Apple bills it as the future of smartphones – and after spending a day with the iPhone X, it’s hard to disagree.
It’s a simply stunning piece of hardware, with the screen front and center, taking up almost the entire front of the device.
While detractors say the lack of a home button and fingerprint scanner are the biggest problems the iPhone X faces, in reality they are what make it – at least in the limited time I used the handset for.
While Face ID isn’t perfect, and the ‘notch’ is an annoyance,. the iPhone X is a glimpse into the future of phones and the best handset of the market by a long way.
It really does feel like a glimpse into the future, and also incredibly natural – after less than an hour I found I’d completely adjusted to not having a home button, and looking at the handset to unlock it.
One of the biggest advances in the iPhone X is Face ID.
When you set up the phone for the first time, you’ll be asked to rotate your head twice in a process taking 20-30 seconds – and that’s it.
What’s going on behind the scenes is astonishing, but from the user’s point of view, it’ll just unlock your phone when you look at it.
I was shocked at how good it was at recognising me once I held the phone up.
It recognised me wearing sunglasses, hats and scarves with absolutely no problems – while rejecting my attempts to fool it with a picture or with my eyes shut.
The screen on the X is simply stunning with bright and vivid colours
There is a learning curve here – as the phone needs you to look directly at it, you do need to turn your head towards the phone and focus on it.
It also struggles when flat on a desk in front of you more than I expected (although I could have simply angled the phone towards me).
If your phone is on your desk next to you, for instance, I found myself having to move forward so my head was closer before it would recognise me and unlock.
That said, while there are minor annoyances and missteps with the system, overall, I was shocked by how good, and quick it was the majority of the time.
THE NEW IPHONE X GESTURES
The lack of a home button has changed the way you interact with the iPhone:
Home: Swipe up from the bottom edge at any time to return home
Control Center: Swipe down from the top-right edge to open Control Center
Apple Pay: Double-click the side button to make secure purchases with Apple Pay
Multitasking: Swipe up from the bottom edge and pause to show the App Switcher
This does make one neat feature Apple has built in difficult to use – the iPhone X can withhold showing the detail of notifications until it recognises you, which isn’t ideal if your phone is flat on your desk and too far away for it to see your face.
However, for the most part, Face ID works as billed – it’s just not (yet) perfect unless you are holding your phone up in front of your face.
Colours are bright, sharp and vibrant, and crucially, look natural
The build quality of the X is superb, it feels far more solid than previous phones, and the size is great – even though its smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, you’re getting an OLED display called the ‘super retina display’ that, on the diagonal, is 5.8 inches.
Put simply, it’s stunning.
Colours are bright, sharp and vibrant, and crucially, look natural, unlike Google’s Pixel 2, for instance, which struggles to make colours look realistic on its display.
Apple’s calling this a ‘Super Retina Display’ with 1125 x 2436 pixels of resolution, making it the highest-density screen on any iPhone – and it really is noticeable.
However, there is a slight elephant in the room – the notch.
Containing the 3D scanning sensors and cameras that power Face ID, it cuts into the top of the display.
It’s actually barely noticeable most of the time, and when you’re viewing videos, for example, there’s the option of viewing in a window with black bars, or full screen with the notch intruding on the picture.
Apps are also a little bit of a problem, in the short term at least.
App that haven’t been specifically updated for the iPhone X but use Apple’s iOS autolayout system fill the screen, but odd things happen, with buttons appearing in strange places.
If an app hasn’t been updated you get an annoying black bar at the top and bottom – but expect these to become fewer and fewer as developers rush to update.
However, one plus from the notch, apart from Face ID, is the fact selfies on the iPhone X are stunning – and can even use Apple’s much vaunted Portrait mode.
And speaking of pictures, the iPhone X manages to better the iPhone 8 with its dual lens system, and pictures are stunning from the dual cameras – with zoom shots in particular noticeably better.
The new iPhone X (center), pictured among the iPhone 8 (right) and iPhone 8 Plus (left). even though its smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, you’re getting an OLED display called the ‘super retina display’ that, on the diagonal, is 5.8 inches.
There’s also a boost in battery life, and Apple says there is two extra hours of power between charges compared to an iPhone 7, although I was unable to test this given the limited time I’ve been using the handset for.
The fascinating thing about holding the X is that is feels incredibly familiar – but better.
It’s solid, and the sizing is perfect – there’s none of the straining to reach parts of the screen you often get the 7 and 8 plus.
After just a minute or two it felt like the most natural thing in the world to swipe up to got to the home screen.
Face ID was extremely reliable – unless the handset is flat on your desk
Switching between apps is also simple, and there’s a neat short cut that means you can move between open apps by swiping horizontally at the bottom of the screen.
And while Face ID is not perfect in every situation, I found it worked pretty much all of the time, unless my phone was flat on my desk behind my keyboard.
Overall, although I’ve only had a day with the iPhone X, going back to an iPhone 8 seems unthinkable – and perhaps tellingly, and perhaps tellingly when I reached for my iPad, I swiped up instantly.
It really does feel like the future – and while not perfect, a whole new chapter, not just for the iPhone, but for technology in general, where it begins to disappear before your eyes,
ANIMOJI: A HORRIFICALLY ADDICTIVE FEATURE
Apple’s new Animoji feature means iPhone X owners will be able to send 3D animated emojis they can control with their face – and its astonishingly addictive.
According to Apple, the TrueDepth camera captures and analyses over 50 different facial muscle movements.
Pre-installed on the iPhone X’s Message app, they’re incredibly simple to create – and hugely addictive.
The animated characters smile, frown, or take on other facial expressions from you, while opening their moths in perfect time to the audio you can record.
They’re both an astonishing demonstration of the power of the iPhone X’s power – but also a
Crucially you can send animoji to anyone, not just iPhone X owners, and they are, without doubt, set to become one of the most used features for new iPhone X users – you’ve been warned.