Long before the launch of Apple iPhone X (pronounced 10), I had a written an opinion piece on the first iPhone's tenth anniversary in January 2017, on how Apple paved the way for smartphone revolution in 2007, but at the end of its first decade, the journey seemed to have come a full circle for the company. It had reached the point zero again and was in dire need of game-changing innovation to re-invigorate its devices' sales or else risk meeting the fate of former pioneer BlackBerry.
Apple after launching iPhone 6 in 2014, it kept the same design and power guzzling LCD screens for three years (even for the latest iPhone 8 series: REVIEW), while rivals Samsung and others had already begun using new energy efficient OLEDs, which offer refreshing design form options.
Better late than never...
Apple, though late, finally jumped the bandwagon with the anniversary mobile iPhone X. Though the OLED FullView screen is way too common in the market, its 'notch' design and game changer front-camera with FaceID (also controversial ditching of TouchID like audio jack) are unique to the iPhone X.
But, do those aforementioned iPhone X features bring back the novelty factor back to the Apple brand?
I have been using the Apple iPhone X for a little over 50 days and tried every possible thing to test the device. Here's my take on it.
Design, display and build quality:
The most noticeable thing about iPhone X is its display design with a weird speckle on top, which also happens to house the company's most advanced front camera module and a bevy of sensors with Infra-Red (IR) laser blaster.
This design aspect is very subjective, as some critics have branded the 'notch at the top' as unsightly, but yet there are at least five Android affiliated mobile-makers who are openly embracing it. When asked why they are copying the iPhone X design, their blunt answer was that their research indicated consumers love it. Yes, we too have found the proof on Google Play store. If you type in the 'iPhone X launcher', there are hundreds, possibly thousands of apps and one particular application has recorded more than 1 million installs already.
As far as my opinion goes, 'top notch' used to bother me for a few days, but upon regular use, it kind of grew on me and I have no more issues with it. Now, most of the apps are compatible with the new iPhone X screen's 19.5:9 aspect ratio. While watching the video, when enlarged, the top-notch eats away the space on the sides. To avoid it, pinch the screen with two fingers and you will be able to watch it normally without any distortion (when in landscape mode).
On the back, the iPhone X features vertically aligned dual-camera with quad-LED flash support, but its protrusion is pretty awkward. When kept on the flat surface with rear-side facing down, the iPhone X sits unevenly. But, this is not the deal breaker, as the back-covers, when put on it, will even it out.
Another big change is the missing Touch ID. Apple, obviously, in a bid to increase the footprint of the screen, had to drop the physical fingerprint sensor, which has been in the iPhones since the iPhone 5S (2013). Like the 3.5mm audio jack gave way to the wireless earphone connectivity, Apple believes that its new FaceID is the way forward for the mobile security.
In terms of display, it is one of best in the market. Apple is using OLED made by the industry leader Samsung and is calling it the Super Retina HD Display with true tone feature. Whatever, fancy name it has, watching high-resolution videos on the iPhone X is a treat to the eyes. Even the legibility of the words and images on messaging apps on the display, were very clear to my eyes during the afternoon, despite exposed to bright sunlight.
Even in the dark, with 'Display and Brightness' control feature users can balance the color warmness and the 'Nightshift' mode, in particular, is a pretty nice feature. When enabled, it will automatically shift the colors of the display to the warmer end of the color spectrum after the pre-set time schedule. This will greatly reduce the strain on the eyes during the night.
With speaker incorporated in the base side-edge, the music doesn't get distorted even when the phone is kept on the tablet. The sound quality is really good on par with rival flagship phones in the market.
As far as the build quality is concerned, it's top class. The stainless still rim across the sides and the extra glass cover on front and the back make the iPhone X glossy and exude premium feel.
It also comes with IP67 cerifications and is capable of surviving close to three feet (1 meter) underwater for up to 30 minutes.
With the use of glass, Apple iPhone X, like the iPhone 8-series, will support wireless charging capability.
However, truth to be told, the iPhone X is a fingerprint magnet. My review unit space gray needs to be wiped regularly to maintain glossy shine. Also, despite Apple claims to use toughest glass cover on the iPhone X, make no mistake, it will crack like any glass object with a drop from even a small height. We recommended you to buy cover along with the iPhone X or else, it will make a deep cut in your pocket to get it replaced.
Apple iPhone X houses the proprietary A11 Bionic processor same as seen in the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, but it beats them all in terms of performance. Apple does not disclose the RAM capacity in their iPhones, but several tear-down articles have indicated that there is a 3GB RAM in the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus, compared to 2GB in the generic iPhone 8.
It's still a wonder, how Apple manages to get the best performance with such low physical memory, while Android OEMs, despite using 8GB RAM, are not able to come close to Apple iPhones to date.
On AnTuTu performance testing app, Apple iPhone X scored mind-numbing 227, 545 points. No rival brands come close to it.
Benchmark scores aside, Apple iPhone X functions fast in terms of app loading, switching between multiple apps and even if you play graphics-rich video games or use the Augment Reality apps, there is absolutely no sign of lags.
New iPhone X gestures:
Though Apple iPhone X runs on iOS 11, as like any previous versions (till 2014-based iPhone 6), its interface is very different due to its new display aspect ratio and also the missing home button. So if you want to return to the home button, you just have to use your thumb swipe up to return home-screen. And to view recent apps, you have to swipe up and turn right, creating an inverted 'L' like gesture.
Also, due to lack of space created by the notch on the top, you won't be able to see battery percentage. Instead, you have drag your finger down from top right corner to see the full percentage and also it will give access to Control Center.
Upon swiping the finger from the top left corner, you will be able to see the notifications.
For me, it took just a few hours to get the hang of the new gestures and you too will find it easier to understand when you get yourself the iPhone X.
Unlike previous years, Apple has really put a lot of thoughts in to the camera for the iPhone X and it has got positive results, as world-renowned DxO has awarded 97 points for the camera, third highest in the market and it's very close to Google Pixel 2 series (98 points) and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (99 points).
In terms of practicality, a common user will not find any noticeable difference in the picture quality of the iPhone X compared to other top camera phones.
During the test, Apple iPhone X took stunning pictures [Professional tips on taking best snaps] in almost all light conditions. It was able to reproduce the warm natural color of the scene.
Also its portrait modes-- Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, or Stage Light Mono—offer subtle to dramatic effects and are unique to the iPhone X as both the front and the back camera have this capability [Best iPhone X camera apps].
The effects make sure the subject's face is well-lit even when they are in shadow. For instance, The Stage Light filter makes the subject look like they are spotlit against the dark background.
However, in the low-light conditions, Portrait mode needs some work. Sometimes, the phone camera tends to polish off the sides, particularly hair and ears and this apparently Google Pixel 2 series have mastered to instinctively know the contour of the subject's face with AI and machine learning in the camera app.
We believe, Apple with its highly qualified engineers can come up with the software fix in a future update, as it is not a shortcoming of the camera hardware. Apple iPhone X's has one of the best snapper hardware and in the front, it is the most advanced camera module in the industry.
Its Animoji is the most impressive feature we have seen in a smartphone. The front shooter with the help of a bevy of sensors accurately notes facial impression and recreate it on live emojis such as Fox, Alien and many other faces and lets users send them with voice messages. Though several Android phones are coming with this 3D emoji feature, they are no match for the iPhone X.
Also, Live Photo feature is also a fun feature you should try, as it allows you create a loopy short clip and is really good for sharing on social media platforms.
Another praiseworthy feature of the iPhone X is it's slo-mo, which can record full HD (1080p) at 240 fps (frame per second). Again, this is the highest quality slo-mo feature available in the smartphone industry and no other branded phone has been able to match it to date.
Besides the Super Retina HD display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio, FaceID is another highlight of the iPhone X and it again sets the gold standard for the facial recognition based biometric security.
Though iPhone X's Face ID was able to work 75% of the time, it is more secure compared to other face unlock feature seen in the Android phones, as they use 2D-based face scanning.
Also, the former works even in the pitch darkness thanks to the IR sensor module, which blasts 30,000 dots in recognizing the contours of owners' face in 3D. But, have to say that the False Recognition Rate (FRR) is a bit high.
However, it is still the best in the market, as there are no brands in the market, which offer low-light face recognition capability.
Though Apple didn't disclose the battery capacity, it is said that the iPhone X houses a 2,716mAh battery. Though it sounds low compared to Android phones, the iOS and the A11 Bionic's incredible optimization helps the iPhone X to last a whole day under mixed usage.
I usually try all the activities people do on smartphones such as the internet browsing, checking updates on social media sites, playing games (for around 15 minutes), watching a couple of TV series episodes of 30 minutes each on Amazon Prime Video app (with streaming quality set to 'Good', which consumes 0.2GB data per hour) and checking live cricket scores on sports app and others.
With such usage, Apple iPhone X managed to survive with little over 10% juice left. It's better than previous iPhone iterations.
Even the standby mode is exceptionally long lasting, as it survived almost a week during the trial period.
But, it's disappointing to know that despite iPhone X possessing fast charging capability, comes with a normal lightning charger. Hope, Apple accommodate new standard chargers as part of the package in future versions.
Though Apple is a tad late in embracing OLED screen, FullView bezel-less display, it makes up by incorporating the best of the existing sources available and sets a new benchmark in niche premium smartphone industry with the iPhone X. Several Android OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), who once mocked Apple as the 'fruit company' during the product presentation, are shamelessly borrowing 'notch' design for their flagships.
Some also have taken a liking to the face unlock feature, but again fail miserably against iPhone X's FaceID, a gold standard in the market.
In terms of performance, nobody comes close to the Apple iPhone X. Even the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm most powerful CPU, which is coming in almost all Android flagship in 2018, the benchmark scores are way low compared to Apple's beast A11 Bionic chip.
It's now fair to say, the iPhone X, like its first iPhone ancestor has truly brought back the novelty factor to the Apple brand.
- Gorgeous and original design
- Top-notch display
- Impressive camera (really loved the full HD slow-mo: 1080p at 240 fps)
- Premium build quality
- Long lasting battery
- FaceID is the gold standard for biometric-based face unlock feature in the industry
- Have to say, Apple iPhone X, despite commanding such a big price-tag does not come with fast charging lightning cable in the package