What you’re about to read is going to sound like a love letter to Apple. So, just to level set, I stand by my assertion that “Imitation Is Not Innovation.” Apple’s high-end smartphone offerings are now feature-competitive with high-end Android devices. If you’re an iOS person, this review will make you joyful. If you’re an Android person, you are going to wonder what all the fuss is about. With that in mind, here are my thoughts about Apple’s new iPhone X.
You can one-hand the iPhone X. The screen is slightly bigger than the screen on the iPhone 7 Plus, but Apple took .28″ off the width of the X. This is a very big deal. One-handing a phone with a 5.8″ screen is awesome!
Face Recognition. It works. In fact, it works more reliably than the TouchID button on my iPhone 7 Plus, which was susceptible to residue from salty snacks and moisture from holding the accompanying adult frosty beverage containers. When it doesn’t work, you just tap your PIN or password (if you’re smart enough to set a long, evil, inconvenient one like you should) and your phone will open.
Animoji. I was sure that I was too old and too jaded to appreciate the new Animoji feature. I’m not. It’s really fun and oddly useful. But more important, the technology will empower all kinds of real-time animation opportunities. Clearly, this is just the beginning.
No Home Button. It took me about an hour to get used to the new swipe patterns. The control panel is now a swipe down from the top right. You swipe down from the top left to see notifications. Swiping up opens the device and closes apps. You can swipe along the bottom of the device to switch between open apps. It’s new, it’s different, and it works – the new swipe patterns quickly become habits. I don’t miss the Home button, and you won’t either.
Portrait Mode on the Front-Facing Camera. This is a nice to have, not a need to have. Single selfies are OK in portrait mode (depending on the length of your arms, you might not get your whole face in focus). Group selfies in portrait mode are not hard to take, but it is tougher than it should be to get everyone in focus.
The Combo Button (Off, Siri, & Apple Pay). Press once to turn off your screen, press and hold to have a chat with Siri, double press to Apple Pay. You can say, “Hey Siri” at any time (no button needed), but if you want to press and hold the button, Siri will listen. How do you actually turn your iPhone X off? Press the combo button and either the volume up or volume down simultaneously. To hard reset your iPhone X, press the up volume button quickly, then the down volume button quickly, then hold the combo button until you see the Apple logo on the screen. These are all slightly annoying, but not big enough changes to care about.
Wireless Charging. Love it! Yes. Your Samsung wireless charger will work. Even the old ones.
The Rear-Facing Camera. The quality of images made with an iPhone X are practically indistinguishable from that of images taken with an iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X is slightly better in low light conditions due to the f/2.4 telephoto lens). Both lenses feature OIS (optical image stabilization), which reduces blurry images and makes for smoother-looking videos. iPhones take great pictures. The iPhone X is no exception.
The Screen. Gorgeous. You will want to play with the True Tone setting. Apple claims that it “automatically adapts the iPhone display based on ambient lighting conditions to make colors appear consistent in different environments.” It does change what you see – you will have to decide if you like it.
The Notch. Yep, it’s there. It’s big. It’s obtrusive. It’s ugly. You will not notice it after a while. Actually, you will always notice it; it just won’t bother you as much after a while.
No Headphone Jack. I’ve been pretty vocal about losing this feature. Now, with wireless charging, it is less of an issue. But I still carry four sets of headphones: AirPods, Lightning Headphones (from Apple) to use when the AirPods run out of power, Etymotic ER4 to listen to music, and Etymotic hf3 to use when I need to chat on my MacBook Pro. And I still have my Belkin lightning dongle so I can use a charger and wired headphones at the same time. Dongles, dongles, dongles! Thanks, Apple.
The Most Expensive iPhones Ever
It’s hard to justify spending $999 on a 64GB iPhone X (unless you never take pictures or videos and don’t have a large collection that you like to keep with you). If you take pictures or videos or if you have a sizable existing photo collection, you will need the 256GB storage capacity.
For all practical purposes, the iPhone X is $1,149 plus $199 for AppleCare, plus sales tax, plus the activation fee from your carrier, plus a case, so you’re looking at approximately $1,500 ready to use in your hand (before you purchase a voice/data plan from your preferred carrier).
There are several ways to reduce the pain of this price. You can pay a low monthly fee by signing up for Apple’s “new phone every year” plan. I did this and was very, very sorry I did. According to Apple, all of the inconvenience and late-night grief I experienced (when I attempted to upgrade to the iPhone X) was because Apple could not connect to Citizen Bank to complete my “new phone every year” upgrade. (The saga is chronicled in Apple iPhone X Epic Fail Update).
Verizon offers a “new phone every year plan” too. Verizon doesn’t sell AppleCare; it sells an insurance plan that covers 100% of what AppleCare covers, plus theft or loss of your device. The monthly fee is slightly more than Apple charges, but if you lose your phone or if someone steals it, you’re covered. To be fair, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T all offer similar plans. They’re worth a few minutes of research.
Is the iPhone X Worth $999 (64GB) or $1,149 (256GB)?
Yes. You check your phone 120–150 times each day. You live your life on your phone. You never let anyone else hold your phone when you show them pictures you’ve taken. You sleep next to your phone. You take it to the rest room with you. It is your primary means of communication and your connection to your community. If you can afford it, there is no reason not to have a 256GB iPhone X. If money is an object, you should consider a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus instead of a 64GB iPhone X. Storage matters. Some would argue that the Face ID feature of the iPhone X is a window into the world of Augmented Reality and enhanced game play, so there is a good reason save $150 and get the 64GB iPhone X. This is a personal choice, but consider your use case before making your purchase.
The Bottom Line
The somewhat insane process of procuring this particular iPhone transformed me from an intense fanboy into an apathetic grown-up. I had no preconceived notions or feelings as I unboxed my iPhone X, which was great, because in all honesty, the iPhone X delighted me at every turn. Well done, Apple.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not nor is my company receiving compensation for it. Specifically related to this article, my company owns/leases dozens of smartphones (both Android and iOS) through various plans from each of the major carriers.