My iPhone X Review
I know, it’s just a phone. But in the same way that Lyra, the heroine of ‘His Dark Materials’ has a daemon always at her side, phones have become our inseparable equivalent. I have a very few bits of tech I keep up to date, but this is one.
It’s already a cliche, but the iPhone X is a genuine game-changer, although at first it’s not obvious why. There’s no home button, nothing but a big screen with a slightly compromising panel at the top to allow for fitting the the camera lenses. Losing the headphone jack last year was a bit of a gamble but was ultimately a great idea, so long as you don’t use Apple’s awful bluetooth pods, which fall out of your ears (I already lost mine).
New methods of navigating and unlocking the phone have come in. Facial recognition takes seconds to set up and seems to work fine, but the real changes begin deeper in. First, colour and image are far above the last iPhone. The OLED display is amazing, and the screen is bigger without affecting the overall size. I switched from a larger phone back to a small one for a while because the damned thing didn’t fit in my jeans (I don’t often wear jackets).
The X has a slight black bezel but it’s really all screen. You could watch a movie on this because it has HDR playback, but personally I’d rather read a book (Today, ‘The Three Friends’ by Norman Collins, if you must know). There have been complaints about the double-tap for Apple Pay but really, it’s not exactly complex to master.
Do I need to mention animojis? Talking animal heads with your voice? Thought not. They’re rubbish aimed at young users, although if I was texting Nigel Farage just for the fun of insulting him, I might use the unicorn as a Brexit analogy.
Here’s a big change. It’s the first iPhone you can use with one hand, thanks to the home button being replaced with a swipe-up gesture. It’ s an instinctive action that makes it so easy to open any app quickly, with the cavil that closing apps is slightly less obvious. However, all of the features feel instinctive. If you don’t know how to do something, try the obvious and it usually works. Result? You spend less time thinking about how to use it.
It’s a powerful phone, packing a lot more tech than, say, Voyager had on board. For those who care, it has an A11 Bionic chip running in tandem with 3GB of RAM. You can do AR gaming (overlaying images on the real world) but I’m mostly using language, news and AI apps. There’s a real weight and grippability here, plus contact charging if you want to splash out on peripherals. It’s the first phone I’ve used where a cover feels integral. I chose the brown leather because it will scuff up nicely.
The camera takes this whole thing to a new level, both from behind and front, which has something called a TrueDepth camera which in portrait mode blurs the background. And the f/2.4 aperture and optical image stabilization on the zoom takes better low-light photos. Here’s a shot I took last night in natural light. The over-complex photoshopping controls allow for plenty of post-shot tampering if that’s your thing.
If you’re an Android user there are few innovations here to excite you, but Apple does them very well, integrating them into a single superb package that makes this less a phone than a hardworking all-purpose tool. It’s expensive (not much different to what I got for my old car) but I’m already getting more use out of it than I did from owning a gas-guzzling vehicle.