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The iPhone X: Hands on and in detail

It may be too expensive for most of us, but for the others, it’s a deal

brunch Updated: Nov 04, 2017 21:09 IST
Rajiv Makhni
The iPhone X is a unique product in terms of construction, material and design
The iPhone X is a unique product in terms of construction, material and design

It’s finally in my hand and while I did play with it for a few hours at the time of its launch, this is a whole different experience. The iPhone X is a thing of pure beauty. I know that I’m supposed to analyse tech products with complete neutrality and not be swayed by looks, but this really is a very unique product. In construction, in material, in design – this is pure joy. Hold it in your hand, the front screen cascades to all sides, no edges are visible and it feels like you’re holding a slab of glass that magically comes alive with vivid colours erupting sensually from within. Okay, maybe I’m just getting a little carried away here but the iPhone X has evoked some deep emotions, and that’s always a good start for a device. So let’s get down to the real reason you’re reading this. Should you be buying an iPhone X? Let’s get that show on the road!

The screen

This is the most important iPhone to come out of Apple’s stable ever since the first iPhone. The first thing you will notice is that despite that humongous 5.8-inch Super Retina HD (2436 X 1125) edge-to-edge screen, this is a very small phone to hold in your hand. It also feels abnormally light even though it weighs 174 grams. That’s just because you’re holding a very large screen that feels even larger and yet the illusion of zero borders plays a bit of a size/weight mind game. It’s an OLED screen with excellent colours and contrast and truly deep blacks. iOS on the iPhone X looks radically different.

That forehead

The top section of the screen gets cut off for the front camera and other features

Yes, it’s an amazing screen, but right at the top is a section that gets cut off to make way for the front camera. Does it ruin the brilliant screen aesthetics? Yes. There is no running away from that part. It’s a little jarring in regular use, very jarring while watching a movie in landscape mode, less when playing a game and absolutely irritating when you’re checking out the pictures and videos you’ve shot. Still, it’s a minor aberration and not a deal breaker in any way.

Face ID

The other huge question. Look, it works and it feels like it’s very secure. But be warned. By its very characteristics and usage, Face ID isn’t as intuitive, personal or simple as a Fingerprint scanner. Holding up the phone to your face in a crowded public area, doing it while watching a movie, using Face ID in a meeting to unlock your phone for a quick check of a message and in many other such situations – will make you think twice. I used the backup password more often than I have on a phone in a long time, and that felt like a step backward. For me, this is the Achilles heel of this sensational phone. They really need to bring the Fingerprint scanner back. Side button, underneath the power button, on the back – put it somewhere Apple and don’t be stubborn about it.

No home button

The lack of a home button will take some time to register

The Big Question. With no home button, will the X force you to change the way you’ve always interacted with the iPhone? That’s 10 years of being familiar with a system, 10 years where its become like a habit. The answer to that – Yes, it will. No home button and the fact that you now flick upwards from the bottom to get all that functionality is a radical change and mighty reboot from the very familiar home button. Is it a huge new learning curve? No, you’ll get it fairly soon even though there are quite a few gestures and swipes to learn and master. Will it feel as good as the home button once you get it? No, you’ll keep missing that damn thing for quite some time.

Other stuff

Wireless charging in the iPhone X is a real boon

It’s very powerful, everything runs butter smooth, the front camera can do things no other front camera can, emojis that mimic your face is very cool and works like a charm, the back camera is much faster and gives stunning results, the new portrait lighting is a true powerhouse and I’m predicting that it will become the most used feature, wireless charging is a real boon, the AR and VR parts are excellent but are currently just a showcase for what they will be used as in the future.

Buy it?

An answer I’m going to break into three parts. 1. If you own an iPhone and have the money (X really does stand for Expensive!) and have always wanted to be the first with any new iPhone, order the X right away. It’s going to be in short supply and will be a little difficult to get your hands on. 2. If you own an iPhone and aren’t swayed by the ‘me-first’ syndrome, wait for a week. 3. If you don’t own an iPhone but are fascinated by the iPhone X then wait for a week. Because up next week is one of my biggest columns. The iPhone X versus the Rest of the World. See you then :)

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, November 5, 2017

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