Wednesday, November 22, 2017

iPhone X: Expectations Vs. Reality

iPhone X, the subject of immeasurable expectations and fantasies since its announcement, was supposed to be a dream for the iOS fans and tech-geeks alike. With the front and back both made of glass, something that hasn’t been the case for iPhones, was something everybody was thrilled about. But what was the biggest wow factor was the nearly edge-to-edge display of the new iPhone X and the absence of the beloved Home Button.


iphone x reality

The new device has reached its first customers starting from November the third, and despite the thrills and the excitement, the first-hand experiences would be the deciding factor for many on whether to go for the new iPhone X!


The New Features in iPhone X as Advertised and Expected

The Screen

The new features declared with the announcement of the new iPhone X, or the iPhone 10 as some would call it, has included a fifty percent strengthening layer, and a seven-layer ink process that promises precise hues and opacity. The reflective optical layer would make the colors look better. And on top of it, the phone is promised to look shiny and spotless with its new oleophobic coating that prevents fingerprints and smudges!


iphone x screen

But probably the one factor that has been a matter of surprise was the edge to edge display and the absence of the home button. The beginning of the era without the iPhone Home Button! The lock button has been lengthened and rechristened as the ‘side button’, with new accelerometer and gyroscope added. The display is a striking 5.8 inches which gives it the credit of the largest iPhone display ever built!

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OLED display is a new thing for iPhones, starting with the iPhone X, giving it the much sought after screen features such as true blacks, a great contrast ratio, and much more accurate colors. The true tone feature also allows the iPhone X to adapt to it environment, which means that if you are sitting at your usual bar in the evening on a Friday, the screen will give you a much warmer glow, yet the same phone will give you a much brighter bluish hue when you are out hiking with friends the very next day!

The true HDR display lets you watch your movies in Dolby vision and an HDR 10, with the pixels counting to 2436x1125 on your photos, thus presenting you the best resolution, with a striking 458 pixels per inch. The contrast ratio in the new phone stands at 1,000,000:1, with an embedded tap to wake system.

The Metal Frame

Apple even went to the lengths of designing its own alloy, which is a surgical-grade frame of steal that would surround the phone at the edges.

The Perfect Size

But in size and weight the phone remains somewhat between the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. So people like me who had picked the iphone 6s Plus, looking for a phone with a big display, and finding the 6s slightly small, have to admit right now that the plus sizes are a little too big, making the new iPhone X the perfect size!

The Camera

One of the biggest feature, we iOS lovers wait eagerly for is the news on the camera. The iPhone 7 had introduced the portrait mode, which was in a word, great. iPhones have always had a bad reputation when it comes to low light photography, but the low light performance in iPhone 7 was quite an improvement compared to the past models.

iPhone X has been rumored to fix that problem, with its TrueDepth system and the front camera mechanism consisting of a 7-megapixel camera, an infrared camera, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, flood illuminator, and a dot projector. It also has the earpiece speaker and microphone. All these features would result in the amazing photos portrait mode selfies, the facial recognition system, and Animoji.


animoji of iphone x

The front camera will also now take amazing portrait mode selfies with the help of the TrueDepth system of the front camera. Besides this, Apple has introduced the Animoji, which are basically emoji characters which will change their own facial expressions based on the expression of the user.

The rear camera has a 12-megapixel capacity, with dual lenses that are aligned vertically. There is optical image stabilization for telephoto as well as wide-angle lenses. The low light situation is fought with the help of the Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync (Whoa!). The slow sync is basically a feature that combines a short strobe pulse with a slow shutter speed, helping in situations of low light with a brighter foreground subject yet a background that is properly exposed. The unique flash works to provide more uniform illumination, reducing hot spots. Now that sounds pretty good for the “chilling at the bar” photos for sure!

Your Christmas videos will be better this year too, with 4K video recording at 60 FPS and slo-mo vidoes in 1080p. With Apple’s new real time image-processing which has HEVC compression so that your video files are reduced in size and a larger f/2.4 aperture, the quality is supposed to have more exposure and true depth. The zoom will be better even in low light.

The portrait mode of the back camera is better than the previous versions, with the new algorithms from Apple that will help Portrait Lighting. The algorithms supposedly calculate the changes in our facial features in different kinds of light, thus creating effects as amazing as Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, Natural Light, and Contour Light.


The Face ID

Now let’s come to the most loved-slash-hated feature of iPhone X, the Face ID. Would you want your iPhone to unlock itself when it spots your face when you try to unlock the phone? Would you think of it as an added benefit or a security concern?


face id feature of iphone x

You are probably as stuck here as I am. I mean, at times, I would love to avail that option. But after watching all the movies in which people steal each other’s identity doing some sci-fi thing that makes them look exactly like the person they are about to victimize, wouldn’t you be really worried about someone unlocking your phone. Then again, who would be so desperate to look inside our phone?

This controversial, yet kind of amazing feature, has replaced the touch ID system, which means placing your thumb on the home button won’t be happening ever again. All you have to do it bring the device close to your face and look at it.

Then you can swipe to unlock the phone or use your authentication if you are about to use Apple Pay. Although people worldwide has been debating the feature, Apple assures that the risk of being unlocked by someone other than the user stands at one to million. Let’s just hope, we are not that particular one!


Battery Life

Now the question remains if the phone is functionally better in case of the other aspects too. The new iPhone X has a Qi-standard based wireless charging. The phone just needs to be placed on an inductive charging pad, and the ‘fast-charge” will be enabled, a promised 50% in just 30 minutes if the Apple adapters are used.

The Apple 29W, 61W and 87W USB-c Power Adapters can easily be used for the charging. Third party charging pads from brands such as Incipio, Belkin and Mophie can also be used without any hassle. The battery life is promised to be around two hours more than the performance in iPhone 7.

Functionality

The A11 Bionic chip is 25 percent faster than the A10s used in iPhone & and iPhone 7 plus. There are 4 high-efficiency cores that alone have expected a performance of seventy percent. There will be a M11 motion coprocessor. The neural engine is designed in dual-cores, giving it the capacity to recognize places, people, and objects. At a capacity of processing 600 billion operations per second in case of its machine learning tasks, the new core will be the most important active for Face Id and Animoji.





The device is also relatively faster, all thanks to its three-core graphics processor making it about 30 percent faster than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The Bluetooth 5.0 is expected to be about four times greater when it comes to range and 2 times when it comes to speed. The broadcast message capacity is expected to be about eight times greater than the previous Bluetooth 4.2.

The locations system will be using the Galileo support, Europe’s Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS), which will be replaced by the Global positioning System (GPS) of USA. It will also have Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), an augmentation system from Japan, giving more accurate location services.

Besides these tremendous improvements, some other changes that has taken place in the new iPhone X are simplified status bar, hold down side button for Siri, swipe up to close the apps, and the “Selfie Scene” feature that brings up an assortment of animated landscapes.


The Reality from User Experience


Now this amazingly “new’ phone has hit the market starting November 3rd, and the reviews are quite overwhelming. The anniversary phone is quite game changing, a vision of Tim Cook finally realized, removing the last of the “stick with the old” legendary features of Steve Jobs.

The Notch

But surprisingly enough, the hands-on reviews show a huge disappointment at the notch at the top on the nearly edge to edge display. It is kind of an eye sore, and the UI design has seemed to be affected a lot for it.

The FaceID minus TouchID

Let’s hear it on the biggest controversy- the FaceID.

Users seem to miss the amazing TouchID that they had gotten used to. Another option that’s being dearly missed is the old Home Button. Users have complained that the iOS isn’t amazingly suited to the absence of the Home Button either, resulting in some inconveniences. The screen that’s been attained through the kicking out of the Home Button seems to have poorly utilized too.



Although the security issues couldn’t just be shaken off, the iPhone X FaceID system turned out to be great and hassle-free. The setup takes about just a minute and is quite easy to set up. The face recognition is accurate, and for security reasons, it can memorize just one face. Now, that could be a little inconvenient, especially when you were not that uptight about privacy in the first place.

The FaceID is also as fast as our favorite Touch IDs, unlocking the phone in mere seconds. Then you just swipe the phone upwards from the bottom to unlock the phone. Although not much of a big issue, the upward swipe was a little irritating, and not very comfortable because of the way the thumb needs to be stretched. But repeated swipes can make us completely used to it in no time. Or not.

Size and Weight

The new iPhone X is also a bit heavier, and heavy is always bad. It’s 174g, which is 26g more than iPhone 8. If you want a comparison with a Galaxy, it’s over 20g more than the Galaxy S8. In case of size, it’s just a little taller than the iPhone 8 and just a hair wider than it too. Compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, it’s much smaller. Compared to a Galaxy S8, it’s around 5 mm shorter, so that’s a good thing.

Now Apple has claimed that the iPhone X is the perfect phone when it comes to handling, and they are quite right about that. The size of the phone is just perfect, letting it comfortably sit on the palm. Every single point on the screen of this blessed phone is reachable with only one hand, making it the phone with the most thoughtful design. The phone does tend to be a little slippery, but the fact that the phone has small form, lets the user comfortable grip it.

The Look

One aspect that users seem to love is the glass at the back. Although Apple was the last brand to jump to the idea of a back-glass device, it eventually adopted it and the phone just looks great! The only bad thing about the back of the phone is probably the camera.


The camera has been positioned vertically, instead of horizontally, which is probably mostly an engineering decision. But nevertheless, it looks a little strange for the eyes that have gotten used to seeing horizontal iPhone cameras. But what’s a little disturbing is the fact that the cameras bulge out a little more than before, which becomes an eye sore for the otherwise sleek and shiny back. The border of the camera is made extra sleek, which does little to help the case.

The stainless steel around the phone that holds everything together is shiny, giving the phone a much more expensive look. The extra sleek finish seems to be less in risk of scratches. We doubt if the scratches would be noticed even if there were some, considering the fingerprints that’s supposed to remain on the steel. But the downside to this exciting steel band is that it has resulted in the phone being heavier.

The Screen

The AMOLED display has been found to be quite breathtaking, and most users are okay with the eye sore of a notch at the top. Apple claims that the glass is the strongest on the planet. But whether it is strong or not, the amazing AMOLED makes it almost worth the risk. But a huge downside is how easily the glass can be scratched. So remember to get a screen protector the moment you get your new iPhone X!

The dimensions of the screen are 19.5:9 which is honestly, quite unusual for phones. The corners are rounded off, not making it a true rectangle. But if you leave out the portion on the top, with the notch, and the unusable screen area at the bottom, the real dimensions stand at 18.5:9. And if you were to use the traditional 16:9 ratio that’s used in most movies and other contents, what you’ll finally be left with will be a basic 4.96” screen. So much for the edge-to-edge, eh?



The TrueTone adjustments on the AMOLED screen automatically corrects white balance and is enabled by an ambient light sensor of four channels. So, basically what it does it, when it’s turned on, the TrueTone algorithm automatically corrects the white light, comparing it with the ambient light, and thus results in many comfortable pictures, which are also good for the eyes. This is not to be confused with the Night Shift blue light filters.

On the display, the real brightness stood at 679 nits, opposed to the promised 625 nits, making the iPhone X screen one of the brightest OLEDs. On the sunlight legibility tests, the iPhone X has outperformed all phones, presenting an outstanding contrast under the sun. The color accuracy on the phone is also quite striking, making it one of the few color accurate phones till existence. But what has dazzled us all is the fact that the color accuracy is retained even when the brightness is as low as 1.9 nits.

Battery and Charging

Another big inconvenience is the absence of fast chargers in the box. An optical one can be bought for sure, but it’s quite expensive and will just add up more on what you are spending on your already expensive iPhone.

The iPhone X has about the same battery capacity as the iPhone 8 Plus- a non-removable Li-Po 2, 716 mAh battery. Turning the low power mode on also prolongs the life when the battery drops below 20%. The phone comes with a basic wall charger that managed to charge the phone to only 20% in 30 long minutes.

But when tested on a Qi-compatable Samsung fast wireless charger, the phone managed to boost itself to 17% in 30 minutes. You can make the process much faster of course if you use a USB-C-to-Lighting Cable, since the device supports fast charging through USB-C power delivery, or basically any good fast charger.

wirless charging


The tests showed charging of up to 45% in just 30 minutes. But as the best mode, we would suggest a 12W iPad charger, since it’s much more reasonable in terms of price than 29W MacBook chargers and the box contains a Lighting cable inside. In terms of speed, it’s just a little slower than MacBook charger since the device charges maximum at 15W.

Once the phone is fully charged though, the question remains as to the real life of the battery. The careful tests concluded that the iPhone X has a capacity of 19 hours of 3G calls, 12 hours of video or 9.5 hours of web browsing before the battery dies. The standby endurance was quite impressive, delivering a long duration of 74 hours at a stretch!

The iPhone 8 Plus also performed similarly, surprisingly enough, and even beat the iPhone X at video playbacks by 3 hours. The only explanation can be the AMOLED screen which consumes more power than the usual LCDs of iPhone 8 Plus.

Audio Jack

In case of the audio, although some of the users were quite upset in the beginning about the absence of 3.5 mm audio ports, getting used to attaching the lighting-to-3.5mm audio jacks easily do the job, and it comes with the box too. So, your old favorite pair of headphones can continue to be your favorite, unless you decide to shift to a wireless pair.

The Camera

The camera has turned out to be quite good, both front and back. The low light performance has also increased. So, it’s better overall, but not the best. The video camera, although amazing, it still recording mono audio only.


Summing it up, the new iPhone X is quite “new” for sure, with a lot of changes brought. The phone surely is performing great in the hands of its first users so far. We have all been waiting for major innovations in Apple, and this is probably so far the best in a long time.

We love the new iPhone X, and we hate to let go of the old features! Although some of the old features seemed to have worked better for a lot of us, hey, why wish for something new if we are so much in love with the old? And for oldies like us, Apple has molded the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which is a much better version of our beloved models.

So which one are you getting for yourself this Christmas?
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