Here is my initial review of Apple’s new iPhone X preordered on the first day possible and received one week after it was generally available in Apple’s retail stores. Yes, so much for pre-ordering. Pre-ordering on AT&T was a mess, deferred to Apple’s website for immediate resolution, only after much time wasted.
Here are my rough notes:
- Installation was smooth, even with intermediate iOS update
- Transfer from iPhone6 quick and everything appears just like on my old phone.
- Phone did get quite warm during install.
- Face ID setup was quick and easy, worked almost without fail.
- The phone is fast, even responsive while reloading things from iCloud backup and restoring everything.
- Faint rose hue on edges of the screen appears noticeably in white screens.
- Milky screen color. Including with True Tone on. Screens have not been calibrated in the factory, as witnessed comparing with other X phones. Unacceptable for a phone at this price point.
- No home button is fine. Swipe up works well. App switching takes some getting used to. Removal of apps even more.
- Transfer of watch data present, but transfer of watch pairing did not happen, even though question was asked
- Next day, the display was insensitive to horizontal swipes, somehow managed to reboot and display now more responsive again. Holding my breath for reoccurrence.
- Display properties and hue changes as you turn phone away from straight on view (perhaps True Tone infancy)
- Raise-up performs flaky, simply doesn’t always work and thus doesn’t enter the unlock process until waved a few times.
- Overall user interface consistency is becoming a mess. Clearly, Apple has not laid down the law on UI (user-interface) compliance. Some apps simply look like a mess with UI running off-screen. The consistency of Apple’s excellence breaks down at UI level.
- Nooks at the top are silly, UI could take better advantage of it.
- Overall UI needs a big overhaul, with simplicity as it guideposts. Fewer options, more sense.
- iMessage UI is just a zoo, looks like a 3-year-old designed it, despite some cool features.
- No consistency of UI key controls between apple apps.
- Alarm clock UI puzzling. Should be linked to and disabled only by Face ID.
- Keyboard placement a little odd, but not bad for typing. Not all the way in the bottom. Reducing scrollable real estate. And a big unused grey slab at the bottom. It is clear the phone suffers from some UI and hardware/software discombobulated afterthought.
- Control center needs config like app buttons. Holding down should make them wiggle and draggable. Not the tedious way they are configured now.
- The phone requires two hands at all time to be used, as there is no usable way to reach control center and notifications.
- UI needs a complete redesign around hands placed at the bottom. With UI controls concentrated there.
- Use of different fonts even in apple apps. Stylistically inconsistent.
- Many/most third-party apps are not adjusted to X display.
- Bluetooth connects to my car fast, yet does not appear to sync my 5K contacts.
- Pairs with some difficulty to Bose QC35 with Bose app. Standalone pairing outside of the Bose app is immediate. Bose must not have gotten a preview of this phone.
- Calls come in clear, but you do need to position your ear rather precisely to hear well. Moving phone up and down to find the sweet spot during the call.
- Battery appears to be about the same as iPhone6, no small feat considering the extra processing in the device and Face ID capability.
- Camera technology is impressive. Great results using front and back cameras. More detailed testing coming soon on the beach and in low light scenarios.
- UI controls of camera app are bad, sliding controls for camera functions are a bad choice for when picture taking sometime requires acrobatic hand maneuvering to take the shot.
It is apparent from the way the phone works how Steve Jobs’ arbitrage is sorely missing. Hardware, software, and User Interface are no longer tightly integrated as they were in the past, previously carefully controlled by Steve Jobs. All the pieces of the puzzle now increasingly separating from each other, evidence aplenty, turning the experience into a discombobulating experience, not unlike that of Apple competitors.
Yet, the phone works and is well built and fast, a nice downstream evolution of its past. But the iPhone no longer uniquely identifies Apple. Save for Face ID and a great camera front and back as the teasers making it hard to switch. But such a decision becomes increasingly tempting.
If you are married to Apple’s past and the services you rely on (like thousands of images now stored in iCloud), the iPhone X is the default evolution available to you. But the iPhone X is not a game-changer that will set your world on fire.