isn’t any different. In fact, the iPhone X does it better.
The courtyard of a building at night, no bright lights, but a few on the ground. A shot from a friend’s apartment of a building at night. Friends wandering through the city looking for the next place to hang out. A photo from the iPhone X somehow captures both the light and the dark perfectly. Of course, that’s what HDR is supposed to do, but I’ve never seen it work so well. Portrait photos look beautiful, and editing them later is a breeze. I love choosing the right lighting for a person after I’ve taken the shot.
The iPhone X isn’t going to be replacing my Canon EOS M3, but it can absolutely replace a high quality compact camera. Hell, in many cases, it can let you replace a high quality photographer, as the automatic results from the camera app contain so many hidden adjustments, done on the fly, that a pro would often do before and after taking a shot. Noise correction, for example, is done by the stock camera app quickly. I was confused, I had no idea how such a short shutter time and high ISO could produce a photo without grain, until I realized the iPhone X was doing image processing on the fly. You can actually prove this by getting a fantastic manual mode camera app that shoots RAW, like Halide or Camera+, and take a photo without Apple’s automatic processing. The difference is shocking. In Camera+, you can then edit those photos to your heart’s content, and in Halide, you can use another third party app of your choosing to do the same. The amount of time it takes to do so will shock you. Of course, you can likely push your photos further than Apple’s willing to do, revealing more in an underexposed area than Apple’s automatic processing would do, but for most people, it just won’t be worth the time.
I was amazed at the level of detail I could extract from photos shot in RAW, just like you’d expect from a high quality standalone camera. On top of that, the automatic processing Apple does, which involves artificial intelligence to set up the shot and then process the photo after it’s taken, is incredibly fast and top notch. I took a photo of a friend quickly in a bar to prove a point. A dimly lit bar, a quick shot without flash, and presto, I had a photo that was actually good. It had no good reason for being so good! I was moving the camera, it was dark, my friend was moving. Yet there it was, a clear slice of time, captured by the iPhone X. I’ve used incredible cameras before, but I’ve never been as shocked by a camera’s quality like I was for the iPhone X. It is the biggest difference between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone X, and yes, I’m considering the screen in that statement as well. The camera is so overwhelmingly better than any iPhone camera before it, you’ll be shocked from the first snap you take with the iPhone X right up until the last shot you take with it.
Looks and Form Factor
This is the best looking iPhone hardware since the iPhone 4. To some, it might actually be better looking. I prefer the design of the iPhone 4, but then I account for the iPhone X’s huge beautiful screen, the cool double camera, the smooth glass, and suddenly I’m looking at what I think is the best looking iPhone ever. That’s not to say it’s perfect. In dry hands, it’s still slippery, although it is easier to grip now than the iPhone 6 through 7 were. That’s thanks to the glass back. It adds weight on the back of the device, rather than being top heavy, like the older iPhones were. This just feels more balanced. The glass is smooth, but any bit of moisture on your hands can help you grip it (my hands are dangerously dry in the winter, so I often don’t have a grip). I went with the white iPhone, because the polished stainless steel sides on this model are a clear call back to the original iPhone, and I loved the more retro-inspired look. Apple did away with the FCC markings on the back of iPhones some time ago, but it looks best on this glass, where you can only see the Apple logo and word iPhone at specific angles. I even came around to the camera bump on this, in part because my case (or Utomic Edge protectors), keep it from rocking on a flat surface. Anyone who uses their phone without a case will still hate this.
The iPhone still doesn’t feel perfect in the hand like it used to. Rounded edges are still the bane of grip and ergonomics. They look pretty, and that’s all Jony Ive seems to care about anymore. Flat edges might seem counter-intuitive, but they make a phone easier to grip. It’s a beautiful phone, and for the first time since the iPhone 4, I’ve desperately wanted to leave as much of the iPhone showing as possible. I didn’t mind covering the iPhone 6 and 6s up so much, but the iPhone X is here for the show.
Performance is hard to rate. On one hand, this is the fastest iPhone ever. One of the things I was afraid about was lag when closing apps with the swipe gesture. This wasn’t a problem at all. Even when apps are behaving badly, they close immediately, perhaps more quickly than they did with the home button when they were having issues. It’s clear that Apple made this gesture take priority over all others. That helps the iPhone feel snappy. Unfortunately, due to bugs in iOS, I just can’t declare this a fast phone. It still feels like it’s being held back. If the iPhone X is a speed boat, iOS 11 is a giant anchor weighting it to shore. When iOS 11 is behaving (as it so rarely does), when apps are loading super quickly, or when you’re using an augmented reality app, you can see the raw performance of this phone. Coming from an iPhone 6s, I’m certainly less frustrated with the iPhone X, this has far fewer iOS 11 related hangups than that phone. However, it’s still enough that it feels like the performance of the iPhone X is being held back.
Battery Life and Charging
Battery life has never been the iPhone’s best quality. The iPhone X doesn’t change that. However, it does make things a bit easier. I found that I more often use full brightness on the iPhone X than I would on my iPhone 6s, and the battery lasts about just as long. Every year we tell Apple the same thing, we’d prefer thicker iPhones for more battery life, and every year, Apple ignores us. This year was no different, but Apple did give us a few tricks. First of all, they fixed the reason I didn’t get an iPhone 7: there’s no way to charge it while listening to music without two expensive dongles. Since then, I got the Advanced Sound dongle anyway, and, as a result, I was prepared for whatever Apple threw my way. They were nice enough to throw wireless charging our way, and it’s a wonderful thing. I got a charging stand for my office, and every day I just plop my iPhone X on it. It starts charging my phone, and when I need to get up for coffee, water, or a meeting, I just grab my phone and go. It’s a small thing, plugging and unplugging your phone, but once you no longer have to do it, you realize what a pain it was before. I’m sure the same can be said of wireless headphones, but until bluetooth is as reliable, consistent, and sounds as good as a wired connection, I refuse to switch. I care too deeply about my music to do that.
Besides the fact that charging is easier now, there is one other thing you can do to remarkably improve battery life now. iOS has had low power mode for a few generations now, and that’s pretty useful. However, there’s a new “super low power mode” (which I detail in a post here). This new low power mode isn’t something Apple enables by default, but, by using Apple’s Smart Invert along with grayscale, you’ll increase the number of black pixels on the screen. The iPhone X uses an OLED display, which means black pixels don’t use electricity at all. This gives a huge boost to battery life, though I recommend only using it when you’re desperate. Still, if you need your iPhone to get home one night, and find your battery is dwindling, it’s a great way to conserve battery life.
If you’ve been using an iPhone for a few years, you’ll notice no real difference. Perhaps slightly improved battery life, but nothing to celebrate. One of the biggest and most valid complaints about the iPhone lives on.
Headphones and Speakers
After flipping the phone around in my hand for a while, looking at the beautiful rear glass, cameras, and big beautiful screen, I turned my attention to the bottom of the phone. Almost as though I was expecting my iPhone X to have a “defect:” a hidden headphone jack. Of course, it has none. Fortunately, I have my Advanced Sound Lightning to headphone dongle with a charging port, amp, and improved 24 bit DAC. Even though the amp is a little overzealous on sensitive headphones like my Audio Technica ATH-IM02 in ear monitors, producing a hissing sound, they do generally sound good, and give me controls on my headphones, which don’t have them. This is the best way to use wired headphones with the new iPhones. Do not, under any circumstances, get a lightning-only pair of headphones. You’ll get to work, go to plug them into your computer, and realize you wasted your money. I use Apple’s headphones only for phone conversations.
One day, the cable on my beloved Audio Technicas broke. I could only hear in one ear (AT has already replaced it). I had to go to work using Apple’s headphones for a day. I couldn’t stand them. The sound quality is muted, they can’t sit in your ear right, and fell out constantly, and they’d shift, making the sound quality worse. I don’t know how anyone uses these pieces of plastic crap. Apple shouldn’t be expected to give out the best headphones in the world, but they shouldn’t give out such garbage, especially not with a $1,000 phone. On top of that, their expensive AirPods share the same design. I’ve actually seen them fall out of people’s ears on the street, I have no idea why anyone would want them. Fortunately, I’m an Android developer. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 work phone. The headphones that came with that don’t have the best sound, but they’re far better than Apple’s, and fit in the ear comfortably and securely. Thank god I had Samsung to make up for Apple’s failures.
Where Apple fails with the headphones, they succeed elsewhere when it comes to sound. The speakers on the iPhone X are the best I’ve ever heard in a smartphone (sorry, HTC One 7, you had a good run). These come out of the right set of holes on the bottom, and the earpiece, which becomes a left speaker when held in landscape. It’s a bit strange, having the left side speaker face you and the right side bottom firing, and Apple could likely do something to make this more balanced, but I suspect they already have through software limiting the top speaker. It sounds balanced. I listen to a few podcasts in the morning while I’m taking a shower and getting ready, and on days when my bluetooth speaker has failed, I’ve found the built-in speakers to be sufficient, something I couldn’t say of my iPhone 6s. It’s still obviously a tiny speaker, this isn’t a great way to listen to music and you’ll definitely get better sound quality out of a larger speaker, but in a fix (which is when you’re most likely using such a speaker), they work quite well.
Augmented Reality is likely the future of computing. It makes sense, computers have always been here to augment our senses. Artificial intelligence is here to augment our interactions with technology, not replace humans. Augmented reality is just our next tool to, well, augment our capabilities. Unfortunately, right now, it’s mostly a toy. The most useful AR app I currently have is MeasureKit, which, while close, is not entirely accurate. For example, measuring my 9.7″ iPad turns up with a variety of sizes, and the arrows don’t stay in place. Still, they come close, and it’s a surprisingly powerful display of computing, even if it’s not 100% perfect yet.
Then there are the fun apps, like Lego’s ARStudio. You can put Lego sets on the ground and watch them interact, move them around, and put them in place with other Lego sets. It’s pretty cool, and retains the delightfully playful nature of Lego’s movies. There are a few glitches, the technology powering AR isn’t perfect yet, but Apple’s implementation on the iPhone X is pretty good. It’s rough around the edges, and there isn’t a truly useful application of it yet, like a heads up display or directions, but it’s getting there. With more refinement, and better use of these capabilities, AR could be revolutionary. I just don’t think it’s quite there yet with iOS 11 and the iPhone X.
Odds & Ends
When Apple got rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, we were told it was for two reasons, increased battery size, and a larger Taptic engine. The Taptic engine, for those who are not versed in Apple’s dizzying array of buzz words, is what drives haptics on the iPhone. Early Android devices tried this with small vibrations of the phone’s silent ringer motor, but Apple took it a step further and developed a component that can provide realistic haptic feedback. It is surprisingly lovely. Feeling a little bump at the top of a list, when snapping back to a zoom size in photos, when you have your phone level in Halide, and in other situations is fantastic. It makes iOS feel more “real,” less like interacting with software and internet content, and more like an actual, physical device. I’m not saying it was worth losing the headphone jack over, but it is definitely something anyone upgrading from an iPhone 6s or older will enjoy.
The other little tidbit I’ll point out about the iPhone X is that it’s going to take some time to adjust to, in more ways than one. It’s heavier than the smaller iPhone by a decent amount. The weight is more towards the back of the device. It’s slightly wider. Oh, and the screen area is MUCH larger. Reaching all the way up to the top of the device with one hand is very difficult. You’ll either drop your iPhone constantly (remember when that didn’t happen with iPhone SE-sized iPhones?) or you’ll have to get used to using your iPhone with two hands. I didn’t have a drop of my iPhone within the first few weeks of owning it, yet now I feel like I drop it every other day (when they actually stay on, those Utomic Edges are great). I’m trying to get used to using two hands on it.
The lack of a home button will get to you too. It’ll take a while to replace your gestures for multitasking and app quitting gestures. Figuring out how to stop the apps from wiggling in edit mode on your home screen will take a few tries too. Reachability barely works, but that’s a new gesture as well. And, if you’re the only person who actually uses Siri, you’ll have to get used to holding the lock button for that instead.
But the biggest difference? Control Center. I have had this iPhone for a month and I still swipe up from the bottom of the screen for control center. I wish Apple had made the multitasking cards smaller, or made them adjustable, and allowed at least some controls to be put on the multitasking view, as they are for the iPad. Really, without a home button, Apple’s in a tricky situation with Control Center. I think we’re going to have to just get used to the fact that it’s in a hard to reach space now. The things that were supposed to be quick controls are now hard to reach. Let that sink in.
The iPhone X, like every iPhone since the iPhone 7, is waterproof. I did not get a chance to test this, however, I have had an iPhone ruined by water damage before. It’s not fun, and your trade-in becomes virtually worthless. The iPhone X is supposedly waterproof, but I’m not going to be testing it any time soon.
Software and iOS 11
The worst part of the iPhone X is that it runs iOS. That’s not to say that I prefer Android, I don’t. Android is a mess on its own. However, I own two Android phones right now, both running Nougat (they’re for work, relax). Neither has had an OS-level crash. Sure, the apps for Android are less fluid, intuitive, and often buggier than their iOS counterparts, but I’ve never seen one crash Android OS. iOS 11, on the other hand, has done this a lot. A few times in the past month alone, to be honest. I’m running the iOS beta, and you always expect the beta to be a little buggier than the version released to the public, but I’ve stuck with it because it’s actually been the other way around. iOS 11 gets a weird text replacement bug, or starts crashing because it’s December 2nd, for some reason, or has huge security flaws, but the beta had these bugs fixed already. It’s the first time I’ve been able to avoid bugs by being on a beta, and it’s why I haven’t left it yet.
Even beyond bugs, the OS just isn’t set up to be intuitive anymore. Swiping up from the bottom of the iPhone X to use the home button was a great idea. Even using it for multitasking isn’t too bad. But Apple’s not consistent about it. Tap and hold on an app to move things around and you end up in edit mode. Move apps, delete them, etc. Want to leave this? Normally you’d press the home button. So, swipe up, right? Right! And this sometimes works. Sometimes. Otherwise, you have to tap a little done button that shows up in the upper right corner. The same goes for force quitting apps when they’re misbehaving (a gesture that has become vital on iOS 11). Just flick the cards away, right? Wrong. Apple was afraid all your swiping around for navigation would translate into doing this accidentally. So, instead, you have to close them like you would an app. Press and hold, wait 3 seconds, then hit the close button. It’s not intuitive, and when you’re already frustrated by an app not responding, it’s one more thing to hate about iOS 11.
The iPhone has a big, giant screen. Know what you might have to use often? Control Center. It’s hard to reach, you can’t swipe down from anywhere, only in the little cubby next to the notch on the right of the top of the phone. Yeah, it’s not intuitive. And, to actually do it, you’ll hold your phone weird and see the colors shift because that’s what OLED displays do at an angle. Notification Center is even harder to reach with one hand. So, maybe you use Reachability, right? Obviously it’s not a double tap of the home button anymore. You now have to swipe down on the home indicator at the bottom of the screen, a gesture that is recognized about 50% of the time. Sometimes it’s worse. I just tried it for a test. It took 16 swipes down before the screen finally moved. 2 the next time I tried, and 11 after that. That’s on the home screen. Within apps, it generally works better. If the indicator is visible, the gestures work better than when it’s not. So much for muscle training, right?
That home indicator can be distracting in videos too. I’ve found that some apps will keep it displayed during playback. Now you have to deal with a notch out of the screen on one side and a bright white bar on the bottom of the other side. It just feels like no one considered a bug important enough to delay a release with iOS. Either they have no automated or manual testing, awful bug reporting, or they just don’t care about quality anymore.
iOS 11 also has some shortcomings when it comes to the iPhone X, specifically. For example, there seems to be no palm rejection during video watching. Often, when holding a phone that has no bezel, you’ll bump the screen a little. iOS needs to be able to ignore that input, otherwise you have a lousy situation where an overlay shows up every few seconds during videos (hint: that’s what happens on iOS 11 with the iPhone X). Also, thanks to the notch, you now need to use the difficult to access Control Center if you want to see battery life percentage. That’s a bit of a pain. I wish Apple would either put a number over the icon, or at least let it change colors more, so we can more easily estimate the percentage of battery life left (especially since battery life is awful and we now know that Apple throttles your phone’s speed if battery life is getting low).
Then there’s the content of the screen. When Apple released the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, both phones that came with bigger screens, you had the option to add more text and icons to your screen. The screens were larger and taller, and therefore could either zoom, showing you larger icons and font than you’re used to (great for people with bad vision), or, get the same size of everything, but not see more of it on the display. I prefer the latter. Apple didn’t give me the option with the iPhone X. So, everything feels more spaced out, larger, and somehow, it doesn’t feel like my phone actually has more usable space. This is a simple software issue that Apple could easily fix. But they haven’t.
That brings us to the second problem, that extra space and sizing is used well on the “Plus sized” iPhones. You can use the phone in landscape mode. This means landscape home screen, landscape lock screen, and panes in apps, so you can see more than one view at once. The extra wide landscape screen (wider on the X than any Plus model) would be perfect for this! But Apple didn’t give it to us. Perhaps it’s because Face ID doesn’t work in landscape orientation at all.
My final iPhone X specific iOS 11 gripe is more of a compliment, of sorts. Animoji are a lot of fun in iMessage, but I want to play more. I want to make videos, I want to edit them, I want to turn them into gifs and post them on social networks. I want to share Animoji outside of iMessage. To do that, you have to create an Animoji, send it as an iMessage to yourself, download it as a video, and convert it to a gif. This can be done with an app like Workflow, but all the steps up to the last one are still a pain. Why not release a standalone Animoji app, Apple? People would love to play with it and it would allow us to share more Animoji, leading to better marketing for Apple’s most fun feature of the iPhone X. Come on, Apple, get with the program here.
Finally, there are three things I think I will never stop complaining about.
The inability to define default apps, like default browser, default calendar, default mail, etc. This also extends to… well, extensions. Safari shouldn’t be the only browser that can block ads on iOS, I should be able to use 1blocker for Firefox as well, as they’re using the exact same processing engine on iOS, since Apple won’t let third parties use their own. It’s preposterous and monopolistic for Apple to continue doing this. Utterly anti-competitive and disgusting. This is the kind of stuff that leads me to just nod my head when someone describes Apple as evil (ahem, that and their tax evasion and tin sources, of course). It’s not quite Ajit Pai and the Republican Party getting rid of Net Neutrality and raising taxes and healthcare costs on the middle class to support the rich, but it’s not too far behind… ok, it’s pretty far behind, but you get it, Apple’s being incredibly evil here. Google has their own popular browser too, but doesn’t force every Android phone to use Google Chrome. I use Firefox on all of my Android devices. Firefox’s browser game is strong. Their plugins are wonderful, it’s fast, and it keeps chugging along as I have tons of windows open. Apple, admit defeat and let me use the same browser I use on desktop!
Volume controls. What the hell are you thinking, Apple? A simple volume adjustment shouldn’t make my phone unusable for a few seconds with a big ugly overlay in the middle of the screen. Seriously, Apple, are you serious? Are you F-ing serious? 11 versions of iOS and you still haven’t figured out that this is utter garbage? How? When every version of iOS comes out, Reddit is full of disappointed comments about Apple keeping this idiotic volume display in place. Why, Apple, why? Especially since, with the iPhone 11, third party apps like Apollo have already solved this: change one side of the notch to a small volume indicator. Nothing’s in the way, adjustments are made quickly, and it looks really good. Often, a seamless UI is described as being Apple-like, but in the case of volume control, a good UI can be described as being un-Apple-like.
Hey, thanks, Apple, for putting your notification over the place where you told app developers to put a bunch of controls. Thanks for making them so big. Thanks for making them stick around so long, or the dismiss gesture easy to be misconstrued as an intentional tap, instead of allowing horizontal swipes. I definitely wouldn’t have preferred my app view get “scrunched” a little, squeezing the content in the middle between the controls at the top and bottom to reveal the notification, or sliding down in games. I definitely want my phone completely disabled if someone calls me, because it’s never a spam call. I, like everyone, primarily use my iPhone as a phone. It’s in the name, why would I waste time with apps? So, thanks, Apple. Thanks. (I’m sure sarcasm translates exceedingly well into British, they’re quite good at it, but just in case, Jony Ive, I’m being super sarcastic. Notifications suck and your design makes me think you never even use iOS. Fix them already.)
I know what you came here to know. “Is this worth $1,000+?” For me? Yes. The giant leap in camera quality, the big, beautiful screen, the improved performance, and even that tiny boost in battery life make the iPhone X the first iPhone that was actually worth over $1,000. It’ll also be the last iPhone that’s worth over $1,000. Apple can’t make a leap forward like this every year, and the only reason to buy into this was because it was like having 2018 technology in 2017. That’s what we were paying for, an advanced peak into the future. Next year’s iPhones should all have these displays. They should go back to their normal pricing. Why? Because by next year, other smartphone manufacturers will all have big screens, longer battery lives, and they’ll start imitating Face ID (though they’ll probably be behind the iPhone X’s current Face ID quality until 2019, at the earliest). By late 2018, phones like the iPhone X will be old news. I personally recommend that Apple releases an iPhone 11 and an iPhone 11 Plus (or does away with the numerical names, up to them), and have both of them with a bezel-free display. There needs to be an iPhone like this that has a landscape homescreen, and Apple foolishly left that off the iPhone X (one of my biggest complaints about the design of the OS, bugs aside). So yes, until May of 2018, the iPhone X will be worth the price. After that? Wait until the next iPhone, because, unless Apple really is high on their own supply, the iPhone will be back to normal pricing levels.
In the end, the iPhone X just feels like an iPhone. Yes, the screen is a new shape, new size, and new technology. Yes, Apple got rid of the Touch ID sensor, home button, and introduced new gestures, but the most surprising thing of all about this iPhone is that it still feels like an iPhone. These new features, some that Android manufacturers have had (in lesser quality) for a while now, don’t make the iPhone X feel like less of an iPhone. This doesn’t feel like an iPhone that justifies the insane price tag either, it just feels like the future of the iPhone. Maybe we paid extra to be part of Apple’s beta group, but my reasoning is that the iPhone X couldn’t be mass produced yet, so Apple needed to sell the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus along side of it, charge more for the iPhone X, and hope the market balances out demand. It didn’t, as we’re all aware, the iPhone X sold out in seconds, with most people needing to wait weeks for it. Should you get the iPhone X? Absolutely. It is, by an incredibly wide margin, the greatest iPhone Apple has ever made. It’s the best smartphone on the market right now, again, by a wide margin. The screen, camera, slightly improved battery life (especially with custom low-power modes), and performance are unmatched. I can’t even begin to explain how surprisingly well done these features are. Often, an iPhone upgrade is boring after a few days, the changes barely noticeable. Here, you can see every upgrade, and you’re reminded every day that this iPhone is special. A month in, and I’m still in love with this phone, it hasn’t become mundane yet. However, if you have an iPhone 7 Plus, or any iPhone 8 model, you may want to wait until next year, unless money is no object to you (in which case, you’ll notice a handy donate button at the top of this website). However, if you have an Android device, even a more recent one, like a Samsung Galaxy S8, first generation Google Pixel, or an iPhone that’s greater than a year old (or one year old, if you’re on the upgrade program), then you should absolutely consider the iPhone X your next phone. I love this iPhone, I can’t even look at my old iPhone 6s the same way anymore, because this is finally an upgrade that feels like a leap forward, the kind of leap forward we used to see from Apple all the time. This truly is the future of smartphones, and I’m happy to own a part of that.