Ten Days with Apple’s iPhone X

New devices coming onto the market are met with praise, confusion, hating, loving, and, perhaps most importantly for companies, willing early adopters. As someone who spends a lot of time checking out new digital technologies, Apple’s newest device really piqued my interest.

Ten days ago, I unpacked my shiny new iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone Ten”) with huge expectations. What has been described as the “ultimate iPhone” and what Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive described as what they have been trying to do for over a decade, the iPhone X is a game-changer in the iPhone product line. Many people in our class have asked me what my impression of the device has been so far, so I’ll take a look at several things here. Although I did indeed have some problems getting my device activated originally, those problems went away quickly and I have been enjoying my time so far with the device.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 4.59.31 PM.png

The Device

My previous phone was an Apple iPhone 7, which was slightly smaller than my new iPhone X. The iPhone X is noticeably heavier than my iPhone 7, likely due to the change in materials for the back case (going from aluminum to glass) and the band that wraps around the phone’s edges (going from aluminum to stainless steel). As you know already, the front of the phone is nearly entirely display with the exception of a small area that has become known as “the notch,” which is where the Face ID sensors are located (more on that later). The large display, which is the largest ever put on an iPhone (even bigger than the 6/7/8 Plus models) is stunning in terms of quality and I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back to a smaller screen or a phone with large top and bottom bezels again after having experienced this type of edge to edge display.

 

The Home Button

There is no physical home button on the iPhone X. Apple has replaced the mechanical home button with a touch gesture that requires users to swipe up a large white or black bar (depends on the background of the app) to return to the home screen.  Another use of the home button of old was to open up the multitasking menu to easily switch apps. This is still possible, through the use of another gesture which requires the user to swipe up on the white or black bottom bar and hold their finger in place for a brief moment (it can be done much more quickly than the GIF below shows). These two home button changes, while they seem like a major change for users, really only take a few short minutes to get used to and then require no further thought. We are better at adapting to changes than we think! I have had very little trouble adapting to this change as the physical movement is quite similar and still achieves the same simple result.

Goodbye Touch ID

Perhaps the most controversial and worrying part of the iPhone X for consumers is the device’s new Face ID authentication system, which replaces the outgoing fingerprint-based Touch ID. Rather than relying on a direct contact with the device as Touch ID did, Face ID uses a complex system of sensors to create a 3D image of your face and uses this to authenticate and unlock. Face ID data is stored locally on the iPhone just as the Touch ID data was.

IMG_8125.gif

My take on Face ID is that it has, for me, easily replaced the Touch ID authentication system. I simply tap on the screen on my device to wake it (no need to press the power button), look at it, and it unlocks and allows me to go to the Home Screen. Easy as that. It does not open the device for my roommates or anyone else, and I do not have an evil twin. Personally, I am not worried about my Face ID being hacked or something through the use of an elaborate mask or anything as has become popular in the media lately, so I find the system to be secure enough for my purposes. There are some people, though, that feel that the system is insecure because there is a chance that a twin or elaborate mask can be used to open it. For this very small percentage of people, either purchasing a different device or turning off the Face ID feature would solve their problems. I have, like the other features, gotten used to the new system very quickly and don’t have any regrets about switching.

Price Point

The iPhone X, starting at US$999 for the 64 GB model and going up to US$1149 for the 256 GB model, is the most expensive iPhone to be released. This presents a significant $200 premium over similarly-equipped iPhone 8 models and is likely a major barrier to folks who are interested in upgrading to the latest and best iPhone. The price was definitely a major consideration for me, but ultimately my participation in the iPhone Upgrade Program allowed me to upgrade easily and without a huge upfront payment that I was unwilling to make.

I previously had a 128 GB iPhone 7 under the iPhone Upgrade Program that cost me $36.58 per month through a loan that paid for the upfront cost of the phone. After 12 months of paying that, I was eligible to trade in that phone and upgrade. I now have a 64 GB iPhone X and pay $49.51 per month, which is a $12.93 per month increase. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you feel you can justify the cost. As someone who loves having new gadgets to play with, I had no problem with this expense.

 

Some Qualms

My experience thus far with the iPhone X has been very good overall, but there are two things that annoy me:

  • Some apps, like Spotify, have not yet been updated to accommodate for the larger screen size and change in display aspect ratio, meaning that there are large black bars at the top and bottom. This is similar to when you watch a widescreen movie on your laptop. Hopefully these apps are updated shortly.

IMG_5551.jpeg

  • The battery percentage meter is not visible unless you go into the Control Center, which requires a downward swipe from the top right corner. Battery life has been very good for me so far, so I don’t feel like I need to check this often, but it is a small annoyance.

With those things in mind, I would still definitely recommend the device to anyone looking for a substantial experiential upgrade.

Have any questions for me about my experiences with the iPhone X? Leave them below and I will get back to you with an answer!

15 comments

  1. Great Post Cam! I have only seen one iPhone X in person so far and I was really impressed by it. I’ve only heard good things about the facial recognition, so I was glad to hear that you are having a great experience with it as well. I liked your comparison in costs using the iPhone upgrade program because I also took out the loan through Apple for my own iPhone 7.

  2. Thanks for the thorough feedback! I have only heard great things from users, but of course the media finds and attacks on any issues that arise (especially with the new facial recognition feature), so I am glad you are having a positive experience. I am sure most apps will be updated shortly to better fit the screen. How long did it take for your iPhone X to arrive after ordering it?

    1. Hi Catherine, I preordered the device at 3:00 AM on October 27 and it arrived on November 3 which was the official launch day.

  3. Hi Cam, great post about your experience so far! It’s super interesting that apps haven’t all thought to update their interface yet to accommodate for the change in screen size. I’ve heard some complaints about the phone in cold weather, have you had any issues? I have an iPhone 7 and last Saturday I went outside for 30 minutes and found that my phone battery dropped from 42% to 10% at the time, making me wonder if this cold weather problem is an issue due to Apple software or their new hardware. I also find it interesting that you’ve found the phone to be heavier. We’ve been on a trend of making phones smaller and thinner (just think of how thick our iPods were), so I wonder if the X is as thin as they could make it due to the new material, or if they purposely designed for it to be a tad heavier.

    1. Hi Kaitlin, unfortunately I have had some problems with my phone in the cold. Some parts of the screen become unresponsive so it’s not really possible to enter text correctly. Battery performance drops in cold weather are a characteristic of all lithium-ion batteries and should be expected, but your drop is pretty significant!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your analysis of the iPhone X, I have the iPhone 7 plus and it seems to work perfectly for me, however, I have heard everyone who has the iPhone X will never look back at their previous iPhone. Also, when you explain the price is only a $12.00/month increase it does seem way more justifiable! I have two questions regarding the display, with the switch to glass is it easier to crack? Secondly, with a secure case and prevents the glass screen from ever hitting the floor, do you lose some of the screen since it goes entirely to the edge of the phone?

    1. Hi Sydney, I would say that it is definitely more breakable given that the back of the phone is all glass like the front display. The glass they use on the front is not any different from previous models to my knowledge, so thats still just as breakable as before. I do have a case on my phone which has a slight lip atop the display so that, should the phone fall totally flat on the ground, the display should be fine. The display does have a tiny bezel that allows for a case to cover the edges so I can protect the screen without having to give up any of my screen.

  5. Great post, Cam! Thanks for sharing your experience with the iPhone X so far and giving us your take on its features. Although 12 more dollars per month seems much more manageable than a more than $1000 investment, I’m still not sure if I could justify it. It seems like the iPhone X has fewer super cool, mind blowing features than I had expected. It is especially frustrating that major apps like Spotify have not adapted to the bigger screen yet, but, like you said, I’m sure this will be coming very soon. I say all of this now, but talk to me in a few months when my iPhone 7 is freezing and its battery is draining at a ridiculous rate and I’ll probably hop on the bandwagon. One question I have is what you think of the camera quality. Do you think it significantly beats out the quality of the iPhone 7? And do you have portrait mode?

    1. Hi Sarah, I believe that the quality of the iPhone 7 was very high, but the larger display and significantly improved camera system makes the iPhone X a much better choice in my book. The iPhone X does have Portrait Mode on both the front and rear cameras.

  6. Yeah, the apps will take a bit to optimize for the new environment. Better than android, however, where app developers literally have to develop dozens of different versions to accommodate all the differences.

  7. Cool post! I’m due for an upgrade in February and the obvious debate is the 8 vs. the X. I know the X has a chip that is more powerful than even the iPad Pro so it should be able to handle a lot. I imagine that this processing power will also cause a massive shift in mobile game development. Have you had a chance to explore more demanding task like playing graphic heavy games on the X? If you did, how does it compare to playing games on the 7 and what are your thoughts on the impact that it may have?

    1. Hi Dillon, I haven’t yet had the chance to get into the graphics-heavy apps yet on the phone. The iPhone X and iPhone 8/8 Plus all share the same chipset so you should find similar performance across those, but the display on the iPhone X is obviously much bigger and immersive than the other models which may lead to a better experience.

  8. This was a really fun post to read! None of my friends have the iPhone X so I haven’t had a chance to play around with one yet. I definitely think that we do adapt to changes faster than we think we will– I remember when Apple switched to the lightning charger and then eventually got rid of headphone jacks. I think that with time the iPhone X will take over. The main reason I could see for it not taking off is that there is also a new, cheaper model in the iPhone 8. It’ll be interesting to see if they both do well or if one really takes off.

  9. Happy to read a “real-life”/friend’s review of this product. Grateful for your honesty and your excitement for your new phone! I also have less qualms than most about getting into my phone with FaceID etc. I feel like half of the qualms in the press are just there to talk about it and question Apple’s Authority when really we all buy their products and make the “switch” over to the creepy line in order to keep the Apple Status and ease of integration with all of our products that benefit their monopoly! Thanks for sharing Cam! Enjoy it !

  10. Great post Cam, and clever idea to open up your review post to Q&A! You’re the only friend I know so far who has the iPhone X, and playing around with it briefly has been a cool experience. (I’m still skeptical of Face ID, however.) I am surprised that an app as popular as Spotify has not been updated for the iPhone X yet; however, I am currently in Prof. Gallaugher’s iOS app development class, and creating building our basic apps around the “safe area” at the bottom of the iPhone X has proven to be a bit difficult.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: