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

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  • Yatiyati
    Put the Iphone X next to a Note 8 and you will clearly see which screen is better. I did this at work and all my coworkers agreed that the Note 8 screen is sharper and more vibrant. Clearly this bozo has not done such a comparison.
  • Mark Spoonauer
    Hi and thanks for the comment. Couldn't disagree with you more on screen quality,
    as we had several writers and editors look at them side by side. You can see the results here.
    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/iphone-x-oled-screen-vs-pixel-2-note-8,review-4807.html The iPhone X has the best OLED screen, at least for now.

    1337617 said:
    Put the Iphone X next to a Note 8 and you will clearly see which screen is better. I did this at work and all my coworkers agreed that the Note 8 screen is sharper and more vibrant. Clearly this bozo has not done such a comparison.
  • vfox126
    It's funny how uneducated Iphone users are in respect to the hardware and software of there phones.
    In your article you talk about these issues that android has already dealt with years ago. Ios is a simple operating system, that's why it could possibly load faster. Loading websites faster has nothing to do with chipset. Just about every phone today has a chipset above and beyond what it needs. The speed has to do with the provider you are using. From this article I can see that Iphone is pretty much trying to make an Andy Phone and google has a 10 year head start. Oh how the tables have turned.
  • Mark Spoonauer
    Thanks for the comment. I agree the iPhone X is playing catch-up in some ways, especially wireless charging and OLED. But as I mentioned the Super Retina screen is better than any Android phone, and the A11 Bionic chip is miles faster than anything in an Android phone.

    The speed difference I mentioned is real, because both phones were on same network, so the iPhone X is processing pages faster.

    One thing I didn't mention was fast wired charging. The iPhone X is still playing catch-up there because you have to pay extra and you shouldn't.
    2605877 said:
    It's funny how uneducated Iphone users are in respect to the hardware and software of there phones. In your article you talk about these issues that android has already dealt with years ago. Ios is a simple operating system, that's why it could possibly load faster. Loading websites faster has nothing to do with chipset. Just about every phone today has a chipset above and beyond what it needs. The speed has to do with the provider you are using. From this article I can see that Iphone is pretty much trying to make an Andy Phone and google has a 10 year head start. Oh how the tables have turned.
  • vfox126
    Samsung has run OLED screens for a long time. So the fact that Iphone calls it Retina means nothing. The screens are virtually the same as far as Samsung and Iphone are concerned. It's all marketing. Just like people think Starbucks is good coffee. In regards to loading faster this is also a lot of marketing. Iphone works well with Iphone native apps but once you step out of the I world into apps like chrome, foxfire, etc. how does it work? The I world is small and getting smaller that is why they are moving into Android territory.
  • thekabbalist
    All you have done is convinced yourself that the x is a good phone. That notch in the screen is pathetic as is having to swipe etc. Lame article, lame phone.
  • thekabbalist
    Over the month that Mark has had the X is simply convince himself that its a good phone. Underlying his comments are the clear frustrations he has with it.
    1. Swipe to close apps.
    2. Unable to see the battery.
    3. The ugly ugly notch in the screen.

    Say it as it is Mark and not how Apple wants you to say it.

    Lame article.