After a series of scripted YouTube reviews and one written review of the iPhone X were published yesterday (Oct. 30), it seems that the floodgates opened today and dozens of reviews of Apple’s latest phone have hit the internet.
Here’s a quick roundup of what reviewers thought of Apple’s new $1,000 flagship phone.
Lots of screen in a small(ish) package
The X is the first real redesign of the iPhone that Apple has released since the iPhone 6 in 2014. Reviewers generally loved that almost the entirety of the front of the device is a screen. “At a glance, the iPhone X looks so good one of our video editors kept saying it looked fake,” The Verge’s Nilay Patel wrote. As Business Insider’s Steve Kovach simply puts it: “The best part is the screen.”
“The results are excellent,” Patel added. “The iPhone X OLED is bright, sharp, vibrant without verging into parody, and generally a constant pleasure to look at.”
“The real advantage of the iPhone X is you get a bigger screen and dual cameras in a smaller phone. And it’s on that front where the iPhone X really earns its money,” Axios’ Ina Fried said. “It delivers more screen real estate for Web browsing, e-mails and movie watching, plus the benefits of a second camera, all in a device that fits comfortably in the hand.”
FaceID generally works
Gone is the fingerprint reader. To unlock the iPhone X, all you have to do is stare at it for a quick second. There was some consternation that Apple wouldn’t be able to replace the simplicity of its TouchID fingerprint scanner with a series of cameras that scan your face to make sure it’s you, given that other phones with face scanners don’t always work, and can be fooled. And even Apple’s own head of software struggled to get the technology to function properly when it was announced. But, according to most reviewers, it generally worked without fail, even in the dark, or if you’re wearing sunglasses. “Apple has passed the test with flying colors,” USA Today’s Ed Baig said. However, Patel didn’t quite agree: “‘You’re holding it wrong‘ is a joke until it isn’t, and you can definitely hold the iPhone X wrong.” And The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern did manage to trick (paywall) FaceID with some identical triplets.
This isn’t to say it can’t be annoying. As CNET’s Scott Stein points out, FaceID doesn’t just open up the phone like placing a finger on the TouchID reader did: “Once you’ve identified yourself with your face, you need to swipe up with your finger to get to your apps. Not only does the swipe remove the immediacy of FaceID, it means you need your hand to do anything. Quick access to the phone wasn’t quite as quick as I expected.”
It takes some getting used to
The iPhone X is the first Apple phone to completely ditch the physical home button, replacing it with a series of swiping gestures near the bottom of the screen. To go home, you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen (where the home button used to be), and to open the app switcher, you do the same thing, but leave your finger on the screen after swiping. To view all your open apps, you now swipe from the left on the bottom of the screen. “It’s emblematic of how generally fuzzy iOS has become with basic interface concepts,” Patel said.
Camera upgrades are excellent
The technology that powers FaceID also allows the iPhone X to take deep portrait selfies much like the rear-facing cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus cameras can. The X also has new portrait modes that let you take photos that look like they’ve been shot with a professional spotlight or studio lights. Most reviewers enjoyed the camera upgrades, but they’re not perfect. CNET’s Stein said Portrait Lighting mode isn’t quite there yet: “My face ended up looking oddly cut-out and poorly lit.”
Reviewers weren’t given much time with the new phones, but it seems so far the only problem that most had was that the rear cameras in the X are basically the same as the ones in the iPhone 8 Plus (which is $200 cheaper): “The short answer is that they look almost exactly like the cameras on the iPhone 8,” Patel said.
The “notch” is not that bad
Most reviewers didn’t seem to mind the bump at the top of the screen that houses the phone’s top speaker and front-facing cameras, but some noted that many apps might not yet use the entire screen effectively. (That is, other than Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff, who loved the design of the X, barring the notch: “All of it is so beautiful, save for that peninsula of darkness at the top—the notch that intrudes on the otherwise perfect industrial design of the iPhone X.”)
But be warned: It’s likely that people will not stop arguing about the notch anytime soon. “Unfortunately, I have a feeling tech pundits will debate the merits and drawbacks of the notch for the next several weeks,” Kovach said.
The phone is great, but a steep investment
The iPhone X has a lot of enjoyable features, but it essentially has the same innards as the $200-cheaper iPhone 8 Plus (barring the FaceID cameras). “Do you need an edge-to-edge display and facial recognition and the ability to turn yourself into an animated poop emoji? Of course not,” as BuzzFeed’s Nicole Nguyen summed it up. “But is it a damn good phone? Yes it is.”
So unless you have upwards of $1,000 to spare and you must always have the latest technology, you might not need to purchase the iPhone X when it’s available in stores on Nov. 3.
“Animojis are addictive,” Baig said of the phone’s new augmented-reality emoji, which map the movements of your face onto a series of emoji.
“The age of talking poos is here,” Engadget’s Chris Velazco said.
“Battery life on the iPhone X is decent, but not stellar,” Nguyen said.
“The display is noticeably longer than on other iPhones, or indeed other smartphones,” Forbes’ David Phelan said.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had with any gadget since the original iPhone,” iMore’s Rene Ritchie said.
“A decade in, this product reveals Apple’s redefinition of what the iPhone (and iOS) should be,” Six Colors’ Jason Snell said.
“The iPhone X gives a great first impression,” Kovach said.
“iPhone X places iPhone firmly in the direction of the original vision Jony Ive and Apple’s industrial designers had for iPhone when it was still an R&D project 12 years ago,” Above Avalon’s Neil Cybart said. “Apple wants iPhone hardware to melt away, leaving just the user interacting with software.”
“The future is surprisingly familiar,” Velazco added.