If you’re reading this, you probably belong in one of three categories – first, you pre-ordered your iPhone X and are consuming as many reviews and guides on it as you possibly can. Second, you’re wondering who in their right mind would pay fork out close to S$2,000 on a piece of technology that will be replaced with something better a year from now. Or finally, you are genuinely considering whether you should get the iPhone X.
We’ve spent three days with the iPhone X, learning its intricacies, playing with Face ID and the camera, and testing it as much as possible to discover the limitations of the smartphone. And as with most of Apple‘s first-generation products, there is a lot of good mixed with some puzzling decisions.
The much-vaunted Face ID technology replaces Touch ID although thankfully, Apple’s much-loved haptic feedback and Force Touch are still present. In most cases, Face ID works, and works incredibly fast. Bring the phone up to your face while swiping up to go to the home screen and the iPhone X almost immediately brings you there. There is almost no lag.
Face ID also worked while we were wearing our sunglasses and our caps. Without going too much into the technical jargon, there is an infrared sensor at the front that detects whether it’s you holding the phone (and not a picture of you) and whether you’re actually, in Apple’s words, paying “attention”. The iPhone X won’t unlock if your eyes are closed or barely awake, as we found out during two bleary mornings, but will unlock if you have one eye closed while the other is open.
Of course, there will be people who will try to test the capabilities of the Face ID by wearing masks, wigs and other facial accoutrements but in most real-world situations, Face ID works, and is a revelation.
OLED Screen and Brightness
Apple isn’t the first smartphone manufacturer to use an OLED screen. In fact, most times now, Apple isn’t the first to the technological innovation party. But when the Cupertino giant does show up, it usually attracts the most attention and for good reason. The 5.8-inch OLED screen is a thing of beauty. It has beautiful white balance, accurate colour reproduction and according to Tom’s Guide tests, is surprisingly brighter than its Android counterparts.
The screen also seems to be closer, for lack of a better word, to the glass display, which makes the screen look a lot better than the other iPhones, especially when you’re watching a video. There is also more display real estate on the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 7 and 8 Plus despite the former being smaller than the latter two.
Admittedly, the disappearance of the Home button was unsettling for the first day but we soon became used to using gestures to do work. Swiping up returns you to the home screen or lets you multi-task while swiping down from the top corners accomplishes different things – the top left reveals your notifications while the top right unveils the Control Centre. In this regard, the iPhone X somewhat resembles your Macbook with its Hot Corners.
The side button replaces the Home button now for taking screenshots, bringing up Siri or activating Apple Pay. And it might take some getting used to at first but Apple has made the entire process quite intuitive, and has also set up a website in case you need to learn all the different gestures and button pushes.
In great lighting, Portrait Mode selfies are gorgeous but turn a corner towards Meh Town when the lighting is less than desirable, like a cardboard cut-out that had its corners cut by a right-handed man using his left hand. But we reckon that the next iOS update will fix this once Apple works out the kinks.
Otherwise, as always from Apple, its front and back cameras are amazing and will not disappoint.
It’s a lot lighter than other iPhones, believe it or not. You have to hold the iPhone X to feel the difference but we were blown away by the amount of weight Apple managed to shave off the iPhone X.
The iPhone X is a work of art mainly due to the glass screen and case back. But, it also means that it will feel a lot more slippery in your hands. We’ve lost count of the numbers of time the iPhone X would slip off our bulging wallets or slightly sloped surfaces due to the glass screen and case back. If you are getting an iPhone X, we recommend that you get a case or hold on tight because an inadvertent light knock from a friend or stranger could send the phone flying out of your hands.
That Strange Empty Space
For unknown reasons, Apple stacked the keyboard on top of a grey, empty space at the bottom of the phone (picture below). It looks quite unsightly and un-Apple-like and there is no way to make it disappear. We’ve tried. Here’s to hoping that the company will fix that unappealing block that exists for no rhyme or reason.
As of today when we wrote this review, there are still a lot of unoptimised apps that have not been updated for the iPhone X and the list shockingly includes Instagram and YouTube. Portions of the two social media apps are blocked by the notch. Of course, this issue will probably be fixed by the developers in the weeks to come but it’s a thing to note in case you’re thinking of getting the iPhone X in the next few days and will get irritated by minor glitches such as this.
TLDR: Should you get the iPhone X? Without taking price into consideration, it’s a hearty yes from us. However, if you’re going to go without food and perhaps a kidney in the next few months just for an iPhone X, we highly suggest that you consider an iPhone 8 Plus instead.