My favorite iPhone X feature: Hidden notifications

The first time you look at notifications on the iPhone X, you might be in for a surprise. A surprise I grew to appreciate.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Video: For the iPhone X, the price is a whole lot more than the sum of the parts

I've had the iPhone X for over two weeks now, and I still think it's as good as a smartphone can get right now. Between the design, the camera, the display, and Face ID's ease of use, I have very little to complain about with the iPhone X. Naturally, there are a few settings I've changed to make the phone work how I expect it to, such as the Reachability feature.

I used it a lot on my iPhone 7 Plus, and there are times when it makes life easier on the iPhone X. Thankfully, a toggle in the Settings app under the Accessibility section enables Reachability.


How notifications are displayed on the iPhone X before and after Face ID does its magic. (Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

When I first started using the iPhone X, another default setting caught me off guard: With the iPhone X, notifications on the lock screen don't reveal details until you're looking at your phone.

I have always had notifications set to show every message and detail on the lock screen, regardless of whether my phone was locked or unlocked.

So, when I first woke the iPhone X while it was sitting on my desk only to find my alerts were now hidden, I was a little annoyed. Then, I picked up the phone, and Face ID activated. It unlocked my phone and the notification details filled in without me having to think about it.

I decided to leave the feature enabled, perhaps temporarily, just to see how I would feel about it after extended use. I can't see going back now.

I don't consider myself a secretive person. I don't receive countless messages or emails I'd rather keep to myself. On occasion, I receive an email or message with private information from my doctor, editor, or an embargoed press release.

Before the iPhone X, I accepted that sometimes that information would be visible on my lock screen, but the convenience of being able to glance at the screen outweighed the alternative of waking the phone, then seeing a pending alert, and using Touch ID to reveal further information.


With Face ID on the iPhone X, however, the process of looking at a notification and unlocking the phone to look at a notification are identical. There isn't an extra step of having to unlock the phone. So, why wouldn't I leave notifications hidden?

Indeed, Face ID does have trouble working when the iPhone X is laying on a desk, meaning I have to pick up the phone to view notifications in that situation. But the knowledge that unless I am physically looking at the screen of my phone and nobody else can read my notifications is something I find reassuring. Combine that with the fact that it requires no extra work on my part, and I'm sold.

Related stories:

Editorial standards