iPhone X follow-up thoughts

I mentioned when I wrote my iPhone X first look last week that I would follow-up with some more thoughts once I’ve had a chance to use the phone for a little while. Well, here it is.

The first thing I’d like to address is that some people are saying you have to relearn how to use the iPhone if you buy an iPhone X. That’s simply not true.

The interface on the iPhone X is almost exactly the same as all other iPhones. Granted, there are a few gestures that are new, like swiping down to get to Control Center instead of swiping up from the bottom, but that’s hardly learning the iPhone interface all over again.

Of course, the hardest thing to get used to was not having a Home Button, but not even that took too long. It was more breaking a longstanding habit than anything else. A week into using the iPhone X and I don’t reach for the Home Button anymore—I lift the phone for Face ID, swipe up and I’m in.

Speaking of Face ID, it’s brilliant.

I mentioned last week that it worked for me about 99 percent of the time, but there were instances when it wouldn’t unlock for me on the first try. I think I’ve found the problem and no big surprise, it was me.

Here’s what I think was happening. Actually, there are two things I think were happening.

First, I wear my glasses most of the time when I use my iPhone. I also wear my glasses on the end of my nose, not all the way up on my face. My habit is to put on my glasses and then reach for my phone.

I believe that Face ID was unable to see my eyes properly because the rim of my glasses was blocking them. In order for Face ID to work properly, it needs to see your eyes, nose, and mouth—by blocking my eyes, Face ID couldn’t recognize me.

When I put my glasses all the way up on my face, Face ID worked every time. I figured then that I had partially explained my problem.

The second thing that caused a problem for me was simply the angle I was holding the phone. When I started to track what was causing the iPhone X to not unlock, I noticed that I wasn’t actually pointing the phone at my face. In fact sometimes I held that phone almost flat, which meant Face ID was looking at the sky and not my face.

A possible third reason could have been that I wasn’t always looking at the phone when I tried to unlock it. I have Attention Aware enabled, so it needs to know I’m focused on the phone before it unlocks.

To be honest, I think the first two are more likely causes in my case.

The good news is that after a week, I don’t experience much of this any more. It’s not because I’m hyper-aware to do all the right things when I unlock the phone—in fact, I’m less aware now—it’s more because my habits have changed.

I can pick up the iPhone X, swipe up and be at the home screen very quickly now. I hold the phone in the right place, at the right angle, even with my glasses on—my habits have changed.

If there’s one thing I’m surprised with after using the iPhone X for a week, it’s how much I like the size. I loved the iPhone Plus models—they were big and had lots of real estate.

What I realized is that what I really loved was the screen real estate, not necessarily the larger physical size of the phone itself. I have an iPhone now that is basically all screen, but a smaller form factor than the Plus models.

I think this is something that will appeal to all of Apple’s customers. I find the size of the iPhone X closer to the iPhone 8, but the screen is closer to that of the 8 Plus. iPhone X is like having the best of both worlds.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about the gestures on iPhone X than I said in my first look last week. There are a couple of things you need to learn like pressing the side button to invoke Siri (if you don’t use “Hey Siri”), swiping down to get to Control Center, and swiping up instead of using the Home Button.

After a few days of use, these things weren’t much of an issue. Like I said before, this was mainly about changing habits.

The battery life on iPhone X is fine for me. I charge my iPhone overnight and unplug it in the morning. I use the device all day for whatever I happen to be doing that day and the battery lasts until I go to bed that night. That’s all I need from the battery.

I didn’t do any weird battery tests because the best test for me is to just use it like I normally would. That’s what I did and it lasted just fine.

The notch is still not a big deal to me. Since posting my initial thoughts, I’ve watch some videos and looked at photos and the notch still doesn’t bother me.

I’m still focused on what’s on the content on the screen, not how the notch looks with that content. I think that’s how most people will look at the iPhone X.

I’ve even talked to a couple of people that were vehemently opposed to the notch when the iPhone was first introduced and even they admitted that it didn’t bother them in every day use.

There is nothing about the iPhone X that would cause me to not recommend it as your next iPhone purchase. However, there are a mountain of reasons for me to recommend it.

Simply put: Face ID, power, speed, screen, camera and everything else that makes up iPhone X is just better than anything else that I’ve seen.

  • rick gregory

    I’m curious about next year. Will the X become the default phone and the current 8/8Plus form factor be retired? Will there be a X Plus (same size as the current Plus form factor but all screen)? Or will they keep the standard and premium distinction?

    • Mo

      I would guess the older form factor will be retained awhile to provide lower-priced options for new buyers.

      • rick gregory

        We’ll see. The problem is that they’re not really lower priced, they’re the same price with the X style being premium devices. More to the point, Cook et al positioned this as being the future of the smartphone. Well… deliver on the future. Not just for people willing to pay $1000+.

        I’m curious about a X Plus device because my iPad mini 2 is getting long in the tooth and likely will not be compatible with iOS 12… but the current Plus screen is a bit small for some of the reading and other content consumption I do. An X Plus form factor might be the replacement there, presuming the Mini is done for.

        • lkalliance

          Assuming the 8 and 8 Plus are the last of that line going forward, what of the SE? That really is a price difference. Will be curious to see. Does it continue? If so, does it get upgraded to better processors, cameras? Does the enclosure get redesigned? Will be interesting to see.

        • john doofus

          I think an X Plus is about as close to a lock as there is. Even bigger margins!

        • as has happened with every iPhone, this year’s new-sexy will trickle down to become older and cheaper. this is completely predictable because thats where they recoup their tooling costs with the future economies of scale. it won’t always be the $1000 model.

    • GlennC777

      I think Apple’s strategy is increasingly to have a phone for every (reasonable) price level. This gives most people an entry point they can handle but still maintains a strong desirability gradient through the line.

      So I doubt the 8/+ will be retired right away and may even stay on long-term with updated guts (they can always do 8S, 9, 9S), and there will be something(s) new at the high end, with the X slipping one position. That would be a reasonable guess. Whether they keep the SE is a good question and I’m sure that will depend entirely on sales.

      Don’t forget Apple has a huge capital investment in the aluminum tooling to make the 8-style chassis. It would be a very aggressive move to write that off and go all-in on the X.

      I’d say an X+ would be a reasonable bet at some point.

      • rick gregory

        On the tooling… They’ve gotten 4 years out of it, more than they did for the 4 series or 5 series. The 8 series is basically the same as the 6, so,… 6, 6S, 7, 8.

        I just don’t see much more room at the high end of the price spectrum. In all of the fuss after Gruber first floated the idea of a pricey iPhone I kept looking for someone to outline what such a phone would have that really justifies the higher price (Gruber, if you recall, posted a $1500 price point) and no one ever came out with a feature set that made sense. Everything I saw was basically the X – a nice screen, a replacement fort Touch ID, Truetone. So I don’t think there’s any way they move even higher than the X unless they have something really awesome up their sleeves.

        Now, if they drop the 8 series $100 to $200 and sell it, then sell the X’s success for, say, $100 more than the current 8 series models? Huge hit I think. The SE will survive or not based, I think, on sales and whether they can make something that small that supports apps done in ARKit and that want to take advantage of CoreML etc.

  • Mo

    Mr. D., your phone reviews are some of the few I ever see that I’d recommend to non-tech-enthusiasts as well as tech weenies like me.