Apple iPhone X: The Gizmodo Review

I'm a total gadget nerd, and it's been five years since a new smartphone made me nod to myself with the understanding that, "Yes, I need that thing more than I need air." But the buzz around the iPhone X has had me a little more hyped than usual.

Not just because the iPhone finally ditched the bezels and got an OLED display -- Samsung's Galaxy S8 lost its bezels in March -- but because the iPhone X is the line's first significant overhaul since the iPhone 4. I should know better than to fall for the hype, but after spending nearly a week with the device, I've actually convinced myself that spending $1579 on a phone seems like a good idea. If you hate me for saying that, that's OK, I hate me too.

All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

The display is clearly the first thing you notice, and if not for the famed notch, it would merely be as impressive as a Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note8. The colours aren't as vibrant as what you'll find on a Samsung phone -- Samsung phones tend to oversaturate the colours, but as someone who prefers accuracy over eye-bleeding pop, I really like how naturally the iPhone renders colours.

But let me just say: I love the distinctive notch. Some consider it an eyesore, but for me, that notch screams the phone's ostentation in a deeply satisfying way. It gives the whole 5.8-inch display a sense of space that simply isn't found on competing phones. In fact, its display is actually larger than the 5.5-inch screen on the physically larger iPhone 8 Plus. When screen curves around the front camera module, it feels a little like Apple has somehow cheated and rewarded the phone with more visual real estate than it deserves.

At least while you're on the home screen or in apps specifically updated to work with the iPhone X's unique display. In other apps, the iPhone X feels a little small, with the a black band at the top and bottom of the display confining what was once expansive feeling.

That screen feels like it goes on forever. Even going back to an S8 feels cramped.

The big display doesn't dramatically affect battery life too much. I never found myself wanting more power throughout the day, and I even went into day two with regular use. In our battery rundown test, in which we stream a YouTube video over Wi-Fi until the phone dies, the iPhone X managed a little less than 10 hours, which is perfectly average battery life when compared to all the phones Gizmodo's tested this year, and thanks to its ability to charge quickly and wirelessly, it's never an issue to re-juice it.

My one knock on the notch is how the black doesn't match the OLED black.

What surprised me most about the phone is how I don't miss Touch ID or the home button. Since the first rumours cropped up that Touch ID might not make it to Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone, I've obsessed over the shift from Touch ID. How could they possibly do it! It became a reality, and like many, I was frankly aghast that the technology would be forever replaced by Face ID. Instead of pressing your finger to a home button, you now glance at the phone and quickly swipe up with your thumb.

Over the last few days, I've spent hours fiddling with the front-facing "TrueDepth" setup that makes the Face ID magic possible. It's by far the most technologically innovative aspect of the phone. It uses a combination of a camera, IR lasers, and IR scanner to create a 3D map of your face. The camera allows you create animoji, and gives apps like Snapchat access to your facial map so they can toss realistic-looking masks on your face.

But the killer feature is obviously Face ID. I look at the phone, and it opens instantly. From there it works like an even fancier version of Touch ID. When I went to sign into Twitter, it recognised my face and logged me in. When I ordered a midnight burger off Seamless, and used Apple Pay, it scanned my face before asking me to press the power button to confirm.

While at first there were some hiccups, the TrueDepth camera has learned my face since I picked the phone up from Apple on Monday. And now it doesn't hesitate when I try to use it in the dark, or while wearing sludgey makeup, or huddled on a bench at the dog park in the morning with my hoody pulled down low. This camera gets me, and I don't even have to hold it up directly in front of my face, as long as the camera is pointed in my face's direction, and I'm looking at it, the phone will open.

Apple changed the orientation of the two cameras, which means less of a shift when you switch from one to the other. Its a minor change, but nice!

The rear cameras can't do anything that cool. They're still very nice, as but if you're trying to decide between the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus or the iPhone X, it won't be the rear cameras that sway you.

The reason you buy the iPhone X is because of that too luxurious design, and that audaciously hedonistic display, and that super cool depth-sensing selfie camera. This phone isn't remaking the way we think about phones in as grand a manner as the original iPhone, or even the iPhone 4. While Face ID could be the future of biometric tech on phones, that future won't shift your world view as dramatically as the move from passcode to biometrics in the first place. The iPhone X isn't a leap into a new world of phone design, it's just a showcase for what a really expensive luxury phone should look and feel like. I don't need the $1579 iPhone X, but after the last few days with it, boy do I want to go buy one.

README

  • It's $1579 and that is way too much money for a phone.
  • But it is a very nice phone for $1579, and it definitely feels luxurious in a way that even its competitors do not.
  • Face ID and the TrueDepth camera module are probably the future of biometrics and that's very neat and convenient.
  • The display is a stunner.
  • No, I don't care about the death or the headphone jack.

Comments

    And because of the way the corner-mounted rear camera sticks out, it still fucking wobbles when you lay it down on a desk - gaaah!

      Put a case on it. It’s made of glass, probably a wise first move considering the state of some people’s phones. The plus side?

      No wobble when placing it camera side down on a flat surface!

        wow whats with the swearing you cant convey your OPINION without it ?

    just getting in before all the commenters accusing this of being an advertorial and Gizmodo is biased towards Apple and they should be reviewing a one plus 5 or a Xiaomi instead.

      I don't get it, are actually making a complaint or complaining about those that will make a complaint?

    I just wanted to correct you on one thing. The actual screen size of the X is slightly smaller than the 8 plus. If you measure the width x length, the total surface area of the screen is smaller. Also, whilst the X screen is longer, it is also narrower, which when viewing standard images taken in the default 4:3 format, they appear smaller on the X than on the 8 plus, do to the screen being narrower, it needs to shrink your image to fit.

      It definitely feels smaller too coming from a Plus. Not that I regret the move, but it is noticeable. Apps like Safari also lose the tab bar as well on the X vs the Plus and they keyboards noticeably smaller especially with the new software function bar at the bottom. Apps generally are running in a lower display class to the Plus.

      Not a big issue and I love the smaller profile but certainly realestate wise it feels a tad smaller. The massively reduced bezels does make the display more engrossing but.

      Last edited 07/11/17 1:27 pm

    Here's my 10 point review coming from iPhone 6S:

    1) The screen is approx 30% brigher than before
    2) The notch really isn't a bid deal after a day or so you don't notice it anymore
    3) Most apps that have not been updated to work with new screen suck
    4) FaceID works surprisingly well, beyond my expectations
    5) Not having a home button is a problem for about 5 mins. You go to press the button, remember instantly that it's not there and swipe up in a micro second. Therefore it becomes an non-issue
    6) You cannot Ninja unlock the phone anymore, you have to hold it up to your face
    7) Battery life is very good but it could also be "new phone feeling"
    8) Wireless charging is kick arse (yes I know other phones from other manufacturers have it too but that's the problem I had with iPhone 7. I want to have earphones on a call and charging same time which is now possible without adapters).
    9) There is blue shift happenning when not directly looking 90 degrees at the screen but it's not too bad
    10) The lowlight performance on the rear camera is actually very very good

    So much money for a phone...
    Thats a new Callaway Driver, Scotty Cameron Putter and a pair of Gap Wedges with change for a box of TPG balls and 36 holes at The Vines Resort.

      Good list of golfing gear, but I would take an iPhoneX over them ANY DAY OF THE WEEK :-)

        I've got an S8 and theres nothing in the X thats tickling my fancy. My old FT9 driver sorely needs an update and the Scotty is the FanBoy equivalent for putters. Looks fantastic and allows me to 3 putt in style.

      Do people under 65 still play that Scottish game of hitting a ball along the ground with a stick for 5 hours? If so, why?

        Absolutely. I've got a few old injuries creeping up on my knees now (33. So young. So sad.), found that Golf has no ill effect so fully embracing it!

    Went and had a play with the X in store and compared to an 8+. Clearly bigger screen than the 8+ in the size of a regular 8. The notch in the top seems more like a cool design feature, and helps direct gestures. FaceID didn't care about glasses, no glasses, sunglasses, but couldn't deal with mouth being covered. I still feel like paying with FaceID will make you look like a gimp vs touch ID, and I would miss touch ID having my phone unlocked before it even comes out of my pocket. Pulling down the system tray via gesture felt slow because I'm used to doing it via the home button, but I guess when it's all gesture I'll probably stop holding my phone more biased at the bottom. The screen looks amazing, but comparing photo's with the 8+ in store, the 8+ would take the same photo better, every time in portrait mode. The side by side dual camera seems to do a much better job than the top to bottom dual camera.

      The displays actually smaller than the 8 Plus as someone noted above. It’s a decent bit narrower so while it’s close height wise it loses a fair bit width wise. Still very nice in use though.

      Keyboard feels tighter however as a result and in landscape Safari loses the browser tabs. There’s a few minor things like that which when compared to the Plus make it feel smaller.

        yeah I got the 8 Plus and I don’t regret it, it was a jump from the 6.
        It has the same glass back.
        Funny thing, what excites me more is the tactile indent replacing the button.
        Dunno why.
        But it helps with the water resist quality.

    I think the price will be the main killer for this phone. If it was priced at $1199 like the Samsung S8 it's in competition with then they would sell 50 million units easily.

    But it retails for $400-$600 more than the S8 and is even worse on contract, and I just can't see where this extra cost is justified. I would pick an S8 over this any day of the week.

      It’s selling by the bucket load.People are happy to pay a premium for a premium product.

        Ummm the S8 isnt exactly a budget quality product and it still wipes the floor with the X10 (your so called premium product - lol), just so over priced and greedy corporation is why.

          Clearly people find something worth paying for if they're buying it, and your opinion that it "wipes the floor with the X10" doesn't reflect their opinion.

          The S8 has nothing on the X.

          Samsung is now a couple of years behind Apple.
          Expect them to copy Apple, and have their own version, including the notch.

          right greedy, why ? cause they make profit ? Like they are meant to in this economy ? they are ripping up the environment and polluting it with carbon like the car industry? the oil industry? They are ripping off customers and not providing a service like the banks?

          They provide technology that helps the enitre planet to communicate, do research, and conduct business, etc, they still sell the iphone 6 at 500 bucks or so, you dont have to buy any of their products, but if you have the earning capacity, they make a range of producs from mid range to high end, Apple has never been in the space of Nokia 60 dollar phones or no name band computers or tech for the 3rd world.

          So whats the real issue here ?

          You do know 99% of the products are 98 percent recyclable, all the power they use comes from renewable energy don't you?

          Of all the companies doing bad things to the environment, they are trying to be the best . They are also seem to be the most inclusive employer as well.

          Time for a perspective shift, your statement indicates a particular bias that is not justified.

          Last edited 08/11/17 8:24 am

            right greedy, why ? cause they make profit ? Like they are meant to in this economy ?

            Because they actively try to avoid paying taxes. You want to operate in our country? Pay our taxes, Dont shift your profits overseas so you can avoid paying tax.

            Stop sooking over a phone. Grow up.

              Are they doing anything illegal ? NO

              Isn't it the same as every other company does ? YES.

              Microsoft, Samsung, oil company's, the queen, they all do it, because its LEGAL!

              If that doesn't suit you, then write to you local politician to change the law.

              They are only following what is legal! If you had spent any time as a company director or share holder you might understand this. You follow the law.

              ITS every company right to minimise the amount of tax they are paying legally. End of story.

              You are the only one going on about an issue of tax, not technology, take your discussion to the business tax discussion.

              They pay all the tax they are legally required to at.

              Stop sooking over it, and grow up.

      Mine cost $20 less per month on contract than my 7+ did (Telstra Premium Plan)

      I guess you can either afford it or you can't. People will still end up getting one on contract. Buying outright to me has always never made sense budgetting wise

        24 month contracts are a tax on people who can't do maths. You're almost certainly going to pay 10-15% extra on a long-term contract. And you'll probably get worse inclusions too - they often look competitive at the time of purchase, by the 6-month mark they're not so wonderful and in the last 12 months, they're getting very poor value.

        There are exceptions to this rule - sometimes carriers offer a genuine discount on the hardware to entice new buyers, and for certain people there might be a tax advantage to a contract. But generally, long-term contracts are a rip-off. The only reason they exist is to use the enticement of "ohh shiny gadget" to make people make irrational long-term financial commitments.

        Last edited 07/11/17 9:58 am

          I agree, but to most people $100 per month is more affordable than $1500 then $40 per month. Interest free phone payments plus contract-free plan would be ideal.

          I think that is what Vodafone is currently advertising but haven't read the fine print tbh.

            If you don't have the cash to spend $1500 outright, you probably shouldn't be making 2-year commitments of $100/month. That's basic money management right there.

            But carriers are happy to offer these deals, because it makes it easier to upsell people onto higher contracts in order to get the new shiny toy. They don't care that it will create undue financial stress. Even if it is an interest-free loan, you have to make a 24 month commitment to a plan that's almost certainly over-priced to get it.....which makes it a bad deal.

            A little financial literacy goes a long way.

        When I bought the iPhone 7 last year, I did the maths, and buying outright was the better deal.

      You have to remember the iPhone 8 which is priced in the S8 range.
      This is meant to be the next level above that. Whether it is or isn't is arguable.
      I would like to see a comparison though of the S8, iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
      That would be interesting.

        I still can't get over the fact that the 8 still has the same 4.7" HD ready screen as the 2014 6!

        I don't understand why anyone would buy an 8 when a Samsung S8 with a 5.8" QHD screen in the same size body is around the same price!

          In fairness not everyone wants a big screen / phone but yeah you could get a bigger screen and maintain the phone size.
          You also have the 8plus which is 5.5inches.
          Personally I like the size of my iPhone 7 and don't want anything that much larger.
          Which is why I want to check out the X because you get a bigger screen but in a similar sized phone.
          But everyone is different and I think a lot of people buy based off OS rather than phone tech specs anyway.

        The iphone 8 doesnt compare to the s8 though. Old technology at a premium price.

          A lot of the internals are newish tech.
          It's just the design style is still a bit "old".
          Although give apples iPhone reach they have to be a bit conservative in their design which is why I think they have gone the way of introducing the X as a separate thing.
          Still it comes down to whether you want iOS or android. And that will depend on a lot of things.

          The S8 is slower than the iPhone 8. Samsung’s attempt at facial recognition is a well known joke.

          The X is by far the better phone.

    The emporer truly has no clothes. The notch has defeated the user interface and rendered parts of the screen to be effectively useless, at least until App developers update their Apps. In the spirit of Motorola's flat Tyre, function has defeated form. To their credit, Samsung wouldn't produce something this ugly: rather they will stick to beautiful hardware that remains functional.

      you're thinking about it backwards, it's not a notch into the screen, it's two tabs protruding from the top.

      Functional is a relative term.
      My S5 was the worst phone I ever owned and I owned an HTC Incredible S.
      I changed back to apple 2 years ago and honestly haven't looked back.
      Everything has just worked although given I use my phone FOR work it could say more about our work systems interoperability with android and ios then anything else.

        I love my s5 in my drawer. Id consider selling the s8 to go back to the s5, if the damn camera wasnt so terrible in comparison. Have an s3 i love too, but its pretty slow.

      It’s extra real estate. Not less. The earpiece has to go somewhere, they can’t replace that with Face ID! Also from a user interface design point of view it’s actually pretty amazing. It directs users to the correct zones on screen for gestures to open notifications and control Center.

        Now there’s a thought. Phone calls that rely on the Face ID system to read your lips and convert that into audio which is then transmitted to the other persons earpiece! Brilliant!

        One thing though, you’d have to hold the phone upside down so the cameras are near your mouth.

        I’m sure there’s a team working on it now.

      Every review says the notch is not noticeable within hours.

      I have watched the videos, and you look at the screen, not the notch.

      Samsung will copy the X in a couple of years. And unless they figure out how to get sensors to work through an OLED screen, they will also have a notch.

        "Samsung will copy the X in a couple of years" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
        Why would a company want to copy a design that's inferior to their current product and produce it in 2 years?

          Because Samsung has a history of copying Apple, and they have nothing that comes close to the X in quality, or performance.

            5 years ago. When samsung stopped copying apple and apple started playing catchup. Get a clue. Noone denies apple revolutionised phones with the iphone. They just lost their way.

    Some great technology in the X. But i still cannot justify spending that much on a smartphone.

      Here’s a way you can justify it.

      If you use your phone for 8 hours a day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, you’re looking at an hourly cost of $0.27 for the 64gb X over the course of two years.

        If you use it as an alarm clock can you add an extra 8 hours a day while you sleep?

        My 200gb s8 is cheaper per hour. U either like ios or android, and choose accordingly.

    Good news is that the X has made the plans for an 8 seem sane. I had a play with the X in store and while its very cool I'm not ready for it yet. Next year (when my contract runs out) will be the time to get the Xs or whatever its called.

    @Alex Cranz

    Regarding using faceID in the dark; its always going to work well as it uses Infrared to scan your face. Its actually in the day light that would be the issue as there would be a lot of background Infrared . A lot of reviewers have been getting this wrong for some reason and testing in the wrong environment.

    Last edited 07/11/17 5:02 pm

    I miss the 90's / 00's when technology was really advancing. These days they just put a couple of garbage new features on a phone and everyone laps it up.

    Maybe i'm getting old but FaceID sounds terrible, i don't want to have to hold my phone up or look at it every time i unlock it. Seems like a feature that will go the way of the dodo.

    Review summed up... I want one....But thanks to Telstra's excellent's at messing orders up who knows if I'll actually get one by the end of the year :(

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