iPhone X Review: The same, but different

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Apple released their newest edition to their iPhone family on November 3rd, 2017. Photo by Josiah Mayo.

The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X were debuted by Apple at their newly opened Apple Park in Cupertino, California Sept. 12. In many ways the new iPhone line-up is a leap forward for Apple, but where the technology giant truly shines is with it’s announcement of their completely re-designed smartphone: iPhone X.

I have had the iPhone X in my hands since launch day, giving me the chance to test out the $1,000 smartphone and get to know it’s quirks and delights. There are many things to love about Apple’s flagship smartphone and there’s few things which may be drawbacks for some long-time iPhone users.

Design

The design of the iPhone X immediately stands out from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The re-design is a breath of fresh air compared to the out-dated, aluminum slab design that has been touted by Apple since the iPhone 6.

The iPhone X features an all-glass design with glass on the front and back of the phone. The frame is made of surgical-grade stainless steel. Steel is a much-welcomed design change, as it is much harder than aluminum and gives a nice weight to the body of the phone so it’s solid in your hands.

Apple claims that the glass used in their new iPhone line-up is the hardest glass ever in a smartphone. This statement likely refers to the durability of the glass in drop incidents and not its resistance to scratches. I would still recommend using a screen protector to prevent scratches and breakage. Apple has set a premium of $279 without AppleCare + to fix an iPhone X screen, which is higher than the $169 cost of fixing an iPhone 8, according to the Verge.

Display

The iPhone X sports an almost bezel-less screen on the front of the device. This is the first time Apple has made the transition to the OLED screen technology that has been used in many Samsung smartphones. OLED screens are more energy efficient by giving every pixel the ability to turn on and off while the display is on, which allows for brighter colors and truer blacks to emanate from the display. The iPhone X’s screen goes edge-to-edge with the frame of the phone, making images and video enjoyable.

I can’t talk about the display without talking about the obtrusive ‘notch’ that protrudes at the top of the smartphone. At first glance, it’s hard not to notice. After using the device I got so accustomed to it that it didn’t bother me in day-to-day use. For those that love watching video on their iPhones, the ‘notch’ can definitely be annoying. It cuts into the canvas and can block your view of the content when in landscape view. I definitely can tell that the iPhone X was designed as a phone to be primarily used in portrait view.

Hardware

The iPhone line-up features one of the fastest, if not the fastest smartphone processing units ever. The new A11 Bionic processing chip was made for the future. It has an all-new neural engine that allows for facial recognition technology. Apple continues to push the limits of current computer chip technology.
Battery life is great. Coming from the iPhone 7 Plus that has a long-lasting battery, I could comfortably get through a whole day without searching for a charger with the iPhone X.

Cameras

The iPhone X’s dual-camera set-up on the rear is virtually unchanged from last year’s iPhone 7 Plus. Each camera has 12 megapixel sensors, one with telephoto capabilities for optical zoom up to 2x and digital zoom up to 10x. The iPhone X has a slight improvement over the iPhone 8 Plus with optical image stabilization in both cameras, versus only one in the iPhone 8 Plus. This is a big deal for camera lovers and is excellent for video. The camera’s biggest upgrade lies in the greatly improved image processor. I’ve found the iPhone X can take very impressive low-light photos for a smartphone camera.

The front-facing camera on the iPhone X has a 7 megapixel sensor that features the new Portrait Lighting mode for taking selfies with an array of light effects to choose from, including a stage light effect. Portrait Mode was a new feature introduced last year in the iPhone 7 Plus that creates a depth effect around a person or object. Right now, the front-facing Portrait Mode doesn’t work very well and blurs out hair and the edges of your face. This can be fixed in later software updates. Virtual and augmented reality are becoming more popular in smartphones and the new iPhone line-up sports new abilities to make applications come to life.

Face ID

Apple’s all-new security standard now uses your face to unlock your phone and make payments with Apple Pay, Apple’s contactless payment service. The gold standard for mobile security, Touch ID, has been the fastest and most secure way to protect your most valuable information. Apple has now developed their own technology that uses an infrared dot projector to scan and identify 30,000 points on your face.

Conclusion

Apple claims that Face ID is much more secure than Touch ID. They say there’s a one in 50,000 chance someone can unlock your iPhone with their fingerprint on Touch ID. With Face ID, Apple says there’s a one in 1,000,000 chance. Even with this boost in security, people are very skeptical of how secure it can be. Media outlets have reported on the possibilities of duping the facial recognition technology with face masks and people who are identical twins.

The iPhone X brings welcomed excitement to an otherwise boring iPhone 8 line-up. The screen is gorgeous and the smartphone feels great in the hand. The iPhone X was built with the future in mind. It has a lot of room to grow, but Apple produced a solid first-generation device and is promoting the iPhone X as the “future of the smartphone.” We will just have to see what Apple does next.

Rating: 9/10

About the author: Josiah Mayo

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