It’s here. iPhone X is here. Well, not here as in my hands here. I poke Apple with a stick now and again so they don’t send me a review iPhone every year. I feel your pain, Leo Laporte.
Tech company executives are human, and that means retribution can be found in that industry, too. Mac360’s Kate MacKenzie has been highly critical of Google in recent years and her website has suffered in Google rankings and search engine traffic despite a growing readership. I’ll review iPhone X when it gets here. Meanwhile, reviews are in, the near term future of smartphones is obvious, and hopefully Apple’s future for Mac, Watch, and iPad.
Form Over Function
As far as iPhone X reviews go, they’re good, but that’s been the case for every new iPhone I can remember since the first iPhone. They get better every year, and 2017 is no different and we should expect 2018 to be an improvement, too.
Then there’s the TrueDepth camera system or, as many people call it, the notch. There’s no denying it, it’s a dominant element on the iPhone X. It’s an unmissable feature that catches your eye every time you look at the screen. And then, suddenly, it vanishes.
That’s what happens after a couple of days of use. The most criticized new function is accused of disappearing before our eyes.
David Pogue on Face ID:
I tried to fool the True Depth camera by putting on wigs, a fake mustache, a fake unibrow, and glasses. I even invited a Yahoo Studios makeup artist to turn me into a zombie, with full face makeup. None of it fooled Face ID.
That seems extreme.
I finally got it to fail by applying a full beard that covered half my face. At that point, it didn’t recognize me and didn’t unlock. Of course, very few people sprout that much hair overnight.
Aha! A problem with iPhone X.
It didn’t take long for me to adapt to an iPhone without a home button, though there are new gestures to learn. A swipe up from the bottom of the display takes you back to the home screen. A swipe up and a pause will bring up your open applications, which you can easily swipe through. If you’re in an app, a swipe across the bottom of the screen will bring you to other open applications. It’s smooth and works really well.
Apple moves the customer base into the future, one new iPhone at a time.
New iPhones and major changes usually command a ton of hype, and Apple’s pushing the hype level around the iPhone X even higher than usual, especially given the new thousand-dollar starting price point.
Other than the initial introduction and the website, where is Apple’s hype?
There’s no headphone jack, which continues to suck on every phone that omits it, but that’s the price you pay for a bezel-less screen with a notch at the top. Around the sides, you’ll find the volume buttons, the mute switch, and the sleep / wake button.
Customers seldom worry as much about features or missing features as critics.
I don’t feel strongly about the notch either way, but it’s really the other end of the screen that feels awkward. It’s when the keyboard, in any app, is on screen (which, for me, is most of the time): There’s all this dead space on the bottom, where Apple could have put common punctuation, frequently used emojis, or literally anything, but instead left it blank. Other full-screen apps on other phones put navigation or other design elements in that area, and it doesn’t look crowded or crammed. It looks fine. It’s puzzling why Apple didn’t put something more useful down at the bottom, or why it didn’t add a row of numbers or emojis up top and push down the keyboard to make it more thumb-accessible.
That brings me to form over function. iPhone X’s screen has rounded corners. Not just the case. That’s always been the, well, case. The screen has rounded corners. That’s form over function. Ditto for the Notch. At least Apple put something into the upper bull horns to make it useful.
Across the board you’ll read iPhone X reviews with the standard fare; Notch, HDR OLED display, front and rear cameras and photos and videos, smaller package larger screen, battery life, gesture adjustments, and so on. iPhone X is the future iPhone that is here today. 2018 will see more iPhone X-like features and functions in lesser priced iPhone models, but what I really want to see is the iPhone’s present and future show up in other Apple products.
TrueDepth Face ID system in iPad, Mac, and Watch in 2018 would tell me Apple knows they have a winning feature with that delightful marriage of form and function, convenience and security that further differentiates Apple from everything else.