Warning: The following does not contain the usual technical jargon that goes along with most smartphone reviews. I don’t know what CPU, GPU, OLED or OIS stand for and TBH, I don’t really care (if you do care, this review is probably more your speed). What does matter to me, like a lot of Apple devotees, is getting my hands on the company’s slickest new device no matter the cost—in this case, the iPhone X, featuring a powerful new camera to keep my Insta game strong and Animojis to take my texting to the next level.
Full disclosure: I was given a phone to test drive a few days before its November 3 release; Apple does this before most major launches, normally gifting tech reviewers or bloggers, celebs and more frequently, social media influencers and editors like me to help generate additional buzz (not that this was really needed for the X’s launch).
It’s been three days now, and things are getting serious, but like any new relationship there have been a few bumps in the road. Here’s what’s new about the X (for better or worse).
1. There’s No Home Button
The first thing I noticed about the X was its diminutive size. I was surprised that it comfortably in my palm with a handfeel that reminded me of the O.G. iPhone 3. However, despite its smaller dimensions, its 5.8-inch screen, or “display” to use the proper lingo, stretches edge-to-edge, thanks to the lack of a home button (the resulting widescreen effect was most impressive when I watched an HD clip of Wonder Woman practicing her sword-fighting skills alongside her Amazonian sisters on the island of Themyscira!)
But this new feature, or lack thereof, has been the single biggest pain point while getting accustomed to the X. I’ve had to retrain my index finger to swipe up from the bottom edge to bring up the home screen. This is what you have to do after looking into the screen to activate Face ID, which unlocks the phone. The face recognition feature is impressive, in a futuristic/Minority Report kind of way—it works in the dark and even when you’re wearing sunglasses or a hat—but if your head is slightly in profile when you hold up the phone to your face, it sometimes won’t unlock, reverting to its old-school passcode-unlocking ways. (For those worrying about the cyber security of this new feature, have no fear, because there’s only a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that some stranger/phone thief/nosy friend can unlock the phone with their face, too. Of course, the statistical probability is different if you have a twin or a sibling who is your dead ringer.)
2. Animojis Are the New Emojis
The Face ID technology is also what’s behind the phone’s funnest—albeit most gimmicky— feature: Animojis! The depth-sensing camera projects and analyzes more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a map of your face, enabling you to send animated emojis that mirror your expressions (there are a dozen to choose from). This was the first feature I played with and I spent hours sending my friends clips of me talking, singing, smiling and frowning through the chicken, unicorn and robot emojis.
3. The Camera is Lit
The camera on the X has five new portrait modes, allowing you to take profesh-looking photos of people and pets, or yourself, in different lighting—from Natural Light, which renders the subject super sharp with a blurred background, to Stage Light Mono, essentially black-and-white with a distinctive Film Noir-ish quality.
4. It’s All Glass Errrything
I love the X’s super-slick all-glass enclosure, which you don’t really want to hide behind a protective case, but you dang well better because now you can smash the front and back of your phone if you drop it. Unless you’ve opted for the AppleCare warranty, a smashed screen or back will cost you more than $300 to repair.
That’s a lot of $$$, never mind the original $1,319 or $1,529 price, which makes the iPhone X inaccessible to a lot of people. Do you really need one? Of course not. But for my fellow iPhone obsessives (I’ve gone through eight), being able to send your friends this…
…just might be priceless.