After four years of the company recycling the design of the iPhone 6, the iPhone X is a breath of fresh air. The beautiful OLED screen takes up pretty much the whole front of the device. It’s one of the best displays I’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and while it’s not quite as bezel free at the sides as Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8 devices, it’s a giant leap forward for Apple.
Two concessions were made for the all-screen design. The most obvious is that there is no home button, axed after a decade of service. You might miss it if you have muscle memory from mashing the button every two minutes, but I don’t. There’s also no Touch ID fingerprint scanner, as it has been replaced with Face ID facial recognition technology – more on that later.
To get back to the home screen you swipe up from a line at the very bottom of the screen, which feels much more fluid and engaging than hitting a button. You’re meant to swipe up and hold to get to the stack of recently used apps, but I found it quicker and more reliable to use the BlackBerry OS 10-esque swipe up and right (or left) gesture.
The second concession is equally controversial – the so-called notch. At the top of the screen there’s a cutout in the display that houses the earpiece speaker, the selfie camera and various sensors for the TrueDepth camera system that facilitates Face ID. Those bits have to be there somewhere; most manufacturers just have a piece of the phone’s body extend left to right, squaring off the screen, which I think is a better compromise. It’s something people will either straight-up hate, or simply not notice most of the time. My money is on the latter, even though it does look a little bit stupid when watching full-screen video.
The back of the phone is glass, like the iPhone 8 Plus but with a more pronounced vertically-oriented camera lump. Its polished stainless steel frame feels harder than the aluminium used for the previous iPhones, and at 174g the phone weighs quite a lot for its size. The 5.8in Samsung Galaxy S8 weighs 19g less, but the iPhone X is still significantly lighter than the 202g 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus.
No matter how solid it feels, you’ll need a case. No matter how durable Apple says its glass is, glass is still glass and breaks on impact with the ground, as drop tests show. It’s a shame because the iPhone X is genuinely one of the nicest smartphones to hold.
One thing that might surprise iPhone users is just how small the iPhone X is despite its 5.8in screen. At 143.6mm long, the iPhone X is 5.2mm taller than the iPhone 8 but a full 14.8mm shorter than the iPhone 8 Plus. At 70.9mm wide the iPhone X is only 3.6mm bigger than the iPhone 8, and is 7.2mm narrower than the iPhone 8 Plus, with its smaller, 5.5in screen. That’s the difference between being able to comfortably hold and use it with one hand or being on the verge of dropping it all the time. For a non-iPhone comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is 2.8mm narrower but 5.3mm taller than the iPhone X with the same sized screen when measured diagonally.
- Screen: 5.8in Super Retina HD (OLED) (458ppi)
- Processor: Apple A11 Bionic
- RAM: 3GB of RAM
- Storage: 64 or 256GB
- Operating system: iOS 11
- Camera: Dual 12MP rear cameras with OIS, 7MP front-facing camera
- Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fiac, NFC, Bluetooth 5, Lightning and GPS
- Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
- Weight: 174g
The iPhone X is without a doubt the best iPhone Apple has ever made, and it represents a much needed leap forward in design for the company.
It still runs the same apps as other iPhones and has the same camera on the back and the same processor and memory as the iPhone 8 Plus. But by ditching the home button, extending the screen to fill the front and introducing Face ID that actually works, it feels so much more modern. The irony is that the iPhone X is the best version of the iPhone for defectors from Android, as many of the changes will feel more familiar to them.
Die-hard iPhone users might find some of the changes quite jarring. It’s not perfect: the notch can be annoying, discovery of features on the phone is still atrocious, and it’s difficult to believe any smartphone is worth £999, particularly when the best of the competition can be had for almost half that. But if you’re looking for an iPhone, can stomach splashing a grand on a phone or were already eyeing up the iPhone 8 Plus, this is the iPhone for you.
The iPhone X is simply great.