The iPhone X is here and for the first time in our office there is a frenzy; a frenzy that can only be characterised by the launch of an iPhone. And not just any iPhone, the tenth anniversary iPhone that Tim Cook and Apple collectively believe is the future of smartphones.
I don’t know if it is actually the future of smartphones yet, but I got to spend 24 hours with the iPhone X, a privilege only very few people have had till now.
Hour 1: gawk away you hawk
After we peeled off the shiny plastic of the box — which mind you, was a community event in and of itself — everyone’s jaws dropped collectively. The massive 5.8-inch display staring right into our eyes was unlike any iPhone we’d seen before. Yes, the iPhone X has more screen estate than the iPhone 8 Plus but it is more compact. And evidently so, thanks to the minimal bezels around the display.
Coming from an iPhone 8 Plus (did you guys read my review yet, or no?), the first thing I noticed is the iPhone X is much lighter and more comfortable to hold. #win
No doubt, it is the best looking iPhone yet. The iPhone X is sexy, suave, and a near perfect first attempt at the future of smartphone designs.
Hour 2: frustration galore
After that I was done fawning over the design, I finally decided to set up this baby. Setting up the iPhone X was a breeze, in typical Apple fashion. The new Automatic Setup is the best way to transfer your settings, especially if you have an old iPhone.
Let it be known that, I don’t store my iPhone backups in iCloud. Because lol, who pays more for extra iCloud storage? Not me, of course. So, I manually backed up all my apps and data using iTunes on my MacBook Air. Post which all the apps downloaded by itself. Easy peasy.
After several attempts, I decided to set it up as a new iPhone and download all my apps again. Well, there’s always a silver lining or in this case…a silver iPhone X.
Hour 4: look into my eyes hooman
Once the setup was done — including the FaceID — the iPhone X sprang to life. Before we get to how I had to recalibrate my muscle memory to work iOS 11 on the iPhone X, let me get the obvious out of the way: FaceID is no TouchID, but it works. Once it recognises your face — and, it does it 90 percent of the time mind you — a tiny lock placed above the clock on the lock screen unlocks. Yup, you can’t get to the lock screen until you swipe up the tiny handle at the bottom portion of the display.
Hour 7: very unlike ‘app’le
Obviously, iOS 11 is a stark difference from how it works on the iPhone 8 Plus. The entire operating system is heavily dependant on gestures, which in all honesty took me 5 minutes to get used to. I was so accustomed to these gestures that - like Stephen Levy and his experience with the phone - I also tried to minimise an app on my iPhone 7 Plus by trying to swipe up.
Invoking the multitasking carousel, is a bit of an effort though. You have to swipe up from the home screen and then hold to actually enter the space. If you want to close apps, you will have to long press to enter the edit mode. It is not seamless, but I guess it is early days of my usage too. In any case, I am expecting it get rid of my bad habit of closing all my apps expecting it to improve my iPhone’s speed. Raise your hand if you are guilty of this behaviour as well.
By the time I was done playing around with the tweaked iOS, it was time for me to leave office and go home. I fired up Uber and that’s when I realised how gorgeous the new display really is. I mean the app took up the entire front panel and the notch was not affecting my FOV much because I was mostly looking at the bottom of the screen. On the flipside, once I reached home and opened Swiggy to order food, I realised it wasn’t resized to fit the new iPhone X’s 18:9 aspect ratio. The app was running in letterboxed mode and Swiggy was not alone. Most apps, including Google apps like Maps, Sheets, Drive, were running in letterboxes mode.
I guess, its a long time to go before app developers cozy up to the new aspect ratio and redesign their apps.
Hour 9: nighty night
Once dinner was done, it was time to tuck in. I followed my nightly ritual of reading a few stories on Pocket, catching up with a few tech blogs on YouTube, and playing a round or two of Guns of Boom.
For someone like me who has an OCD for bad designs, the iPhone X is already looking like a bad nightmare. The notch, oh that notch, is a deal breaker. I thought I’d be able to look past it but every time I played a Guns of Boom or watched a video, the notch would raise its ugly head cutting through menus and other critical visual elements. It’s a distraction and a big one; at least for me. Maybe I need to spend more time with the phone for the notch to become one with the display.
Before I decided to shut my eye, I wanted to try FaceID one last time in the complete dark. And boy, oh boy, it works!
Good night. My phone is at 9% charge.
Hour 16: wake up, but first, let me take a selfie
The moment I wake up, I check the phone and the phone has lost 3% overnight. The battery life seems fine. I don’t have access to a wireless Qi charging pad as of now, so had to resort to my humble lighting cable to charge the phone.
And since my face glows (or so, I think) in the morning, I had to take a selfie in Portrait mode. Yes, Apple has enabled the Portrait Mode on the second camera as well. It uses of the power of the A11 Bionic chip to do computational photography. And well, the Portrait selfies do look impressive. Time to call an Uber again and connect my RHA MA750 wireless to listen to some Carnatic rock by Agam on the iPhone X. It works seamlessly as usual. Before I forget, the iPhone X’s secondary 12MP telephoto camera is also optically stabilised now. No more jitters when shooting videos even when you zoom in. I will test this feature extensively in my full review.
Hour 19: more subtle revelations
I reach office and start writing this story. The more I use the phone, the more I am impressed by certain subtle tweaks to iOS 11. One particular change really caught my fancy. If you get any notification from any app, the card on the lock screen only shows the word ‘notification’ on the display. The contents of the message are hidden until the iPhone X recognises my face. Check the screenshots below to understand the difference.
Hey pesky co-worker who likes peeking into my phone ever now and then, you CAN’T see shit no mo!
Oh, and I stumbled upon a new way to switch between apps and my life’s changed now. All I need to do is swipe the handle at the bottom from right to left to view all the open apps. Ah, lovely!
Hour 24: the end game
It’s been just 24 hours but I am in the process of discovering more as I use the phone. At the moment, I feel the iPhone X sits in between the iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus in more ways than one — from its size to the battery life. But, it is anything but a middle child. It is in fact, a nearly revolutionary product that is doing everything it can to democratise tomorrow’s smartphones with all screen front panels.
Yes, the apps may not be optimised for now, but you and I both know that an Apple product will get all the developer love and the situation is bound to change soon. For now, the iPhone X is a notch above all the other smartphones out there. All pun intended.