The brand new iPhone X — that’s pronounced “ten,” by the way, not “ex” — is a phone of firsts for Apple. The 5.8-inch OLED screen isn’t just larger, it also uses a different technology that Apple says will make colors absolutely pop. It’s also the first iPhone to completely do away with the iconic home button. And the first to offer Face ID as a new way to securely unlock the phone and pay in the check-out line.
The iPhone X alone is Apple’s only new device to have optical image stabilization on both rear 12-megapixel camera lenses, a portrait mode on the front-facing camera (despite just one lens and not two), and — more breezily — a new feature to animate emojis.
These are the distinguishing features we looked at when going hands-on with Apple’s newest, largest and priciest iPhone at Apple’s equally new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. — see for yourself in the videos above and below.
You won’t get the iPhone X’s large, OLED screen or face unlocking on the more traditional iPhone 8 and , which were also announced Tuesday. And that’s by design. The boldness of the iPhone X design is exactly what makes it Apple’s extra-special cherry on top to mark the 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone in 2007, which revolutionized at that time everything a smartphone could be, and hurled us on the path that led to what smartphones are today.
Apple in no way abandons the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. All three new handsets for 2017 get a major feature that Apple’s been lagging on for years: Qi wireless charging (pronounced “chee”). Wireless charging is now athat already works with both Qi and PMA standards. While Apple only mentioned Qi support and not PMA, it’s nevertheless a key addition that could kick up demand for wireless charging in a way that Samsung, , and Microsoft hadn’t been able to accomplish before.
The iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are also the first phones to launchsoftware, which comes with improvements for Siri, the lock screen and notifications, and all these .
The two biggest questions for me focus on the iPhone X’s most daring design change, ditching the home button. Will that actually make the phone more convenient to use? And will using your face to unlock the phone benefit you, or is it just a workaround?
It’s clear that Apple is prepping iPhone users to wave goodbye to the home button, by framing its dismissal as a feature. But until we can thoroughly test it to see how well it actually works, we’re dubious if this is an empty upsell. If it does work well, you can bet Samsung will step up its game to make its own facial recognition software secure enough for mobile payments (right now, that’s just iris scanning and the fingerprint reader). It’s likely other phonemakers would ditch a current trend to put the fingerprint reader on the back and adopt — or at least experiment — with face unlocking, too.
Apple die-hards will certainly pick up one of the three new phones. Now it’s time for on-the-fencers to make their decision. As we head into a crazy-competitive holiday season, the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus will together lock arms against Samsung’s, and for smartphone supremacy.
CNET’s Scott Stein got to use the iPhone X: his impressions are below.
Hands-on impressions: Nice size (Scott’s thoughts)
Held in my hand, it felt right. Unlike the too-large-for-me iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone X returns to being a good-size phone without compromising features. In that sense, its design feels perfect. But there’s a catch this time. Or, several.
While it had a really pleasing heft and design — somewhere between theand — I’m not sure how I feel about no home button. It’s not really needed anymore: tapping to turn on the iPhone X was easy, and swiping up to the home screen or down for Control Center isn’t all that different from how many Android phones work.
But there’s no Touch ID, either, and Face ID was hard to evaluate. Apple employees demoed the tech in action, and it seemed to work quickly: a glance at the phone and a swipe up, and it’s unlocked. Will it be error-free, or always easy to use? Impossible to tell yet.
Apple’s front-facing camera array, called TrueDepth, shows promise, but for now it’s used in clever but gimmicky apps. Animoji are adorable: I was able to puppet various 3D emoji with my face. It felt futuristic and weird, and mostly worked. New Snapchat filters optimed for TrueDepth were eerily effective. My face seemed literally painted on. Selfies with Portrait Mode look sharp, too.
My favorite part of the iPhone X is its size. (Its improved-resolution OLED Super Retina Display looks fantastic, too). My least favorite part is its price. And I’m fascinated by the phone’s AR possibilities. But I don’t know good it will be versuson existing iPhones, because I haven’t had a chance to do direct comparisons yet. Looking at AR apps was fun, but the demos I tried didn’t seem significantly different in concept from the ARKit ones I’ve peeked at before.
iPhone X is an overdue design overhaul that looks great. But the extra features beyond that aren’t clearly slam dunks yet.
iPhone X price and when to buy it
The iPhone X ain’t cheap. It starts at $999, £999 in the UK and AU$1,579 in Australia. Preorders start Oct. 27, and the phone ships Nov. 3. By contrast, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus start at $699 and $799, respectively. (They’re £699 and £799 in the UK, or AU$1,079 and AU$1,229 in Australia.)
How is iPhone X different from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus?
All three of Apple’s new iPhones support wireless charging, and are water- and dust-resistant. They all come with 64GB and 256GB storage options and the same A11 “bionic” chip. They also all get the same upgraded slow-motion video support (1080p at 120fps or 240fps).
Here’s what’s different:
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus retain the home button with Touch ID
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are cheaper
- Preorder iPhone 8/Plus Sept. 15; they’ll be available Sept. 22
- iPhone X has a larger screen, no home button, OIS in both rear cameras, you can take portraits with the front facing camera
- The iPhone X comes in black and silver, but not gold
iPhone X specs highlights:
- 5.8-inch OLED display with 458ppi pixel density
- 2,436×1,135-pixel resolution (Apple calls this a Super Retina display)
- Dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with OIS on both cameras
- Portrait mode with portrait lighting feature
- Front-facing 7-megapixel camera has portrait mode now, too
- No home button
- Face ID to unlock the phone (hold your phone up to your face)
- A11 Bionic processor
- Glass back and front
- Supports wireless charging
- 64GB and 256GB options
- Water- and dust-resistant
- Animojis make emojis out of you
- software with Siri improvements
- Black and space gray (no gold)
No more home button: This is huge
As expected, the iPhone X has done away with the home button. So how do you unlock your phone? Start Siri? Multitask? Use Apple Pay?
Unlock the phone with Face ID
Face ID, which uses a bunch of cameras, including the front-facing camera and IR camera, to scan your face and let you in to your iPhone. What about tricking the phone with photos of yourself? Apple says that won’t happen; it’s made masks to train the phones to distinguish you from your photo… and that of your evil twin. It will work with third-party apps, too.
You just raise the phone, look at it, and swipe to unlock. How do you exit an app and get back to the home screen? Just swipe — see the GIF above to see how.
Launch Siri with a button press
If you’re not using your voice, you press and hold a side button to get Apple’s assistant going.
It’s still here, never fear. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then continue to hold while swiping left or right to switch apps.
Buy stuff with Apple Pay
You can still do this even with no home button. Tap the side button twice to launch Face ID for Apple Pay.
Animojis use Face ID to make emojis out of you
You can create a new, living breed of emojis with iPhone X. Called animojis (a portmanteau of “animated” and “emoji”), the new feature taps into Face ID to lend popular emojis, mostly animals for now, your expressions in a message. There’s a cat, a panda, a unicorn, a fox, a monkey, a pig, an alien, a dog, a rabbit, a rooster, a robot and… poop. Thanks, Apple. Keeping it classy.
Animojis live as an app right inside messages.