APPLE iPHONE X
The most important phone since the original iPhone? Perhaps. Apple says this paves the way for the next generation of smartphones, and it’s not wrong
Edge-to-edge OLED screen, epic cameras and gorgeous styling. Is this the iPhone to usher in the next 10 years of smartphones?
The iPhone X is the first of a new breed of iPhones, according to Apple. That’s clear just by looking at it – there’s no Home button, which isn’t just to accommodate the edge-toedge screen. Getting rid of one of the iPhone’s few unchanged controls since its launch ten years ago is a statement. It seems small, but it has a knock-on effect, and when we first started using the X, we wondered if we were ready for an all-gesture control scheme.
The first thing that’s quite surprising when you take the phone out of the box is just how small it is, especially coming to it from reviews of the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus – both superb handsets, but big. Of course, it’s not the iPhone X display that’s small, but the body of the phone. It feels a lot more like the iPhone 8 than the 8 Plus, but its 5.8-inch display is around the same size as the Plus’.
The materials used make the phone feel super-premium, even if the glass rear is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. The new glass-backed design means
that you can set the iPhone X down on a wireless charging pad and it’ll instantly start sucking up juice. It’s the universal ‘Qi’ standard as well, so you won’t need a special Apple wireless charger for this to work. Apple has the power to make technologies mainstream because of its ability to convince partners that ‘now is the time’ to adopt. Integrating the Qi wireless standard at this stage is a phenomenal boost to wireless charging, even if others have been doing it for ages.
You can charge the handset up in around two hours normally, but connecting a USB-C to Lightning cable to a USB-C MacBook charger will give you fast charging, up to 50 per cent in about half an hour. You can almost watch the battery percentage tick over as you charge (frustratingly you can no longer see the battery percentage in the status bar on the X – instead, you need to pull down the Control Centre).
We love the stainless-steel edge especially. The so-called ‘notch’ at the top of the screen is far from intrusive and houses plenty of necessary tech for Face ID. However, there is a bit of an issue with some apps not rendering themselves correctly around the notch, while some apps – Safari notably – just use bars to make the screen a more conventional shape. Expect these quirks to get ironed out.
The second thing that’s surprising is the first time you swipe up from the bottom of the display to go to the Home screen in iOS 11. It should feel weird, but we found it didn’t. Other reviewers said it took them days to get used to the lack of Home button, but we really weren’t troubled by it. Okay, we reached for a non-existent Home button a couple of times, but the move to gestures felt really natural.
We found ourselves significantly more perturbed by other control changes – swiping down from the top right to get to the Control Centre is fine, but our thumb didn’t quite stretch that far, so we needed two hands, or to jockey the handset slightly into position. Apple’s ‘Plus’ size Reachability feature to enable you to pull down stuff at the top of the screen is no longer on by default, but it is there if you want it.
The side button is overused for features now there is no Home button. As well as putting your phone to sleep, it’s now co-opted for Siri (long press) and Apple Pay (two short presses). This works okay, but not brilliantly. To avoid accidental locks, you should switch to using ‘Hey Siri’ to invoke Apple’s assistant with your voice - we suspect that’s Apple’s intention, anyway.
One thing that isn’t complex is Face ID. You set it up during the initial iPhone configuration and then, er, that’s it. Fifteen minutes after we started to use the phone we realised we’d locked it several times (as we took photographs and played around with the side button controls) but we had just swiped up to open the phone each time, without a thought.
It suddenly dawns on you that your face has indeed unlocked the phone.
The all-black iPhone looks beautiful, but we’re partial to silver stainless steel finish of the white model – it still has an all-black front