Apple iPhone X review: This is what future iPhones will be
The iPhone X (pronounced 10), which has somewhat overshadowed every other iPhone in Apple’s artillery, has no past to speak of. Unlike the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, which can be compared with last year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to understand what has changed and what hasn’t. The iPhone X is, in many ways, a phone that looks to the future, and is completely different from the iPhones we have known—in both the way it looks and the way it works.
You may not initially realize that the iPhone X has a 5.8-inch display owing to the minimal bezels. It is only slightly larger than an iPhone 8 (4.7-inch screen), and significantly smaller than an iPhone 8 Plus (5.5-inch display). But its back has a glass layer that enables wireless charging. The well-polished, sculpted design is currently available in two colours: space grey and silver. The back packs in the camera optics, which are even larger than those on the iPhone 8 Plus, so the bump is quite pronounced.
Then there is the small matter of the “notch”. This is essentially the cut-out of the screen at the top, to make space for housing Face ID camera hardware, for instance. Apple has used the screen space on either side of the notch to segregate information such as time, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth status, battery bar and more. You will feel its slightly intrusive presence while watching a video on YouTube, but it doesn’t spoil the symmetry while you’re using most apps. App developers are rolling out updates to integrate support for the taller display as well as the notch, and better utilize the space on either side of it.
While the iPhone X runs the same iOS 11 as the other iPhones, it works very differently because there is no physical home button. For instance, the virtual assistant Siri, which otherwise can be called upon with a long press of the Home button, has been configured to work with the X’s power button instead. There are swipe gestures to minimize apps and switch between apps. The control centre, which is available by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on other iPhones, can be accessed by swiping down from the right side of the notch. There is a slight learning curve for even existing iPhone users, then, but nothing insurmountable.
We are a bit perplexed, though, that there is no option to add the percentage display to the battery bar, and that closing apps requires a combination of press, hold and swipe-up gestures. In addition, there is a lot of white space under the on-screen keyboard that could have been better used for easy access to more options or done away with completely.
The X has a gorgeous 5.8-inch display (2,436x1,125-resolution) with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This is the first iPhone with an OLED screen. It has been tuned close to perfection, with deep blacks, balanced colours and great viewing angles. On paper, this may not be the brightest display, rated at 625 cd/m max brightness (for comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is rated at 1,200 cd/m). In real world usage, however, you will not notice the difference. Undeniably, the iPhone X’s display is fantastic, both indoors and outdoors. This is also the first iPhone to get the True Tone technology (the iPad Pro range already has this) that detects ambient lighting and adjusts the display’s colour temperature to make it more comfortable to view.
Apple has introduced Face ID with the iPhone X. The facial recognition technology uses the True Depth Camera system—which sits just above the display—to map your face with 30,000 invisible dots to authenticate its real owner. For us, this worked seamlessly irrespective of ambient lighting conditions, whether we were looking at the phone from a slight angle or while wearing some blingy sunglasses. Reams have been written on the internet about fears that your identical twin will be able to con Face ID into unlocking the phone—but if you don’t have an identical twin already, and will likely not get one in this lifetime either, this shouldn’t worry you.
The iPhone X also has the dual camera set-up—a 12-megapixel lens (f/1.8 aperture) and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with a wider aperture (f/2.4), against the f/2.8 aperture in the iPhone 8 Plus. This means low-light photography will be more detailed. Both cameras have optical image stabilization (OIS), another first for the iPhone X.
The X runs the same A11 Bionic chip as the iPhone 8 line-up. You can, therefore, expect top-notch performance. It is significantly better than any processor Android rivals may want to pitch against it at present, and the fact that this chip can perform 600 billion operations per second for real-time processing makes it perfect for all the Artificial Intelligence algorithms that power many apps these days.
On a single charge, the battery lasts a couple of hours more than an iPhone 8’s, and an hour less than an iPhone 8 Plus’. This is to be expected, because while the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus run largely similar specifications, the difference in the form of the larger and higher-resolution display in the X means a bit more battery usage.
This is an iPhone that shows what future iPhones will be like. The Face ID tech and the bezel-less design are bound to be developed further. Undoubtedly, the iOS 11 and its variations for the X still need some polish. However, the highlight is well and truly the iPhone X’s OLED display, which is redefining the benchmark with its perfect balance. This is, without doubt, the best iPhone you can buy.