I upgraded my iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10”) and wanted to share my first impressions of the new device.
For the past four years iPhones came in two sizes. The iPhone 6, 6s, 7, and 8 all have the same size, screen size and same screen resolution (number of pixels). The same can be said for the four Plus sized phones. For comparisons, I’ll refer to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but size and screen comparisons can be applied to any of these phones.
The device is a little taller than an iPhone 8 and much smaller than an iPhone 8 Plus.
If you’re comfortable with the iPhone 8 sized device the iPhone X should be no problem. If you’re used to a Plus sized phone the X will feel small.
The iPhone X’s screen is the same width as the iPhone 8 but is taller. This allows you to see more of everything (e.g. longer lists and more of a web page.)
It is also a little taller than an iPhone 8 Plus’s screen, but narrower. If you liked the extra screen width on the Plus for the wider keyboard you may not be happy with the X.
The iPhone X’s screen has more pixels per inch than the iPhone 8. If you have been using an iPhone 8 sized device you will appreciate the higher resolution as text looks noticeably smoother on the X. The Plus sized phones also have a higher resolution than the iPhone 8 and I think text also looks better on those phones too. While the X has a higher resolution than the Plus, I don’t notice text being visibly better. I think it has reached the point where it doesn’t matter anymore.
Another note for Plus users, the X does not have the same landscape mode. The home screen does not rotate, and apps do not have split views. If this is something you liked, you may want to skip the X.
The iPhone X is the first iPhone with an OLED screen, which is a different technology than any other iPhone. Android phones have been using OLED for quite a while. OLED features brighter colors and darker blacks. I’m actually not a big fan of OLED displays as colors are often too saturated and whites are too blue. The OLED screen does have a different temperature than an iPhone 6 I compared it to. Whether it is better or not is subjective and I suggest looking at an actual device to judge yourself.
The iPhone X borrows “True Tone” technology from the iPad Pro. True Tone attempts to change the color temperature of the entire display based on ambient light so that the colors look consistent no matter what lighting conditions you’re in. I haven’t used it long enough to tell if this actually makes a difference or not.
The new screen size does have an impact on apps. Apps will have to be modified by developers to fully support the X. Older apps will work fine, but will have black bars on the top and bottom. It just looks awkward and doesn’t take advantage of all the screen space it can.
One of the features of the iPhone X is that the front of the device is all screen. The “forehead” and “chin” of every preceding iPhone are gone.
Also gone is the home button.
Without an actual button, the functions the home button served are replaced by gestures. This means long time iPhone (and iPad) users will need to re-learn how to do basic tasks you’ve been doing for years. This will take a bit of time to get used to.
There is a small part on the top of the front of the device that isn’t screen where the earpiece, camera, and sensors live. This has become known as “the notch”. Instead of putting the screen under this, screen surrounds it. Information in the title bar (time, wifi, cellular signal, battery) is now split between the two “ears”. Honestly, it looks a little weird.
With the loss of the home button, we also lost the fingerprint scanner (i.e. “Touch ID”). Apple’s new “Face ID” technology replaces it, but surprisingly changes how you think of (or not think of) security.
With Touch ID, you would have to deliberately put one of your fingers on the button to unlock the phone or sign into one of the many apps that support the technology. This actually works really well, especially on the iPhone 6s or newer which has a super fast fingerprint sensor.
Face ID works creating a 3D model of your face with a special sensor on the front of the phone. Whereas you have to deliberately invoke Touch ID by touching the sensor, Face ID just happens whenever you look at the phone. This makes security automatic. For example, to unlock the phone just hold it up and swipe from the bottom. Another example is 1Password which just opens when I start the app – I don’t have to deliberately unlock it. It feels like there isn’t a security layer when there actually is. The phone does show you when its using Face ID with a small animation, but you don’t have to do anything other than look at the phone, which you’re doing anyway while using it.
Unlike Touch ID which supported five fingers, Face ID only supports one face. This is inconvenient as you cannot give a family access to your phone, or get access to their phone, as easily as an older phone. You will have to rely on the password.
One negative use case, I think, is Apple Pay. With Touch ID you can just put the phone on the terminal with a finger on the sensor and pay without even looking. With the X, you need to double click the side button to activate Apple Pay, look at the phone, and then tap the terminal. This doesn’t sound as convenient.
An interesting use of Face ID is to protect potentially sensitive information in notifications on the lock screen. On the X, only the title of the notification is displayed until it recognizes your face and then the whole notification is displayed.
Another clever use is that the volume of the ringer will go down when the phone recognizes your face. If you’re looking at the phone, it doesn’t have to ring loudly.
I haven’t had the device long enough to really tell if the battery life is adequate. Supposedly it is better than the iPhone 8 but not as good as the 8 Plus. One of the best features of the Plus sized phones is the battery life so I’m curious to see if I can make it through the day comfortably.
The iPhone X (as well as the 8 and 8 Plus) support wireless charging. I haven’t tried this out (I didn’t shell out for a charging pad) to see how well it works or not.
Like the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus, the iPhone X has a dual camera system.
I haven’t the opportunity to test out he cameras to judge if the cameras are any better than earlier models.
The iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone ever. It costs $999 for 64GB or storage or $1149 with 256GB. That puts it at $200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus and $300 more the iPhone 8.
Unlike earlier models where the entry model had a paltry amount of storage, 64GB is decent. If you’re planning on taking lots of pictures or video you may want to opt for the larger option.
Because the X has a different form factor than any other model it also means you will need a new case so plan on that extra cost.
I haven’t had the phone for very long (about 12 hours) so its hard to make hard conclusions.
It is still an iPhone, so all the apps and services you were using before continue to work.
It feels like a pretty big upgrade to the iPhone 8 sized devices but I’m not sure if it is worth $300 more
I’m not as sure that this is a big upgrade for Plus sized phones. For $200 more you get a narrower screen and less battery. You also get a significantly smaller, lighter phone which is a win. Perhaps there will be an iPhone X Plus next year?
Face ID is pretty impressive, but I want to live with it for a while before I decide if this is really the future or not.