Pros: The iPhone X delivers a great blend of handheld comfort and a big, gorgeous 5.8-inch OLED screen. The rear-facing telephoto camera out-shoots the iPhone 8 Plus in low light, and the front-facing camera snaps impressive portrait mode selfies. Face ID generally works fine.
Cons: The iPhone X is harder to get following the release of the iPhone XS. The all-glass body means a case and an insurance plan are musts. Shorter battery life than iPhone 8 Plus.
In General: iPhone X remains a winning evolution of the iPhone, and is worth a look — if you can still find it on sale.
Update: Spring/summer 2018
The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017 and released on November 3. And since then, it’s remained at the top of the smartphone hill. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and the Huawei P20 Pro made some interesting advancements in photography, but nothing else has come close to matching the iPhone X’s revolutionary Face ID unlocking system. Instead, an increasingly large number of Android phones have taken to straight-up copying the iPhone X’s distinctive notch — the thing that was arguably its most controversial and divisive design decision.
So while the iPhone X remains an excellent, industry-leading smartphone, it’s probably not one you should run out and buy. That’s because its successor or, possibly, a trio of successors — is expected to arrive in September. The 2018 version of iPhone X will certainly be better and faster, and it may be released alongside larger and more affordable X-style iPhones, too. And they’ll all be running iOS-12 as well.
To be sure, those new 2018 iPhones will have plenty of high-end competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the Google Pixel 3, to name just a few. But it all means that anyone in the market for a top of the line smartphone is better off waiting until at least mid-September to see what Apple and its competitors have on the drawing board.
Get a case. Seriously.
CNET drop-tested the iPhone X, and it didn’t fare well. In fact, it cracked at a single three-foot drop. That’s worse than previous iPhones. Gadget warranty company SquareTrade had a similar experience in it’s tests, dubbing the X “most breakable iPhone.
With the notable exceptions of the Moto Z2 Force and Droid Turbo2 — which, in everyday usage, really do live up to their “shatterproof ” name — the possibility of a broken screen is an occupational hazard for any phone owner. But the relative fragility of the iPhone X is made worse by the fact that repair costs for the device’s screen are Apple’s highest ever: $279. If you need something other than the screen fixed — including the equally breakable glass back — that will cost you a whopping $549. Yikes.
It all means that you should absolutely be using a case. You should also strongly consider investing in an insurance or third-party warranty plan, such as AppleCare Plus or a wireless carrier policy.
The iPhone X is also water resistant, just like the 7, 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus. The X fared fine in our bucket immersion test for a hair under 30 minutes, which is the technical limit of its water-resistance. But the water resistance is really designed to survive quick accidental dunks, splashes, rain and snow. The standard warranty doesn’t cover water damage (though the above-mentioned insurance plans often do so), and the phone is not designed to be immersed in salt water or chlorinated swimming pools.
The iPhone’s biggest ever design change
The basic pitch for the iPhone X is this: Take the iPhone 8 Plus and cram all of its features into a body that’s closer to the size of the iPhone 8 ( $599 at Amazon). Add Face ID but subtract the Touch ID home button, a casualty of the new, nearly all-screen design. That’s the iPhone X.
To be clear, except for that home button — and Touch ID — all of the other iPhone 8 Plus features are here, including a blazing fast six-core A11 Bionic processor, water-resistance and — unfortunately — no headphone jack. The iPhone X also boasts dual rear cameras which are even a bit better than the already superb ones on the Plus. Wireless charging is on board too, as is the glass-backed design needed to enable it. Yes, you’ll need a good case. And you should strongly consider Apple Care Plus, because repair costs for smashed front or rear glass on the iPhone X are exobitant.
Of course, Apple is charging a hefty premium for its most sophisticated-ever iPhone, too: $999, for 64GB. Or step up to $1,149; for the 256GB version.
Yes, the iPhone X changes the look and function of the iPhone. Before the X, the iPhone design was frozen for years: Home button at the bottom, thick bezels above and below the screen. iOS made some subtle changes over the years, but losing the home button completely shifts the definition of an iPhone.
But while the 5.8-inch display on the iPhone X dwarfs the 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 8, it doesn’t mean the X’s display is “bigger” than the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5-inch screen. That’s because they’re shaped differently: The 8 and 8 Plus have the same 16:9 aspect ratio as your TV, while the X is more like 19:9 — it’s taller and wider than the 8, 7, 6S and 6.
In the end, the Plus may still work better bet for larger documents and stand as the best canvas for Apple’s giant iOS game collection compared to the narrower X — but returning to the 8 Plus feels like going back to a (smaller) iPad mini by comparison. The X acknowledges that the Plus iPhones were a bit too big, that this new design is just right. It splits the difference, saying, “here’s the bigger-screened phone. At long last, it’s a Goldilocks design that fits right in the middle.
A closer look at that screen
The infamous notch above the X’s display, which cuts out a small chunk of the upper screen to make room for the phone’s front-facing camera and sensors, doesn’t impact many apps or videos. But that does mean the effective display area is even smaller, with black bars on the top and bottom (in portrait mode) or on the sides (in landscape mode).
At 458 pixels per inch, the Super Retina display resolution on the iPhone X is technically more crisp than that of the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 (401 and 326 ppi, respectively). The new OLED display — the first in an Apple iPhone — has beautiful perfect black levels and excellent color. It feels brighter than both previous iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ($472 at Amazon), and it’s demonstrably better than the muted colors you’ll find on the Pixel 2 XL.
It’s a fantastic viewing experience overall. But there’s one big reason to temper your expectations: Apple’s LCD screens on previous phones are already so great that you actually may not notice much of a difference.
Face ID and that depth-sensing front camera
Back to that notch. In addition to the a microphone (for ambient noise), speaker and ambient light sensor you’d find on other phones, it houses an infrared camera, “flood illuminator” and a dot projector and the 7-megapixel selfie camera. Collectively, Apple calls these imaging portions the “TrueDepth camera system.”
TrueDepth enables the iPhone X’s signature feature: Face ID. It’s like a mini Microsoft Kinect — yes, Apple bought the company that developed that Xbox accessory back in 2013 — using your face as the authenticator to unlock the phone and for any transactions or passwords. It totally replaces Touch ID — Apple’s fingerprint reader.is nowhere to be found on iPhone X. Logging into the iPhone X with your face feels weird at first, but I’ve come to love how automatically it fills in username and password data on apps and Web pages. It’s starting to feel like a far more automatic future.