iPhone X First Impressions

I have been using the iPhone X since yesterday morning and have not had enough time to do a full review. So consider this a brief highlight of my thoughts so far. I posted some of this on Twitter, which you can read here even if you aren’t on Twitter. On Friday, I’ll have a more detailed piece as the main column after spending a week with the iPhone X.

There seems to be the most interest in FaceID and the camera system at the top of the display which some call the “Notch.” I’ll start with some thoughts on FaceID. I was optimistic but skeptical that I’d like FaceID more than TouchID. Even after a short day of using FaceID, there is no going back. It is superior in almost every way. Primarily because you don’t have to do anything buy swipe up. It’s as natural as going back to swipe to unlock in the days before TouchID. That natural gesture is back and now with added security. One thing that gets overlooked is how TouchID often does not work with wet hands, super dry hands which happen when its cold, or dirty fingers. I hate to admit this, but I have fairly sweaty hands, and because of that, during the summer, in particular, TouchID doesn’t often work for me, and I put my passcode in many times a day. FaceID has completely eliminated those little nuances that came with TouchID.

Ultimately FaceID showed me how much friction there was in TouchID even though TouchID was fast and elegant. FaceID recognizes your face so fast that you just pick up the phone, swipe up and you are logged in. Authenticating purchases, or accessing passwords, logging into apps that support TouchID login are all seamless and frictionless as it instantly recognizes you and completes the secure task. FaceID is no doubt a step in a direction and has a great deal of potential beyond just logging into your device. It can detect emotion, more objects, other people, etc., and play a much larger role in personal experiences and contextual computing.

People asked me about different lighting situations, and in both very bright and pitch black environments, it worked every time. In the just more than 24 hours I have been using it I have not had any issues with FaceID, outside of it not working with my sunglasses. Which have bright green reflective mirrors on them. I may need new sunglasses.

The other big debate had been around the TrueDepth camera system cutting into the edge to edge display. I recall seeing it for the first time at the Apple iPhone event and thinking it may look a little off, however, after a very short time it disappears, and you don’t notice it anymore. Mostly because all that is next to is the time and your carrier bars each on either side. Your mind blocks out the notch and focuses on all the screen below. In fact, I showed it to my wife and asked her thoughts, and she said she had not even noticed it until I pointed it out.

During the big notch design debate that happened mostly in the tech blogosphere and on Twitter, I was of the opinion apps should just hide the notch. I’ve since changed my mind. Most the apps I use regularly are already scaling for the notch. I don’t think devs had to do much to support this. And I can say I greatly prefer apps that use the whole screen instead of ones that leave a big black bar at the top, which is the ones not optimized. Here is an example.

I tweeted these pictures and still got some pushback on the notch. However, it is one of those things you have to see, use, and feel to understand what I mean that it just goes away and you prefer full-screen apps. Ultimately, I do not believe this will be an issue and developers will hopefully optimize their apps accordingly to support full screen on iPhone X.

I’m genuinely curious how users of the iPhone Plus take to the iPhone X. I came to love the width of the Plus devices as I felt it was superior for two hand usage and typing in particular. Here is a side by side comparison of the Plus to the X.

It is hard to tell, but the iPhone X display is taller than the Plus, but the Plus’ display is wider than the X. Suffice it to say if this rumor that next year there will be a Plus size version of the X, you can bet that may be the perfect size device for me.

I just wanted to share brief thoughts here but will have more fleshed out observations for Friday.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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