iPhone X Review (aka, The Future of the iPhone)

The Non-Review Review

I don’t write reviews. There has, however, been a tremendous amount of hype and talk about the iPhone X. I don’t have to do a lot of review, here: Apple announced both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X (read: 10) at the same event, with the 8 being the usual faster, better version of what we’ve seen in the iPhone line, and the X being touted as “the future of the iPhone”. So, I don’t write reviews—and this isn’t one!—but I wanted to share a little about using one, and answer the FAQs that people have generally been asking. I did decide to wait a little (obviously) before rushing to write anything as the iPhone X is a bit different.

The Good

First: it’s really good looking. It’s solid, and feels good to hold. But that’s not really a surprise, right? You could say the same about the 6s and 7. And SE, for that matter.

Next: The screen is great. Edge-to-edge looks like a modern device.

Then: The speed. It’s fast. It almost feels like animation speeds have been reduced so they don’t get in the way.

Also: Gestures. The aforementioned speed is required to make gestures feel fluid, natural, and useful. It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll quickly learn to swipe up and over (for the task switcher, or just to your last app used), or down from one of the top corners (for notifications/today, or control center). (The iPhone 8 doesn’t have the same gestures, but it does have the speed.)

Finally: Battery life. It’s amazing. You get 7s Plus battery life in a physically smaller package. That’s with my usual workload, which had me charging other phones mid-day. I’ve found that I charge the iPhone X once per day, right before I got to bed. I go to sleep with it at, or close to, 100% charge. I leave it all night off charger, wake up, take it on a morning run (screen off), use it for about 40 minutes straight during my commute (audio via BT headphones, web/Twitter/etc), on-and-off during the day, another 40 minutes commuting back, and up through about 10pm. That leaves the iPhone X at about 35-40% charge. Well, that’s amazing to me, at least.

Of course, there is another change on this device.

The New Biometrics

FaceID takes over for TouchID on the iPhone X. (By the way: I’m calling it the iPhone “Ecks”. I’m done worrying about pronouncing a letter as a number. Plus, how much cooler is “iPhone X” versus “iPhone Ten”?)

FaceID works really well. Like, surprisingly well. There are a few small cases where TouchID is better/faster, at least for me. Overall, though, it’s a big net win. It harkens back to Apple’s old tag line: “It Just Works”. The initial training does well enough, and it seems to get better over the first week of use. (This is primarily why I waited to write anything. Not only does FaceID take a little training time and getting used to, but so do the aforementioned gestures.)

Is it Essential?

It’s nice. But the 8 is, also. So is the 7, really. (And SE, if you like that form factor.) And a handful of Android devices. If you solely work from your phone, or are traveling and need to pack light—so you’re only bringing one device—sure, get the nicest thing possible. (Of course, that can include the other devices that I mentioned.) That said, there’s nothing currently that the iPhone X uniquely enables. (OK…animojis…and whatever future potential face-mapping thing comes along. I can live without those.)

The short version here is that if you bought an iPhone 8, or have been hanging on to a 6s or 7, and now you feel disappointed about not waiting for, or buying the X, well, there may not exist a tech device that can fill the void in your life.

One More Thing

Oh, yeah: the notch? Fucking awful.