Meet the iPhone of the future, with a stunning all-screen design, 3D face scanning, and laptop-beating power
The iPhone X has dual 12MP cameras (one 2x telephoto, one wide angle), just like the 7 Plus, except now both lenses feature optical stabilization, and the sensor is much improved, letting in 83% more light, for sharper pics with less noise. And now Portrait Mode lets you change the lighting of a person’s headshot digitally, which is just bonkers.
Goes up to A11
Apple’s new processor is called the A11 Bionic, and includes a dedicated neural processor, which sounds a bit Terminator- y. Most importantly, it includes a six-core processor that, in early benchmarks, beats this year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro for performance. Boom. It also includes Apple’s first ever selfdesigned graphics chip.
The iconic Home button is gone. You now swipe up from the bottom of the phone to go back to the home screen – or pause while swiping to see recently-used apps. You can also just swipe left to right at the bottom to switch to your last-used app, handily.
Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor is gone, replaced with face recognition for security, including unlocking your phone, and Apple Pay. Face recognition doesn’t have a great rep on phones, but Apple’s tech is more advanced (see across), so we’ll have to see if it’s really better when we can try one at length. The 3D tech is also used to add Portrait Mode to the front camera, and it can do live facial capture to animate emojis…
Edge of tomorrow
In typical Apple style, there’s a special name for the edge-to-edge display here: Super Retina HD . Pushing the all-screen envelope even further than Samsung’s S8, Apple’s display is a 5.8-inch, 1125x2436 beauty. That’s lower-res than the S8’s, but it’s still super-sharp at 458ppi. It’s OLED , with HDR support and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It’s also True Tone, so the colours adjust to match the ambient lighting of the room you’re in.
The iPhone X is the most radical redesign of an iPhone yet, tying together industry trends and adding that Apple level of polish. And it needs to be a lot of polish for the £999 price tag Apple is asking when it comes out on November 3rd.
It’s a knockout from the moment you try it, though. It’s hard to overstate how beautiful the screen is – deep, rich and smooth, drawing level with Samsung in the quality stakes easily. The rear, which is now glass, doesn’t feel as premium as the almost-ceramic metal of previous models, but it still feels solid and secure in the hand. The edges aren’t sharp, instead folding into the palm in a way that’s pleasant to hold.
We weren’t able to test the face unlock, which is a shame, because it’s the area we’re most uncertain about – in the various demos we’ve seen, it seemed to struggle for consistency. Apple says it learns your face better over time, and when it worked, it was really fast and slick, so we’ll reserve final judgment for a full review.
Using gestures instead of the Home button is intuitive and works well, although you do have to get used to balancing the phone in your palm. The Control Centre is now at the top right, and that needs a little more dexterity to hit – you’ll have to use two hands for that generally.
The general tech of the camera upgrades this time around are impressive, but it’s depth-sensing that steals the show. The camera on the back is bolted on vertically, rather than horizontally, showing that Apple wants you to hold the phone in landscape rather than portrait mode. This is also on account of the front True Depth camera, which takes up so much space and is needed for Face ID. The front camera is excellent at sensing your surroundings and your face, and the ability to map a mask, or transform you into an animated emoji is genuinely joy-filling. There’s something amazing about being able to make an on-screen pig frown, or being transformed into a hologram. Silly, but true.
The camera itself felt good, very similar to previous iterations, with some extra speed from the new chip – in short, this was all about being able to sense the surroundings rather than taking better photos, which was interesting. However, the machine learning inside should be able to better work out what you’re snapping and alter the settings to match – and the Portrait Lighting, which intelligently learns what is the subject and what isn’t, and can alter the effect of the photo accordingly, is really stunning as a feature.
Apple says this gets two hours better battery life than the 7 Plus, which is great, though we couldn’t test it strongly yet. Wireless charging seems to work really well, and will be great for top-ups when you need them.
So, some questions marks remain, but there’s no doubt that the iPhone X is the futuristic iPhone from Apple that we’ve been waiting for. Just be ready to pay a hefty sum for it.