A Month with the iPhone X: What I Love (and Hate)

The honeymoon period is definitely over. So am I still smitten with the iPhone X? I swapped my iPhone 7 Plus for Apple's 10th-anniversary handset for a month to find out what it would be like to live with this device. After 30 days, I believe it's the best phone you can buy, if you can afford this $999 luxury.

That doesn't mean the iPhone X is flawless. Some of these flaws are just annoying, and some could be deal breakers for would-be users. Here's what I love and hate about the iPhone X so far.

I'm over the learning curve, but ...

At first, not having a home button on the iPhone X felt like riding a bike without handlebars. But over time, I started getting used to the gestures, and now, I don't really miss the button. I have no problem swiping up to close apps, or swiping up and pausing ever so briefly on the screen to launch the App Switcher.

Although I don't need to force-quit apps often, I don't agree with Apple's decision to make you take an extra step to perform this task compared with the process on earlier phones. You need to long-press the display and then swipe up on the app's thumbnail. There's a reason why How to Close Apps on the iPhone X is our most popular tutorial ever.

Another annoyance: having to swipe down from the top of the screen to check my battery percentage. In this case, I've just learned not to compulsively check the actual amount and trust the graphic on the meter to gauge how much juice I have left.

MORE: 12 Essential iPhone X Tips to Get Up and Running

The OLED screen is second to none (even with the "notch")

One of the best compliments I can pay the iPhone X is that I'm watching way more video than ever before on a phone. On my long commute home, I'll binge on Netflix and get lost in the iPhone X's new Super Retina display.

When streaming The Punisher on this panel, I could make out every fold and crevice in the tortured anti-hero's family photo on the dash of his van as he fired out the window. In another scene, I appreciated the sinewy white streaks of clouds against the pale blue Manhattan skyline. The colors are accurate, and not oversaturated.

Not having a home button on the iPhone X felt like riding a bike without handlebars.

And no, I didn't even notice "the notch" on the left side (in landscape mode) after the first week of watching content on the iPhone X. In fact, I’ve been double-tapping videos in the Netflix app to force them to go full-screen, which causes the notch to intrude on the picture. It’s more immersive, visually.

What does bother me is that several apps that I use often don't yet take full advantage of this screen's height. Spotify, The Weather Channel, Facebook, Dropbox and Instagram are all optimized. But other apps, like HipChat and the Dunk Shot game, still have unsightly black bars at the top and bottom.

MORE: 12 Essential iPhone X Tips to Get Up and Running

Face ID is great — so long as you follow this one tip

I've already chronicled how Face ID is a bit slower than Touch ID to unlock the iPhone, but after a month, I'll admit that I'd be happy to live with that trade-off. And that's because Face ID is generally more reliable than Touch ID. During my time with the iPhone X, I have never had to wipe crumbs or sweat off my fingers to get into the device — something I did have to worry about with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Other than growing a bit of scruff on the weekends, my appearance hasn't really changed enough to challenge the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X. But I did run into a couple of occasions in which the device didn't let me in on the first try. And it's not because the phone didn't recognize me; it's because you're supposed to stare directly at the iPhone X before you swipe up on the screen to unlock the handset.

This camera has replaced my mirrorless one

When I go to CES 2018 this January to cover all the hottest new gadgets, I'm leaving my Sony a6000 mirrorless camera behind. That's because I've been very impressed with the image quality from the iPhone X. The only thing I'll miss is having a slightly longer 3x optical zoom. Overall, I've found that the iPhone X shoots quickly and delivers clear photos in almost all conditions.

I've also come to appreciate the shortcut button on the lock screen for firing up the camera; you just press it hard, and away you go. (But the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 let you start shooting even faster; all you need to do is double-tap the power button.)

I have never had to wipe crumbs or sweat off my fingers to get into the device — something I did have to worry about with the iPhone 7 Plus.

With everyday photos (I take way too many of my kids and dogs), the iPhone X fares much better indoors than my iPhone 7 Plus, and it's only been a year since the latter phone's release. For instance, in a shot of holiday decorations, the iPhone X captured an accurate red in LED candles, whereas the color got blown out on the iPhone 7 Plus.

The flash on the iPhone 7 Plus looks more powerful than the one on the iPhone X, but it’s not necessarily better. In a photo comparison of shots I took of our holiday stuffed bear, Carl, had more of a yellow cast in the iPhone 7 Plus' photo, and the hues looked more natural in the iPhone X’s shot.

MORE: iPhone X vs. Pixel 2 XL Camera Face-Off: It's This Close

It's faster in unexpected ways

You may already know that the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X blows away other Android phones and previous iPhones, both in terms of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks. But this phone's zippiness surprised me in other ways.

For starters, web pages in the Safari browser load a lot faster. The ESPN home page, for instance, loads in 7 seconds on the iPhone X, compared with 11 seconds on the iPhone 8 Plus over the same connection. Apps also download faster, even though the iPhone X doesn't support the latest Gigabit LTE technology.

I also noticed less lag when shooting photos, which means you have a better chance of capturing that moment when there are moving subjects.

About the side button …

I don't wear tight jeans — and I never will — and yet something strange keeps happening during my bus ride to and from New York City: Siri sometimes comes on when I just shift in my seat.

At first, I didn't realize what was happening. But then I figured out that the iPhone X's side button was brushing up against my leg. Formerly the power button (on other iPhone models), the side button on the iPhone X activates Siri with a long press.

After 30 days, I can say with confidence that the iPhone X is the best iPhone ever.

I know why Apple made this change: There's no longer a home button to long-press. But I wish the side button were less sensitive. A double-press would result in fewer false positives for Siri, but this action is reserved for activating Apple Pay.

Here's a suggestion: Reverse it so that Apple Pay is a long press and Siri is a double-press. At least an accidental launch of Apple Pay wouldn't interrupt your music.

MORE: How to Turn Off the iPhone X

My overall take: I'm getting it

After 30 days, I can say with confidence that the iPhone X is the best iPhone ever and that it is the best phone you can buy, period. The Galaxy S8 is still a better value, and the Pixel 2 XL has an amazing camera. But to me, the iPhone X delivers the best combination of design, screen quality, performance and app selection.

I'm not running out to buy the iPhone X for myself just yet, but it's not because I don't love it. I'm just waiting for more apps to be optimized for the edge-to-edge Super Retina display and for the first wave of early bugs to be squashed, although Apple has already done a good job of addressing issues such as the cold-weather screen problem. So, pretty soon, the iPhone X will find a home in my pocket.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer

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.