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First impressions of the new iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

By Alvin Soon - 31 Oct 2017

I never thought I’d want an iPhone X, but I want the iPhone X

I didn’t think I’d want an iPhone X, but I want the iPhone X

The iPhone X looks far better in real life than the leaks made it out to be. I wasn’t too impressed by the leaked renders, but the X looks and feels far better in person than they suggest. As the first iPhone without a Home button, the X signifies a landmark change for the iPhone, which I think is the reason for the odd name.

Sure, bezel-less smartphones aren’t new. Xiaomi brought it out of the gate with the Mi Mix; LG and Samsung followed through with the G6, V30, S8, S8+ and Note8. But that doesn’t make the bezel-less iPhone X less nice. 

The new OLED screen is also far, far nicer than the other iPhones’.  At 5.8” diagonal, the iPhone X has the largest screen of any iPhone, with the highest pixel density (458ppi). It also has the highest contrast ratios, at 1,000,000:1, compared to the iPhone 8 (1400:1) and 8 Plus’ (1300:1). It’s the first iPhone to support HDR, and like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, come with True Tone and Wide Color (P3) displays.

I’ve lusted after OLED screens on Android smartphones for a long time, but I’m also wary of the potential quality issues OLED screens can have. The display units at the event had gorgeous screens with deep blacks, but we’ll have to wait until the iPhone X arrives to see how production build screens actually hold up.

It’s great that you get a larger screen than the iPhone 6/7/8 Plus in a body slightly bigger than the iPhone 6/7/8. If you’ve ever wanted the bigger screen of the Plus versions but didn’t want to carry something that big, the iPhone X is the one for you.

And the build quality is solid, like all iPhones — well, except perhaps the iPhone 6 which suffered from ‘Bendgate.’ When you hold it in your hands, the iPhone X feels of one, sturdy piece. But of course, I didn’t drop it in the hands-on area to do a shock test, which brings me to my next point …

Glass smudges and glass breaks. Glass smudges more easily than an aluminum back, and makes me remember how many times a day I used to wipe my iPhone 4. A glass back can break, whereas an aluminum back only chips. But most people keep their iPhones in a case anyway, so this might be a moot issue.

Speaking of cases, it seems leather is good for wireless charging. I wonder if many people need to rethink their case choices for wireless charging, but Apple is selling a leather case for the iPhone X on their online store, which means leather at least is good to go.

The new iPhones have the most minimal backs ever. Except for the word ‘iPhone,’ there’s nothing where the regulatory wording and symbols used to be. It’s not clear if the minimal back will be uniform in all countries when the iPhone ships, as different countries may have different rules about this kind of thing.

Unfortunately, the camera bump remains. It appears that even the best of the best of Apple’s engineering prowess can’t remove the camera bump, which remains the singular bane of the iPhone’s sleek contours. 

Apple didn’t explain why the cameras are arrayed vertically instead of horizontally like on the iPhone Pluses, but I suspect it may be out of necessity more than aesthetics. After all, if you can’t get rid of the bump, there are more symmetrical ways to position it, like placing it horizontally above the Apple logo.

Don’t worry about the camera notch. I tried looking at photos and videos on the iPhone X, and they don’t cut into the notch. Only when you zoom into them does the notch then eat into the images, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.

I’m not sure how many people are going to get the new gestures intuitively. Buttons may not always be clear, but they are obvious. The new swipe gestures, like swiping up to go back to the Home screen and swiping up then pausing to see your open apps, will need to be learned. But then again, so did double-pressing on the Home button to see your open apps and double-tapping to bring down the screen.

The iPhone X is the iPhone I want, but not the iPhone I can afford. It is the best and prettiest iPhone, but it comes at a price — and an inflated one here. While the iPhone X starts at US$999 in the US, it starts at S$1,648 in Singapore. US$999 converts to around S$1345, so it costs S$303 more here for some reason.

As nice as the new iPhone X is, I don’t think I can justify spending that much on a smartphone on my salary. And the new iPhone 8 generation — heck, even the previous iPhone 7 generation — are more than good enough phones for most. Even so, there’ll be plenty of people who won’t have this budget problem, but it does bring up a image problem for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

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