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The iPhone X release resulted in several publications rushing to post their “reviews”, only spending a day or two with the product.
Now that the dust has settled, we rounded up some of the proper reviews to get an informed idea of what to expect.
The publication’s Samuel Axon distilled the iPhone X allure to three key factors, namely the OLED screen and new format, the facial recognition system and associated features and the polished AR capabilities.
In the screen department, Axon noted that the notch was a little strange at first, but said you’ll soon forget about it. The reviewer praised the OLED screen but added that the display wasn’t truly HDR, owing to 8-bit colour rather than support for 10-bit colour. Still, Axon says it looks better than the Galaxy S8+ screen.
What about the facial recognition system though? Well, the journalist says that the “success rate was high” but it generally failed to work about twice a day. “Two times in the past four days, I’ve had to give up and enter my password,” Axon continues. But he notes that the bigger annoyance was that it took a little longer than expected to work.
Much like existing iris recognition tech, it seems like Face ID doesn’t work well in bright conditions or when the phone is flat.
Disappointed by battery life in previous models? Well, don’t expect changes here, the Ars Technica writer found. The publication found battery tests to be in line with previous models, while anecdotal use as a daily driver saw it in the same ballpark as the iPhone 7.
Engadget (90 out of 100)
The website’s Chris Velazco says that the iPhone X isn’t perfect, but still felt it was a “seriously impressive machine”.
For one, the reviewer says you’ll need a bit of time to get used to the lack of a home button, with Apple using a BlackBerry/Meego inspired gesture interface. Of course, the home button has disappeared in favour of a high screen/body ratio, featuring that notch at the top. And much like Ars, Engadget says you’ll soon forget about it.
What about the OLED screen though? Velazco says it “definitely isn’t as punchy” as the screens on Samsung’s own flagships. Still, the question of iPhone vs. Galaxy in this category comes down to preference, the Engadget writer says.
And what of Face ID in lieu of Touch ID? Velazco says the setup process was mostly painless. “After that, unlocking the phone with a glance worked nearly every time. Recognition generally takes about one second, but since you still have to swipe up to view your home screen after unlocking the phone, the whole process seems just a hair slower than using Touch ID.”
Additionally, it seems like apps that use Touch ID seamlessly work with Face ID too, such as banking apps.
“I’ve noticed Face ID faltering in only a few situations. For some reason, it doesn’t always work immediately when I’ve just woken up — maybe it’s because my eyes aren’t fully open, or perhaps my face is puffier than usual. Either way, checking my email before I get out of bed takes more effort than I prefer,” the writer adds.
The camera department was also a focus (heh) in the Engadget review, with the writer noting the improved aperture and performance of the telephoto camera. But those expecting a massive improvement in the main camera will be disappointed, although they do note improvements nevertheless. Portrait selfies were criticised though, with Velazco saying the Pixel 2 was better.
The writer concludes that this is indeed the future of the iPhone, but that the interface needs more polish.
CNET (4.5 out of 5)
The long-running website had plenty to say about the iPhone X, both good and bad. In the former category, the publication’s Scott Stein singled out the ergonomic design, OLED screen and telephoto camera. The latter category saw Stein single out the price, new interface and apps not being optimised for the screen.
What’s their take on the screen? “It feels brighter than both previous iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and it’s demonstrably better than the muted colours you’ll find on the Pixel 2 XL,” Stein writes, but cautions that Apple’s LCD screens are still great.
What about Face ID though? “Face ID was the biggest ‘what if’ for the iPhone X, but the good news is that it performs very well. It recognised me with my beard and without, with glasses and without, with sunglasses and even in total darkness,” Stein notes, but adds that the phone does need to be “slightly angled” to work.
Much like Engadget, CNET praised the telephoto camera on the back, saying it was better than the 8 Plus 2x shooter due to OIS. As with other reviews, the battery department wasn’t great, with Stein saying it was “fine” for daily use.
“For some, the moment to upgrade will be now. For others, it might be farther down the line, when Apple has perfected the new features and design X offers. Until then, taking the safe path of an 8 or 8 Plus is fine (and saves you some money).”
The respected website’s David Pierce went straight for Face ID, noting that it was a “study in compromise”. Still, he noted that when it does work, “you instantly understand what Apple sees in the technology”.
Moving to the screen, Pierce praises the new, taller screen and OLED tech, saying the format itself is a great fit between the standard and Plus-sized iPhone. And what of the notch?
“Honestly, I mostly don’t mind the notch at the top of the screen — the small indent where the camera and earpiece go — but you can’t tell me this phone is ‘all screen’ and have a notch like this. Or the bezel around the screen, which the iPhone X most certainly still has.”
The Wired writer also bemoaned the move to hide the battery percentage indicator. More concerning was the battery life itself, he notes, saying he wasn’t always getting a full day out of it.
In the camera department, Wired’s review praised Apple’s chops, noting the addition of OIS for both cameras and “terrific” photo and video quality.
“The iPhone X is the first iPhone since that one that feels genuinely new and different. Do you need it? No. At least not yet. But it’s seriously cool,” Pierce concludes.