The iPhone X is entirely new and entirely different. It marks a complete departure from iPhones of previous years. The release of the iPhone X is also the most excited I’ve been about a new iPhone since the iPhone 4.
Since the iPhone 6, iPhone refreshes have been largely iterative. Sure, we’ve added some notable features along the way, but the iPhone X changes just about everything, from how we navigate iOS to the design and so much more.
I’ve been using the iPhone X for a week now, and like others at 9to5Mac, I’m wildly impressed with the device. Read on for 9 initial impressions from my first week with the iPhone X…
Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip
One of the coolest features of iOS 11 is a new Automatic Setup option that allows you to quickly transfer key details from your old iPhone to your new one. Similar to the Apple TV setup process, you simply hold both iPhones close to each other and you’ll see a “Set up new iPhone” prompt on the older model followed by an Apple Watch-eqsue pairing process. From there, information such as Wi-Fi credentials, Apple ID logins, and more is transferred effortlessly to your new iPhone.
Coupled with restoring from iCloud, this new feature really makes the setup of the iPhone X as seamless as possible. It’s a good first impression right out of the box and really shows how strong Apple’s ecosystem can be.
As soon as I powered on my iPhone X, my eyes first jumped to the infamous ’notch’ along the top, which houses the TrueDepth camera and other key Face ID sensors. My eyes didn’t immediately jump here because of how it looked, but rather only because it was all anyone had been talking about since the iPhone X was announced two months.
The notch is polarizing because of how it cuts into the usable screen real estate of the iPhone X. Personally, I can say this: After about 15 minutes of using the iPhone X, I totally forgot the notch even existed, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.
There have been very few, if any, instances where I’ve thought the notch at all interferes with the iPhone X display. The obvious one is video, but to be frank, I rarely watch video on my iPhone at all, so that hasn’t been a huge problem to me. Even on primarily white interfaces, the notch is just kind of there; not intruding and hardly noticeable.
The biggest change with the iPhone X, in my opinion, is the removal of the Home button. Apple sort of started preparing us for this last year with the capacitive Home button on the iPhone 7 – but that doesn’t compare to the completely new experience of no Home button whatsoever.
Instead of a Home button, there’s a new gesture that allows you to swipe up from the bottom of the display and return to the Home screen. This also means you get a new multitasking experience that allows you to just swipe between apps, similar to the four-finger gesture on the iPad.
If I had one complaint about the new gestures, it would be that accessing the card-based multitasking interface can be a bit tricky as it takes awhile to get the timing down. That’s a very minor complaint, though.
I’m incredibly pleased with how Apple optimized iOS for the iPhone X. Whereas many Android manufacturers simply use capacitive software buttons, Apple took it a step farther with these gestures, and it’s a notable improvement compared to the experience you get on other “bezel-less” phones.
More on the iPhone X’s home indicator: Opinion: Why the home indicator is an essential part of the iPhone X interface
More on using the iPhone X’s new gestures: How to navigate the Home button-less iPhone X using gestures [Video]
LCD vs OLED backgrounds (image from Austin Mann’s iPhone X review)
I’ve never felt that the iPhone lacked in screen quality due to Apple sticking with LCD despite many Android manufacturers moving towards OLED. Apple has always prided new iPhones on the display quality and things like Retina have largely made up for some of the trade-offs you get with LCD.
The first impression of the iPhone X’s OLED display right out of the box didn’t necessarily blow me away. By no means was it a negative first impression, but rather it was just that iPhone displays have always been great, so the move to OLED isn’t major.
Once I started using the device, and got out of the all-white setup interface, the changes became more noticeable. The blacks are deeper, the colors more vibrant. This is especially notable when choosing a wallpaper (which, by the way, are incredible on the iPhone X.).
OLED doesn’t come without trade-offs, and Apple notes that there are steps you can take to prevent things such as screen burn-in. But don’t expect issues with the iPhone X display like certain other Android phones have had.
I’m a long time ‘Plus’ user. I used the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6s Plus, the iPhone 7 Plus, and the iPhone 8 Plus. I’ve always been willing to trade one-handed use for a larger display. The iPhone X features a 5.8-inch display, which is mathematically bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus’s 5.5-inch panel. In real-world usage, however, the display is actually noticeably smaller.
The iPhone X is taller than previous iPhones, and that’s where a lot of that extra screen real estate is packed. You also have the home indicator along the bottom and the notch along the top, both of which eat up some of that 5.8-inch screen. The moral of the story here is you shouldn’t expect the iPhone X to feel like it has a bigger display than any Plus-size iPhone. Or even a display that’s as big.
For me, the iPhone X’s new display size took some adjustments. You lose some features like tabbed support in Safari and there’s a notable difference in keyboard size. The difference in keyboard size is my biggest issue and it’s still taking some getting used to, even a week in.
The iPhone X also isn’t as one-hand friendly as many expected it to be. While it’s body is similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone, you have to remember that it’s all-screen – which makes reaching the top corners a challenge during one-handed use. This is most notable when trying to access Control Center, which needs to be rethought out.
There are rumors of a larger, 6-inch iPhone X variant coming next year. Personally, this sounds like the perfect iPhone size to me. I love the large screen real estate and would be perfectly happy giving up one-handed use for a larger keyboard.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X are Apple’s first devices to support Qi-based inductive wireless charging, despite Apple’s initial aversion to the technology. Apple’s late to the game here, so wireless charging isn’t necessarily a revolutionary addition, but nevertheless a welcomed one.
I’ve been using the Mophie wireless charging pad that Apple sells for $60, but a handful of lower-cost options exist on Amazon. All in all, wireless charging is a nice convenience feature to have, but not one that makes or breaks the iPhone X.
The best iPhone X wireless chargers:
- Seneo’s wireless charging stand for $23
- Choetech’s wireless charging pad for $16
- Anker’s wireless charging pad for $19
- Pleson’s wireless charging stand for $22
- Samsung’s wireless charging pad for $25
The elephant in the room here is Face ID. Apple’s botched demo during the iPhone X launch event certainly didn’t do any favors in helping curtail people’s concerns about the removal of Touch ID. Privacy concerns have also been floating around for the last couple of months, despite Apple’s constant reassurances.
For me, Face ID has been nearly perfect. There are moments when I miss Touch ID, such as when my phone is laying flat on my desk and I just want to quickly view a notification, but all-in-all, I’m convinced that Apple made the right move with Face ID.
The Face ID setup process is just as easy as the Touch ID setup process. One suggestion I have is to make sure you setup Face ID in a natural lighting environment. I initially set mine up in a car, which meant there was some weird sunlight beams and whatnot. I set it up again inside and noticed an immediate improvement in detection.
Apple has done an excellent job of integrating Face ID throughout iOS for things such as app logins and Keychain for passwords in Safari. What I love most about Face ID in these instances is that it’s passive. Whereas with Touch ID you had to physically place your finger on the Home button, Face ID is effortless and just authenticates you and then shows you what you want to see.
I’ve gone back and forth between enabling and disabling Attention Detection, which is hidden in the Accessibility section of the iOS Settings app. When enabled, Attention Detection requires that you be looking at the iPhone X in order to unlock. On the other hand, disabling means you can be looking away or even have your eyes closed, and Face ID will still work.
Essentially, Attention Detection comes down to how much you value security. If you have it enabled, it’s nearly impossible for someone to hold your phone up to your face to unlock it, but when disabled all bets are off. Personally, I’m keeping it enabled for now but that might change as we move forward.
While my experience with Face ID has been overwhelmingly positive, others have had some issues with things such as glasses, but I expect Apple to iron out these problems in the near future.
Case or no case?
The iPhone X is a gorgeous phone and right out of the box I had no desire to put a case on it. I didn’t want to cover up such a beautiful design with any case, whether it was $5 case from Amazon or Apple’s own leather cases.
However, I also bought the iPhone 8 Plus back in September, which features the same glass back design as the iPhone X, and used it case-less for a month. When it came time to sell the iPhone 8 Plus, I realized just how many scratches had accumulated on that glass back. Much like the Jet Black iPhone 7, the glass back on my iPhone 8 built up a nice collection of abrasions after only a month’s use.
Because of my experience with the iPhone 8 Plus, I think it’s best to use a case on the iPhone X, even if it means covering some of the beautiful design. I’ve gone back and forth between Apple’s Leather Case, as well as the Totalle’s ultra-thin case. The former offers slightly better protection against drops thanks to how the sides of the case wrap around the front, while the latter preserves more of the ‘naked’ feel of using an iPhone.
More iPhone X cases:
- Case-Mate iPhone X ‘Tough Clear’ for $35
- Spigen Thin Fit iPhone X case for $11
- Tozo iPhone X ultra-thin chase for $9
- OtterBox Commuter Series for iPhone X for $36
- Spigen Liquid Air Armor for iPhone X for $12
- …and many more from as low as $8
All in all, the iPhone is an incredible phone. The new design is one that Apple has seemingly been working towards for years, and it shows. Face ID has also blown away my exceptions and makes for a seamless, passive experience.
As Jony Ive noted in a recent interview, Apple can completely revamp the iPhone X purely with software updates, so hopefully we see some improvements to things such as Control Center and multitasking in the coming months.
“I’ve always been fascinated by these products that are more general purpose. What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve.
In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now. I think that is extraordinary. I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing.”
It’s clear the iPhone X is the future of the iPhone, and while there are certainly some refinements that need to be made, I’m excited to see where Apple takes things in the coming years.
What do you think of iPhone X? Let us know your first-week experiences down in the comments!
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