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Review

Apple iPhone X review: Top ‘notch’ technology

This year's most popular and anticipated iPhone is here. Should you buy one?

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Apple iPhone X 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Ever since we used the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, we’ve been waiting for the iPhone X. We had our first impressions of the iPhone X a couple of weeks ago. While it described the initial awe that hovered around the device, this is our review of the best iPhone of 2017 after using it for much of November. To set it in context, the iPhone X was launched in India and the US on the same day. Well it was announced at the same event at the Steve Jobs Theater, but availability was on the same day. And that’s a big deal.

Introducing the latest iPhone

If you’ve been following Apple iPhone announcements, you’d know the peculiar messaging. The best iPhone, an iPhone’s an iPhone, and other such phrases to describe Cupertino’s flagship smartphones. I’ve repeated this in my past reviews of the iPhone as well. It’s all about the experience. In a spec-to-spec comparison, by all means, a competing flagship may win hands-down. But the fact is, the iPhone consumer experience lasts better, and for longer. And that’s been the case for a good ten years.

The device stands for ten years of device dominance. It’s a phenomenal achievement for a tech company. Despite not really gaining market leader position through the past decade, it’s managed to check the perception and aspiration boxes every year since 2007. Ten years ago, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the phone that changed the destiny of BlackBerry and Nokia. And if you followed the launch of the first iPhone, you’d agree it wasn’t anything less than transformational. It only makes sense to expect nothing short of a repeat. What better way to mark the first decade? If you’re wondering whether the iPhone X manages to do that, read on.

Art and craft

The benchmark for the iPhone X is jaw-dropping awesome. Nothing less than the best would do. It’s made by a company that is an epitome of innovation, design, and engineering craftsmanship. The suave Englishman Sir Jonathan Ive and his signature videos have charmed us for years with closer-than-real macro shots of Apple products. And the tenth anniversary of one of the most iconic products by the world’s most influential tech brand cannot be anything less than mesmerizing. Everyone who follows the business of consumer technology has kept an eye out for the iPhone X. Even those who don’t follow tech would know that the iPhone X is the iPhone without the Home button. That’s evidence of phenomenal awareness levels in the minds of consumers.

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The first time you pull out an iPhone X from its packaging to set it up, it’s a different experience. If you’re migrating from a previous iPhone, then it’s literally a plug-and-play experience. Typical Apple. As the fanboys say, it simply works. Coming back to the jaw dropping awesome part, after you’ve stopped gushing about the fact that it’s screen through and through, you’d stop by and spend a little more than a couple of seconds looking at the notch on the top of the phone. It’s a black hole. You’d lose your attention staring at that notch. Possibly some peace of mind as well. But it’d get your attention for sure. You’d just not be indifferent to it. You’d love it, or hate it, and with vengeance. Though in reality, you’re more likely to be irritated by it in landscape browsing, while loving it in portrait. These are still early days for the iPhone X. I’m still waiting for more apps to exploit its unique design. Also, portrait photos and video look awesome on the iPhone X. Rich vivid color in the OLED screen only harness the closely planned experience on the iPhone.

The gushing of enthusiasm in an Apple admirer is only evident

Now that you’ve moved beyond second glance, the fusion of metal and glass in the X defines the union of art and craft at its best. This is a sandwich of glass metal and glass. The gushing of enthusiasm in an Apple admirer is only evident. The iPhone X is available in two color variants – Space Grey and Silver. For the sake of simplicity, I refer to them black and silver in my mind. They’re truly elegant, sober, contemporary colors. Probably masculine as well. Now if that didn’t create a storm yet, I’d say it’s a generalized opinion, even assumption that men love black. And that’s what you get in the iPhone X. There’s no Rose Gold, Gold, or similar undertones, just yet. But I’d expect more color options in the future for this form factor.

Notch on the top, is top-notch

The notch I was referring to a while ago, has years of innovation in it. And that’s why I’m willing to overlook the partial blackhole. I refer to it as a blackhole, because sans the notch, it’s a world without boundaries on the iPhone X. May be Apple needed to place the notch in some different way. But looks aside, which is subjective and calls for a longer debate, the notch packages a long list of sensors. There’s a dot projector that bombards your face with 30,000 infrared dots to form what Apple calls a TrueDepth array.

The result is that the device recognizes you whether it’s day or night. Whether you have grown a beard or are clean shaven. Whether you wear a hat or not, or don a turban or any other headgear. The iPhone knows it’s you. Because unlike doing an image match with the initial capture on the OnePlus 5T, the iPhone X learns over time and can see through distractions to your standard facial feature.

iPhone X face id in dark

Whenever the iPhone X is confused, it’d prompt you to enter your pin to unlock. This has got to be the topic of great debate. Through the use of the iPhone X, I went ahead and grew a deep stubble,beyond rugged, borderline desperado look. And Face ID has failed me a few times, but whenever it’s learned that it’s me, it’s been quick thereafter. Everyone loves the function of the components in the notch on the top of the iPhone. I loved it too. But for some it’s an obstruction, a blob in an otherwise wide world without boundaries.

 

Coincidentally, the OnePlus 5T launched while I was using the iPhone X. As expected, this was a hot discussion. OnePlus fans, similar to iPhone fans, are a vocal lot. For them, it’s a brilliant invention that the 5T is able to unlock rapidly. To be fair, the OnePlus 5T unlock is impressively fast from initial use. But the learning that goes with the iPhone X is what sets it apart from face unlock on the OnePlus 5T. They are two different products.

On the low end of the deal, the browsing experience isn’t as smooth in landscape. A few design updates could follow over time, I’m sure. But for now, landscape is the weakest link because what you see isn’t symmetrical. A blacked out left side of the screen versus maximum screen real estate on the right means the webpages you view could appear funny in certain cases.

The notch is the highlight of the iPhone X. What lies beneath is what make it a special phone. I’d go on to say that it’s the innovation of the year. There’s no other phone in the market today that can recognize you and unlock itself for you irrespective of how you style yourself, accessorize yourself at any part of the day. Despite growing a thick stubble, it unlocked itself after a clean shave. The world is obsessed at cracking Face ID to such an extent of messing around with it through identical twins or by using a mask. All of that is for convenience. As I said in my first impressions, you’re still limited in security by your unlock pin.

Animojis

This one’s a welcome surprise to me. I never thought I’d get excited about this one. But during the course of using the iPhone X, I spent quite a few days when I was on sick leave creating animojis to stay entertained. Animojis are exactly a combination of FaceSwap, Dubsmash and emojis rolled into one product. The dumbest, cutest and smartest way of expression around.

Creating an expressive message is as simple as sending a text over iMessage. Simply fire up iMessage, type in the contact’s phone number, type in the iMessage App Store icon, and select Animoji. You’d find a range of characters you could use. The iPhone X would track your expressions and record your voice while capturing video. The result is animated emojis, or animojis, which will impress your friends and loved ones. They’ll sure ask you for more.

Camera and performance

A comparison of the camera on the iPhone X with its latest competition reveals that the world isn’t going to let Apple have the meaty end of the bone. The Pixel 2 XL and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would give the iPhone X a bad time. Now there are certain areas where the iPhone X performs better, such as the portrait mode on the front camera. But on other counts, Samsung and Google seem to have done a better job than Apple.

Largely, we believe that images captured on the iPhone X are relatively warmer compared to the other flagships we compared. I’m expecting future software updates to enhance the photography results on the iPhone X even further.

The best an iPhone can get 

In the iPhone X, Apple has created a new reference for the smartphone industry. And just like that, Apple has the opportunity to take the notch higher – literally and symbolically. The new processor on the iPhone X is faster compared to the previous variant, and it shows. But you won’t likely use all that hardware capability. How many of us work on our phones for complex video editing capabilities, after all. We live through our day, and our phone sees us through most of it without any malfunction and that’s all we ever need.

Apple has made modifications to its iOS mobile operating system specifically for the iPhone X. Gestures such as swipe up to go to the Home screen, or swipe up and right to switch apps make the iPhone X a very addictive device. And it’s only just been a little under a month with it, and I’ve already subconsciously attempted these gestures on my older iPhone. These gestures grow on you.

In terms of battery, the iPhone X lasts you longer than the iPhone 8. But on a specific instance, I once forgot to get my laptop to office. The result was an intensive day on the iPhone X. It meant reading through most copies that were published on BGR India, switching between other documents I’ve been working on, and tons of calls. From 100 percent at 7am, I was down to 40 percent at 12:30pm. I happened to plug in the phone to a charger around lunch briefly to get it to 60 percent. I was down to 20 percent by 8pm. While that may not compare very well with other Android devices with larger battery capacities, it does perform better than other iPhones.

With the idea of the iPhone X and all that Apple has packaged into it, Apple has created a new benchmark. But there’s scope to enhance the experience even more, and I’m sure Apple will be focusing on it over the next several weeks and months. To answer the one important question – to buy or not to buy. It lies in the eyes of the buyer. The price of the device is steep. And not everyone will buy one. Apple knows that. That’s why you have the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus on the market right now. If you’re deeply attached to the Apple ecosystem and love everything Apple, then this iPhone is meant for you. Much like Bournville dark chocolate and rare art, you have to earn it. You need to have an appreciation for it. But if either pricing or the ecosystem itself is a matter of concern, then there are plenty of other options in the market.

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Apple iPhone X

89000

iOS 11
A11 Bionic 64-bit chipset with M11 motion coprocessor
dual 12MP camera f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures with dual OIS
  • Published Date: November 20, 2017 11:20 AM IST
  • Updated Date: December 13, 2017 11:13 AM IST