Say hello to the future
14. March 2018
Familiar gestures make navigation natural and intuitive. Instead of pressing a button, a single swipe takes you home from anywhere.Your face is now your password. Face ID is a secure and private new way to unlock, authenticate and pay.
"The future of the smartphone" they said when announcing the iPhone X alongside the expected iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus last September. There is no denying that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are excellent phones, but their all too familiar form factors ensured they were overshadowed by the new look being flaunted by the iPhone X. "An iPhone that is all display." in the words of Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple. Now, that's way more impressive.
It has the largest screen of any iPhone, at 5.8in and it stretches from edge to edge like those seen on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8. This screen is Apple’s first foray into OLED displays, too, and to fit the larger screen onto the device the home button has been ditched. Instead, there’s a 'notch' that houses the phone’s Face ID camera (more on which later). You’d imagine this might make the handset feel large, but by maximising screen size without increasing the size of the handset, the iPhone X feels smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. In fact, it’s closer in design and feel to the original iPhone than any of its recent predecessors.
Moreover, Apple has built in a certain degree of protection against accidental unlocking – a system Apple calls Attention-Aware, which checks that you’re awake and alert before unlocking the phone. Of course, the standout feature of this tech is the ability to create Animojis, which use the Face ID camera to transform your facial expressions into a singing poop or unicorn. Completely pointless but fantastic fun and a sign that Apple doesn’t always take itself too seriously.
As for speed and responsiveness, well that’s unimpeachable as well. The iPhone X uses the new Apple A11 Bionic chip to power it along and this, coupled with 3GB of RAM, produces very similar benchmark results to the iPhone 8 Plus. Basically, alongside its more humdrum siblings, the iPhone X is the fastest phone on the market.
The iPhone X plus has two new 12-megapixel cameras on the rear using a similar configuration to the iPhone 8 Plus and the previous 7 Plus, so that's a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. The big difference on the iPhone X is that both these cameras offer optical image stabilisation, whereas on the Plus phones, only the wide-angle lens is stabilised. The only other phone that stabilises both cameras is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, so this is a pretty unique feature. Zoom photos feel the effect of shake more because of the longer focal length: having OIS will mean sharper close-ups when using that zoom lens.
Apple has also introduced a feature in beta called Portrait Lighting. This aims to recreate the effect that you'd get from a professional lighting rig in a studio, allowing you to take some really interesting portraits, fuss free. It works on both the front and rear cameras, using data from both lenses to create a depth map and ensure that the (virtual) lighting falls as it should. In action, the results from Portrait Lighting are mixed, and it is still very much a feature in beta.