A stunning display
Most of the time, anyway. The controversial notch cut out at the top of the screen accommodating the front-facing camera continues to split opinion, especially as it’s now on more phones. The notch on the Essential Phone is smaller, but doesn’t contain the same depth-sensing sensor technology as the Apple phone. It all becomes inconsequential after using the iPhone X for more than a few days, just as with any other notched display. It takes some getting used to, but it’s not the irritation many want to believe it is. It helps that iOS gracefully splits the top status bar in half around the notch, and many native apps also tailor their designs to it, but it’s easy to feel a break in immersion when watching YouTube videos and movies on Netflix.
Speedy and a gesture-based iOS
You’ll find the same A11 Bionic processor from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus powering the iPhone X. Performance is excellent — the interface is fluid, and switching between apps is fast. Games like Monument Valley 2, Transformers: Forged to Fight, and the augmented reality game. This has not changed after six months with the iPhone X.
- AnTuTu: 206,010
- Geekbench 4 CPU: 4,231 single-core; 9,877 multi-core
The AnTuTu score is slightly less than what we’ve seen on our iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which received respective scores of 214,492, and 222,462. At the time of release, it was higher than any other Android smartphone we’d tested, including the Google Pixel 2, which scored 146,876. Since then, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus received 263,517, while the Huawei P20 Pro just beat the iPhone X with a score of 210,342. Geekbench scores were nearly identical against the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and even today absolutely eclipses the Android competition. None of these Android phones are slow, as many of them offer excellent performance.
Face ID and Animojis
Face ID is the hallmark of the iPhone X, and a huge gamble for Apple, since it completely replaces Touch ID. Instead of swiping a fingerprint, just look at your phone, and it unlocks.
In our initial review, we didn’t think it worked well and found it slower to be Touch ID. It has since improved greatly, and Apple told us there’s a quicker way to use Face ID. Rather than raising the phone, waiting for the padlock to unlock, and then swiping up to go to the home screen, simply swipe up the lock screen when you want to go to your home screen. You’ll see a quick Face ID animation — if it recognizes you — and voila, you’re through.
That’s fine, but it doesn’t help when you want to glance at lock screen notifications, which are hidden until the phone “sees” your face. If Face ID misses you the first time, it doesn’t look again unless you sleep and re-awaken the screen, adding a frustrating extra step to just seeing your messages. Alternatively, you can swipe to unlock, and then dig into the Notification Center. Annoying if you only wanted to see if a notification was worth your time.
Apple said Face ID gets better over time because it’s continually updating its model of you, which is why it recommends to never reset your Face ID profile, and we’ve been impressed with its ever-improving speed.
Another great camera
The iPhone X has a very similar camera to the iPhone 8 Plus: Both feature a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture, but the 12-megapixel telephoto lens has a wider f/2.4 aperture over the 8 Plus’ f/2.8 aperture. This helps in low light situations with 2x optical zoom, as well as Portrait Mode as it uses the telephoto lens.
Both cameras also have optical image stabilization, a first for Apple. It helps prevent blurriness with shaky hands when you’re zooming in on objects with the optical zoom. It also can improve photos taken in Portrait Mode, as it relies on the telephoto lens.
Battery life on the iPhone X has been fairly average, and its ability to last the day greatly depends one what you’re doing. Under general use, most days end with 30 percent remaining, based on taking photos, app use, browsing the web, and responding to notifications. General use with Bluetooth music streaming, and an hour or so of Google Maps use, will see the battery die well before the end of the day. The iPhone 8 Plus returns better battery life.
Just as with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone X’s glass back makes it compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard. Just plop your phone down on a charging pad and you’re juicing it up — no cables needed. We’ve experimented with wireless charging using different phone cases, and have not experienced any problems. However, it does require quite careful placement on the charging mat, and the slightest nudge can stop it charging. Again, this varies depending on your choice of case and wireless charger; but it’s something to be aware of.
Price, availability, and warranty
The iPhone X is expensive. The 64GB model starts at $1,000, and the 256GB variant will set you back $1,150. They’re available for purchase now.