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Review: Apple iPhone X

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla


While the original iPhone had no viable competitor (the LG Prada was close, but no cigar), it managed to rewrite the rules of what modern smartphones should be.

2007's iPhone brought multi-touch, it brought real web browsing, actual web-experiences and apps.  These are features we can all take for granted today and which are abundantly available, even on the cheapest smartphone. Hit jump for our review of Apple's all glass flagship.

Ten years after, the iPhone is still a marquee product. It is Apple's biggest earner and, conversely, the hub of all its myriad ecosystems ranging from music streaming, apps, smart home automation, car infotainment, health tracking and now augmented reality (AR).

In terms of design, the iPhone 8 line looks and feels like an iteration or refinement of a design language we've seen since the iPhone 6, 6S and 7. 

Competitors have now embraced more dramatic designs, luxurious materials and all-screen designs with minimal bezels. 

The iPhone X, which was originally slated for a 2018 release, needed to come out sooner. Not just to remind the world that Apple is still on top of the innovation game, but also to counter agressive competition.

Move fast, break things - killing Touch ID, Home button

Unlike most of its competitors, Apple prefers to refine its design ideas through time. Look at the MacBook Air which has become thinner through time, shedding pounds (and ports) along the way.

The new iPhone X isn't just a revision, it is a generational revamp and a whole new chapter to the iPhone's story.

Apple has never had problems retiring features for which they have a better answer for. A recent victim of innovation has been the headphone jack. And now, with iPhone X, it is the Home button and, by extension, Touch ID that get relegated to the dustbin in the name of innovation.

The Home button has been with iPhone users since the beginning. It's a critical component of iOS. Touch ID, a more recent addition, is the security and transactional conduit for Apple Pay, Apple's pioneering Mobile payments system. For me, no Home button was the biggest thing to get used to.

The Home button was a tactile market, you pull an iPhone out of your pocket and you can feel the recessed home button and know which side is up or down. With iPhone X, the camera bump is the only truly tactile reminder of how the iPhone is positioned. It's just something to get used to.

Moving from older iPhones

Apple makes it easy to move to iPhone X from an older device. The Quick Start feature not only senses where your old iPhone is, it can allow a transfer via a code similar to the way you pair an Apple Watch. Many of my settings, including Wi-Fi addresses as well as apps and even usernames and passwords on those apps are transferred straightaway, making it convenient and easy to get up and running with the new device. 

Objectifying iPhone


iPhone X is a triumph of Apple Design and engineering. Consider what they've done with the TrueDepth camera array (essentially a cluster of sophisticated sensors on that top strip that many have take to calling 'the notch.' This area also houses the best front-facing camera on any iPhone.

I am particularly impressed with the Silver version of iPhone X. The pearlescent treatment on the rear glass enclosure gives it a high-gloss premium feel. While you can feel a tiny separation between the front glass, the steel border and the rear glass, iPhone X does still feel very integrated and precisely built.

The all-glass design does make the iPhone X even more precious and judging from the deluge of first-day 'I dropped my new iPhone X,' photos hitting social media, it is best to invest in a case. Personally, I've been going between the UAG Monarch and Metropolis cases and the Caudabe Synthesiscase and have only taken out these cases when taking photos of iPhone X.

iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone to repair, it has the most expensive AppleCare membership cost, so factor all that in to your investment and get a good case. We have a few to suggest.

There are certain objects or gadgets that are a delight to hold and use. iPhone X is certainly one of them. The sleek design, the balance and the awesome and large display make me pick up the iPhone X more times each day than any other device in recent memory. Even after using the iPhone X as my main device for a month, It still excites me in both form and function. I find myself foregoing my iPad Pro and using iPhone X instead beacuse it is just so delightful.

Going back to the design, Apple seems to be paying homage to the original iPhone with chrome-finished steel band and the rounded edge design. There's also a lot of DNA from Apple Watch, which has really pushed Apple to consider all new materials, treatments and finishes which are associated more with jewellery than consumer electronics. 

I don't mind the new camera bump of the iPhone X. Like the notch, this is a design choice (or necessity) that will also be this generations' identifiying feature. Again, there's an almost inlaid premium look to this that's impressive. 

Display Matters

It isn't just the look and feel that make this an exemplary product. The large 5.8-inch display, the tallest Apple's made, really lends itself to immersion.

Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and even my Spart email client have never looked better than on this display and It will be very hard to go back to a conventional iPhone display.

The Super Retina display is ideal for looking at photos, playing videos and for playing mobile games. This is the first OLED screen on an iPhone and brings greater saturation, blacker blacks as well as accuracy. It also supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), which means it can play HDR enabled video as it was intended. 

The new display size as well as the presence of the notch requires that apps are updated to better fit within the new dimensions. Early issues with non-compliant apps can be frustrating, specially when you cannot control or access an apps features.

Camera and software

Another reason to get the iPhone X is that it offers a step-up in performance over the iPhone 8. We get a wider aperture on the wide angle camera for better low-light performance, dual OIS (optical Image Stabilization) plus a better front facing camera that's now capable of Portrait Mode and Studio Lighting features.

This means that selfie-takers can now theoretically get better photos of themselves. I find the front facing camera does take better portraits in most conditions.

The rear dual cameras are similarly better, specially in lower lighting conditions but this is certainly an improvement over the already class-leading iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus. 

It is also nice to have this dual-camera array on a smaller iPhone. Coming from a 7 Plus, I feel I'm getting the benefits of a larger display and, more importantly, the dual-cameras in a much more compact form factor. So this is a double win for people coming form a larger phone. 

iOS 11, new swipes and Face ID

The omission of the Home button now necessitates we learn new gestures and this can trip up some users. I found it initially challenging to cycle through open apps (swipe up from the bottom), or multitask (rotate your thumb through open apps) as well as find Control Centre (you need to swipe down from the top-right corner).

Since Touch ID is still fresh in my mind, it still seems faster as a way to open the iPhone than Face ID does. Face ID requires two motions, swiping up to wake and getting the camera to notice and verify you.

Face ID has been generally accurate for me. It works well even in the dark and also requires you are paying attention in order to unlock. There are certain angles, or times when my eyeglasses are in the way, where it won't work and I'll need to enter my PIN or Password, but these have been few and far between. The only issue is when using iPhone X with a car mount and not being directly in front of the TureDepth camera. A fingerprint reader could quickly unlock older phones, with iPhone X you need to scramble to key in your numeric code. Not ideal.

Made for the future

iPhone X is clearly a generational jump for Apple and for the entire smarpthone industry. Edge-to-edge OLED display are one thing, and have been around before iPhone X. With the TrueDepth Camera and Face ID, two features that are a year or even two ahead of what is out there, Apple can cement various features and services ahead of the competition. Features like AR and Animoji are outstanding demonstrations of what's available and what's coming.

As Apple's most expensive smartphone, iPhone X is a statement product and judging from the long store lines as well as massive public interest, it is slated to be a bestseller despite its higher cost.

For users who don't want or trust Face ID, or who find the iPhone X's price prohibitive, the good news is that there are other options. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, bring the new Apple A11 Bionic processor as well as some of the camera functionality. The iPhone 8 and even the iPhone 7 are still standout devices, they benefit from iOS 11 and are familiar to millions of users.


iPhone X is more than the 10th generation iPhone, it is a bold step towards what's next for iPhone and for Apple. A brand new edge-to-edge display, new gestures and conventions as an innovative Face ID security feature do come at the expense of familiar features, but this product is a clean slate of sorts. After a month of use, there is no turning back for me.



  • Impressive new 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display
  • Face ID works well in most conditions
  • Best  dual-cameras on an iPhone, now with OIS across the board
  • High-speed charging and wireless charging on tap


  • Pricing is in the four-figure range
  • Lack of Home Button and Touch ID present some challenges
  •  iPhone X is delicate and should be protected with a case


Like the original iPhone, iPhone X brings new thinking to the industry and challenges what many believe to be standards. iPhone X also brings new features and functionalities that are designed to delight users and entice customers to pony up the big bucks. This is the best iPhone to come from Apple and takes some familiar features to a new level while introducing new conventions and capabilities making it even more personal.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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