If preorder delays are any indication, the iPhone X certainly has some buzz. But does the X have the quality to support that buzz in the long run? After all, a $1,000 (or more) iPhone feels more like an investment than a smartphone purchase. The question on any prospective buyer's mind should be, "Is this thing worth it?"
Enter reviewers, the people paid to tell you what's good or bad about a smartphone. These writers are who we turn to during such a trying time as this, and they can help us decide whether to spend $1,000 or more on the iPhone X or whether to buy something else instead.
WIRED — the First
On Monday, WIRED reviewer Steven Levy released his "first impressions" of the iPhone X, ahead of official reviews. You won't find a fully fleshed-out review here; rather, you'll see a series of thoughts from almost a week of iPhone X use.
The consensus? The iPhone X is pretty great. Between the new OLED display, the high-quality camera system, and Face ID, Levy finds this iPhone to be as close to "the next big thing" as possible.
Levy praises the form-factor of the iPhone X as a hybrid of the build of the iPhone 8 with the display size of the Plus, but of course with a sharper, more vibrant screen. He states while the "notch" is a bit odd at first, you do tune it out after a while, which should be good news to people hesitant about Apple's "interesting" design choice. For those of you who had a Plus-sized model of any iPhone, it's a similar feeling going from small iPhone to huge iPhone — you just get used to it eventually.
Face ID lands some gentle praise. Levy claims it won't work on any other face but his. For those worried that years of home button-use will make an awkward transition to Face ID, Levy states after a while, he expected his iPad to unlock just by looking at it.
It appears as stubborn as your muscle memory is, it can be pretty easily remapped.
Face ID is possible due to some serious technology behind those cameras in the notch. Levy notes that this is where some of the more technically advanced aspects of the iPhone X, which can be seen in the "animojis." While admittedly silly, these animated emojis are proof that the tech in the X is serious business.
Interestingly, Levy states that the most revolutionary aspect of the iPhone X might come with third-party companies, just as the iPhone truly changed the smartphone game by opening app creation to the world. It may take some time to see whether or not that comes true, but in the meantime, it sounds like Levy is giving the iPhone X more than a passing grade. If you've got the cash, perhaps the iPhone X is the right phone for you.
The Verge burst on the scene Tuesday morning with both written and filmed first impressions. Their video humorously admits they only have 24 hours with the X, so we know right off the bat their experience will not be as in depth as Levy's.
Besides praising many of the same aspects of the iPhone X as Levy, The Verge brings up two issues that I find to be troubling. One, unfortunately, is Face ID. While the technology works as expected indoors, when outside or in buildings with odd lighting, Face ID can struggle to identify a user's face. Let's hope the issues The Verge have with Face ID are either a fluke from 24 hours of use, or something Apple can address quickly. Otherwise, Face ID might be in for a rough year.
The other complaint issued here is with app optimization. Now, it must be stated that the iPhone X isn't even out yet, so obviously many apps won't have taken advantage of the new display. However, The Verge raises a good point — it took some developers years to optimize their apps for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus displays, and that was just a matter of upscaling. The iPhone X's edge-to-edge notch display is a whole other beast.
I hope developers are speedier this time around with app optimization, however, I'm keeping my expectations lowered. If this is really a repeat of the iPhone 6 era, I'm anticipating some awkward app experiences on the iPhone X.
Identical Twins Break Face ID on CNN
CNN Tech thought they'd experiment with the iPhone X's Face ID with identical twins — one twin set up Face ID, then CNN had the other twin try to unlock the iPhone.
The result? Well, let's just say we hope you don't have an evil twin out there.
Marques Brownlee uploaded his unboxing of the iPhone X Tuesday morning, quickly running through the new features and experiences. He appears to be one of the first video reviewers so far to show off the new button combinations now that the home button is gone, such as for taking screenshots or powering the X down.
What the Rest Are Saying
Tuesday saw an outpour of iPhone X first impressions. There are so many to read through that inevitably, thoughts are going to be repeated. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't more unique observations to be shared.
David Phelan of Forbes notes that the X's display has a bluish tinge when viewed from certain angles, which is characteristic of OLED displays in general, however, he acknowledges it really doesn't intrude on the overall experience.
Speaking of that OLED display, Apple Insider went so far as to say the iPhone 8's display looks "washed out and lifeless" when compared to the iPhone X's. Ouch. Nobody tell my iPhone 8 that.
TechCrunch points out telephoto stabilization, and how it can improve both your Portrait shots and standard 2x zoom pictures coming from the iPhone 8 Plus.
TechCrunch interestingly voices support for Face ID's ability to turn off "attention detection." This setting requires you to look at your phone directly to unlock it, but when disabled, just pointing your phone towards your face will do the trick. If you are wearing dark sunglasses, or just can't be bothered to look directly at your iPhone X, you might want to turn off this setting.
In addition, TechCrunch praises Face ID with Apple Pay, calling it more natural than Touch ID, and an action that many users might now find more intuitive.
SlashGear also had some fun with Face ID:
I enrolled my Face ID sporting a face mustache, which I later removed. Did I encounter so much as a hiccup? Nope. Face ID is seamless; this is the future and should give tomorrow's Apple devices a clear advantage over competitors as they scramble to catchup.
The Washington Post took a more critical tone towards the iPhone X:
I'm a columnist whose job is to live on the cutting edge, and even I'd describe my relationship (so far) with the iPhone X as 'awkward.'
Granted, Fowler was only given 15 hours to use the X, so even he acknowledges he needs more time to adjust.
CNET provided an interesting criticsm of the iPhone X's keyboard, citing a missed opportunity with the wasted space at the bottom of the display. While Apple currently reserves the bottom portion of the display for Emoji and dictation hotkeys, CNET has a point — there's a lot of grey there.
The tech site also made sure to put Face ID to the test. While it passed most basic accessory changes, such as scarves below the chin and sunglasses, more obtrusive additions like dark goggles and long wigs stopped short of unlocking the iPhone X.
The New York Times discovered the disadvatanges to a buttonless-future, with a bug that froze their iPhone X while in the Amazon app. The home gesture was now useless, so leaving the app was impossible. The only thing to do was to press three physical button in sequence to force restart the iPhone, which is not the best news for the universality of the X (how many people would waste an afternoon traveling to the Apple Store for this problem?)
That didn't stop the news outlet from naming the X the best iPhone ever made, which, considering their criticsm, is some high praise.
NYC Video Reviews
Apple recently invited a selection of tech reviewers to New York to test drive the iPhone X. While these reviewers obviously did not have a week to experience the X like Levy did, their reactions still supplement our understanding of what the iPhone X really is.
Fashion Magazine put out a video helpfully titled "iPhone X First Look: Top 10 Best Features." While it lacks any real critiques of the new iPhone, we get to see some great features of the X up close, such as Snapchat integration.
Highsnobiety's video gives us a detailed look at how Animojis work, as well as slo-mo, video playback, and augmented reality. Like Fashion Magazine's video, it's all love and support for the iPhone X, so don't expect much neutrality here.
Booredatwork posted one of the lengthiest videos we've seen, but it gives us one of the most detailed looks into the iPhone X's animations and gestures. It's really cool to see, especially when he matches the X up against an iPhone 8 Plus.
We also see Animojis, Snapchat integration, augmented reality, and Portrait selfies in great detail. He spends plenty of time on each feature in this video, so make sure to look out for how they work.
In addition, we see our first critiques of the iPhone X — Boredatwork would like to have seen the headphone jack come back. However, that's more of a critique of the general Apple design philosophy than this specific phone, since all iPhones produced since the 7 are sans headphone jack.
He also criticizes the swipe gestures of the iPhone X as being counter-intuitive for users used to the home button, and would like to see the X unlock and move to the home screen as soon as you activate Face ID, rather than having to swipe up to unlock the phone. It's an interesting request, however, it's one that I have a hard time seeing Apple honoring.
Soldier Knows Best
Like Booredatwork, Soldier Knows Best gives us a detailed look at gestures and animations, as well as Animojis and Portrait selfies.
While Soldier at Home doesn't quite critique the X's new gestures, he does acknowledge it takes some patience to relearn actions that have not change on iPhones in years.
What do you think about the iPhone X reactions and reviews so far? Let us know in the comments below!
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