iPhone X: First Impressions when Switching from a Plus

Yesterday was iPhone X day. Apple's new flagship phone was released to the world. Millions were shipped, and one landed on my doorstep. My first few hours with the iPhone X have answered a lot of my questions and worries. So here are my first impressions.

Unboxing is Always Fun

My phone came in the mail yesterday, and after a failed attempt at a Friday afternoon conference call for work, I unboxed my new iPhone X.

 

Face ID is a Game Changer

Face ID had the potential to be a big flop. It's a bold move to completely replace something users love and use as much as Touch ID. But I really think this is a win for Apple. Like Touch ID did for fingerprint readers, Face ID will take facial recognition mainstream, and in years to come it will become a ubiquitous part of all our technology.

A few fears to soothe:

  • Yes, it works in the dark and with glasses or if you change your makeup or grow a beard.
  • No, unlike Samsung's facial recognition, Face ID can't be fooled by a picture or even Hollywood mask makers.
  • No, it won't unlock if someone points your phone at your face while you're sleeping. It requires you to be looking at the phone. So unless you sleep with your eyes open, this won't be a problem.
  • Sunglasses? Maybe. It works with some sunglasses but not all. I tried it with mine (below), and Face ID worked just as fast and consistently as without them on. But Apple has made it clear that some sunglasses have a coating that prevents its sensors from detecting your eyes. If it doesn't work with your sunglasses, you have two options. One, get new sunglasses, or two, turn off the Attention Aware Feature (Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Attention Aware Feature) that makes sure you're looking at the phone.
 

The Size is Lovely, but I Want an X Plus

Since I was switching from a Plus model phone, I was a bit worried that the X screen would be too thin. It's actually much taller than the Plus models, but the width is the exact same as the iPhone 6,7,8. After spending 24 hours with the phone, the screen feels wonderful in every aspect except for one. The keyboard is noticeably smaller, and I'm having to get used to typing on it.

Because of the keyboard and because I've already spent 3 years with the larger size, I really hope Apple releases a Plus size of this design. The screen would be massive!

 

Animoji are the real deal.

These little boogers are super fun, and more importantly for Apple, they show off face-tracking technology in a way that normal people enjoy. Apple's often slow on adopting new technologies like OLED screens or wireless charging, but Animoji show just how far ahead of their competitors they are with face-tracking.

Twitter has been going crazy with #AnimojiKaraoke. This is my favorite so far.

 

There is Definitely Learning Curve

Since I'd already read all about the new gestures before my phone arrived, the transition for me was pretty much seamless, but after seeing this manual from the WSJ (above) that explains all the new interactions, I started to think about how difficult this learning curve will be for normal people. I was talking about this with a friend of mine, and his response to the WSJ Manual was...

"Basically looks like if Snapchat made a phone. AKA, good luck anyone over 30, but teens will pick it up super fast."

At this point the people who already have an iPhone X either stayed up late to preorder or stood in line for hours and hours. Neither of those groups can be described as "typical phone users".

That said, even as the months pass, we may not see a huge number of "typical phone users" with an iPhone X. It's an expensive phone, and it will sell well among power users and tech enthusiasts. I think we'll really begin to see how this learning curve effects sales and customer satisfaction as the design trickles down the iPhone lineup and more grandparents buy them.

 

Other Stuff

  • The cameras seem really great, but I haven't had a chance to use them enough to give any definitive thoughts.
  • Battery life appears good, but it'll take a few weeks to know exactly how it preforms under normal use.
  • Wireless charging is something that I don't really see a use for yet. I don't plan on buying a Qi wireless charger, but I know some people love them.
  • The screen is really crisp. The blacks are typical OLED black, but when you look at the phone from an angle, the colors do get a bit blue, which I don't love.
  • The notch is not a big deal at all. Like pretty much every reviewer has said so far, it just disappears after a little bit of time using it.
 

I'm just 24 hours into using this phone, and I really really love it. Do you plan on getting one? Let me know why or why not on Twitter, @timothybucksf.