My iPhone X Review

I’ve now had an iPhone X for about 2 weeks. Unlike those who post reviews after having the phone for a few hours, I wanted to give time to develop my opinions after some serious real-world use.

Overall, I think it’s pretty easy to state that the iPhone X is the best iPhone1 ever made. It isn’t perfect and it needs some refinement, but it’s an improvement over previous models in so many ways.

First Impressions

When you first pick up an iPhone X, you’ll quickly notice that it’s heavier than you might have thought. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it makes it feel solid and well made. The glass back gives the phone a grippiness that the iPhone 6/6S/7 line didn’t provide.The size of the phone is much closer to the 6/6s/7/8 than it is to the plus-sized counterparts.

But enough about the boring stuff, let’s talk about the two things everyone wants to talk about: the notch and the lack of a home button.

That Notch

I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical about the notch. In product photography, it isn’t very appealing. A phone with Batman ears just doesn’t seem to make much sense. In practice; however, it’s actually quite elegant. You rarely notice the notch at all2, it just seems to disappear when you’re using the device.

The lack of the home button did take some getting used to, but after a couple of days, I’m more than happy with it. In fact, when I pick up an older iPhone, I already try to swipe up instead of clicking the home button. It’s a surprisingly natural gesture and works smoothly.

And man, that screen. Apple was late to the party, but their OLED screen is surely beautiful. Combine the screen with TruTone, it really can’t be beaten. Samsung and some other manufacturers have brighter screens with oversaturation that can be eye-catching, but for day-to-day use, the colors aren’t ideal. The iPhone X’s screen is nearly perfect.

FaceID

There has been a lot of misinformation posted about FaceID. When Apple announced it, they conceded that Twins may be able to access their counterpart’s devices and that children under 13 could, in rare instances, give it issues. Both of these scenarios have been tested and widely played out on YouTube. So if you have an evil twin or are one of the few whose children can fool your device, you may want to use a traditional pin number. Otherwise, FaceID is a huge step forward.

To be clear, I had no problem with TouchID. It worked as advertised, was blazingly fast, and had a low failure rate. But FaceID just feels like living in the future. If you pick up your phone, it works. If someone else does, it doesn’t. For me, it has worked nearly flawlessly in many different scenarios. I’ve worn sunglasses (polarized RayBans), hats, prescription glasses, and different hairstyles. I’ve been indoors and outdoors, in the dark, and in bright light. My son and father can’t unlock it with their faces. I’ve been completely impressed.

Another unfounded worry about FaceID by many is in regards to privacy. Let me be clear about this. Apple does NOT have access to the facial representation your phone uses. Apple also does NOT have any means to acquire access to it in the future. They built FaceID in a way that no one, not even them (or the FBI), can extract your facial representation. This was also true of TouchID. Privacy is not a concern when using FaceID. Read more about FaceID here.

The Not So Good

As I stated earlier, the iPhone X is not perfect. Luckily, the faults are almost entirely software related (meaning they can up fixed or updated).

Control Center is now accessed by pulling down in the upper right-hand corner. This is a horrible placement for it. I honestly don’t know how this made it into the final release. I expect this will be improved in a future software update.

Portrait Mode has been added to the front camera. While not awful, it’s also not very good. Coupled with the new portrait lighting effects, it’s quite disappointing. Again, this can be improved with software updates.

I’m not a huge fan of the new multitasking interface. You access it by swiping up and holding your finger. You then have to press an app and hold it to start the process of closing it. I don’t have a better option in mind, but I’m hoping they will figure out a better way.

Not all third-party apps have been updated to display correctly on the iPhone X’s new screen size. They still work, but they’re framed by black bars on the top or bottom. This isn’t a huge deal as most apps have been updated, but it is annoying when you must use one that isn’t.

Random Thoughts Through Two Weeks

  • Tap to wake has been incredibly useful. Can't see how we lived without this before.
  • The speakers are much improved over previous iPhones.
  • The cameras are obviously better than previous iPhones.
  • Reachability is turned off by default, but you can re-enable it in the accessibility settings. Once activated, you swipe down to activate it. It does take some practice.
  • Wireless charging can be convenient in some cases, but it is not a full replacement for traditional charging.
  • The larger side button is nice.
  • You can disable control center and widgets (and other things) from being used on the lock screen by others. They're still usable by you thanks to FaceID.
  • By default, notifications will only show details on your lock screen when it is you looking at it, again thanks to FaceID.
  • Animoji are cheesy and pointless. Animoji are awesome and fun.

In Conclusion

The iPhone X is the best iPhone ever made. Does that mean you should pay $1,000 for it? Well, if you paid over $900 for a plus model phone in the last couple of years, it isn’t that much more. If your plan allows you to get it for a subsidized price or trade it in later, you might want to consider those options. The iPhone 8 line is a great option as well. There is no “must-have” phone as they are all simply luxuries at this point.


  1. I'm stopping short of calling it the best phone ever because Android users will disagree. This isn't a review of iPhone vs Android, but rather one of my personal experiences with a particular device. 
  2. Unless you're watching a video in full-screen in landscape mode. 
Matt Langford @Mtt

Copyright 2018 Matt Langford