There's something that just feels natural about the iPhone X when you put it in your hands. There's no Home button to get in your way, and there's only screen in front of you. It's a evolution ten years in the making, but at $999, is it exciting enough to be worth the splurge?
Let's put it this way. I just came away from using the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and they just feel like just nice upgrades by comparison. There's too much bezel on those phones, despite the fact that they share many of the same advancements as the iPhone X on the inside. The iPhone X (available Oct 27th for pre-order) looks and feels like the phone of tomorrow, and I'm not looking back.
The first thing you'll notice about the iPhone X is its display. The 5.8-inch Super Retina Display (2436 x 1125) pixels looked simply gorgeous as I watched a Wonder Woman clip. Apple has finally made the transition to OLED, and it says that it's colors are more realistic than anything else on the market. We'll have to wait to get the phone in our labs to confirm, but so far it looks great.
What about that notch that hangs underneath the screen, where the camera and other sensors go? It can be distracting, mostly when you're looking at an app with a white background. When playing video, it looks like you have the option of going full screen in landscape mode, which looks a bit odd with the notch in the way, or you can fill up most of the display.
iPhone X Key Specs
|5.8 inches OLED (2436 x 1125)
|64 GB, 256GB
|Dual 12-MP (both with OIS)
|7-MP TrueDepth camera
|64, 256 GB
|7-MP FaceTime HD
|5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
|Silver, Space Gray
The one feature everyone will be talking about is the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera, which enables you to unlock the phone with FaceID. It works so quickly, that you'll barely notice it happening in the background. Apple claims that it will work in the dark and won't be fooled by photos. (I have a twin and can't wait to try him out.)
The TrueDepth camera does a lot more than just unlock the iPhone X; it opens up new possibilities with messaging and augmented reality. In the Messages app, a new Animoji feature lets you take on the face of everything from a unicorn and a monkey to a pig, and you can record that message and send it out, complete with your facial expressions and voice. Many are going to say this is just a novelty, but you know millions of people are going to use it.
Apple is also extending the capabilities of the TrueDepth camera to developers, such as SnapChat. One filter put war paint on my face that looked so realistic that it literally looked painted on. And the iPhone X isn't even out yet.
The iPhone X does have the same A11 Bionic CPU as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, so it should be just as fast. But only the iPhone X has dual optical stabilization on both of its back cameras, which means you should get better shots in low light and steadier looking images and video.
The design of the iPhone X looks better, too, and not just because of the all-screen front. The stainless steel band around the sides give the handset a premium finish, especially on the white model, because the silver gleams. On the space gray version, the steel band blends more into the phone's hue, so it depends on what you're looking for.
Navigating the iPhone X feels more seamless than with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, as you simply swipe up to go home, and swipe up and hold to see all of your open apps and flip through them. My one complaint about this setup is the speed; I wish I could see all my open apps faster without a delay. In addition, you can swipe between full-screen apps just by flipping through them at the bottom of the screen.
Want to see Control Center? You swipe down from the top, which isn't that much of a shift.
Unfortunately, the iPhone X still has a Lightning connector for charging (so much for the USB-C future), but it does support Qi wireless charging, an overdue feature that's also available on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Fast wired charging is possible, but for that you'll need to pay extra for a 29-watt or higher power brick and a USB-C to Lightning cable.
The augmented reality capabilities on the iPhone X are also similar to those on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. In the Warhammer Freeblade game, I could place robots on the table and then have them fight, and the shadows they cast looked just as realistic as their illustrated parts. But the experience felt more immersive on the iPhone X because of the dislay.
I'm not saying the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus aren't worth buying. What I am saying is that, based on my initial impressions, the iPhone X is the one everyone will want.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.