Apple iPhone X Review
Apple is known for taking its time before implementing new, radical designs and features with its iPhones. Consumers have strongly criticized the company for not innovating enough, and competitors have taken advantage of this by introducing better designs and stronger feature sets on their smartphones.
This time, the company has answered back in the form of the iPhone X, Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone.
Before proceeding, you may also want to check our iPhone 8 Plus review.
Design and Construction
The iPhone X doesn’t just stand as Apple’s flagship for 2017. It also represents the company’s 10th Anniversary iPhone since it first debuted in 2007. It’s a beautiful, shiny device with a glass front and back panel surrounded by a polished stainless steel frame. The metal frame reminds us of the 2007 iPhone which has the same accent around the bezel. We believe this design was implemented as a nod to its predecessor.
The front panel gets a major overhaul as it is dominated by a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display, replacing the thick bezels found in older iPhone models. The first thing that was dropped was the fingerprint scanner so say goodbye to Touch ID.
In its place are a new camera (7MP) and sensor module as well as the earpiece/loudspeaker, placed at the top of the display. It’ is often referred to as “the notch”. Some may find it ugly and distracting but that depends on one’s preference.
Found on the left side are the Silent switch, volume rocker, and antenna bands while the power/lock button, nano-SIM card slot, and more antenna bands are on the right side.
Down below are a set of pinholes for the main microphone (left) and loudspeaker (right). Right in the middle is the Lightning port.
At the back is the dual rear camera module consisting of a 12MP wide-angle camera and 12MP telephoto camera paired with a quad-LED flash and microphone. The camera module protrudes so the device doesn’t rest completely flat on its back.
Given the materials and curved sides and rounded corners, the iPhone X feels really good on the hands. It’s smooth and cool to the touch. The glass at the front and back fuses seamlessly with the metal frame for a unibody look and feel.
Moreover, the phone is also IP67-rated for water and dust resistance. On the downside, it’s obviously fragile (the metal frame already received some tiny abrasions even though we’re very careful with it), and a fingerprint magnet, so we recommend investing in a good protective case.
Display and Multimedia
This is the area where the iPhone X is different from all other iPhones before it. At 5.8-inches, it’s shorter and narrower than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus. The Super Retina HD OLED display has a 2436 x 1125 resolution which equates to 458ppi pixel density. It has True Tone which adapts the display’s color based on the ambient lighting conditions, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and supports HDR and 3D Touch.
In other words, the iPhone X sports one of the nicest displays on an iPhone. The images and texts are crisp and clear while the colors are accurate and punchy. All in all, it’s a fantastic display. The only downside we see here is the notch as it gets in the way when viewing photos or watching videos.
When it comes to audio, the iPhone X has two speakers, one at the earpiece and another bottom-firing speaker, for stereo audio. Quality is good, it’s crisp and clear with a hint of bass, which is good for watching videos, casual listening to music, or hands-free voice calls.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is Apple’s iOS 11 which we upgraded to 11.1 before we started the review. If you have read our review of the iPhone 8 Plus, the layout and apps are pretty much the same except for the top part as the clock was moved to the upper left while the signals and battery levels are on the upper right.
Apple’s native apps are still present like the new App Store which uses a magazine-like approach in displaying featured apps, the File app which is like a one-stop-shop for your cloud-based drives, as well as the staple apps like Mail, Maps, Home, Notes, Videos, iBooks, Watch, and Podcasts.
The biggest change here is how to navigate the redesigned UI. Since there’s no physical Home button, navigation is mostly based on swipe gestures. To go to the Home Screen, just swipe up from the bottom edge marked with a horizontal bar at any time. To switch between recent apps, swipe up from the bottom edge the slide to the right to show the App Switcher. From here you can also close recently opened apps by tapping and holding on the said app until you see the X button.
The redesigned Control Center which now uses widgets and takes advantage of the whole screen can be accessed by swiping down from the upper right corner, while the notifications can be accessed from the other side.
This new way of navigating the UI has its advantages and shortcomings. Some may find it intuitive and easier to use, while others might find it complicated. Apple has always taken pride in the iPhone’s user-friendliness that even a child can use it, thanks to the simple yet effective function of the Home Button. With the iPhone X, there’s now a steeper learning curve that may not appeal to everyone.
Storage-wise, the iPhone X comes in two variants — 64GB and 256GB. We have the former for the review with 62GB of usable space which is good enough for light to moderate users.
The iPhone X almost has the same camera configuration as the iPhone 8 Plus, meaning it has a 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras. The iPhone X has a wider aperture for its telephoto camera at f/2.4 (versus f/2.8 on the iPhone 8 Plus), while the wide-angle is at f/1.8. It has dual optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync.
For selfies, that’s handled by the 7MP camera with f/2.2 aperture and Retina Flash.
As expected of a flagship iPhone, the autofocus is fast while quality is good with lots of details, good contrast, and rich colors. Even in low-light, it can produce stabilized images with a clean output. Noise is still present but only noticeable when you zoom in. The same can be said with the front camera except when in low-light as it gets peppered with noise.
When it comes to in-camera features, we have Panorama, HDR, Time-Lapse, as well as Portrait mode for portrait shots with studio-like effect. Check out the samples below.
For video recording, the iPhone X can record videos at up to 4K resolution at 60fps, while slow-motion videos are up to 1080p at 240fps. Do note though that iOS 11 allows the use of the new HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) and HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Codec) formats for photos and videos to reduce file size. Users may still choose to use JPEG and H.264 formats but 4K 60fps and 1080p 240fps will not be available.
In addition, HEIF photos would need to be converted if you’re going to import them to your PC or other desktop applications.
Face ID and TrueDepth Camera
Another feature that is unique to the iPhone X is Face ID and its TrueDepth Camera. These two technologies are responsible for that notch at the top of the display. The Face ID replaces the fingerprint-based Touch ID and, as the name suggests, uses the user’s face as its biometric security. Like with Touch ID, iOS 11 will need to register your face and does this with the help of the TrueDepth Camera.
The TrueDepth Camera projects and analyzes more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face. The system consists of the Infrared camera which reads the dot pattern, the flood illuminator which emits infrared light to recognize your face even in the dark, and the dot projector.
Apple says that it unlocks only when you’re looking at it. We tested it and it works. Apple says that it’s designed to protect against spoofing by photos and masks, and uses machine learning to recognize the changes in the user’s appearance. Performance-wise, it’s quick and almost always accurate. There are rare times that it misses our face especially if we don’t look at it properly which requires you to do a second attempt. Personally, I prefer the fingerprint scanner as it is faster and I don’t have to pick up the phone and look at it just to unlock.
Fun with Animojis
Another feature that takes advantage of the TrueDepth Camera system is Animoji. The TrueDepth camera analyzes more than 50 different muscle movements to mirror your expressions in 12 Animoji. Although you can only access it in the messaging system, it’s actually cool and fun to use. It would have been nicer if there was a separate app for it with more Animoji choices.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the iPhone X is an Apple A11 Bionic Chip with Neural Engine, embedded M11 motion coprocessor, and 3GB RAM. This is the same hardware that powers the iPhone 8 Plus. Performance is great as it was able to handle everything we throw at it, from basic tasks, photography and videography, gaming, and its special features like Face ID and Animoji. We also noticed that it can get really warm when shooting in 4K 60fps, playing with Animoji for prolonged periods, and playing games. But not too much to be a cause for concern.
Benchmark-wise, we’re surprised to see a higher benchmark result on AnTuTu compared to the iPhone 8 Plus considering they have the same configuration. We can attribute the increase in performance to the iOS 11.1 update, which means we can expect the iPhone X to improve as the software matures.
* AnTuTu – 232,787
* Geekbench – 4,250 (Single-Core), 10,530 (Multi-Core), 14,664 (Metal)
* 3D Mark – 3,324 (Sling Shot Extreme)
Connectivity and Call Quality
The iPhone X packs 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with reader mode, meaning it can read NFC Tags via an app, Assisted GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS. So far, we didn’t encounter any problems with any of the mentioned connectivity features. Data is fast and can easily pick up WiFi and LTE signals in our area, while call quality is loud and clear.
Dual-SIM support is still not available but that is to be expected.
Apple rarely publishes the exact battery capacity of its iPhones but based on iFixit’s teardown, it has a 2,716mAh battery which is slightly larger than the iPhone 8 Plus’s 2,691mAh.
However, that doesn’t equate to a longer battery life as our video loop test (Full HD clip on loop in Airplane mode, at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in) yielded 8 hours and 40 minutes of playback. That is way shorter than the 12 hours and 35 minutes on the iPhone 8 Plus.
We reckon the OLED display could have helped with battery optimization but perhaps the larger display size was taking a lot of toll on the battery.
This isn’t to say that the iPhone X’s battery life is bad as it was able to last us for about 9 to 10 hours of mixed usage which includes heavy social media browsing, photography, and mobile data. Charging it from 0% to 100% takes a little over 2 hours.
The iPhone X is Apple’s most exciting smartphone to date. We are sure of that. It’s not just a nod to the original iPhone but also a blueprint for the company’s future smartphones. It’s got a new design, premium build, a large, almost bezel-less high-resolution display, powerful internals, great cameras, and the new TrueDepth camera system with Face ID.
The new technology though comes with a few compromises like the lack of the fingerprint scanner and the new not-so-simple way of navigating iOS. Yes, it offers something new to the table, but not a lot to keep the excitement going. Hopefully, Apple would introduce new features that take advantage of the TrueDepth camera system.
Lastly, the price. Apple is yet to announce the SRP for the Philippines but we can expect it to be expensive (based on the $999 US pre-tax price tag). Online sellers are already asking a minimum of about Php70K if you want first dibs.
Should you get the iPhone X? Only if you have the budget and deep desire for its unique features. Otherwise, that’s the reason why the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus still exist.
There’s no doubt that the iPhone X is an impressive phone and definitely one of the bests of 2017. It’s darn expensive but you will most definitely love it.
Apple iPhone X specs:
5.8-inch all-screen OLED display @ 2436 x 1125px, 458ppi
HDR TrueTone, 3D Touch, Oleophobic coating
Apple A11 Bionic chip
64GB, 256GB internal storage
12MP f/1.8 wide-angle + 12MP f/2.4 telephoto rear cameras: Dual OIS, Quad LED Flash
7MP TrueDepth Camera w/ Face ID
Single SIM (Nano)
WiFi 802.11ac MIMO
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo
NFC (Apple Pay)
IP67 Water and Dust Resistance
Qi Wireless Charging
Apple iOS 11
2,716mAh battery w/ wireless charging support
143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm (dimensions)
174 grams (weight)
Colors: Space Gray, Silver
What we liked:
* Attractive design
* Premium build
* Great display and cameras
* Powerful TrueDepth Camera System with Face ID
* Fast Wireless charging
What we didn’t:
* No Touch ID
* Metal frame is prone to scratches
* Fast charging kit sold separately
* Very expensive!