On Sept. 12, Apple announced the release of the year’s most highly anticipated phone: the iPhone X. The phone promised an ultra-high quality screen, improved cameras, security features tied to the user’s face and more. Apple was touting the iPhone X as the phone of the future. That’s a huge promise, especially for a company with an extremely loyal fanbase.
So how does the iPhone X stack up to these promises?
I preordered my iPhone X through my mobile carrier, and I received it on Nov. 3. I’ve had it for over a week now, and I’ve been putting it through its paces.
The biggest change for me has been the all-new screen. Instead of the typical LCD screen used by Apple for 10 years, they chose an OLED screen that fills nearly the entire front side of the device. One of the main complaints of the new display is the small notch at the top of the screen. While the notch doesn’t obviously improve the user experience – and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would have agreed – you become less aware over time, and it doesn’t become a distraction.
Another big upgrade from the previous devices is the improved cameras in the back of the phone. The iPhone X sports a f/1.8 28mm wide angle lens and a f/2.4 56mm telephoto lens, both of which have optical image stabilization and a newer, larger sensor. The wider tele lens is a huge upgrade from the previous f/2.8 lens. Now that the lens lets in more light, Apple seems to have tweaked their algorithm in the Photos app to allow the user to utilize this lens more often. The larger dual sensors help bring in more light and replicate color better than any other phone camera.
Another camera upgrade the iPhone X features is Portrait Lighting. It seemed like a gimmick to me at first, but after playing with it, it has proven to be useful in many situations. Portrait mode itself is improved, but adding artificial lighting effects makes the photos really pop. Between the different lighting modes, my favorites are the Studio Lighting and the Stage Light Mono. They both gave me realistic, classy photos that look like they were taken with a much larger camera in a photo studio.
As a testament to how great the new camera is, look for photos in this week’s issue that were taken by me. I took every single photo with my iPhone X, most in portrait mode.
On the video side of things, the iPhone X shoots 4K at 60 fps. Even my much larger, more expensive camera only shoots 4K at 30 fps, but with a full frame sensor. While I’m not really a video guy, the footage this phone produces is incredible.
To make the iPhone X sport a full-frontal OLED screen, Apple had to ditch the home button. While most mobile phones look similar across different brands, the home button was what made an iPhone look like an iPhone. Apple decided to pivot toward a gesture-focused interaction to replace the physical button itself. I found the lack of the home button to be a welcome change. Swiping up to close apps feels more intuitive, and the animation of apps closing helps a lot. Sacrificing a button to have more screen space is a smart decision, and I think Apple will continue without a home button from now on.
Because there is now no home button, you use your face to unlock the phone. This is by far the one feature that makes people the most skeptical about the phone.
I’m blaming Samsung for this. With the Samsung phones, the camera measures how far apart your eyes are, how far down your mouth is and the distance between your mouth and nose. This is a two-dimensional way of recognizing people.
The iPhone X side steps these problems by incorporating a three-dimensional system to identify your face. When you lift the phone up, the flood illuminator turns on to fill your face with infrared light. This allows the phone to identify your face in complete darkness. Then the dot projector throws more than 30,000 tiny dots of invisible infrared light to map your face. The infrared camera takes those dots and maps your face to make a match with the registered user’s face. The whole process takes less than a second and feels much more fluid than relying on a fingerprint to unlock the device.
The iPhone X is the biggest change in the iPhone lineup ever. The OLED screen is more vivid and bright than any other iPhone. Face ID takes security to a new level and makes unlocking the device and making payments easier. The iPhone X has proved to be a premium phone that advances and refines the iPhone lineup and gives us a look into the future of Apple devices.