24 hours with the iPhone X

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Apple doesn’t get enough credit for the way it has taken commodities and turned them into products that people actually want to own. Think back to the beige boxed PCs of 2 decades ago and the attempts at tablets and music players from others and you get a sense that Apple always saw these objects as being more then mere bundles of technology designed to do things.

Mobile phones have always been different in that regard. They have been fashionable, fascinating to millions and in some cases lusted after. The iPhone, however, has taken that to a whole new level which some are entirely consumed by and which others sneer at. Apple’s pricing does not help when it comes to the negative view of the product from many and this has been magnified by the iPhone X. At a minimum price of £999 there is a sweeping sense that a threshold has been breached and that no phone could possibly be worth that much money.

Well, there are many counter-arguments to negative thoughts such as the price of the Galaxy S8 (£779) and Galaxy Note8 (£869) which… actually, as I quickly looked up the prices of the Samsung offerings I realised that they were cheaper than I had expected. My iPhone X cost £1,149 which is 1.5 times the price of the S8 and 1.3 times the price of the Note8 which is quite a leap. 3 Galaxy S8s for the price of 2 iPhone Xs puts it into perspective and reinforces my thoughts about the iPhone X pricing. Were it not for my freelance writing I would never in a million years pay this much money for a phone. I just could not justify such a cost because the ‘number’ sticks out to me as extreme even though there are easy ways to justify the price.

It is my sat nav, music player, portable games console, web browser, emailer, social networker and even a phone sometimes. My iPhone does so much that it is easy to justify in my head why I should have the best, and I could take that even further- it’s my alarm clock, torch, calculator blah blah.

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Then again, an iPhone 6s can be all of those things and cost a third of the price so I go back to feeling that the price is not justifiable on any practical level. An expensive Mac can be justified because it can offer benefits for close to a decade, but not a phone. Never a phone.

For all of the innovative development, design care and use of high-end materials the fact remains that the iPhone, any iPhone, is a tool to use and is not a piece of jewellery to display to others. My watch may cost more than the iPhone X, but that could be on my wrist in 20 year’s time and still serve a purpose which makes the price reasonable in the long run. There is no long run with phones apart from the fact that iPhones hold their value much better than other phones. In theory you could buy an S8 and an iPhone X today and then sell them both in a year. What’s the betting that you would end up with at least the same financial loss on each and more likely lose more money on the S8?

People, however, do not think like that when they buy a phone. They buy what they want and for many that means the iPhone regardless of cost because they have used one for many years now and see no reason to change. When you use a product for multiple hours a day you are much more likely to spend more than you need to on the best version of that product, and it’s likely that you use your phone for more hours than any other product you own.

I shall stop rambling now and offer some first impressions.

The notch

It is noticeable, of that there is no doubt. It does depend on the app, but at this time there are differences in how the notch has been approached by third party developers. For example, Instapaper chooses to show text right to the top which is disconcerting if you have a habit of not using pagination and read near the top of the screen. Medium, however, adds a small bar which does not get in the way, but it does make the reading experience far more natural.

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Screenshots don’t show the notch, but Instapaper gets the implementation wrong.
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Medium uses a minimalistic bar which works well.

You notice it in Photos and YouTube the most and some apps, Kindle for example, have not received the update as yet. It is jarring to see apps like this that have not been updated and they really do not look right, especially a book reader.

Overall, however, the notch is not the end of the world. It is odd, necessary and far from being a deal breaker.

Was there ever a home button?

It took 1 minute to get used to the lack of a home button. The gesture works perfectly and is so well executed that I actually prefer it to the button I have become accustomed to over the past decade.

The screen

Stunning. There is talk of burn in and problems from acute angles, but so far it is much better than the iPhone 7 screen I have been using and True Tone is a huge bonus.

Speed

So so quick. Nothing else to say.

Form

It is smaller than I expected and does not feel bigger than the iPhone 7 to me, but boy is the difference in screen size obvious. After 5 minutes I picked up the iPhone 7 and didn’t want to use it again, ever.

Face ID

Again, there have been reports of problems, but all I can say is that I have not had a moment yet where it does not recognise me. Even better, I don’t even notice that it is working each time I pick up the phone because by the time I swipe up it is already unlocked and ready to use. I really did not expect to say this, but it is better than Touch ID and Apple Pay is even easier than before.

Annoyances

Swiping from the top for the Control Centre feels unnecessary and is awkward. Not sure why we cannot swipe from the bottom left for it, but hope that this option appears in the future. You can no longer see the battery percentage in the status bar, but you can if you activate the Control Centre, awkwardly. It’s a tiny annoyance, but seems easy to fix which is why it is annoying.

Everything else

The camera and everything else will have to wait for the next article. The iPhone X feels familiar in the places that count, but new and exciting everywhere else. It is a leap forward and a seriously superb phone which makes the iPhone 8 and everything before it look like products from the past. I am not going over the top here, it really is superb, but the price remains the only real negative in a product that is genuinely special.

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It has only been 24 hours so there is always the danger of coming to long term conclusions based on short term novelty, but I have been trying and testing phones long enough to know that this is something new which is just the beginning of what is to come.

2 thoughts on “24 hours with the iPhone X

  1. Thanks for this. Interesting observations. Now I’m really afraid to look at one as I might really want to get one. So far, my 6S has been fine and I see no reason to change. And a base price of $1319Cdn is a bit daunting.

  2. I can’t wait to have a play with this one and to see it in real life. It looks like a lovely piece of kit, to say the least. It’s a pity that I’m not single anymore, but if I came home with this instead of a vacuum cleaner robot and spare change to boot, it will not be understood, even though we are all with our mobiles all day every day, unlike the PDA days when I was one of the very few, so you’d say there would be more understanding. But hey, the fact that my under 400€ phone “does the same” is the point of argument.

    I do look forward to seeing a more long term user review. Day to day, real life use is always different.

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