iPhone X—impeccable design despite some compromises (but worth buying?)

Spurti Gurram | November 27, 2017 | In the News

Anytime Apple releases a new phone the whole world stops and takes notice. The new iPhone X—impeccable design despite some compromises —is no exception. But unlike previous models, this 18th installment to the 10-year-old iPhone makes a few bets into the future. While iPhone X is futuristic and innovative—taking bold new steps with the bezel-free screen, supporting facial recognition rather than TouchID—keep in mind, none of these are industry firsts. And that’s fine.


Facial Recognition:

With the new iPhone X, Apple advanced past TouchID (which was tested/trusted and offered a quick and secure way to unlock a smartphone) and introduced FaceID. I admit I was skeptical going in. However, after using the iPhone X for a couple of weeks, I have found FaceID to be among the best facial recognition I have ever used on a smartphone.

iPhone X—impeccable design despite some compromises
I compared Apple’s FaceID to that of the Samsung S8 plus, which boasts facial and iris scanning (plus an all-screen front). In my testing, I found iPhone X to be more secure and less of a hassle. Many of you may have already seen all the different ways people try to fool the iPhone X’s FaceID, but the bottom line, it is amazing. While of course developers will need to update existing code to support FaceID, all this amounts to is updating the text on the screen to read “FaceID,” not “TouchID.”

Screen:
Apple always has the best mobile device displays and the iPhone X is no exception. It features the best OLED high-resolution display of any mobile device. In fact, iPhone X is the first iPhone rocking an OLED display—which, Apple says, has been calibrated to limit the screen burn-in and color over-saturation (OLED displays are notorious for screen burn-in). Further, iPhone X also sports HDR, 3D Touch, and True Tone display. The iPhone X also boasts a 5.8” display—larger than iPhone 8 plus but in a smaller package, which is impressive.

Notch:
Of course, what would a blog entry on the iPhone X be without some mention of the notch, right? The now-infamous notch (which houses the most advanced facial tracking camera kit) sits at the top of the screen, which at first glance looks weird and takes your attention away from its beautiful edge-to-edge screen. However, after using the device for over two weeks, the notch has not turned out to be the big issue that I—along with many others—believed it might be. You know how we all have a blind spot we learn to ignore? Or that your nose blocks your line of view but over time the brain learns to ignore it? It’s the same deal with the notch on the iPhone X. In no time, you will simply ignore it.

Camera:
Every iPhone released has sported the best camera for the time. The iPhone X sports the same 12MP dual array cameras as iPhone 8 Plus, but unlike the 8 Plus, both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilization, yielding better low light photos and smoother videos.

Meanwhile, the front-facing “TrueDepth Camera” 7MP camera makes facial tracking and FaceID possible. This facial tracking allows for the support of Animojis—a fun way to trick your friends into believing you’ve been turned into a panda.

UX/UI:
While the UI remains similar to that of every iPhone running iOS 11, navigation across screens, and application closing and switching have seen a dramatic change. The home button has been around since the introduction of the very first iPhone ten years ago, so removing it means iPhone X is a bold step into the future and represents how Apple envisions the future of iPhone.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the new iPhone X is all about gestures and there are many. So buckle up!

  • Swipe up from bottom to go to home screen
  • Swipe up and hold about halfway to switch between applications
  • While in application switcher, Long press the screen and swipe up to close application
  • Swipe down from top left opens notification center
  • Swipe down from top right opens action center

All of these new swiping gestures makes iPhone X the most-changed iPhone since its initial launch in 2007.

Wireless Charging:
Apple finally added wireless charging to all 2017 iPhone models. All new models support Qi standard for wireless charging, meaning all your old Nokia and Samsung wireless chargers will work. In my experience, wireless charging is more of a convenience than a necessity; charge times are still high compared to wired charging. However, Apple is set to launch a wireless charging pad next year that will support charging the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (with special wireless charging case).

App Support:
iPhone X adds a new screen resolution to the fleet of iOS devices. This is the biggest change to screen size and resolution since the introduction of iPhone 6 in 2014, during which app developers took a year to fully support the new screen size and resolution. On launch day, only a few apps supported the iPhone X resolution. Without the support, apps display a black bar at the top and bottom, meaning the usable screen space is comparable to that of an iPhone 8. Only a handful of applications, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat supported the iPhone X size and resolution. Strangely enough, Google Maps didn’t support iPhone X at launch, while Waze (also owned by Google) did support the new screen resolution.

iPhone X—impeccable design despite some compromises

Final Verdict:
iPhone X is a beautifully designed mobile device, but all that functionality and good looks don’t come cheap. iPhone X starts at $999 and can cost $1149 for a 256 GB storage model (before taxes). And if you live in a tax-heavy state like California, the phone might end up being even more expensive.
It all comes down to what kind of a consumer you are. If you’re the kind that needs the absolute best hardware and software—then by all means, buy the iPhone X.

But if you can skip this generation, I think you should. Don’t get me wrong. iPhone X is the best iPhone your money can buy. However, first generation Apple hardware always suffers from a few compromises. I feel certain the next iteration (let’s call it iPhone XI) will be the one for you.

Spurti Gurram

Spurti is a Mobile Strategist and Solutions Architect for Propelics. His skills include Enterprise Mobility Management, Backend Development, and App Development. Spurti went from being an Engineer and Sr. System Analyst at MobileIron to being an MDM Analyst at Apple, where he designed and developed the Apple School Manager (ASM). Spurti’s interests lie in building solutions to accommodate emerging technologies and mobile trends.

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