When I first got the iPhone X, I was over the moon. Now, a little over eight months in, I’m a little less excited.
I mean, it’s fine. You know? It’s fine. I’m not dying to sell it, nor am I going to revisit my brief urges to go to Android. It’s a pretty good phone.
It’s just that, well, for the $US999 I paid for it, I was expecting… more, somehow. Every so often, I find myself wishing that I had saved myself a few hundred bucks and picked up the $US700 iPhone 8 instead. I don’t wish it enough that it’s worth the hassle of doing something about it, but I can’t seem to let go of this vague sense of disappointment.
To my mind, that reflects poorly on Apple. The company been hyping up the iPhone X as the future of its flagship line of smartphones, to the degree that it’s said to be working on releasing two new versions of the device this September. Maybe those will fix my frustrations. Just as likely, they won’t.
Here’s what I like – and, more importantly, don’t like – about the iPhone X.
OK, let’s start with the good stuff about the $US999 iPhone X to prove I’m not a total hater. My favourite part is probably the screen — it’s gorgeous. And because of the edge-to-edge design, the screen has more real estate than any other iPhone, including the bigger Plus models.
I’m not really bothered by the iPhone X notch either. To me, it’s a worthy compromise to get that giant screen.
It’s also got a pretty solid battery. I’m an, ahem, heavy user, but I usually get a full day’s charge out of it, unless I’m taking a ton of videos or playing a lot of Pokémon Go.
OK, enough small talk. Now it’s time to vent.
The number-one problem with the iPhone X is FaceID, the facial recognition system that debuted with the device. Because there’s no buttons on the front of the device, there’s no room for a fingerprint scanner, and so FaceID is what Apple came up with.
Most of the time, it works ok. I would say that 90% of the time, maybe even 95%, I have no problems with it. I look at my phone, and it unlocks. It’s a little slow, but hey.
It’s the other times that I get super frustrated. Maybe I’m not wearing my glasses because I just got out of the shower, or maybe I’m squinting because it’s sunny, but when it doesn’t work and I have to key my passcode, it’s startling and unpleasant.
It’s frustrating because while it’s mostly good, FaceID is still materially worse than TouchID, the fingerprint system that it replaced. TouchID was fast and reliable in almost every situation — faster and more reliable, in fact, than FaceID.
The edge-to-edge screen design brings other frustrations, too. There’s something about the way you have to grip the phone to push the power button on the side that means taking a lot of accidental screenshots when you’re just trying to set it to sleep.
The design brings some other quirks, too. Because there’s no home button, Apple introduced new navigation gestures. Swipe up from the bottom to close the app, or up and to the side to switch apps quickly. Again, works pretty well!
Except for those few times when the gestures turn into a nuisance. For instance, apps like Pokémon Go sometimes ask you to swipe around the bottom. On a traditional iPhone, no problem. On an iPhone X, you could close the app accidentally.
There’s no denying that the camera on the iPhone X is pretty great.
But Portrait Mode, one of the flagship features of the iPhone X (and, in fairness, the 8 Plus), turns out to be little more than a novelty — at least, for me. I rarely remember it exists. The pictures are nice, but the “bokeh” effect is often imperceptible.
Ultimately, I’m not sad I got it. The camera is nice, the screen is nice, and the battery life is nice.
It’s just that I wonder about the bang for my buck. With all those little annoyances, and the general sense that I paid $US999 for some truly first-generation hardware, I often wonder if I would have been just as happy with a $US700 iPhone 8 — and $US300 in my pocket.
Still, we should all get used to it. It sounds like Apple is working on more updates to the iPhone X, coming later this year.
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