The iPhone X has been out for a few months now, and if you haven’t heard, it’s one of the biggest shifts in iPhone design since … well, the very first iPhone. Gone are the bezels, the home button, the headphone jack, and the fingerprint sensor — all that’s left is a glass slab of the screen that, as it turns out, makes for a pretty great phone.
The iPhone X is basically an Android phone with all the Google apps and services that it has, so why not treat it like one?
You may have seen the iPhone X a few times before. Like a lot of other iPhones, the X features a glass front and back, but this is the first time we’ve seen Apple use a stainless steel frame since the 4S — with its polished finish, it’s grippier than the more commonly used aluminum, which is nice, but it’s not really that different otherwise.
At 174g, the iPhone X weighs a little heavier than previous iPhones (7.7mm). This is a departure from industry norms of “the thinner the better”, but it’s a good thing. It makes the iPhone X feel heavier, almost like it could be dropped. Apple seems to think so, too — it claims that the iPhone X uses the most durable glass ever on a smartphone — but glass is glass, and this phone still breaks like any other with enough impact.
The matte aluminum feel from my iPhone 7 is still missing, but wireless charging can be supported by the iPhone X’s glass back. This phone has the Lightning connector from Apple, which is why my entire apartment has USB-C. It quickly became the only way that I charge it. The charge time is slower than with wired fast charging, as with all phones. However, you may not notice it because Apple does not include a fast charger. It’s ridiculous, I know.
The iPhone X does not have a 3.5mm headset jack, which is a shame. Although it’s still annoying, the iPhone X doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple includes Lightning-native EarPods with the package, which are fine, but only support iOS devices.
Now let’s dive into the core features of the iPhone X. As far as build quality and materials go, the iPhone X isn’t that different from the iPhone 8 and others before it — but you already know the big differentiator.
Although the notch is visible, you won’t be able to notice it often.
It’s the notch. It’s the first iPhone with a near-edge-to-edge display. This eliminates unnecessary things like home buttons and large bezels. Since the iPhone X is almost all screen on the face, sensors and the front-facing camera had to fit into a notch at the top of the display. I think it is a great compromise to have very few bezels.), but it’s not perfect — more on that later.
The display the notch touches? It’s a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED panel with a crazy 19.5:9 aspect ratio and what Apple calls “Super Retina” resolution — that’s 1125 x 2436. It’s the first iPhone to be made without an LCD. The panel is stunning with excellent color reproduction and outdoor visibility. It isn’t nearly as bright as the Galaxy Note 8 or S9, but it also isn’t nearly as cool-toned — especially thanks to Apple’s True Tone technology.
3D Touch is also available on the iPhone X. This allows for the display to detect different pressure levels and perform various actions within the software. By pressing down on the home screen icon with some force, you can open a context menu that contains shortcuts for key features of each app. To reinforce interactions, it works well with Apple’s Taptic Engine (one of my favorites parts of the iPhone X), which provides precise vibrations and clicks.
Before I get on to the software part, could we not talk about how convenient and useful the iPhone’s muted switch is? The mute switch has been in existence since the iPhone’s original release. I’m not sure why other Android manufacturers don’t use this feature instead of the notch.
It’s now time to talk software. If you are a frequent visitor to Android Central, the iPhone X runs Apple’s iOS 11 platform. An Android user since 2007, I can agree with you. But, this phone still has a lot of great things.
Despite a new hardware design, iPhone X retains the static grid of icons that we have seen over the past decade. The icons can be rearranged and grouped into folders. However, this is as far as customization goes on the home screen. You can’t modify default apps and notifications are still a disaster for iOS. However, the X’s interface navigation is completely different.
There is no home button anymore. Instead, navigation buttons have been delegated for swiping gestures at the bottom of your screen. Swipe up to return to any app, and swipe left or right quickly to switch between them. While it may take some time to get used to the concept, once you do, it’ll feel natural.
The new gestures are not easy to master, but it is possible to get used to them quickly.
The gestures in the most recent apps list may not be as intuitive. To access your most recent apps, swipe up on your screen and leave your finger there for a few seconds. If you want to speed it up, swipe up and then over to the right. Once you’re there, you’ll probably try to close an app by swiping up on the corresponding card — except, that just takes you back home. To swipe active cards, long-press the card and add a plus button in the top-left corner. The whole process is slow, frustrating, and overly complicated — and a reminder that this phone is still very much in its testing phase months after its release.
Oh, and another growing pain — while I’ve been mostly unbothered by the notch in the display, it does annoyingly cut into the available space in the taskbar. If you don’t want to see vital information, such as battery percentages, then you will need to jump into Control Center. Swipe down at the top of the notch.
Control Center works well in theory. It’s like an Android Quick Settings tray. It’s great to see the vertical sliders for brightness and volume, as well as the ability to 3D, Touch them and open other toggles like Night Shift. But that’s sort of the problem — most of these are just toggles. The only way to switch networks and devices is by opening the Settings app.
iOS isn’t perfect, however. Unsurprisingly, iOS’s app support system is fantastic. The iPhone X has a huge selection of apps and other useful tools, many of them not available on Android. Even cross-platform apps often work better — especially social media apps. For example, Instagram has many features that are exclusive to iOS. These include switching between cameras and recording video for your Story.
If you are a Mac user, there are many benefits to using an iPhone. It’s a very useful tool, which allows you to wirelessly and quickly transfer files between your Mac and your iPhone. I use Handoff all the time. It’s also great to be able to backup iTunes if necessary. iCloud is fine, but a local copy will not eat into my online storage. The optional encryption prevents me from having all my passwords retyped in case of a restore.
iOS can be confusing or inconvenient at times, but it’s a rewarding experience if you have one.
iMessage can be used to communicate with your iPad and Mac via text. iMessage lets you send blue bubbles full-resolution media (yes, video), and can also play games. It even allows you to send money via Apple Pay. It is possible to see what someone else has written and when they have responded.
You’ll also notice that there’s no Home button and no Fingerprint Sensor. Face ID is the best alternative. You won’t have to be sneaky opening your phone in class, meetings, or at work. Although it isn’t as quick as Touch ID, it works very well even in total darkness. You should be aware that it can’t recognize your iris on the Galaxy S8 and will fail in direct sun. At this point, you might need to return to your PIN.
The notch is not the only thing that distinguishes the iPhone X from older models. You can identify the dual camera module by its vertical orientation, which has changed from a lateral direction to a horizontal one. You’ll find a 12MP wide lens at 1.8x and a 12MP zoom lens at 2.4x. OIS is available on both lenses, which provides stability for hand-held photos and videos. You can also shoot a 4K video at 60 frames per second.
The iPhone X produces warm, beautiful photos — as long as you’re not shooting in Portrait Mode.
The camera software has no manual controls and is very basic. You have a limited number of options for shooting, with Photo, Video (Slow-Mo), Time-Lapse and Portrait as well as Square and Panorama. The only options you have are Live Photos and flash toggles. It’s okay, the iPhone X still takes great photos.
While the Pixel 2 takes better photos than the Pixel 2, I love the crisper and cleaner images of the Pixel 2. However, I also really like the rich natural colors from the iPhone X. I can’t find them on any Android device. Although the 2x lossless zoom can be used to take close-up shots, you don’t have to move too close to your subject. However, I think many will appreciate LG’s dual-camera approach.
Portrait Mode is the one thing I have found to be consistently problematic with the iPhone X camera. Although it can be used for product shots or selfies, the camera is capable of taking decent photos in isolation. The iPhone X’s Portrait Mode is far more effective than the Pixel 2. It has a terrible separation of the background, subject, and foreground. And, even worse, you must move away from the subject to use the zoom lens. Portraits are darkened by the slower aperture of the secondary lens. This is because portrait photos take longer to capture than those taken in default mode.
The last few weeks have seen me trying to find out if the iPhone X’s battery performance is acceptable or good. The middle is my opinion. The 2716mAh cell on paper is tiny, particularly when you compare it to the 3500mAh on the Galaxy S9+ or the 4000mAh on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. And yet, it’s usually enough to last me through even a heavy day of use — though just barely. My experience with the iPhone X has been good, except for those who play high-end gaming, although it isn’t quite as powerful as my iPhone 7 Plus.
We’re getting to the last bit of the review, where I’m supposed to tell you whether or not you should buy this phone, but it honestly feels next to impossible to give a one-size-fits-all answer — and not just because this is an iPhone review on an Android-focused site.
It’s best to wait until the new model’s bugs are fixed before you buy the next generation. That advice would have been a wise decision when I bought my 2016 MacBook Pro. It has had to deal with Apple’s Touch Bar and #datdonglelife. There are also a number of problems with iPhone X’s useability. Although you may be okay with Apple beta-testing the device, the cost of the purchase is a major hurdle.
The iPhone X’s starting price is $999.99. However, there are other excellent phones for less than that, such as the Pixel 2 (or Galaxy S9). The iPhone X is a great phone if your wallet is full or you are willing to pay $30-40 per month for financing. I have enjoyed using it.