Ap­ple iPhone X

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Tech Advisor - - Contents -

It’s 10 years since Steve Jobs un­veiled the first iPhone and Ap­ple has marked the oc­ca­sion with a new hand­set that doesn’t just jump one gen­er­a­tion, it jumps sev­eral. The firm has leaped from iPhone 7 (via

the iPhone 8) all the way to iPhone X, by­pass­ing the iPhone 7s and leapfrog­ging the iPhone 9 al­to­gether.

De­spite ru­mours of lim­ited stock, thou­sands of peo­ple queued around blocks the world over to pick up the new hand­set, in scenes we haven’t seen for a few years. All Ap­ple had to do to get so much at­ten­tion was re­design the iPhone. That sounds easy, but the re­design in­volved the re­moval of the Home but­ton, and to make that pos­si­ble Ap­ple had to re­think the way you in­ter­act with the phone.

Face ID

The iPhone X fea­ture that’s re­ceived the most at­ten­tion is Face ID, Ap­ple’s tech­nol­ogy for un­lock­ing the iPhone X and au­then­ti­cat­ing your ID. It re­places Touch ID, Ap­ple’s fin­ger­print tech­nol­ogy that served the same pur­pose.

Set­ting it up is easy. In a process sim­i­lar to Touch ID, where the Home but­ton records sev­eral im­pres­sions of your fin­ger­prints, the you’ll need to move your head in dif­fer­ent an­gles as the TrueDepth cam­era sys­tem records dif­fer­ent spots on your face. It takes a few min­utes, and then it’s ready to go. Face ID only al­lows a sin­gle

per­son to regis­ter their face. Touch ID lets you regis­ter dif­fer­ent fin­gers; you can use this ca­pac­ity to regis­ter the fin­ger­prints of other peo­ple who you want to have ac­cess to your de­vice. This is handy if you’re okay with, say, your other half hav­ing ac­cess to your iPhone. Maybe Face ID’s one-face lim­i­ta­tion will change if Ap­ple de­cides to use Face ID on the iPad, a de­vice that’s more likely to have mul­ti­ple users.

By de­fault, Face ID re­quires your eyes to be open in or­der for it to work, But if you go into Set­tings > Face ID & Pass­code and turn off the Re­quire At­ten­tion for Face ID set­ting, Face ID will work when you have your eyes closed.

I had some con­cerns about Face ID be­cause I’ve got so used to Touch ID, which feels like it has seam­lessly in­te­grated with how I use my iPhone. But for me, there was ac­tu­ally noth­ing to re­ally be con­cerned about. Face ID is much closer to the idea of seam­less in­te­gra­tion than I imag­ined with Touch ID.

When it works, Face ID works re­ally well. To ac­cess your iPhone X after it’s been sit­ting in your pocket, purse, bag, desk, and so on, you need to un­lock it us­ing Face ID. At first, I had a ten­dency to wait for the lock icon on the screen to un­lock. But the key is to not wait. You should swipe up to get to the Home screen as you’re look­ing at the iPhone X. It takes some prac­tice, but be­fore too long, un­lock­ing your phone will feel ef­fort­less.

I’ve had some con­ver­sa­tions with An­droid users who have tried the iPhone X, and their main beef with Face ID is that it’s too slow com­pared to a fin­ger­print scan­ner. In their lim­ited time with the iPhone X, they’re not ac­cess­ing the Home screen in the man­ner I de­scribed above – and since they’re not in­vested in the iPhone, they’re not will­ing to learn, ei­ther. It’s still true that ac­cess to the Home screen us­ing Face ID isn’t as fast as us­ing a fin­ger­print scan­ner, but it’s maybe a sec­ond slower. If that one sec­ond is all the dif­fer­ence to you, then I hope you’re us­ing that time wisely.

Us­ing Face ID with some third-party apps is done in a man­ner sim­i­lar to that of Touch ID. For ex­am­ple, with the app for my bank and with

Drop­box, the lo­gin screen ap­pears, and then a Face ID icon ap­pears, and then the app un­locks. It’s re­ally no dif­fer­ent than how Touch ID was im­ple­mented in those two apps, this, it’s no more con­ve­nient.

Face ID has a cer­tain view­ing an­gle you need to be within to work, which is where I have a very mi­nor is­sue with the tech­nol­ogy. I try to keep my per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence on my iPhone when I’m us­ing my work laptop, and the iPhone X lays on my desk to the side. When I get a text, I can see it on the iPhone’s lock screen. On the iPhone 6s Plus, I use Touch ID to un­lock my hand­set while it’s still at my side. But with the iPhone X, my face is out of range of the TrueDepth Cam­era. The so­lu­tion to this mi­nor is­sue: move the iPhone X in a new lo­ca­tion so it’s within range of my face. I have also found that Face ID works when the iPhone X is in my car mount, which is at­tached to an air vent to the right of the steer­ing wheel.

Ap­ple is very con­fi­dent in Face ID’s se­cu­rity, stat­ing that it’s much more se­cure that Touch ID. Many other pub­li­ca­tions have tried to see if they can trick Face ID, with their re­sults match­ing what Ap­ple has said, that twins can get by Face ID. Since I don’t have ac­cess to twins, I didn’t test this, but Face ID wasn’t fooled when I tried to have my two sons ac­cess the iPhone X.

Ap­ple has said a lot about how it be­lieves aug­mented re­al­ity is go­ing to be a big deal, and we’ve seen AR apps, like Ikea, The Ma­chines, and AR Mea­sureKit. There are even ru­mours of Ap­ple work­ing on an AR wear­able The TrueDepth cam­era will have a big role in AR, and Ap­ple demon­strated

how it can be used with its re­cent re­lease of Clips 2.0. Clips uses the TrueDepth cam­era so it can fil­ter out back­ground ob­jects for its Selfie Scene fea­ture, and the app can use you in the fore­ground for a vir­tual scene. Other than some is­sues with clip­ping your fore­ground im­age, the Selfie Scene im­ple­men­ta­tion works quite well. Ex­pect to see a lot of fun and in­no­va­tive apps that use the TrueDepth cam­era com­ing soon in the App Store.


The other fea­ture that de­mands your at­ten­tion is the iPhone X’s screen. It’s the first iPhone with an or­ganic light-emit­ting diode (OLED) dis­play. It’s also the big­gest iPhone dis­play, mea­sur­ing 5.8 inches di­ag­o­nal.

I can’t em­pha­size enough how much I love the iPhone X’s screen. I can say it’s gor­geous, but that feels like an un­der­state­ment. The colours are rich and pop, text looks clean and sharp, and the black is so deep that I ac­tu­ally find it mes­mer­iz­ing. I’ve seen lots of screens that don’t look black – more like a 98 per­cent grey – and as stupid as it sounds, I like to

gaze at the black gap on the sec­ond page of my Home screen. This is the best screen I’ve seen on an iPhone.

OLEDs are cur­rently sus­cep­ti­ble to burn-in, the ef­fect where you can see a shadow of an im­age when some­thing else is on screen. This was ev­i­dent in Google’s Pixel 2 phone, which also uses an OLED. Ap­ple has even stated in a knowl­edge base ar­ti­cle that burn-in on the iPhone X’s dis­play is ‘ex­pected be­hav­iour’ and that the com­pany has done what it can to min­i­mize burn-in. I haven’t no­ticed it in the nearly two weeks since I’ve had the iPhone X, but it is some­thing I’ll keep an eye on and will up­date this review ac­cord­ingly should any­thing change.

When first us­ing the iPhone X, I had to get over the false im­pres­sion that the iPhone X’s screen is smaller than what I’m used to on the iPhone 6s Plus. Based on di­ag­o­nal mea­sure­ment, the iPhone X is big­ger (5.8 inches) than the iPhone 6s Plus (5.5 inches, the same as the iPhone 7s Plus and the iPhone 8 Plus). The iPhone X’s screen is a slightly nar­rower, though, and no­tice­ably taller. Over­all, it’s a big­ger screen.

But it’s not the screen that gave me the im­pres­sion that the iPhone X’s is smaller. It’s the bezel on the Plus iPhones. The black bor­der on the Plus iPhones, even though they aren’t part of the screen, un­con­sciously be­came part of the screen in my head. It took me a few days to clear this psy­cho­log­i­cal hur­dle (or op­ti­cal il­lu­sion, if you will). While show­ing the iPhone X to other peo­ple, some of them also were fooled into think­ing that the iPhone X’s screen is smaller, so I think this could be a phe­nom­e­non ex­pe­ri­enced by many new iPhone X own­ers.

What didn’t take me long to get over was the notch. Yes, the no­to­ri­ous notch, the one that houses the TrueDepth cam­era sys­tem. I found it a dis­trac­tion at first, but it was yet an­other head game I played on my­self – what re­ally bugged me wasn’t the ac­tual notch, but that I feel like the notch goes against Ap­ple’s de­sign aes­thetic. But I was able to re­al­ize that in typ­i­cal use, I don’t no­tice the notch at all. Even with full-screen videos, the notch doesn’t bother me. (There is an op­tion to re­size videos so that the avoid the notch, but that means video is smaller than full-screen.)


Ap­ple had to come up with a new set of ges­tures to make up for the lack of a Home but­ton on the iPhone X. I learned these new ges­tures quickly – you use them a lot, so if you need ‘prac­tice’ for the mus­cle mem­ory to kick it, you’ll get it.

We have a com­plete list of the new ges­tures you’ll need to learn. Most of them are sim­ple, like swipe up from the bot­tom to get to the Home screen, or swipe down from the top of the dis­play’s right side to get to Con­trol Cen­tre.

Speak­ing of the Con­trol Cen­tre swipe, it’s the one new ges­ture I don’t like – you re­ally need to reach to

the top of the screen area next to the notch, and this re­quires more ef­fort than the pre­vi­ous Con­trol Cen­tre ges­ture (swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen, which works on the iPhone 8 and older iPhones).

The iPhone X’s lock screen has two quick ac­cess but­tons, one for the flash­light, and an­other for the cam­era. They’re easy to get to at the bot­tom of the screen, but sim­ply tap­ping each but­ton doesn’t ac­ti­vate it. You need to do a hard press, like you do for 3D Touch. A hard press is nec­es­sary, be­cause you don’t want these but­tons ac­ti­vat­ing while in your pocket, and these lock screen func­tions don’t re­quire Face ID ver­i­fi­ca­tion to work. But there’s noth­ing in the in­cluded doc­u­men­ta­tion that tells you how to use these but­tons.

Peo­ple’s tol­er­ances for UI vary, and I can see how some­one would ab­so­lutely hate not hav­ing a Home but­ton. If you’re one of those peo­ple, then the iPhone X is not for you. But keep in mind, the Home but­ton is prob­a­bly not in the iPhone’s long-term plans. It could be five or six years be­fore we see Ap­ple com­pletely aban­don the Home but­ton, but it will hap­pen even­tu­ally.

The cam­eras

The iPhone X’s rear cam­era has a 12Mp dual lens cam­era with a ƒ/1.8 wide-an­gle aper­ture, ƒ/2.4 tele­photo aper­ture, op­ti­cal zoom, 10x dig­i­tal zoom, and op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion on both lenses.

The pic­tures from the iPhone X are ex­cel­lent, with vi­brant colours and great sharp­ness. The iPhone X seems bet­ter at han­dling a wide ar­ray of light­ing

sit­u­a­tions com­pared to other iPhones I’ve used in the past. As some­one who has no skill at ad­just­ing cam­era set­tings and prefers to rely on au­to­matic set­tings, the iPhone X pro­duces re­sults that make me very happy.

The cam­era fea­ture that I re­ally want is the op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion on both lenses. My lack of a steady hand (or my heavy-hand­ed­ness with push­ing the shut­ter) of­ten re­sults in jit­ter that cre­ates blur, and I found that with the iPhone X, I had more good pic­tures than blurry, un­ac­cept­able ones.

The iPhone X comes with the new Por­trait Light­ing mode, a spe­cial cam­era mode that ap­plies dif­fer­ent light­ing ef­fects to por­traits. (On the iPhone X, this fea­ture is avail­able on both the front and rear cam­eras.) The re­sults you’ll get with Por­trait Light­ing are mixed. I found that the Nat­u­ral Light set­ting worked the best, pro­duc­ing even re­sults and nice bokeh. Con­tour Light and Stu­dio Light seemed to cre­ate hot spots de­pend­ing on the an­gle of your sub­ject, but em­pha­sized dif­fer­ent de­tail el­e­ments to change the emo­tion of a pic­ture.

Two of the Por­trait Light­ing modes, Stage Light and Stage Light Mono, are just…well, I’ll say that I’m not go­ing to use them. The pic­tures I took us­ing these set­tings – as well as a vast ma­jor­ity of the pic­tures I’ve seen from other peo­ple – look cheesy, and they’d be used as ex­am­ples of bad im­age edit­ing. Ap­ple de­cided to la­bel Por­trait Light­ing mode as beta, seem­ingly as

an ex­cuse for the mixed re­sults, so let’s hope we see im­prove­ments in the near fu­ture.

The rear cam­era is ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing 4K video at 24 frames per sec­ond, 30- or 60fps. Shoot­ing 4K video at 60fps feels overindul­gent, and if you have only 64GB of stor­age, it’s prob­a­bly a set­ting you will sel­dom use. But gosh, it looks so but­tery smooth and the de­tail is amaz­ing. If you have a 4K TV and love shoot­ing your own videos, 4K at 60 fps is the rea­son why you need to get 256GB of stor­age. If you don’t want to shoot any kind of 4K video, you’ll be happy with the 1080p and 720p video from the iPhone X.

My favourite new fea­ture of the video cam­era is the Su­per Slo-mo mode, which cap­tures video at 240fps at 1080p res­o­lu­tion. It’s an­other space-hog­ging cam­era mode, but it’s a lot of fun.

Speak­ing of fun, I have to men­tion the new An­i­moji, since they’re ex­clu­sive to the iPhone X (for now). An­i­moji uses the TrueDepth cam­era to sync your head and fa­cial move­ments to an an­i­mated emoji. You’ve surely seen them all over the In­ter­net, and it’s guar­an­teed to make you laugh.


The iPhone X has Ap­ple’s new A11 Bionic pro­ces­sor, a 64-bit six-core beast. It has a pair of per­for­mance cores that Ap­ple says are 25 per­cent faster than its pre­de­ces­sor, the A10 Fu­sion. And Ap­ple says the A11 Bionic’s four ef­fi­ciency cores are 70 per­cent faster. We used the Geek­bench 4 app to get an idea of the speed of the A11 Bionic in the iPhone X. Ob­vi­ously, the A11 Bionic is faster than the A10 Fu­sion, but what’s of

note here – and not sur­pris­ing – is that the iPhone X essen­tially per­forms the same as the iPhone 8. These two phones have the same pro­ces­sor, so if all you want in a new iPhone is faster per­for­mance and you could not care less about new fea­tures like Face ID or the cam­eras, get an iPhone 8 and save some se­ri­ous cash.

Over­all, the iPhone X feels like a snappy phone when launch­ing apps, un­lock­ing the phone, play­ing videos (stream­ing and stored on the iPhone), and other tasks. When I tried do­ing sim­ple video ed­its in iMovie, or when I cre­ated a short video in Clips, the iPhone X rolled along smoothly, though the higher the res­o­lu­tion of the video, the more per­for­mance was hit, but never to a point where I was left frus­trated.

Bat­tery life

Ap­ple states the fol­low­ing stats for bat­tery life: • Up to 21 hours talk time

• Up to 12 hours In­ter­net use

• Up to 13 hours wire­less video play­back

• Up to 60 hours wire­less au­dio play­back

No one per­forms only a sin­gle task on their phone. When was the last time you spent a day us­ing your iPhone just for phone calls? What’s im­por­tant is whether or not you can get through a day on a sin­gle bat­tery charge, us­ing your phone for dif­fer­ent tasks. And the more power you have left on your phone at the end of the day, the bet­ter.

The day I de­cided to keep a close eye on bat­tery life was a par­tic­u­larly busy day for the iPhone X. I used the phone for email, texts, and a phone call of five min­utes. I looked up a recipe on the In­ter­net, tracked my fan­tasy football team through­out the day, and got driv­ing di­rec­tions for a 30-minute trip. I shot 129 pho­tos and nine short videos, and up­loaded them via Wi-Fi to my Drop­box ac­count. I watched a cou­ple of steam­ing YouTube videos (one over Wi-Fi, the other over LTE) for a to­tal of about 30 min­utes. And at the end of the day, I took my dog for a walk for over an hour, dur­ing with time I played Poké­mon Go (which is a bat­tery killer).

After all that, the iPhone X’s bat­tery life was at 52 per­cent – be­fore I went on my Poké­mon Go dog walk, the bat­tery was at 68 per­cent. Typ­i­cally, I’m not this busy with my phone, so I can get through a work­ing

day with­out wor­ry­ing about charg­ing the iPhone X. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Mostly glass de­sign

With the 2017 iPhones, Ap­ple de­cided to go back to a glass front and back. The main rea­son is so the phone can sup­port wire­less charg­ing. The iPhone X works with wire­less charg­ers that ad­here to the Qi stan­dard.

I don’t have a wire­less charger to work with the iPhone X, and frankly, I think wire­less charg­ing is over­rated. Sure, it’s con­ve­nient; just place the iPhone X on the charg­ing pad (if it’s in a non-metal case, you can keep it on), and that’s it, the pad does all the work and charges the phone. Of course, you have to place the iPhone X prop­erly; if it’s slightly off to the side, it won’t charge. To me, it’s not that much of an ef­fort to plug a Light­ning ca­ble into the iPhone X. And you

have to pay ex­tra for a wire­less charger, whereas the iPhone X comes with a 5W adap­tor and a Light­ning ca­ble. Fi­nally, there’s no speed ad­van­tage (as of yet) to us­ing a wire­less charger. But hey, just be­cause it’s not some­thing I’m in­ter­ested in doesn’t mean it’s not right for you. I just don’t see wire­less charg­ing as some­thing you need to think about when de­cid­ing if you want to buy an iPhone X or not.

The glass con­struc­tion feels nice in the hand, and on the sil­ver iPhone X that I have, the sil­ver steel frame be­tween the two pieces of glass sparkles and daz­zles – it looks so good that it’s a shame that I keep my iPhone X in a case. Be­cause after all, glass, even as strong as the glass on the iPhone, still isn’t as strong as metal and can shat­ter after a fall.

The back of the iPhone X, like other iPhones, is still sad­dled with a cam­era bump. As I men­tioned ear­lier, I of­ten use my iPhone by my side when I’m on my work com­puter, and the phone can’t lay flat on its back, rock­ing in a tot­ter­ing mo­tion when I tap on the screen. For­tu­nately, the case I use pro­vides enough thick­ness to com­pen­sate for the cam­era bump and let the iPhone X lie flat. But it sure would be nice if the bump went away, ei­ther by ad­vance­ments in cam­era tech­nol­ogy, or by mak­ing the iPhone thicker (maybe add more bat­tery?). As I men­tioned in the in­tro­duc­tion, 2017 marks the tenth an­niver­sary of the iPhone. What I re­mem­ber most about the first iPhone was the sense of as­ton­ish­ment. Sure, it had its flaws, but I felt like I was hold­ing the fu­ture of com­put­ing in the palm of my hand.

How­ever, with each new gen­er­a­tion of iPhones in­tro­duced, I started to feel less and less like the iPhone was a har­bin­ger of what’s to come. The new fea­tures felt more like in­cre­men­tal steps that helped solve a cur­rent prob­lem than gi­ant leaps that made you won­der what in­com­pre­hen­si­ble thing will be un­leashed. That’s not to say that those iPhones were bad prod­ucts; on the con­trary, they were great. But they weren’t in­spi­ra­tional.

And now we have the iPhone X, and that sense of as­ton­ish­ment and in­spi­ra­tion is back, for me. That’s mostly be­cause of the TrueDepth cam­era and the A11 Bionic – AR de­vel­op­ment could re­ally take off, and it’s go­ing to be fun to see what comes of it. Other fea­tures, like the spec­tac­u­lar qual­ity of the OLED screen, the big­ger screen in a smaller foot­print, and the cam­eras, com­plete the pack­age.

All of this comes at a price – the iPhone X is Ap­ple’s most ex­pen­sive phone. Is it worth it? If you sim­ple want

a great tool for the job, you’ll prob­a­bly be fine with the iPhone 8. But if you are a true iPhone fan, or you like the idea that the fu­ture is in your hand, you need the iPhone X. Ro­man Loy­ola


• 5.8in (2436x1125, 458ppi) Su­per AMOLED dis­play

• iOS 11.0

• Ap­ple A11 Bionic pro­ces­sor

• Hexa-core (2x Mon­soon, 4x Mis­tral)

• Ap­ple GPU


• 64/256GB stor­age

• Dual 12Mp, f/1.8 and f/2.4, phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, OIS, 2x op­ti­cal zoom, quad-LED (dual tone) flash

• 7Mp, f/2.2, 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 240fps, face de­tec­tion, HDR, panorama


• Wi-Fi 802.11ac

• Blue­tooth 5.0


• Light­ning Con­nec­tor

• IP67 cer­ti­fied

• 2,716mAh non-re­mov­able lithium-ion bat­tery

• 143.6x70.9x7.7mm

• 174g

Set­ting up Face ID is easy and takes a cou­ple of min­utes

By de­fault, Face ID re­quires your eyes to be open in or­der for it to work, But if you go into Set­tings > Face ID & Pass­code and turn off the Re­quire At­ten­tion for Face ID set­ting, Face ID will work when you have your eyes closed

Third-party apps such as Drop­box have up­dated its apps with Face ID sup­port

The notch does get in the way when watch­ing a full-screen video. You have the op­tion of re­siz­ing the video so that the pic­ture avoids the notch

To use the Flash­light or Cam­era from the lock screen, you per­form a hard press on each but­ton, sim­i­lar to a 3D Touch

Shot with no flash at 1x zoom

Land­scape shot at night, no flash, 1x zoom

Por­trait Light­ing mode on the iPhone X can be hit or miss

Geek­bench 4 CPU test. Longer bars/higher scores are bet­ter

The back of the iPhone X uses glass to al­low for wire­less charg­ing

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