Apple iPhone X first impressions: Turning a new page in the iPhone design language

If there is one phone that has been eagerly awaited this year, then it has to be the iPhone X — pronounced as the iPhone Ten, Apple's tenth-anniversary edition iPhone. Renders and rumours around the iPhone X design and features had started leaking almost six months in advance of the announcement in September this year. The iPhone X represents a drastic shift from the tried and tested Apple iPhone design which has been sort of staid and iterative since the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus.

The iPhone X changes all that and more. Here are our first impressions of the device.

Apple iPhone X. Image: Apple

Apple iPhone X. Image: Apple

But before we get started, a word on the pricing and availability. The Apple iPhone X will start selling in India on 3 November (from 6 pm onwards), the same date as its global launch, thereby making it only the second iPhone to have done so.

The 64 GB variant is priced at Rs 89,000 and the 256 GB variant is priced at Rs 1,02,000.

Build and Design

Apple iPhone X. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

Apple iPhone X. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

As mentioned above, the iPhone X design has undergone a complete change from the same old iPhone designs we have been seeing since the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus days. You get an almost edge-to-edge display which manages to fit in a 5.8-inch display inside a body that is as compact as the iPhone 8 / 7 / 6. The iPhone 8 Plus / 7 Plus look massive in comparison to the iPhone X. If you have been a user of the iPhone 8 Plus or 7 Plus, this is the first thing that will strike you.

The right hand edge houses the SIM card tray and the sleep / standby button. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The right hand edge houses the SIM card tray and the sleep / standby button. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The iPhone X comes in an all-glass design with a stainless steel frame covering the edges. The transition from the steel to glass on both the front and the back is seamless and you do not feel any sort of physical demarcation on touch. The glass back is present thanks to the wireless charging support and it does tend to give the iPhone X a lot more grip than the metallic iPhone 7 / 7 Plus we have seen in the past. The dual 12 MP camera module present on the rear side protrudes out slightly from the plane of the body. The rear side, as well as the stainless steel edge, do tend to collect fingerprint smudges, but with the silver coloured variant, the smudges on the rear side aren’t too noticeable.

The right hand edge houses the porfile switcher notch as well as the volume up and down buttons. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The right hand edge houses the porfile switcher notch as well as the volume up and down buttons. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The iPhone X feels quite comfortable to hold, but one-handed operation is still not that easy. The build quality is quite sturdy and the glass back along with the steel edges provides a good grip. The left hand edge has the sleep/standby button below which you have the single SIM card tray. The right hand edge comes with a profile switcher notch and the volume up and down buttons. The lightning port is present on the base between the speaker grills and the top edge is clean. There is a True Depth camera module on the front at the top.

The bottom edge of the iPhone X houses the lightning port along with the speaker grills on either side. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The bottom edge of the iPhone X houses the lightning port along with the speaker grills on either side. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

Display

The display is where we are seeing a major change. For starters, Apple has gone with an OLED panel for the first time on any of its iPhones. It also comes with an almost edge-to-edge display design with only a minor bezel visible on all sides. The 5.8-inch display boasts a resolution of 1125x2436 pixels, thereby giving it a pixel density of 458 PPI. This is again a first for any iPhone. Also, when you put the iPhone X beside the iPhone 8 Plus, despite the 5.8-inch display, you will notice that the iPhone X looks much more compact. In fact, if you are coming from any of the Plus variants of the iPhone, this is the first thing that will strike you. This is because of the 18:9 aspect ratio that Apple has opted to use on the X. In terms of surface area, the Plus model still has the larger display.

Apple iPhone X 11

The display looks sharp and colours aren’t over saturated, unlike what we've come to associate with OLED panels. This is an HDR display, so we are looking forward to enjoy some HDR videos from Netflix on this iPhone X. Viewing angles are excellent and there is absolutely no colour shift whatsoever, even when looking at a very steep angle.

The True Depth camera module is placed on the top of the display. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The True Depth camera module is placed on the top of the display. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

But thanks to the True Depth camera module in the top of the iPhone X, there is a visible discontinuity and not all apps have been optimised for that yet. For instance, we noticed that while WhatsApp looked fine, there was some sort of bleeding of text when using Telegram. These are issues I’m sure the app developers will find a solution as time goes on.

Chipset, RAM, Storage

The Apple iPhone X houses the Apple A11 Bionic chipset, which is easily the fastest mobile chipset on the planet at the moment. There are two high-performance Monsoon cores and four high-efficiency Mistral cores which can be configured to work independently or simultaneously as needed. There are three additional GPU cores, a motion co-processor and there is a neural engine inside the A11 which takes care of all the machine learning processes.

The A11 Bionic's Neural Engine can perform 600 billion operations per second

The A11 Bionic's Neural Engine can perform 600 billion operations per second

The phone is expected to have 3 GB RAM and it comes with 256 GB storage (there is a 64 GB variant as well). There is obviously no microSD card slot to expand the storage.

OS and Software

iOS 11 is the OS that is present out of the box on the iPhone X. It is the latest iOS variant and Apple seems to have integrated it well with this iPhone, which does not have a home button. So while we have done an in-depth feature on iOS 11, here I would like to focus on the new things that iPhone X brings to the table.

Gestures. Considering there is no home button, you have to now familiarise yourself with new gestures. Short pressing the volume up and standby button will let you take a screenshot, long pressing these will give you the option to switch off the phone. Swiping up from the bottom edge will take you to the home screen. Holding and swiping up gives you the multitasking menu where you can select any apps from the past. Holding and swiping up and then going to the left or right lets you switch with between apps. Swiping down from the right hand corner of the display brings up the control centre and doing the same on the left hand corner brings up the notification menu.

The Trie Depth Camera module brings to life the Face ID feature. Image: Apple

The Trie Depth Camera module brings to life the Face ID feature. Image: Apple

Face ID has replaced Touch ID. The Face ID can be setup from Settings > Face ID and Passcode menu. The True Depth camera is module present at the top centre of iPhone X, giving it that debatable notch, which also houses the front-facing 7 MP retina camera, the dot projector, which throws up 30,000 IR dots to get a 3D map of your face and the IR sensor ensures that the Face ID will work in even darker conditions. Face ID can also be used with apps such as Clips or third-party apps such as Snapchat. Apple has promised that the Face map data is stored on the device only and not on any central server.

Apple has introduced Animoji that use the front camera to create customised 3D emoji.

Apple has introduced Animoji that use the front camera to create customised 3D emoji. Image: Apple

Another feature possible thanks to Face ID is Animojis. This is basically a group of 12 emojis which can actually be animated according to the movement of your facial muscles. The Face ID maps around 50 points on the face with that of the Animojis, which lets you animate the emojis anyway you like. You can also record the Animoji and then share it with your friends, who may not be using iPhone X, as a video file.

Camera

The rear side has a dual 12 MP camera module arranged in a vertical alignment. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The rear side has a dual 12 MP camera module arranged in a vertical alignment. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

The Apple iPhone X retains the dual 12 MP camera modules that we had seen on the iPhone 8 Plus, but there are some changes. For starters, the dual cameras on the iPhone X are placed in a vertical orientation such that one camera module is below the other with a quad LED flash unit separating the two. The wide-angle 12 MP camera comes with an f/1.8 aperture and the telephoto 12 MP camera comes with a wider f/2.4 aperture (it is f/2.8 on the iPhone 8 Plus). The other major addition is the fact that both the sensors come with optical image stabilisation (OIS). Thanks to the true-depth camera module, you now get the portrait lighting effects on the front camera as well. So you can click selfies with the bokeh effect easily.

Battery and Connectivity

Apple does not reveal the exact battery capacity on its iPhones officially. But many reports online have arrived at a number — 2716 mAh — as the Lithium ion battery capacity. Now while that number may seem to be on the lower side, because the iPhone has complete control over the software and hardware, one cannot do a direct comparison with Android handsets with a similar capacity battery. We will do a thorough testing to see how the battery life holds up when we review the iPhone X.

Apple iPhone X. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

Apple iPhone X. Image: Rehan Hooda/tech2

In terms of connectivity, you get a single nano-SIM card tray just below the standby button. It supports 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, no FM radio. NFC is supported only for Apple Pay transactions, which is yet to be supported in India.

Conclusion

The Apple iPhone X is certainly one of the most interesting phones to have come out in 2017. The design language on this phone is completely different from other iPhones we have seen over the last three generations. But there would be a small learning curve to familiarise yourself with the numerous gestures on the iPhone X. We will be putting the iPhone X through its paces and working on an in-depth review over the coming days. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the iPhone X, don’t hesitate to hit us up in the comments sections below.


Published Date: Nov 03, 2017 13:33 PM | Updated Date: Nov 03, 2017 17:10 PM