Since its first announcement, I already decided that I’m not getting this year’s flagship iPhone from Apple: iPhone X. It takes away 3 things I really like from iPhone, home button, Touch ID and Reachability feature. Plus the price is a bit too much. I’m letting other people pay that money to cover Apple’s R&D cost, and would reconsider few years ahead when it becomes the “normal” iPhone. Yes, I am fully aware that eventually I might have to embrace the so-called-future of Face ID. But for now, I’m going to hold on my home button with Touch ID.
Having said those, today is iPhone X first day of availability and my curiosity got the best of me. So around 3pm I went to a store and spent some time with an iPhone X demo unit. The morning queues were gone and I had no problem to get my hands on the latest shiny toy from Apple.
First impression, iPhone X display looks great. The colours are bright and lively. The design with thin bezel makes the screen “pops up” more. The back surface with glass feels nice, but I suspect it could become slippery in some situations. The notch looks… let’s just say out of place. Feels so bizarre to have it there and for a while I couldn’t help but feeling a bit annoyed from it. My demo unit has some videos stored inside and I took the chance to play 2 of them for few seconds. They look amazing, and the overall size does feel bigger than my current screen size using iPhone 7.
The absence of home button brings the control slightly different. Instead of a button, now we get some sort of floating white bar at the bottom of our screen. Swiping from that bar upwards will bring the home screen. Swiping and holding our finger a bit will bring multitasking screen. Not too bad and since I could figure these out within minutes, I consider them intuitive enough (I didn’t read any user guide before doing this test). Another super important feature of home button in iPhone is to wake the phone. I really really hate having to push power button on the side, or at the back to turn on my phone. iPhone X offers tap to wake feature. I imagine this will draw a bit of more power, but it’s somewhat good enough for me. Conclusion: this might take a bit of time to get used to, but I think I can live with it if I have to.
The missing Touch ID is replaced by Face ID. The demo unit has an app that allows us to register our face in “demo mode”, so it’s not actually stored in the phone. I tested it and registering my face was comfortably easy. I did that faster than my very first time registering my finger for Touch ID few years back. The face detection feels slightly slower than what I would have expected, but I can’t really say much because it was just demo mode, not actual unlocking process. I imagine that I would still feel a bit weird to use face ID for Apple Pay, but that’s another thing I would have to experience myself in the future. Conclusion: not much I can say at this point. The recognition works, but more aspects of it can’t really get tested using a demo unit in a store.
I like using my phone with one hand, so Reachability is a feature I use on a daily basis. I couldn’t figure out how to do the feature using my iPhone X demo unit, so I concluded it must not be something intuitive, if exist at all. Later when I got home, I did a quick googling and found that I need to activate the feature first in Accessibility settings. The swipe down gesture is reasonably simple, so I guess that works to some extend.
The camera produced nice photos. But it was in a store with good lighting. I can’t really take the demo phone away to test the camera in different situations, so not much to say here.
Last but not least is my impression on speed. In general, I don’t feel the need of a “faster” phone since using iPhone 6. It was already fast enough for most everyday tasks and I’m generally happy with that. iPhone X also feels fast, but nothing noticeably faster than my current iPhone 7.
Everything else is pretty much the same. It’s a smartphone. A new generation that’s better than all previous ones, but still, it’s an iterative improvement process.
Was I impressed with iPhone X? Yes. Did the testing session with demo unit make me want to buy it this year? No. And this comes from an Apple enthusiast who uses almost every generations of iPhone since iPhone 3G.