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.

The 2007’s iPhone brought multi-touch, real web browsing, actual web-experiences, and apps.  These are features we all take for granted today and which are abundantly available, even on the cheapest smartphone.

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).

Sooner rather than later. 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 embrace 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 aggressive competition.

Move fast, break things. 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’s 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. 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 marker, you pull an iPhone out of your pocket and you can feel the recessed 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.

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, apps, and even usernames and passwords on those apps, are transferred straightaway, making it convenient 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, which is essentially a cluster of sophisticated sensors on that top strip that many have taken 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.

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 associated more with jewelry than consumer electronics.

I don’t mind the new camera bump of the iPhone X. Like the notch, this is a design choice that will also be this generation’s identifying feature. Again, there’s an almost inlaid premium look to this that’s impressive.

The all-glass design does make the iPhone X even more precious that it is best to invest in a case. Personally, I’ve been going between the UAG Monarch and Metropolis cases and the Caudabe Synthesis case 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.

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.

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. It will be very hard to go back to a conventional iPhone display.

The Super Retina HD display is ideal for looking at photos and playing videos as well as 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.

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 though, especially when you cannot control or access an apps features.

Discussing 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 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.

Sample shot taken with the iPhone X

The rear dual cameras are similarly better, especially in lower lighting condition 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 an iPhone 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.

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), multitask (rotate your thumb through open apps), as well as find Control Center (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. It also requires you are paying attention to unlock the device. There are certain angles, or times when my eyeglasses are in the way, where it won’t work and then I’ll need to enter my PIN or Password, but these have been few and far between. 

Made for the future. iPhone X is clearly a generational jump for Apple and for the entire smartphone 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.

VERDICT

Like the original iPhone, the Apple 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.

Specifications
Display 5.8” Super Retina HD (2,436 x 1,125 resolution)
SIM Nano
Operating System iOS 11
Processor A11 Bionic 64-bit, neural engine, embedded M11 motion coprocessor
GPU Adreno 512
Storage 64GB/256GB internal
Camera 12MP wide-angle and telephoto rear w/ f/1.8 aperture (wide-angle) & f/2.4 aperture (telephoto), optical zoom, digital zoom (up to 10x), Portrait Mode & Lighting, dual OIS, six-element lens, quad-LED True Tone flash w/ Slow Sync, backside illumination sensor, hybrid IR filter, Auto HDR for photos, 4K video recording up to 60fps, OIS for video, slo-mo video up to 240fps; 7MP front w/ f/2.2 aperture, Portrait Mode & Lighting, Animoji, 1080p HD video, Auto HDR, backside illumination sensor, Face ID
Connectivity & I/O Ports Wi-Fi 802.11ac w/ MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC; GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS; Lightning connector; Face ID, barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity, ambient light sensor
Other features IP67 rating
Battery Built-in rechargeable Li-Ion w/ wireless charging support (Qi standard)
Dimensions and Weight 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm, 174g
Price Starting at P64,490
Test: Apple iPhone X: Leaps ahead
FORM FACTOR9.5
BUILD QUALITY9
EASE OF USE7.5
PERFORMANCE9.5
VALUE FOR MONEY7
8.5Overall Score

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