I really wanted to get familiar with the new iPhone before I started to write a review. By the time this will be posted it will probably be about a month. I was lucky enough to get my iPhone X the day of the launch. The only reason for that was because I got up extremely early pre order morning and was one of the first to order one. Getting my iPhone on launch day is actually something that I never had before, this was my very first time! Usually I got it 2-3 weeks after but now I was one of the first. What did I buy? I bought the iPhone X in Space Gray (Also really like the Silver but everyone has the silver… 😉) with 256GB’s of storage. My previous iPhone was a 128 model that had 29GB’s free so I couldn’t buy the 64GB model. So, a 256. Which costs, in Belgium: 1329 euro’s. (That is 1.538,37 US dollars 😳) Yes, that hurts. But, I was already prepared since the rumours of a high price had been floating around for about 1 month before the Keynote. I am going to break down this review in a few sections. First let’s talk about the thing you’ll notice first, the OLED, Super Retina Display.
5.85 inch Super Retina Display
OLED displays have been in smartphones for quite a while now and they are clearly the future. What are the advantages of an OLED display? They are much thinner, much lighter and they don’t need a bezel providing a rimless edge-to-edge design. OLED displays can be made flexible and into curved screens, plus they have a very fast response time and better viewing angles. So it was only fitting that Apple chose OLED for the new iPhone X. When Apple introduced that they put an OLED display in their new phone immediately people started talking bullshit.
“The Samsung Galaxy Note8 can produce up to 1,240 nits and Apple’s OLED iPhone X can only produce 634 nits.” -Twitter user-
This couldn’t be further from the truth. As DisplayMate makes perfectly clear in their iPhone X OLED display shoot-out. This is what they had to say about display brightness:
“The iPhone X has a record high Full Screen Brightness for OLED Smartphones of 634 nits, which improves screen visibility in high Ambient Light. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 can produce up to 1,240 nits, but only for small portions of the screen area (Low Average Picture Levels) – for Full Screen Brightness the Note8 can produce up to 423 nits with Manual Brightness and 560 nits with Automatic Brightness only in High Ambient Light. For small portions of the screen area the iPhone X can produce up to 809 nits (Low Average Picture Levels). On its Home Screen the iPhone X produces an impressively bright 726 nits.” -DisplayMate-
Now I know Samsung manufactures the OLED display’s Apple uses. If you don’t get Samsung to make your OLED displays you get something like the Google Pixel 2 XL… So luckily Apple went with Samsung. Now of course Apple wouldn’t be Apple if they didn’t change some things about this display. The 3D Touch, TrueTone and the P3 Color Gamut are some examples of what Apple does to these displays. Some sources are even saying Apple made the iPhone X’s OLED display better than that in the Samsung S8 and Note 8. Now, I love the display. I mean you only have to look at it for 5 minutes to fall in love with it. The true blacks, nice and saturated colours and TrueTone make this for me the best display I have every seen. I also love the rounded corners and how they follow the curves of the design. The big elephant in the room is ‘the notch’. The small area on the top that houses a ton of sensors and an earpiece. For me, it disappears after you use it for a day or two. I really don’t mind it at all. One last thing about the display that I really like is that the iPhone X display scans at 120Hz instead of the normal 60Hz. This makes a difference in how smooth it feels when you swipe and do gestures. The display still refreshes at 60Hz though, not like the iPad Pro where the display scans and refreshes at 120Hz. I would really encourage you to go look at the iPhone X display in a Store because I guarantee you you’ll be blown away by it.
If there is one feature in this new phone that caused the most controversy, then that’s FaceID. Apple’s new TouchID replacement. Instead of scanning your finger Apple now scans your face. Facial recognition has been in a few smartphones for years but they are easily fooled by pictures. Apple is using amazing technology to scan a 3D mesh of your face and then process it with a Neural Engine inside the A11 Bionic chip to make sure it’s you. What makes it even more amazing is that this whole process takes about a second!
It has worked 98% of the time I’ve used it. Once you trust it a little more you just instinctively swipe and it just unlocks. You don’t have to think about it. Just wake your phone while looking at it and immediately swipe up to find yourself on the homescreen one second later. What about the 2% you might wonder… Well, just like TouchID wouldn’t work from time to time, FaceID sometimes just doesn’t recognise my face. All I have to do is lock it again and wake it and suddenly it works again. Which to me is nothing crazy since TouchID did exactly the same for me back in my 7 Plus. I haven’t had the opportunity to test out Pay because it (still) isn’t available in Belgium so I can’t vouch for how easy and intuitive that proces is but for what I’ve seen people seem to like the way you double click, look and pay. Another cool thing about FaceID is that since there is no TouchID in the iPhone X, apps that haven’t been updated yet will just ask for biometric authentication and that will activate FaceID. So even if an app isn’t updated for iPhone X and FaceID, it will work perfectly. One more feature that deserves to be highlighted is the autofill in Safari and apps that support it. When you go to let’s say apple.com and you buy a nice case for you phone. You’ll be asked to log in and previously you could just say autofill and BAM there’s your AppleID and password. Anyone could hit that autofill button. Now autofill uses FaceID and first scans your face, then autofills. A much more secure way to autofill your passwords I think. So if you give your brand new iPhone X to a friend so he can have a look, he definitely can’t autofill all your passwords and usernames on his favourite online shopping website. My verdict simply comes down to this. FaceID is so good I have actually forgotten how TouchID is/was.So long TouchID, so long…
Dual 12mp Cameras & the TrueDepth Camera
I didn’t write a review about the iPhone 8, because quit frankly, I didn’t get one. So the iPhone X’s camera was really the first experience I had with the new camera system that is also in the iPhone 8 Plus. Only this time Apple chose for a vertical camera placement instead of a horizontal one. Which is fine by me, I still think the horizontal placement looks more pleasing but I also think thats because we’re used to it from the 7 Plus and now the 8 Plus. Some people say it’s ugly but I wouldn’t go that far, it just looks different. And since people always complain when Apple doesn’t change it’s design I don’t know what they’re complaining about when they change the look of the camera, but hey, some people are just never satisfied…
The return of the 12mp dual camera. A camera system I enjoyed tremendously in my iPhone 7 Plus, now had several improvement. Apple used new and improved sensors with new color filters so you get more dynamic range and better color reproduction. Two things that the iPhone 7 Plus really lacked to my opinion. These new sensors also improve low light photography. Take a look at the images down below. iPhone 8 Plus on the left and 7 Plus on the right.
As you can see even in a pretty normal pictures just taken in a Store, you see a massive difference in detail, color reproduction and exposure.
Of course the overall quality of the camera remains 12mp. So you shouldn’t see any really quality or sharpness improvements. Unless of course in low light since the camera can capture more light which will result in a sharper image overall. But the camera in the iPhone X has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Unlike the iPhone 8 Plus where only the wide angle lens has OIS, the X has Optical Image Stabilisation in both of its lenses. This helps a lot with portrait mode since all portrait mode pictures are taken with the telephoto or second lens. Another great advance of OIS is that video shooting on the telephoto lens now feels waaaay smoother than it used to be. But the news doesn’t stop there cause the telephoto lens now has a F2.4 aperture instead of the usual F2.8 in the iPhone 8 Plus. To clarify, the lower the number, te more light can hit the sensor. This means an added half stop of light. Which makes a big difference. OIS together with the faster aperture should result in much much better Portrait mode photo’s. Here are a few examples. Some Portrait Mode ones and a few normal ones as well. They were all taken in the Apple camera app on auto mode. Which is how most people will be shooting so that’s why I am not using any other app.
Another thing Apple added in the new camera system is auto HDR. This means the HDR is always on. The HDR is so good now, that I actually don’t mind it be on all the time. HDR is a technology that has been in smartphones for a few years. It helps with getting more detail and sharpness out of the darker areas in your photo’s. You can best use it when you take pictures while the sun in facing you.
Apple not only upped the photo quality, they also made the video quality a lot higher. Not only does the iPhone film with a lot more High Dynamic Range but also the actual quality has improved. You can now film at 4K resolution and 60FPS. This is something that even some high end video/photo cameras don’t do. Apple also added the 24FPS option for that Hollywood Film look. The slo-motion video is better as well. The maximum FPS is still 240FPS but now you can film at this speed in 1080p where previously that only went to 720p. So now even when you film at 240FPS your footage is rich and full of detail. One thing to note. If you want to film at 4K 60FPS or 1080p 240FPS you’ll need to turn on High Efficiency encoding in the camera settings > format. If you enable ‘Most Compatible’ you will not find the option for 4K 60FPS or 1080p 240FPS.
Battery and Charging
This year, Apple added a lot of new charging features. The biggest of them being wireless charging. Previous iPhone’s had the aluminium back so it was impossible to implement it then, since wireless charging currently doesn’t go through aluminium, stainless steel or ceramic. Apple chose to implement the ‘QI’ standard. The standard that has been the most popular and that other smartphone makers have been using for a few years. At launch Apple supports 5W wireless charging but in the latest beta of iOS 11.2 they started support for 7.5W wireless charging. An update that will roll out to costumers soon. The best thing about wireless charging is that you can just place your iPhone on the mat to start charging and take it off when you leave.
Usually you have to plug in cables or unplug it from a dock that you need to hold down with your other hand while you unplug your phone. It’s more a convenience feature than anything else, really. It is for example, never faster than charging through a cable. As I said, 7.5W is the maximum wattage your iPhone will charge wirelessly with. With the new 2017 iPhone’s you now get fast charging. You can use a 12W iPad power brick or a 29W MacBook charger to get some juice faster than you could with the included 5W adapter. And of course this is also much faster than charging wirelessly. If you charge your iPhone from 1% to 100% with the 29W charger you’ll have a full iPhone in about 1u45. If you would do this wirelessly you would be looking at about 3-4 hours… So if you want to get some juice fast before you leave, you’ll never use wireless charging since it’s just to slow. Another reason I still haven’t bought one is that most of the wireless chargers require you to lay your iPhone on it in a flat position. That means every time you want to use your iPhone you have to pick it up but then it stops charging… So for me at least, I am not buying a wireless charger yet, for me it isn’t any different from putting it on my dock that I already have.Apple also saw something that wasn’t quite right with QI wireless charging. You (currently) can’t charge 2 or more devices on the same wireless charger. So Apple is currently working with the QI team to solve this problem. They call it AirPower. It’s a small white mat where you can charge up to 3 wireless charging devices at the same time. This is what it looks like.
You also don’t have to lay them on a specific spot, something that wireless chargers today require to work. The only problem? The AirPower wireless charging mat is coming in 2018. So we’ll have to wait and see. Especially because Apple hasn’t announced pricing yet… Which means this could be $249 or something. That’s a lot for a wireless charger I know, but I actually wouldn’t be surprised if that was the price.
App support for iPhone X
Apps do need to be updated for the new Super Retina Display. Most of the ‘hot’ app got updated as soon as launch day. FB, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube… They were all ready to use out of the box. I would usually get about 3-4 iPhone X app updates a day since then. Of course, an app doesn’t need to be updated for it to work. All apps run fine. They just have these black bars on the top and the bottom. As you can see down below.
Of course all Apples own app are updated for the iPhone X. From Messages to the App Store to the Stocks app. Although I woud like to talk about the Messages app. Because it has been the app that I, personally, like the least out of all Apples own updated apps. Simply because of that very strange gray bar in the bottom.
I have no idea what thought Apple had when they redesigned this app. The app just looks very strange. I really hope they will find a solution for this and better support the iPhone X’s screen hight instead of just putting a gray bar onderneath the keyboard and think the work is done. Another explanation could be that Apple doesn’t want you to hit the spacebar accidentally when you actually want to ‘go home’. Which seems fair. Still, keeping that in mind, I definitely think they could drop the keyboard a few points. You have this beautiful Super Retina OLED display and you wouldn’t use it fully… C’mon Apple! 😉
I would simply like to end this review with my final thoughts on the iPhone X. I will start by saying I am a fan. I am an Apple fan. I love the eco system, the experience and the looks & feel that Apple products bring with them. So you could say I was a little biased. But even if you don’t consider yourself a fan, I assure you, check out the iPhone X and you might fall in love with it like I did. I really liked my iPhone 7 Plus, but I love my iPhone X. This new iPhone is a completely new experience and has all of the new features you’re going to want down the road. Great battery life for it’s size, an amazing Super Retina Display, a fantastic camera system on both the front and back, a FaceID system with amazing facial recognition and to finish off the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone. What more does a person want in their iPhone?
All example images used in the camera review are taken and owned by notthefruit, if you wish to use them, don’t use them without written permission from notthefruit. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form here.
Super Mario Run is available on the App Store and is owned by Nintendo. Super Mario Run might not be available in all regions. All rights reserved.
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