Video: iPhone X review: Face ID, the notch, and a new screen
Nearly four months after buying the Apple iPhone X, my primary T-Mobile SIM card remains inside. In its wake lies a long list of returned or shelved Android smartphones.
If you follow me on Twitter, you will see me question the sanity of buying the latest iPhone, often stating I am not going to buy it. Spoiler: I always end up buying one.
However, you will also read there and on ZDNet that I typically give up on the iPhone after a month or so -- as I grow bored with iOS and its terrible notification system, or as I find a flashier Android phone with newer technology, a bigger battery, a unique colour scheme, or some other feature I think is better than the iPhone. Apple's iPhone X has changed that perspective for me, and I'm almost ready to admit I prefer an iPhone and am a member of the flock.
Hardware: Feels like the future
The moment I picked up iPhone X, I knew I was holding something special. Rather than the focus on minimal side bezels, the fact that there are no measurable top and bottom bezels either has set this phone apart from everything else I have tried. It feels like I am viewing all display with no hardware around the display, and it feels like the future.
Speaking of the display, the OLED panel is made by Samsung and improved by Apple. It's stunning, and I cannot find a single fault with it, not that I ever really found a problem with Apple's previous LCDs either.
The iPhone X has hardware features I loved using in Android phones before, including wireless charging, a high level of water and dust resistance, and good-sounding stereo speakers.
Apple brings Face ID to the mobile world, and my iPhone X never even feels like it is locked. I pick it up and 98 percent of the time it is ready to go.
I can honestly say that the only thing I miss from the hardware aspect is a headphone jack, but thanks to Apple's ecosystem, that is really not much of an issue either.
Software: A welcome breath of fresh air
I lived through the days of Palm WebOS, Nokia's MeeGo, and BlackBerry 10, so the gesture-based UI of iPhone X is a welcome breath of fresh air to me. As I mentioned before, I also tend to give up on iPhones after a month, so I am not so beholden to the iOS experience that the gesture-based UI upsets me at all.
I love swiping around to get things done and have no issue with the battery indicator not being present, as the battery gets me through a day, especially with a convenient plop down on a wireless charging pad positioned around my office and house.
Read also: iPhone X tips and tricks
The more I use iPhone X, the more I enjoy the press-and-hold actions. Applications continue to be just a bit better in iOS than on Android, and there are still occasionally some apps that launch first on iOS.
Apple ecosystem: The closest thing to magic
While I don't use an Apple computer, the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple AirPods make the iPhone X experience full and complete. You won't find a better smartwatch than the Apple Watch, but you need an iPhone to use it. The Apple Watch has a brilliant display, provides useful and functional notifications, works well as a GPS sports watch, and is the activity tracker that does well at motivating you to perform.
Apple AirPods work with Android and other Bluetooth devices, but the absolute best experience is with an iOS device. I never think about charging my AirPods or about how to enable a reliable connection every time. They just work, and are the closest thing to magic that Apple has created.
Android phones: The ones left behind
On my journey to the iPhone X promised land, the following Android phones lie on the side of the road:
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8: The Note 8 is a stunning smartphone, and I used it for a few months before trading it in at T-Mobile for the iPhone X. It ended up being a bit too large and still doesn't have the Android 8 Oreo update. Samsung is doing a great job keeping the security updates current, and the tech in the device is awesome.
- Google Pixel 2 XL: I ordered and then cancelled this device four times before finally committing to the black and white model. The Pixel 2 XL arrived, and I loved it. The camera is fantastic, the software rocks, and the hardware is great. I missed wireless charging, found the phone a bit too large, didn't care for the rounded corners on the visible display, and wasn't ready to commit over $900 to it. I returned it to Google.
- Honor 7X: At only $200, the Honor 7X is cheap enough to keep around as a spare phone. I still have a review unit, but rarely use it. It's not going to challenge a flagship, but it's tough to beat at that price, and I know a few friends who bought and love this phone.
- OnePlus 5T: I did not buy a OnePlus 5T, but did test one. It offers most of what you find in a flagship Android phone, but for hundreds less. I'm still not sure about the company and its practices, but I'll continue to keep my eye on it and its devices for a possible future Android phone.
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro: Despite the US government concerns, the Mate 10 Pro is one I still want to use regularly with my secondary T-Mobile DIGITS SIM, because the AI aspect takes time to learn your usage patterns and provides you with the optimal experience. The dual cameras are great, the hardware is awesome, and the price is decent for a flagship. There are nagging software issues, though, which keep it from being used as a daily driver.
- Google Pixel 2: I went ahead and bought the Kinda Blue Pixel 2 to see if I could get by with a smaller Pixel 2 and enjoy that fantastic camera and always up-to-date software. It's a great device, but the design is a bit dated with large top and bottom bezels, and I just miss out on the convenience of wireless charging. I recently returned it to Google, too.
- Essential Phone: I bought a white Essential Phone a couple months ago and last week sold it to buy the new Ocean Depth green color. The color is stunningly gorgeous, but as I've been using it as my daily driver, I realize the software experience doesn't stack up to the Pixel 2 flawless performance. There is no high level of water resistance either, so I can't run with it in the rain, and there is no wireless charging or headphone jack. And the premium $599 price for this special color just may not be worth it. I am likely to initiate a return for this one to Essential.
Read also: The 10 best smartphones of 2017
MWC is being held next week, with Samsung kicking things off with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, followed by announcements from Sony, Huawei, and others. Given the latest Android update report card from JR Raphael, it is likely I won't be forking over my own money for a new Android phone until later in the year when Google rolls out the Pixel 3 XL.
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