Anything new and different requires an adjustment period. A new dating relationship, a new place to live--and now the iPhone X, the flagship iPhone model and the best product Apple has ever created. At $999, it's expensive, but the glorious new display looks like someone printed a glossy high-resolution brochure and fused it onto the front of a phone. (Believe me, when you first see an app running or watch a movie, you'll do a double take.)
Like anything, you might not like certain features at first. In fact, you might even hate them. I've been using the iPhone X for more than a week, and I'm still not sure if I love the fact that there's no Home button or fingerprint reader, and there's a weird notch at the top of the screen. We're not going to go deep on the technical here in this first take, because I'm saving my full review for a little later this month, after I've adjusted to how the phone works.
Here are some initial impressions, though, to help you decide if this is the phone that will help you stay connected in work and life or it leaves you a little underwhelmed.
1. That screen!
I mentioned this is the best product Apple has ever made, and I'm serious. It's the best iPhone, and it's the best gadget even compared with my personal favorite, the iPad Pro. The OLED screen is so bright and clear, it makes every app shine (except for a few that don't quite work with the notch yet--more on that in a moment). Movies in Netflix looked more colorful. The screen uses HDR for video, which means the color accuracy is absolutely stunning. I watched Thor: The Dark World and felt like I was at a movie theater writ small. You will love the screen, and it's the main reason to consider this mode.
2. Swiping works fine
It took me a week, but I love the new swiping interface. There's no physical Home button, and you have to swipe up to go to the Home screen, but it works fine. It's not really that much of an adjustment, and the benefit is that the screen runs all the way to the edges. (You might like it so much you'll start swiping up on the iPad.) This is the future of all smartphones, and I love that Apple was willing to take a risk with a new interface. My only gripe so far is that apps like GarageBand that run in landscape require that you swipe from the side of the phone, and fishing around for the phone in a dark car and trying to find the bottom of the phone to swipe up is a pain. But then I realized you can also just tap the screen to start using the phone. Honestly, Face ID also works fine, because it's so fast at recognizing your face and unlocks the phone a hair faster than the fingerprint reader. (More later on why that isn't the only factor worth considering, though.)
3. It's different
For anyone wondering about buying the iPhone X, the other interesting discovery is that you earn some extra cred carrying it around. It's different. People notice you have the new iPhone, and it's cool that the product is different enough that it stands out. The screen is glorious, and the weird notch at the top of the screen is a conversation starter. I liked using the latest tech from Apple as opposed to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus that are really just slight improvements from the previous models (and look about the same).
And now for the reasons to hate the new iPhone X:
1. The notch
What's really curious, though, is that the notch does get annoying. In Netflix, videos only filled up part of the screen and still had black edges. (Apple says most developers are working on fixes, and we should expect those soon.) In other cases, the notch made apps look a bit odd. Note that this is the only way to have a front-facing camera that, by the way, does take amazing selfies with exceptional color clarity. (The reason people are so impressed is partly because of the camera and partly because of the OLED screen.) I'm still torn on whether the notch is a good idea, and I'll save my final opinion for now.
2. Wider is better
One decision about buying the iPhone X depends on your finger size. I have large hands, and I prefer the larger width of the iPhone 8 Plus. Ironically, the iPhone X has a taller screen by at least a finger width, but the onscreen keyboard is definitely a little more cramped on the iPhone X than the iPhone 8 Plus. I found I could type faster on the iPhone 8 Plus. Until the iPhone X Plus arrives, possibly next fall, we're stuck with a thinner phone, but in the end, the amazing screen is worth that compromise.
3. Fingerprints are better than a face
I mentioned how Face ID works extremely fast. It's handy to look at the screen as a security measure to unlock the phone, although you do have to pick up the phone and look at it. (Entitlement alert on that one.) My biggest gripe about the missing fingerprint reader is simply that it's a little easier to use on the iPhone 8 as a way to approve app purchases and movie rentals. Several times in my testing period, I wanted to rent a movie, and then just put my thumb on the fingerprint reader to approve the payment. I'm still trying to decide if the speed of Face ID is better than the convenience of the fingerprint reader.
And how about you? If you already own an iPhone X, post a comment on my Twitter feed with the reasons you love or hate the new model.