iPhone X Review: Biggest Changes Ever But Is It Worth Over 1000 Bucks?
Usually, the buzz about iPhone should be cooled down already at this time. However because of iPhone X, the release of iPhone 8 seemed to be just an appetizer. And the iPhone story has yet to unfold.
Design: Impressive at first sight, and the love is ongoing.
Same old front design for three years. iPhone 8 lacks again failed to inspire me.
Until iPhone X with its 5.8 inch full screen design. And the HOME missing.
Just for the screen however, iPhone X is not new nor incredibily cool, compared to Samsung Note 8’s curved display with extremely slim frame.
iPhone X (Left) and Samsung Galaxy S8 (Right)
But still, iPhone X is an esthetically successful device. As always, detailing is everything. E.g, you see the curve of iPhone X bottom app icons and that of the device frame.
What troubles me is the half width black cap at top of screen. Ironically I think this will probably make the iPhone X one of the most identifiable models of the iPhone family.
iPhone X is obviously longer and slimmer. The power button is extended for the comfort of your fingers.
(Up: iPhone X; Below: iPhone 8 Plus)
iPhone X adopted the duo glass design just as iPhone 8, for better feeling of quality and wireless charging. The down side: you’ll find repair damaged screens not economically justified.
Left: iPhone X; Right: MIX2
iPhone X comes with two color options: dark gray and silver. They are only for back and frame. Front panel is always black.
Very smooth mounting of the frame and the 2.5D glass. You won’t feel any guttering.
iPhone X is 0.6 millimeter thicker than iPhone 7. Probably because of the duo-glass and/or due layer main board design. Back camera platform is still there.
Ok, that’s pretty much the noticeable changes of iPhone X. Now let’s talk about its usability.
I have to say that iPhone 8 Plus is probably The heaviest smart-phone I’ve ever used.
There’s considerable improvements in iPhone X. It’s volume, weight, and handling is very close to a 4.7 inch iPhone. You won’t feel it dropping all the time.
And yet the display area of iPhone X is even bigger than that of the iPhone 8 Plus, thanks to its full screen display.
Full screen isn’t just about a few millimeters bigger. It shows the decade long evolution of user interface.
iPhone 8 Plus looks to have a bigger screen than iPhone X, which is actually not true. Indeed iPhone X is a bit narrower but longer. And the rest of the missing part is actually the frame.
iPhone 8 tends to display more if you are doing a long read. But in small chats such as WhatsApp or Wechat, iPhone X gives you one more row.
With the overhead cap, the iPhone X now becomes an irregular display.
It amazes me what Apple might has gone through to decide to keep this cap thing. Do you have the impulse to take it off your way? Well, I do. Especially in Youtube mode.
Ironically the cap design might easily make iPhone X one of the most recognizable models in the family.
Apple is now open to this screen area so that developers can customize its looks. I’ve yet to find anything surprising.
Most top apps have now adapted to the iPhone X screen size. If not, you’ll see black blocks on both top and bottom area.
Left: Instagram; Right: weibo
Be noticed that you will find it more difficult to interact down the bottom of your phone because of the missing home button. Especially when you are operating one-handed.
Fortunately, Apple moved the virtual home button by about 2cm. Input method switch and Siri buttons are now moved down to bottom of keyboard.
Another big change of the iPhone X screen is the use of OLED screen which supports more colors. Resolution is now 2436×1125 with an improved PPI of 458. Called the Super Retina HD display.
Before iPhone 8, iPhone uses LCD screens. OLED was introduced since iPhone 8. Higher contrast, and more energy efficient.
However OLED screens may have color degrading issues and tend to have a shorter life cycle.
With Full Screen display, now it’s time to change the way we use smart phones
HOME is now missing. But will it be missed?
The HOME button is undoubtedly the most used button on an iPhone: fingerprint lock and unlock, back home, multitasking, activating Siri, screen capture, Activate Apple Pay, and drop down.
Biggest change of human-device interaction in amost a decade
The virtual horizontal line down at bottom. Apple says operations around this area are scanned 120 times in a second. To make sure smooth operations.
Whenever you drop the line up to the middle of screen, you’re back Home.
Once get used to it, I find it actually more pleasant than before. After all it’s even faster and its effort-less.
If you hold the virtual line halfway Home, you’ll be in multi-task management interface. Now slide left or right you can switch between different tasks. Very efficient.
To have the control center however you have to go to the top right corner. I find it not so friendly, after all the iPhone X has a Long screen.
To call Apple Pay, you double click the power button. To capture screen you hold the power button and Volume+ button simultaneously.
Some people might find the virtual line annoying. Indeed it’s always there when you are not on the Home screen. Imagine you’re playing video games and you have to always avoid mistakenly touch the line.
And what about you’re playing Fruit Ninja… Oh No!
Face ID vs Fingerprints
Left to right: Infra red camera, lighting, distance sensor, ambient light sensor, earphone, Mic, front camera, and light projector. Ah ha! Now it’s clear why there has to be such a thing there.
Nearly half of these devices are used for Face ID.
Just like Touch ID, Apple now considers you facial features a unique ID. It allows you to unlock you iPhone with scanning your face.
First, register your Face ID. Place your face within the circle and slightly turn your face. You’re done.
However you can only register one Face ID, which is different to Touch ID where you can have multiple fingerprints, i.e, no one is able to unlock your phone except yourself.
To prevent someone else from unlocking your phone when you’re a sleep, Apple allows you to require staring to unlock with Face ID.
Many believe that Face ID is actually a compromise because of the removed Home button area. It’s far from perfection. And fingerprints is way better received.
Anyway Apple replaced Touch ID with Face ID. Will others follow?
Fingerprints based unlocking is well received and de facto standard because in many situations, the unlocking procedure is invisible to users. You want to use your phone so you press a button the light it up, bingo! You just unlocked your phone at the same time.
Still it’s true that the best technologies are those that you don’t even feel them ever existed.
I would give Touch ID 10 in terms of invisibility, and 9 on reliability, efficiency, and safety.
With iPhone X, you don’t have to lift your wist, nor keep the same level, and its Face ID is not supposed to be affected by hair styles, cosmetics, and ambient light. And because of these, it’s invisible to users. True.
And iPhone X performs excellently in terms of efficiency and reliability. Most of the time it unlocks correctly within 1 second.
Compared to Touch ID, I would score 10 on safety, and 9 to invisibility, reliability, and efficiency for iPhone X.
The only thing is : you still have to slide up to enter the Home screen after passing Face ID. Apple says it’s because this makes it easier for users to check time and notifications.
I realized that you don’t have to wait until the Face ID is completed. Just stare at your phone and then slide up to home.
Face ID becomes less efficient when you’re lying down, or too close to screen. And always avoid extremely large angle between your face and the front camera.
So should I choose iPhone 8 or iPhone X?
iPhone X has brought us the biggest change in almost 10 years. But it comes at a hefty price. It’s almost 400 dollars more than an iPhone 8. So is it worth the money?
First it’s the OLED screen. My understanding is that for most average users they can hardly tell the difference between an OLED and an LCD. And the Face ID technology, which Apple reportedly have invested years of R&D, is just another unlocking method similar to fingerprints. And the Emoji, though funny and magical, is not a necessity.
So I’m not going to tell you which is better. The choices are up there, and it’s up to, you.
iPhone X is completely different from its prior family members, both in appearance and in the way your interact with it. For those who just need a new iPhone with improved performance and smoother operations, more impressive photos, and brighter and sharper display, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is a risk-free option.
For those who simply are eager to try things new, iPhone X provides enough motivation for the extra 400 dollars.
(photo credit: ifanr)