Our first im­pres­sions of the high-end iPhone X

Ja­son Snell gets hands-on with Ap­ple’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary hand­set

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The iPhone X is real, though it won’t be ar­riv­ing in cus­tomers’ hands un­til Novem­ber. I got to use one for a few min­utes at the Steve Jobs The­ater af­ter Ap­ple wrapped up its lat­est me­dia event.

My first im­pres­sion is that, in many ways, this is the iPhone that Ap­ple has al­ways wanted to build – one where the front face is al­most en­tirely cov­ered by a screen. And what a screen – a bright, colour­ful OLED display that Ap­ple claims is the best by far that it’s ever put on an iPhone.

No Home but­ton, no prob­lem

Los­ing a phys­i­cal home but­ton will re­quire users to adapt, but it should be an easy process. When I wanted to change apps, I reached down in­stinc­tively with my

thumb to click the home but­ton – but then, re­al­iz­ing I was us­ing an iPhone X, I sim­ply redi­rected my thumb to swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen, just as I would to­day to call up Con­trol Cen­tre. One quick swipe and the cur­rent app goes away, re­placed by the home screen.

Like­wise, dou­ble-tap­ping on the sleep/wake but­ton to trig­ger Ap­ple Pay seemed nat­u­ral, as did hold­ing down that but­ton for a mo­ment to bring up Siri. I don’t think iPhone X users will miss the home but­ton for very long.

Face ID

I wasn’t able to train the iPhone X to rec­og­nize me for Face ID, but the Ap­ple em­ployee as­signed to the phone had been. Face ID un­lock seemed to work with her just fine – and only when she looked at the screen, as in­tended – but there were a few quirks. Some­times the screen would go to sleep be­fore she un­locked the phone, and more than once she ac­ci­den­tally pressed the side but­ton and trig­gered Siri. I’m go­ing to chalk this up to a new prod­uct and a sce­nario pretty far out of the norm.


Once the phone was un­locked, I got a few min­utes to pose with Ap­ple’s new An­i­moji im­ages, which will use any­one’s face (not just a face that’s con­nected to Face ID) to an­i­mate cute emoji icons. This fea­ture is in­cred­i­bly novel and fun and I sus­pect will launch a zil­lion memes – as well as a mil­lion home-made an­i­mated movies fea­tur­ing the ad­ven­tures of pig and fox.


Though the iPhone X will prob­a­bly be re­ferred to by most peo­ple as hav­ing a screen cov­er­ing the en­tire face of the de­vice, that’s not ac­tu­ally true – there’s a notch at the top of the display that packs in the TrueDepth cam­era sys­tem as well as a speaker, mi­cro­phone, and more. It’s a lit­tle weird hav­ing the notch there, or

per­haps it would be more ac­cu­rate to say that it’s a lit­tle weird to have ac­tive display around the notch. You can swipe down from the up­per right cor­ner of the screen to re­veal Con­trol Cen­tre, for in­stance.

I did no­tice that Ap­ple has built the TV app to prop­erly frame a video with­out the notch – when hold­ing the phone in land­scape ori­en­ta­tion, the video is sized so that the side that’s on the same side as the notch ends right at the notch. If you want to make the video big­ger, you can dou­ble tap as usual, and it will fill the screen – which means that part of the film’s im­age will be masked off by the sen­sor area. You get to choose if it bothers you.

Still, the iPhone X is fa­mil­iar – when you hold it, it’s un­de­ni­ably still an iPhone. Even if it doesn’t have the home but­ton that was once the trade­mark of the iPhone line.

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