It’s the most advanced iPhone ever, Apple’s most revolutionary design in years – and now, the long-awaited iPhone X is about to hit the streets. But is it worth the wait? And what about that price tag?
With 2017 marking the tenth anniversary of the very first iPhone, we expected big things from Apple’s launch announcement back in September... and we weren’t disappointed.
Sure, we were pleased to see an updated Apple Watch. And the iPhone 8 was a welcome, if minor, upgrade for the iPhone 7. But they were all overshadowed by the revolutionary iPhone X.
Since then, the anticipation has been building – and today, pre-orders for the iPhone X are finally open. So if you’ve been wondering whether the flashy new phone is worth the similarly flashy asking price, read on for the full Team Knowhow preview!
First things first, the iPhone X’s radical new design demands comment! With an edge-to-edge, practically bezel-free front, it’s a dramatic change – and the biggest shakeup the iPhone family has seen in years. Frankly, it looks gorgeous.
More than that, it looks modern. Compared with similarly small-bezel devices like Samsung’s latest Galaxy S8 flagship, the iPhone 8 models were starting to look a little long in the tooth – not a good look for the world’s most prestigious (and expensive) smartphone brand.
In other words, this is a redesign that’s long overdue. And it also carries obvious practical benefits: an all-screen front gives you a bigger display area in a smaller overall phone. Indeed, the iPhone X has a 5.8 inch screen compared to the iPhone 8 Plus’s 5.5 inches – despite the X being smaller in every dimension except thickness.
It’s a bit of a paradox that we want a smaller phone with a larger display, but Apple are are closer than ever to bringing us the best of both worlds. Its captivating screen is – for our money – by far the most compelling reason to pick up an iPhone X.
Beyond the size, the display technology itself has changed. It now uses an ‘OLED’, rather than LCD, display. The difference is somewhat technical – but the main benefit you can expect is far deeper blacks and better contrast.
The other big change to the design is the removal of the Home button. If you thought removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 was a big deal, this is huge!
But it’s something that had to be done to make Apple’s all-screen device a reality. With the iPhone X, you’ll now simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to perform all the actions previously handled by the Home button.
All, that is, except the ‘Touch ID’ fingerprint scanner. That’s gone for good – replaced with Apple’s unique face-recognition technology, ‘Face ID’. This is another major departure for the iPhone X – and we’ll be taking a closer look below.
But wrapping up the design, the iPhone X comes in two colours, Silver and Space Gray. Neither of these are particularly flashy in themselves – but when combined with the wraparound glass and incredible display, they look predictably gorgeous.
Oh, and about that name: it’s the iPhone X, but it’s pronounced ‘iPhone Ten’.
Aside from the striking redesign, the headline feature of the iPhone X is Apple’s all-new facial recognition technology, ‘Face ID’
The most advanced facial recognition system ever seen in a smartphone, Face ID uses a 3D map of your face – rather than a flat image – to recognise you. This means there’s no way it can be fooled by photos, videos or other methods that make traditional facial recognition systems so vulnerable.
It’s powered by a sophisticated array of infrared lights and lenses, hidden away in the phone’s small ‘eyebrow’ bezel and designed especially for Apple.
According to rumour, these sensors are partly why the iPhone X carries such a hefty price tag – and why supplies of the new phone are expected to be so limited for the first few months. The hardware just isn’t being produced on a large enough scale.
As always with new technology, the price will eventually fall as it’s adopted more widely – but for now, Face ID is a premium feature with a premium price!
But is it any good? Well, until we’ve got our hands on a device for ourselves, it’s impossible to say. We’ve done a bit of research, and we’re pretty sure it’s secure. But we’re still concerned about whether it’s more convenient than Touch ID – particularly when used with Apple Pay, or in other situations where your phone might actually be some distance from your face.
But there is one thing we can say for certain about Face ID: it’s very cool. And from Apple, we wouldn’t expect anything less!
Beyond the innovative display and Face ID features, the iPhone X’s hardware isn’t all that different to the iPhone 8 Plus.
Like the 8 Plus, it’s got a dual-lens rear-facing camera. This allows for real optical zoom – still a rare feature on smartphones – as well as optical image stabilisation to reduce shakes and jitters when shooting video.
If it’s anything like the 8 Plus – and it should be basically identical – it’s probably the best camera ever seen on a smartphone, particularly for video.
Under the hood, there’s the ‘A11 Bionic’ chip, which gives the X the processing oomph required for its advanced facial recognition and augmented reality features – more on which below.
Finally, the battery. While we can’t comment on this until we’ve used the device for a while, the iPhone 8 has surprised us with a significant improvement to battery life over the iPhone 7 – and we sincerely hope the iPhone X features similar gains.
In any case, as with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, you’ll be able to charge the iPhone X using the Qi wireless charging standard – another first for the iPhone family.
We’ve been using iOS 11 for a few weeks now, so there are few surprises here – you can read our thoughts on the latest OS here. Essentially though, it’s a useful – if hardly revolutionary – update.
The control centre – that control panel you swipe up from the bottom of the screen – has received a very welcome redesign, and is now completely customisable. But because swiping up from the bottom now replaces the Home button, you now access the control centre by swiping from the upper-right corner.
Our other favourite feature from iOS 11 is the redesigned App Store. There’s now a stronger focus on curation, with daily editor’s picks and more opportunities to discover new and exciting apps.
Finally, a little something about ‘augmented reality’, or AR. This essentially refers to superimposing computer-generated objects onto the real world, as seen through the phone’s camera.
Apple’s new ‘A11 Bionic’ chip is specifically designed to boost AR applications, but app makers are only just beginning to take advantage of it – but at the very least, we’ve enjoyed using IKEA’s ‘Place’ app to deck our halls with an array of fake furniture!
It’s the big question. But we hope you’re ready for an ambiguous answer – because it depends!
First of all, there’s the question of budget. At £999 for the smaller 64GB model and £1,149 for 256GB, this is one of the most expensive phones ever released – and that alone is going to put it beyond the reach of many.
If you can afford it, however, the iPhone X is shaping up to be the best iPhone ever, at any price. If you’ve upgraded in the last couple of years, then the radical redesign alone might not be enough to swing it – under the hood, it’s not all that different to recent iPhone models.
But if you current iPhone is starting to show its age, grabbing an iPhone X makes sense. Its bezel-free, Home button-less design is clearly the future for the iPhone family – and buying a new device without those features could have you feeling a little left out in the future.
Whatever you decide, pre-orders are open now – and we’ll be bringing you a full, hands-on review of the iPhone X as soon as we get our hands on one next month.