Apple iPhone X: A True Luxury Phone

All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

I'm a total gadget nerd, and it's been five years since a new smartphone made me nod to myself with the understanding that, "Yes, I need that thing more than I need air." But the buzz around the iPhone X has had me a little more hyped than usual.

Not just because the iPhone finally ditched the bezels and got an OLED display -- Samsung's Galaxy S8 lost its bezels in March -- but because the iPhone X is the line's first significant overhaul since the iPhone 4. I should know better than to fall for the hype, but after spending nearly a week with the device, I've actually convinced myself that spending $1579 on a phone seems like a good idea. If you hate me for saying that, that's OK, I hate me too.

The display is clearly the first thing you notice, and if not for the famed notch, it would merely be as impressive as a Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note8. The colours aren't as vibrant as what you'll find on a Samsung phone -- Samsung phones tend to oversaturate the colours, but as someone who prefers accuracy over eye-bleeding pop, I really like how naturally the iPhone renders colours.

But let me just say: I love the distinctive notch. Some consider it an eyesore, but for me, that notch screams the phone's ostentation in a deeply satisfying way. It gives the whole 5.8-inch display a sense of space that simply isn't found on competing phones.

In fact, its display is actually larger than the 5.5-inch screen on the physically larger iPhone 8 Plus. When screen curves around the front camera module, it feels a little like Apple has somehow cheated and rewarded the phone with more visual real estate than it deserves.

At least while you're on the home screen or in apps specifically updated to work with the iPhone X's unique display. In other apps, the iPhone X feels a little small, with the a black band at the top and bottom of the display confining what was once expansive feeling.

The big display doesn't dramatically affect battery life too much. I never found myself wanting more power throughout the day, and I even went into day two with regular use.

In our battery rundown test, in which we stream a YouTube video over Wi-Fi until the phone dies, the iPhone X managed a little less than 10 hours, which is perfectly average battery life when compared to all the phones Gizmodo's tested this year, and thanks to its ability to charge quickly and wirelessly, it's never an issue to re-juice it.

My one knock on the notch is how the black doesn't match the OLED black.

What surprised me most about the phone is how I don't miss Touch ID or the home button. Since the first rumours cropped up that Touch ID might not make it to Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone, I've obsessed over the shift from Touch ID. How could they possibly do it!

It became a reality, and like many, I was frankly aghast that the technology would be forever replaced by Face ID. Instead of pressing your finger to a home button, you now glance at the phone and quickly swipe up with your thumb.

Over the last few days, I've spent hours fiddling with the front-facing "TrueDepth" setup that makes the Face ID magic possible.

It's by far the most technologically innovative aspect of the phone. It uses a combination of a camera, IR lasers, and IR scanner to create a 3D map of your face.

The camera allows you create animoji, and gives apps like Snapchat access to your facial map so they can toss realistic-looking masks on your face.

But the killer feature is obviously Face ID. I look at the phone, and it opens instantly. From there it works like an even fancier version of Touch ID. When I went to sign into Twitter, it recognised my face and logged me in. When I ordered a midnight burger off Seamless, and used Apple Pay, it scanned my face before asking me to press the power button to confirm.

While at first there were some hiccups, the TrueDepth camera has learned my face since I picked the phone up from Apple on Monday. And now it doesn't hesitate when I try to use it in the dark, or while wearing sludgey makeup, or huddled on a bench at the dog park in the morning with my hoody pulled down low.

This camera gets me, and I don't even have to hold it up directly in front of my face, as long as the camera is pointed in my face's direction, and I'm looking at it, the phone will open.

Apple changed the orientation of the two cameras, which means less of a shift when you switch from one to the other. Its a minor change, but nice!

The rear cameras can't do anything that cool. They're still very nice, as but if you're trying to decide between the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus or the iPhone X, it won't be the rear cameras that sway you.

The reason you buy the iPhone X is because of that too luxurious design, and that audaciously hedonistic display, and that super cool depth-sensing selfie camera. This phone isn't remaking the way we think about phones in as grand a manner as the original iPhone, or even the iPhone 4.

While Face ID could be the future of biometric tech on phones, that future won't shift your world view as dramatically as the move from passcode to biometrics in the first place. The iPhone X isn't a leap into a new world of phone design, it's just a showcase for what a really expensive luxury phone should look and feel like.

I don't need the $1579 iPhone X, but after the last few days with it, boy do I want to go buy one.

README

  • It's $1579 and that is way too much money for a phone.
  • But it is a very nice phone for $1579, and it definitely feels luxurious in a way that even its competitors do not.
  • Face ID and the TrueDepth camera module are probably the future of biometrics and that's very neat and convenient.
  • The display is a stunner.
  • No, I don't care about the death or the headphone jack.

Comments

    I'm hearing reports that the X's screen has burn-in, and that it can look off-colour when viewed at an angle. That's both the top-of-the-line flagships (first the Pixel 2 XL, now the iPhone X) with the same reported issues with the screen. How strange.

      Can confirm the color issue. It's worse in my opinion than an IPS panel. For something they made such a big deal about, it's very disappointing.

        If I may, what are your thoughts on the X in general?

          It feels nice. Face ID works well. The screen isn't that impressive, especially when pitted next to a flagship Samsung device. I find it slightly too large (my iPhone 7 hits the spot size wise for me).

          All in all, it's overhyped. $1,600+ for a device most people will use to browse Facebook and make calls is a bit rich.

            Lol, I appreciate your honesty and I hope you do in fact stand by your purchase. Screen issues are always a bummer so I hope they don't prove too bothersome - I've heard conflicting reports. I myself run an S8 Plus and have been very pleased over the last 6 months. I haven't used an iPhone as a daily driver since the 4 so it's good to get some insight beyond the normal reviews.

            iPhone X is the first design (notch aside) since the iPhone 4 that has actually grabbed my attention. I could never go back to Apple devices as I simply don't like iOS but the X at least had me thinking ' what if...'

              Compared to the other recent iterations (6, 7 and 8) it's a jump in many ways. I feel like the move from 6 to 8 didn't add much, compared to say when retina displays were introduced.

              So this is definitely something different.

        Just do a double check that "true tone" isn't turned on as that feature makes everything look disgusting on the phone for me personally.

    I care very much about a headphone jack.

      If your ears fit their design I very much appreciate my Airpods as I hated to have a cord/strap when I would go running/boxing/cycling/etc but now It's not a problem. I've found the range good enough that I don't even need to carry my phone on me at the gym it stays in the locker shelf.

    I don't get how this phone feels more luxurious than the competitors phones when they have the same features and then some, with great designs and a lower price tag. The S8's are amazing with the display looking like it has no sides and everything else is well crafted. The Note 8 is still cheaper and offers even more with the Pen and much larger screen that actually scales apps correctly and don't cut most of your content in video viewing apps. This is more of an opinion I'm guessing and not a biased review so I can dig what you're saying as long as you're not telling people "this is def better than that".

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