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10 more words on iPhone X

This isn't a review of the iPhone X; there's been plenty of those. I recommend you read Rene's.

I won't go into a long discussion of the geeky tech specs either. For the most part, the X and 8 series share all the same critical features, from the processors to the cameras (with the exception of added OIS on the iPhone X's "telephoto" lens; if you don't know what that means, it clearly doesn't matter to you).

So I'll start simply. The iPhone X is simply the best iPhone ever made. The iPhone X is the best smartphone you can buy today, and likely tomorrow. Apple is now a full generation ahead of their competitors when it comes to every metric. The amount of technology the X puts in your pocket would be unheard of in 2007. Frankly, it would have been unheard of in 2016.

Apple has always been a premium product company. It has never been part of the race to the bottom (see NetBooks). The brilliance of the iPhone line today is that it's reminiscent of the iPod of yesterday. Back then, there were devices that ranged from the entry-level iPod shuffle to the high-end iPod Classic, to the next-generation iPod Touch. At just about all price points, you could enter the iPod ecosystem.

Today's iPhone lineup takes the same strategy. Want to be part of the iPhone ecosystem? You can start with the SE and go all the way to the X.

To me, that's one of the points of the iPhone X that perhaps hasn't been said enough. Is the X worth $1,000 and up? Yes, no doubt. Tech innovation doesn't come cheap. Remember when the original iPhone was criticized as being overpriced?

The iPhone X serves two purposes. First, it delivers those users that want the best device in their pocket and will bear the burden of cost. (New programs that allow users to "lease" their phones help a lot, the same way someone who wants to own a new BMW can lease not buy).

Second, the iPhone X is aspirational. The X reminds a market that sometimes slips into thinking Apple can't innovate anymore that it just might want to think again.

Some of the people who go into Apple Stores to see iPhone X will leave with iPhone 8 or a less expensive iPhone, but iPhone X will be what gets them to go into the store.

Just look at the huge lines outside those doors on launch day. Huge lines. At every store I visited.

Sure Face ID, the fun of portrait selfies, and of course the amazing feat of fitting an iPhone 8 Plus screen in something scarcely larger than an iPhone 8 are wonderful. But the iPhone X is more than that. It's more that simply a product for people who want the latest and greatest. It's a product for people who want the very best.

That tells me quite a bit not only about Apple engineering but Apple's ability to explain a device and an experience. That's called mindshare, and mindshare always translates to market share.

Is the iPhone X expensive? Yes. Are there a lot of people who can't afford it? Maybe. It does seem that the people who might need to stretch to buy an X are buying one. I won't speculate on sales numbers or Apple's next earnings reports. What I will say is I expect this to be Apple's best holiday season ever.

Meanwhile, if you're even thinking of going into an Apple Store to check out iPhone X, you might want to given your credit card to a friend. Otherwise, as soon as you get your hands on one, you'll want to take it home.

That happens with a lot of Apple products and it's going to happen a lot with iPhone X.

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.

41 Comments
  • I wish people would quit saying "an iPhone 8 Plus screen in something scarcely larger than an iPhone 8". It's a taller iPhone 8 screen, not an iPhone 8 Plus screen. I understand the diagonal measurement is what makes that statement not outrageous, but the Plus screen has a wider aspect ratio than the X.
  • Totally agree!!! You wrote this before I could. The X screen does not behave the same as the Plus screens do in landscape mode. Every review keeps touting its a plus screen in a non plus frame but that is not the case. They are technically accurate when it comes to the size of the screen, but functionally not so much. I think it's misleading to hardcore plus users that count on ALL aspects of the phone's functionality. (no pun intended)
  • "I think it's misleading to hardcore plus users that count on ALL aspects of the phone's functionality." What can't one accomplish on the X screen that they could on the Plus screen?
  • In terms of screen it's subtle:
    https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/907714509141364738
    A guy I know does remote desktop on his and appreciates the additional real estate. Otherwise larger battery is the only other thing I can think of but my iPhone X seems to get better battery life than my 7 plus did. Also check out.
    https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/23/16519388/iphone-8-plus-vs-iphone-x-c... I think X is awesome and I love it.
  • The iPhone X's display is still a high enough resolution that you can do remote desktop and read things on the screen, it should be fine still.
  • THIS!
    I unintentionally talked 3 coworkers out of iPhone X after pointing out and demonstrating that it's 375 points wide vs Plus at 414.
    "I'll wait for the iPhone X Plus next year" they all hoped.
    I'm personally fine with it but it's a common misconception that it's a plus screen in a small phone when it's ten opposite, a vertically stretched standard size screen.
  • You're not wrong. However I still have no regrets going from a Plus to the X. It did take a little (very little) getting used to, but I love this device. Basically an 8 with technically the screen of a Plus and all the bells and whistles (and then some) of the Plus model. The slightly narrower screen isn't a deal breaker. I actually enjoy being able to type one handed again. That being said, if there's a larger model next year, I'll probably get it.
  • Man who who cares for crying out loud.
  • I do, as well as some of the people who have replied to my comment. I don't know if I would care about losing screen width going from a Plus to an X, but I do care about the way it's written about.
  • I've had the X since launch and, believe me, it's well worth the price. Once you've used it for a few days, you realize it's the iPhone all Apple users been waiting for. By the way, if you want some extra shortcuts, check out Settings-->General-->Accessibility--AssistiveTouch. Under "Custom Actions," you can place a small "AssistiveTouch" icon on the screen that can be tapped for custom actions (works best if you have some open space at the bottom of the home screen, for example). I have two set up: one tap for Control Center and two taps for multitasking.
  • “Apple is now a full generation ahead of their competitors when it comes to every metric” I don’t understand how you can make that claim. Face ID is an incredible technology but is unproven in mass adoption yet (by that I mean we don’t know yet if the masses will be comfortable with using only Face ID). The A11 is impressive in benchmarks, but in day to day usage is not better than the SD 835. There’s nothing else about the phone that hasn’t been done by other OEMs. So while I do agree that the X is strong in many metrics, to say it is a generation ahead of its competitors in every metric feels like hyperbole at best, and fanboism at worst.
  • tnt4 - just the opposite. I believe this article is being conservative by saying Apple is only a full generation ahead of the competition. There are now millions of people using Face ID on a regular basis and that number is growing very quickly. If there were issues or concerns with usage, we'd know by know. Analysts all say that Android OEMs will likely follow Apple's lead on this and that they are at least 2 years away from that happening. The A11 is simply beyond comparison and the 835 is a very weak competitor by comparison. Apple has had a lead in SoC performance since the A6 chips and that lead is growing substantially and not shrinking with each generation. To simply acknowledge that it is impressive in benchmarks but not "day to day usage" is very dismissive and a rather uninformed view of reality. Sure, you're not going to notice a huge difference when you are using your phone for very simple things. However, if you tax your phone at all with heavy tasks, the difference is dramatic. Something as simple as exporting a 4K video for example is becoming rather common and is a great illustration of difference in performance between these platforms. The iPhone X leads in other areas as well. It has the best cameras, but at least the competition is close there. It has the best screen, as reviewed by DisplayMate, it has faster storage I/O performance, etc, etc. The iOS platform also has a better record with security, privacy and overall ecosystem. This phone isn't for everyone and it's certainly not priced for everyone. However, it is clearly more advanced than anything on the Android side. Even suggesting otherwise is hyperbole and fanboism on your part.
  • I'm an iPhone user and Apple fan, so it's definitely not fanboism on my part. I do try and maintain a rational and unbiased view of reality, though. You somewhat confirmed my point about the processors when you said, "Sure, you're not going to notice a huge difference when you are using your phone for very simple things." I would argue it's not just "simple" things where they are similar, either. Yes, there are extremely taxing situations where the A11 will outperform. And the A11 is likely more future-proof. But as things stand today, the A11's outperformance boils down to benchmarks for a majority of the population. I'm not going to argue that the A11 is *not* a generation ahead of the SD835, as that's a difficult claim to quantify. But I will argue that it is a meaningless factor for 99% of buyers of the iPhone X vs the Note 8 or Pixel 2 (to use two of the latest Android flagship examples). Best cameras - I'm not sure of your gauge for this. The top two or three in DXOmark's ratings are very close, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. For the top few, it really comes down to your personal preference. That is not a "generation ahead". Best screen - similar to the cameras... too close to claim a "generation ahead." iOS vs Android - Agree there, though again, a "generation ahead" is quite a bold claim as Android has come leaps and bounds the past couple of years in their flagship devices on the latest software. Face ID. The phone has been in the hands of buyers for a week. To say it is unproven with the masses is a fact. And again, I'm not saying it's not an incredible technology. To summarize all of this, all I'm trying to say is that claiming that every metric of the iPhone X is a generation ahead is exaggeration at best. That's simply not true. There are a few metrics where it is ahead - yes. Whether it is a generation ahead has yet to be seen. The article reeks of hyperbole and I was simply trying to refute some of that.
  • The SD 835 can't even record 4K video at 60 fps. That alone means the A11 is a generation ahead of the SD 835.
  • Are you retarded. That isn't very meaningful, and it's been a full year since the sd835 was out. a11 like a few months? sd845 is ready to come stomping on these garbage apple devices
  • "Is the iPhone X expensive? Yes." With 3 Million iPhone X sold in the first 20 minutes of pre-orders, and an estimated up to 100 Million units to be sold this fiscal year, the iPhone X is not just an ultra-expensive "niche" product. Despite the high price, the iPhone X is slated to be the best selling iPhone model (or actually the best selling smartphone model from ANY manufacturer) EVER!
  • Doesn't stop it being expensive, though, especially given the price of previous iPhones. Not to mention here in the UK it's £1000, which is $1321 according to Google. But you're right, it hasn't dissuaded people from buying them, so Apple made the right choice it seems from a business perspective
  • I've now heard a handful of people mention that the iPhoneX screen doesn't behave the way that the Plus screens do. I.e., the home screen doesn't rotate to landscape when you tilt the phone, and you don't get similar behavior in apps that support that (such as Mail). For me, that's actually a bonus: it drove me nuts on Plus phones that I couldn't turn that feature off (short of turning on orientation lock, which would then annoy me anytime I wanted to rotate to view a full-screen video without having to "unlock" the orientation). Having the home screen and apps support an additional landscape orientation was never useful for me, so I'm glad to not have to worry about working around it anymore.
  • Hmm. My 6s plus does not rotate the home screen, but apps certainly do. Safari, Notes, Mail, etc. all rotate to landscape, but the home screen does not.
  • I'm sure my 6 Plus rotated the homescreen, my 7 Plus definitely does since I have it with me now and just tested it. Odd
  • Definitely odd. Maybe there is a setting somewhere, but I can't find it.
  • 1. Tap the Settings app.
    2. Tap Display & Brightness.
    3. In the list of settings, look for Display Zoom. If you select Zoomed, this will turn off landscape switching. There's your answer :)
  • Haha, no wonder: I hate that zoomed look, so was stuck dealing with the rotation for the life of my old 6 Plus. Then again, this time around I only had to deal with it for a few weeks since I returned my new 8 Plus for this much-more-satisfying X.
  • "Are there a lot of people who can't afford it? Maybe." Wrong answer. Yes, there are absolutely people who can't afford it. There are people who can't afford the iPhone 8 as well. We really need to pop this myth that "it's only $40/month" or "it's only a little more than an 8 Plus." I have no issue with Apple's pricing, they can charge what they want and we can choose whether we want to pay it. I'm fortunate that I can afford it, and have one on the way, but we need to stop pretending that price isn't an issue for some. There are going to be people out there who want this phone badly and may overextend themselves to buy it, because some tech blog told them that "it's only a little more...".
  • I get your point about not wanting to entice people to overextend themselves financially. However, it isn't a myth to state the price, or to say that "it's only a little more per month" than an 8 Plus. It IS just a little more per month than an 8 Plus.
  • Prices on iPhone upgrade plan: iPhone 8 $34.50, iPhone 8 Plus $39.50, iPhone X $49.91. So the X is 31% more than the 8 and 21% more than the 8 Plus. 21% is more than "just a little." I'm not trying to be a consumer crusader here, more just a cranky old man... :)
  • It was only America that had the long lines at Apple Stores. The reasons for my purchase of the X was it's smaller size and its cameras. I'm getting to the stage the X will be a long term iPhone for me as Apple is upsetting the resale second hand market which its cheaper selection of iPhones.
  • Long lines only in America? Not really, they were all over the world:
    http://www.asiaone.com/world/thousands-are-lining-iphone-x-around-world
  • let me just say that if you male geeks have a lady, the best thing you can do is get your lady an X. She will be happy, your kid will be happy when they get her 6s, and you will still be happy with your SE. if you female geeks have a man, just buy yourself an X, the guys aren't worth it. My household is a lovefest now that the X arrived yesterday. What is is few hundred dollars on the credit card when the kid moves up from a 5 and the household is a'rockin. oh, and go 'canes beat nd.
  • I was told that very thing the first time I bought an iPhone 3g. Since then always upgrade together.
  • Heh. I upgrade every year and my wife is always thrilled for my hand-me-down previous gen model. Of course, the last few years it's been basically the same thing, I just get a few more bells and whistles, but then so did she from her previous phone. This year though I ordered mine straight away to get it on launch day, but ordered her one for Christmas.
  • I walked into a Best Buy an hour after it opened on November 3rd and I was able to pick up a 256GB silver iPhone X. No lines. No waiting overnight. Just walked right up to mobile and got one.
  • I read, however, they were charging a $100 premium. Was that the case for you?
  • Wait for a plus version of the x. Can’t comprise screen size. Watch a lot of media on my phone.
  • Went from a 7 Plus to the X. I compared a widescreen film side by side on each (in this case, The Martian). The landscape display physical size was actually bigger on the iPhone X (by about 7~%). Non-wide screen video is around 8%~ less tall, in landscape. I do not miss my Plus at all, media-wise. That being said, an X Plus will be HUGE, screen-wise and I will definitely consider it next year. ...or not. It's nice that I can once again fit my iPhone in my front jeans pocket.
  • This is what I'm hoping for..... a Plus sized version.
  • The only thing that is a generation ahead is the FaceID. The A11 is ultra fast on benchmarks but I have not seen anywhere where those numbers a clearly showing themselves in general usage. Yes the iPhone 8/X are faster, but the speed I've seen in executing activities could also be credited to iOS itself being a rather very light system on hardware. The 4K @60 fps is amazing yes. But how many people have been bothered by 30 fps? And about the screen calibration Rene has mentioned so much, it may matter a lot to design professionals but a lot of people just want a beautiful looking screen. And a lot of people don't have a lot of other phones with them to keep comparing their screen. So yes the OLED is accurate to the general Apple screen standards but competition is also accurate to colour standards. Such as the S and Note lines. They even have a more sRGB accurate mode called basic but people seem to prefer the more saturated presets.
  • Even if iOS is what makes the phone fast, doesn't that still mean it's a generation ahead? If anything iOS in terms of speed and upgradability, it's always been a generation ahead, especially when compared to Android's version fragmentation. I'm bothered about 30 FPS, 60 FPS is a big difference, it's double the amount of frames, and looks 10x better. And part of a beautiful looking screen is having it accurately display colors, I want to look at photographs and see them look like real-life, not over-saturated or with a blue/orange tint. But overall we're getting to a part now where it's difficult to think what can be added to the iPhone aside from normal hardware upgrades, which is what the iPhone X has.
  • Let's see - the A11 Bionic SoC benchmarks almost twice as fast as an Snapdragon 835, and the iPhone uses NVMe storage (PCIe) which is scads faster than what Android handsets use, and it has a brighter, more color accurate display which is OS managed using color management frameworks ported from the Mac (iPhone is actually a little Mac) which was THE pre-press standard tool, and does higher performance video and has some of the best cameras in the industry, and technology leading passive biometric authentication. But I understand that none of that matters since your favorite handset doesn't have those things. So I guess that given all those deprecations, the iPhone X has very little to offer after all.
  • I completely disagree on performance of the new processor. My iPhone X is so ludicrously fast I have a hard time believing it. For example, when I get to work, I log in my time on my phone (check out for lunch, etc.) and it's at least four times faster than my iPhone 6s was. Many fewer hesitations loading web pages, logging onto WIFI networks, running processor-intenvive apps. The user interface itself is a wonder it's so smooth and responsive. I'm sure the iPhone 8 is pretty much the same, but the iPhone X is as Renee says, the best thing Apple has ever made.
  • I can tell you one area where the X isn’t generations ahead. Actually two. It’s battery and fast charging. Battery is average at best and fast charging is disappointing. Android is still tops in both these areas. Hoping for better with a plus model in 2018.