iPhone X is an important step for Apple. Back in 2007 when the very first iPhone was released, it changed the smartphone market. Buttons largely became a thing of the past and the screens were suddenly an impressive 3.5 inches of pure 163 ppi glory. The design became the standard for the next generation of smartphones and, since then, other manufacturers have tried to find a way to imitate the iPhone visuals for familiarity while still adding their own design touches.
Since then, we have come a long way! iPhone has gotten bigger and better – that 3.5 inches has become 5.8 inches, and that 163 ppi has become a whopping 458 ppi. Storage has rocketed from a maximum of 16GB in 2007 to 256GB in 2017, and processor speeds are more powerful than many laptops. But fundamentally, gone is that button on the front, and instead we have an all-new design that turns the traditional iPhone look on its head. iPhone X, represents a step away from that well-known façade – but how does this latest iteration compare with its predecessors, and can we expect great things from Apple’s new model?
First thing’s first: The specs
Much has been made of the iPhone’s power, and while there are inevitably similarities between iPhone X and Apple’s other 2017 release, iPhone 8. The iPhone X does lead the way.
Display: 5.8” Super Retina HD display, 2436×1125 pixels at 458 ppi
Camera: 12MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.8 aperture) and telephoto (ƒ/2.4 aperture) cameras
Authentication: Face ID
Processor: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture
Charging: Wireless charging
Capacity: 64GB or 256GB
The bits we love
It wouldn’t be a review of iPhone X if we didn’t comment on Face ID. Touch ID (using a fingerprint to unlock the device) has been part of the iPhone architecture since iPhone 5S back in 2013. The method of unlocking the phone worked largely seamlessly (except with the dreaded ice-cold fingers) from day one, and provided the device with authentication that meant there was a 1 in 50,000 chance of someone being able to access the device. Face ID (unlocking the device with a visual of your face) ramps that figure up to 1 in 1,000,000 by reading up to 30,000 dots on the face to check your identity. But how good is it?
While initial reports seemed to try anything to find the limitations of Face ID, our experience has been very good. Admittedly there have been times when a tired face first thing in the morning, in a dimly lit room and the cat half in view have left us resorting to putting in the passcode manually, but those instances have been few and far between. In fact, if anything there have been plenty of times when using Face ID has had its advantages over Touch ID. The cold finger issue is a thing of the past, and in cold weather we’ve been able to pull the phone out of our pocket then start using it easily.
It’s all made possible by that built in front-facing camera on the device that’s one of the big differentiators of the X over the 8. The camera, although slightly limited in its scope at the moment, undoubtedly has huge potential in the future. And as for that notch at the top of the display (created to house the camera) that has been much talked-about, after a couple of hours of usage, we barely noticed it was there.
It’s not just the front-facing camera that’s big news though. The rear camera on both iPhone X and iPhone 8 feels like a leap in terms of image quality. Apple have always been forward-thinking in terms of their approach to photography – Live Photos and Portrait Mode have both been great additions. During our tests, the camera performed incredibly well in various different lighting levels, including in Portrait Mode as well as with both still photography and video. Here are just a couple of examples of the photos we were able to get with the device.
The other big change compared to previous iPhones is the addition of wireless charging. It’s a feature that’s been tried on a number of mobile phones from other manufacturers in the past, and Apple have been using it on the Apple Watch for a couple of years. Now, iPhone users will be able to take over charging pads in Starbucks up and down the country.
But the real benefit is that by using wireless charging pads (expect Apple’s own AirPower in the new year) you’re able to charge multiple devices through a single cable – far more convenient and far fewer lightning cables lying around the house!
And what about Animojis?
Animojis were a headline feature during the Apple keynote – suddenly, moving poo emojis gave us the chance to step into our own Pixar movies and send abusive text messages in animated form – and there’s little denying that they were good fun initially. They work as expected and the emotion almost precisely mirrors the face you are making. However, admittedly, the novelty factor went quite quickly – mainly because for all the Animojis we were sending, we weren’t getting any back, so we’re sure if you have an arsenal of iPhone X-wielding friends you’ll get along just fine.
As mentioned above, it’s the potential of this technology which really stands out, and there are a number of games putting it to good (or rather quirky) use. Our favourite so far is Rainbrow which lets you control the app’s character using a combination of eyebrow raises and frowns. We look forward to slightly more productive uses of the tech, but for now we’re happy working on building rather impressive brow muscles.
Let’s get one thing straight – we love the iPhone X. It’s refreshing to see iPhone stripped right back, with a new look, new functionality, and plenty of new software features not available on other phones. The device’s size does feel unusual at first, and one-handed use can be a bit of a push (mainly when reaching for the Control Centre), but as with the Plus size when that first launched, it’s a learning curve that’s soon overcome. The rear camera is a stand-out feature that shows Apple’s dedication to photography, while the front camera has huge potential.
As for the inner workings – well, we’ve said little about them, but that’s largely because they work perfectly. The device works as smooth as ever, with the latest processor perfectly prepped to handle the complex functionality that has been built into iOS 11. Apple have played a good hand by creating a device that breaks the mould while still feeling familiar to earlier models. It remains to be seen if this becomes the standard for the next ten years – we firmly believe it will.