Arriving on the tenth anniversary of the release of the original iPhone, the iPhone X is anoticeable departure from Apple’s previous designs. Now just over halfway through its update cycle, you’ve probably read countless reviews detailing the removal of the home button, the divisive notch, and how it was the most expensive iPhone ever at release. We’re not going to retread the same ground here though. Having used the iPhone X for a few months, we have no hesitations in saying that it’s the greatest iPhone ever made.
The phone’s overhauled design is the most significant change from all previous iPhone models. Apple has stated that their intention has always been creating a phone that was all display, so expect this to be the design language going forward. The removal of the home button was a pretty big deal at the time of release, but it now feels like it should never have been there in the first place. The new gesture-based interaction with the iPhone X took no time to get used to and feels so natural that we’d begin swiping from the bottom on older phones.
One area where the iPhone used to lag behind its rivals was its screen, but that’s no longer the case. The updated 5.8″ OLED panel is one of the best displays on the market. It’s bright enough to see in glaring sunlight, and the colours aren’t overly saturated or cartoonish. Apple’s True Tone feature is also included which will adjust the White Balance of the display depending on the surrounding light temperature. For the first time since the iPhone 4, glass makes a return to the back of the device. It now accommodates wireless charging and supports the universal Qi standard, so you won’t have to purchase a proprietary Apple charger. It should be noted that the outer steel band and glass back will pick up micro scuffs pretty easily if the phone isn’t in a case.
Up top, you’ll find the notch that houses the front-facing camera array for portrait mode selfies and FaceID unlocking. We’ve used other phones in the past that have had similar concepts for unlocking the phone with your face, but none of them are on par with the speed and accuracy of FaceID. After setting it up and getting over the initial excitement of how advanced it was, the next thing we tried to do was see if it was as accurate as Apple claimed. Surely there must be a way to outsmart the algorithm, right? Even when showing it several different pictures of ourselves on another screen, we weren’t able to fool the phone into unlocking.
We won’t go into an exhaustive list of numbers and benchmarks for the new A11 bionic inside the iPhone X. To give an idea of how fast it is, the A11 bionic can clock at speeds on par with, and sometimes exceeding, several high-end laptop CPUs. Navigating through iOS is a seamless and lag-free experience, regardless of what tasks were thrown at it. CPU intensive apps such as photo editors, games, and augmented reality software all run without a hiccup. Battery life is excellent and we were easily able to power through to the end of the day from the previous night’s charge.
Despite the substantial upgrades other smartphone manufacturers have made with their cameras, including physical variable aperture or triple lens arrays, the iPhone X is still a contender for the best camera in a smartphone. It features two 12MP sensors on the back, one wide angle lens and one telephoto with apertures of ƒ/1.8 and ƒ/2.4 respectively. When shooting outdoors or in bright light conditions, the iPhone X captures plenty of detail, and copes well with high-contrast scenes while preserving highlights and shadows. White balance is accurate and Apple takes a fairly neutral approach to colours compared to the highly saturated style used by its rivals. Take a look at some unedited photos taken using Portrait mode in the shots below.
Low-light performance is also good for a phone camera with the iPhone X able to capture a reasonable amount of detail, but be wary as it can pick up quite a bit of noise too depending on the lighting conditions. We gave it a good workout at this year’s Vivid festival, and the results were impressive.
There are also plenty of fun features within the camera app that do a pretty convincing job of replicating some of the tricks you can perform on a real SLR. The front-facing camera features a 7MP sensor and can now shoot portrait shots, and using a series of software tweaks, recreates the natural bokeh effect produced by an SLR. The iPhone X can also simulate a long exposure shot by blurring moving objects and sharpening the focus on stationary items in a Live Photo.
The iPhone X is a very capable video camera as well, able to record 4K at 60 fps. It’s quick to adjust to abrupt changes in lighting so a bright flash won’t blow out the whole video. The auto-focus is just as fast so it’s easily able to stay focused on moving subjects. Videos look great on the iPhone X’s screen due to its lower resolution, but they look amazing when exported and played back on a high-resolution monitor.
At release, only Apple’s first-party apps had been redesigned to take advantage of the extra screen real-estate. Over time, third-party developers have updated their apps to fill the entire screen, making the user experience more seamless and enjoyable. The upcoming iOS 12 update is currently in beta testing but early signs show that there is a lot of focus on improving the experience on the iPhone X with many reported quirks like accidental screenshots being addressed.
iPhone X Review | The Wrap Up
Several months after release, the iPhone X still feels like the cutting edge of smartphone design. Just look at how many manufacturers have copied the notch in their attempts to make bezel-less displays. The iPhone X was the best iPhone at release, and the upcoming iOS updates look like they’ll enhance the experience even more. Simply put, it’s our favourite iPhone so far.