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iPhone X review: A second opinion

The iPhone X has been out for a few months now, and if you haven't heard, it's one of the biggest shifts in iPhone design since ... well, the very first iPhone. Gone are the bezels, the home button, the headphone jack, and the fingerprint sensor — all that's left is a glass slab of screen that, as it turns out, makes for a pretty great phone.

But what's an iPhone review doing on Android Central? Well, just as Daniel found in his review, the iPhone X has basically all of the same Google apps and services available that an Android phone would, so we figured, why not treat it like one?

See at Apple

By now you've probably seen the iPhone X a time or two before. Like a lot of other iPhones, the X features a glass front and back, but this is the first time we've seen Apple use a stainless steel frame since the 4S — with its polished finish, it's grippier than the more commonly used aluminum, which is nice, but it's not really that different otherwise.

The iPhone X is fairly hefty at 174 grams, and a bit thicker than other recent iPhones at 7.7mm. It's different from the industry's usual "the thinner, the better" attitude, but I actually like this added mass; it makes the phone feel more substantial, like I could drop it and it would be just fine. Apple seems to think so, too — it claims that the iPhone X uses the most durable glass ever on a smartphone — but glass is glass, and this phone still breaks like any other with enough impact.

I still miss the feeling of the matte aluminum from the iPhone 7, but the glass back does allow the iPhone X to support wireless charging. Since this phone uses Apple's Lightning connector, and my apartment is entirely outfitted with USB-C, this has quickly become the only way I charge the phone. As with any other phone, charge times aren't quite up to speed with a fast charge wired connection, but you might not even notice since Apple doesn't include a fast charger in the box. Ridiculous, I know.

While we're on the topic of missing features, the iPhone X obviously has no 3.5mm headphone jack. It still sucks, just like carrying the included analog-to-Lightning adapter still sucks, but apparently this is the future we signed up for. At the very least, Apple also includes Lightning-native EarPods in the box, which sound fine but literally only work with iOS devices.

So let's get into the real meat and bones of the iPhone X. As far as build quality and materials go, the iPhone X isn't that different from the iPhone 8 and others before it — but you already know the big differentiator.

The notch is there, but you probably won't notice it most of the time.

Yep, it's that notch. This is the first iPhone to feature a nearly edge-to-edge display, trimming away nonessentials like the large bezels and home button. Because the face of the phone is almost entirely screen, the front-facing camera and other sensors had to be condensed into a notch that occupies part of the display at the top, and love it or hate it, it's one of the iPhone X's most identifying characteristics. If you ask me, it's a fine compromise in exchange for minuscule bezels (some Android OEMs agree!), but it's not perfect — more on that later.

As for the display that notch dips into? It's a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED panel with a crazy 19.5:9 aspect ratio and what Apple calls "Super Retina" resolution — that's 1125 x 2436. This is the first time Apple has moved away from LCD in an iPhone, and it's a stunningly good panel, with terrific color reproduction and great outdoor visibility. It isn't nearly as bright as the Galaxy Note 8 or S9, but it also isn't nearly as cool-toned — especially thanks to Apple's True Tone technology.

The iPhone X also features 3D Touch, which allows the display to measure different levels of pressure for various actions throughout the software. Pressing with a bit of force on a home screen icon, for example, opens a contextual menu with shortcuts to key functions of that app. It works in tandem with one of my favorite parts of using the iPhone X, Apple's Taptic Engine, to reinforce your interactions with precise "clicks" and vibrations.

Oh, and before I move on to software, can we talk about how incredibly convenient the iPhone's mute switch is? It's been around since the original iPhone, and I simply don't understand why more Android manufacturers aren't copying this wonderful feature, rather than the notch.

Now it's time we had a talk about the software. The iPhone X is running Apple's iOS 11 (more specifically, mine is on iOS 11.2.6) platform, and it probably isn't your favorite software experience if you're a regular here at Android Central. As an Android user of seven years, I'm right there with you, but there's still a lot to love about the way this phone operates.

Despite a modern hardware design, the iPhone X still sticks with the same static grid of icons we've seen on the last decade of iPhones. You can rearrange the icons and group them into folders, but that's about as far as home screen customization gets here. Notifications are still an absolute disaster on iOS, and you still can't change default apps. Something that's completely different on the X, though, is how you navigate that interface.

Since there's no more home button, all of the usual navigation controls have been delegated to swiping gestures along the bottom of the screen. You can swipe up from any app to go home, or swipe left or right to quickly switch between apps. It takes a bit of getting used to, but if you've ever had the pleasure of using a webOS device, this will quickly feel like second nature.

There's a learning curve to the new gestures, but they mostly feel natural after a short time with the phone.

Unfortunately, the gestures within the recent apps list are a bit less intuitive. You can access your recent apps by swiping up and leaving your finger on the screen for a second or two, or speed up the process by swiping up and over to the right. Once you're there, you'll probably try to close an app by swiping up on the corresponding card — except, that just takes you back home. Instead, you have to long-press the card first, adding a minus button to the top-left corner, at which point you can finally start swiping active cards away. The whole process is slow, frustrating, and overly complicated — and a reminder that this phone is still very much in its testing phase months after its release.

Oh, and another growing pain — while I've been mostly unbothered by the notch in the display, it does annoyingly cut into the available space in the taskbar. As a result, you can't see important information like your battery percentage unless you jump into Control Center by swiping down to the right of the notch.

Control Center is great in theory; it's a hub for all sorts of shortcuts, just like the Quick Settings tray on Android. I love the large vertical sliders for volume and brightness, and the fact that you can 3D Touch them to open more toggles like Night Shift and True Tone. But that's sort of the problem — most of these are just toggles. 3D Touching the WiFi or Bluetooth buttons does nothing; the only way to change networks or devices is to open the Settings app.

iOS isn't all bad, though. App support is, unsurprisingly, fantastic, and there's an enormous selection of games and useful tools available for the iPhone X, many of which don't have Android counterparts. Even cross-platform apps often work better — especially social media apps. Instagram, for example, has a number of features exclusive to iOS, including switching cameras while recording video to your Story.

Using an iPhone also has a lot of benefits if you're a Mac user. Handoff is an extremely useful tool that lets you quickly and wirelessly transfer files from your Mac to your iPhone, and I use it all the time. I also appreciate being able to make iTunes backups if need be; iCloud works fine for the most part, but a local copy won't eat up my online storage, and the optional encryption keeps me from having to retype all of my passwords in the event of a restore.

iOS isn't always convenient or intuitive, but it's rewarding if you own a Mac.

There's also iMessage, which is actually a lot more than just being able to text from your Mac or iPad. With iMessage, you can send your blue bubble friends full-res media (yes, even video), play games, send those ridiculous Animoji, and even send and receive money through Apple Pay. Of course, you can also see when someone has read your text, as well as when they're typing a response.

Oh, and since there's no home button anymore, there's also no fingerprint sensor. You'll need to get used to using Face ID instead, which means you won't be able to sneakily unlock your phone during class or meetings anymore. It isn't quite as fast as Touch ID on the iPhone 8, but it still works extremely well, even in complete darkness. Just be mindful that, like Samsung's iris recognition on the Galaxy S8, it runs into trouble in direct sunlight, at which point you'll likely need to revert to your PIN.

Aside from the notch, the easiest way to identify an iPhone X over older models is by looking at the dual camera module, which has shifted from a lateral to a vertical orientation. As for the cameras themselves, you're looking at a 12MP f/1.8 wide lens and a 12MP f/2.4 2x zoom lens. Both lenses feature OIS, providing stability for handheld photos and videos, you can even shoot in 4K at a whopping 60fps.

The iPhone X produces warm, beautiful photos — as long as you're not shooting in Portrait Mode.

The camera software is pretty basic, without any form of manual controls. Just a few shooting modes to choose from, including Photo, Video, Slow-Mo, Time-Lapse, Portrait, Square, and Panorama. You can toggle flash, Live Photos, and a three or ten second timer, but that's about the extent of your options. That's sort of okay though, because the iPhone X takes some pretty stellar photos on its own.

The Pixel 2 still takes sharper, cleaner photos, but I really love the warm natural colors out of the iPhone X, and I don't seem to get them from any Android phone. The 2x lossless zoom is also great for getting closeup shots without having to physically move closer to the subject, but I know a lot of people will prefer the ultra-wide angle approach that LG has taken with its dual camera phones.

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One thing that's just consistently bad with the iPhone X's camera, at least in my experience, is Portrait Mode. In a vacuum, it does okay, and it's probably enough for the occasional selfie or product shot. But compared with the Pixel 2's Portrait Mode, the iPhone X has horrendous separation between the subject, foreground, and background, and even worse, because it primarily uses the zoom lens you have to step far back away from your subject. The secondary lens's slower aperture also means that Portrait photos are darker than shots captured in the default shooting mode.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to determine whether the iPhone X's battery life is good, or just acceptable. I think it's somewhere in between. On paper, the 2716mAh cell is absolutely tiny, especially when compared to the 3500mAh battery on the Galaxy S9+, or the 4000mAh battery on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. And yet, it's usually enough to last me through even a heavy day of use — though just barely. For the most part, I'd say that unless you're constantly playing high-end games, you'll probably have pretty good results with the iPhone X, but it's not quite the battery champ that I found the iPhone 7 Plus to be.

We're getting to the last bit of the review, where I'm supposed to tell you whether or not you should buy this phone, but it honestly feels next to impossible to give a one-size-fits-all answer — and not just because this is an iPhone review on an Android-focused site.

There's a general rule of thumb when it comes to tech that you shouldn't buy the first generation of a new product line, and instead wait for the second model to work out the bugs. I wish I'd heeded that advice when I bought my 2016 MacBook Pro, which has been plagued with the growing pains of Apple's new Touch Bar and #datdonglelife, and there's already a small laundry list of issues with the iPhone X's usability. Even if you're okay with essentially beta testing for Apple, though, there's a second hurdle when buying the phone: the price.

With a starting price of $999.99, the iPhone X is one the most expensive phones on the market, alongside the Galaxy Note 8, and with other great phones available for less like the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S9, it's hard to swallow that kind of cost. Still, if you're a dedicated iPhone fan with deeply lined pockets, or if you're willing to add $30-$40 in financing to your monthly phone bill, the iPhone X is a hell of a phone that I've certainly enjoyed using.

See at Apple

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

50 Comments
  • This should be fun, sit back and enjoy the ride.
  • Yep, lots of fun ahead. I have my drink and popcorn ready for this one.
  • 🍿
  • 🥃
  • OMG! I can't believe I am reading positive content about an Apple product on AC. This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL
    It's probably the nicest build of any phone I have ever held.
  • Well it makes sense bec the iPhone design, hardware and software ( look & feel) is always held in high regard even to its competitors. And of course Apple has so much influence in the industry and especially with Android manufacturers who try to copy designs from iPhones. Heck look at latest trend they ve popularized the X inspired notch phones coming out since the iPhone X.
  • Hmm.. Now just correct your self... Who copied who?
  • I saw iPhone X that copied Essential phone and xaomi mi mix combined in one design.
  • This should be fun... 🤓🍿
  • Finally some sense. It's refreshing to read what many of us already know and that you don't have to be narrow minded. You can enjoy Androids, iPhone's on iOS or any other platform for that matter and just appreciate them for being tech gadgets and useful tools
  • Spot on. I have found that other phones are just as good if not better than the best selling one one the market in the iPhone and galaxy line but its how they are put across to people and how that carrys across the masses. For me the best phone I used in 2017 was the xperia xz premium it had everything I wanted from a phone but the year before I moved to android from Windows phone but I was also shocked and supprided how well the moto z play 2 compared to my xz premium as my other half got one. I had the LG g5 and really enjoyed that expireance to but missed some things my lumia 950xl had in terms of a camera button and a few other bits. For me I don't like what apple and samsung offer software side but the devices look nice. Good to see a good review on here though.
  • We don't care this is not an apple page
  • ..ah..but will it get Android P? Ah-HA! Got you there!
  • It has the same chance of getting Android P as a 2016 Samsung phone. :)
  • If you squint a little you can imagine you're looking at the pixel 3. (I just assume Google will make it look the same just like everyone else this year).
  • Ha, while I'm not necessarily hoping for a notch in the Pixel 3 I wouldn't be upset if it looked more like the iPhone X and less like the iPhone 5!
  • Not gonna lie, I am with you. Copy away on the hardware side.
  • I don't know why this is here. I had an iPhone 7 for a little while and I couldn't even download apps like Android central. I was actually shocked. Why are you writing about this company that hates anything that it doesn't own? Leave that to Apple sites.
  • They all do that. Try downloading a Google app on a Windows phone or PC. They even barred Microsoft from having YouTube etc. There's tonnes of Google apps on iOS
  • It might be brilliant and the best phone ever but that stupid notch design, which is gonna start appearing on android handsets ruins it. I do hate that android OEMs just copy Apple, first the headphone jack and now this ridiculous notch :( sad times
  • « Notifications are still an absolute disaster on iOS«  No they are absolutely not! The bubbles be grouped by apps instrad of 1 notification per bubble. But besides from that, i find them very functional and clear vs on android where they are too condensed and harder to read As far as the grid icon, it’s simple and efficient!
  • I really like the iPhone X as well. Still not the biggest fan of iOS, but Apple finally brought in some of the things I most loved about Android phone hardware, like Oled panels (gorgeous), larger screens in smaller frames, great camera and some actual innovation (while Android feels stagnant). People complaining about the notch, haven’t actually used the X for more than a few minutes, because if they had, they’d know it’s almost a non issue in daily use. I hate to say it, but Apple has finally closed the gap and even surpassed Android in some very key areas. I NEVER thought i’d say that
  • Fairly decent article. Apple does make some solid hardware, but it's still iOS. Unless you're ready to go all in with that ecosystem, it's not far enough along for my taste. Notification system definitely needs work, default app system (if I say use Gboard, use Gboard ALL THE TIME!) and Siri, well, tons of room for improvement there. Beautiful phone, just functionally not interesting.
  • This point I don't see changing because of the security factor that the default keyboard has.
  • I understand your point. But my point is if I assign my technology defaults, I expect the response to be "Yes Sir!" not "sometimes" or "we know better". Otherwise, what's the point?
  • Never hated apple. Just didn't like their software. So wouldn't buy it. Simple.
    But now, I really hate them for starting fugly trends like no headphone jack, sealed battery and stupid notch. And I am hating android manufacturers more for blindly copying them.
    Apples is trying (successfully) to copy the best of android features. But somehow android OEMs end up picking up so most stupid things.
    Couldn't hate LG more to produce that fugly notch on the phone. smh
  • I still don't understand why anyone would want face ID let alone have it as the main way to unlock your phone.
    I wake my phone by touching the fingerprint sensor it's open.
    On the iPhone 10 you got to wake your phone stare at it for 10 seconds before realising you've got your sunglasses on, take them off stare at it again, what a retro idea...
  • None of this is the case. Have you even used one for more than 5 seconds?
  • To be honest I've not used one at all!
    But please enlighten me as to why I'm wrong?
    I touch the fingerprint sensor on my phone to wake it and it's open even before it's out of my pocket. What wrong with that statement?
    And if face ID works with my large dark sunglasses I stand corrected on that point.
    But the fact the iPhone 11 will have a fingerprint sensor suggests a retro step.
  • P.S
    I have face ID on my 5T and stand by my comment "I don't know why anyone would want it"
  • Lol 😂, just came here for the sh*tshow known as the comments section, not disappointed. Sent from either my iPhone X or Google Pixel 2 XL. 😉
  • Really? The comments looks very reasonable this time. Unless that's actually what you are hoping.
  • "Well, just as Daniel found in his review, the iPhone X has basically all of the same Google apps and services available that an Android phone would, so we figured, why not treat it like one?" Because it's not running Android?
  • Between the notch and loss of fingerprint reader and headphone jack i cant stand this phone but i will say it is the best iPhone apple ever rolled out
  • iPhone X is garbage, and there are cheaper Android flagships that are superior and do so much more because they run Android. I can't stand Apple or their BS walled garden iOS. Though I give Apple credit though, they know how to market their overpriced and inferior phones, and Samsung is the only one in the Android world who can market their phones as well as Apple but I still would not buy a Galaxy, because Samsung's software is NOT real Android, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL runs real Android which is clean, not bloat and is fast and smooth which Samsung's software isn't and I care about, fast, clean and smooth software and only Google's software is true Android.
  • no one can take you seriously. you sound like a 10 year old kid shaking a fist at a 9 year old kid saying "my phone is better than your phone"
    iPhone X is not garbage. it has a superior build quality over literally every android phone ever made.
    The REASON android has high end build quality at all is because apple showed everyone how to do it.
    That walled garden can be a blessing, just as much as a curse.
    it keeps you safe. iOS is on a Read Only partition and keeps way more viruses and malware at bay.
    when it comes to android. Samsung is the company that showed the world what android "could do"
    everyone should thank Samsung for making good phones. they single handedly got people to switch to android.
    The iPhone X is fast clean and smooth and get updates and security updates faster than any phone in the world. Apple Makes developers update their apps to work with the new iOS because they don't want to support old crapp. (since most android phones never get more than 1 update, ever. )
    The other reason iOS runs better than android is apple makes the hardware and software, it runs better because its designed from the ground up to run better. But, apple's A11 bionic is at least 2-3 ahead of the snapdragon 845 in the S9. Even android central says that. the 845 still can't even do 4K/60FPS. apple did that last year on the A10 . The A11 trounces the 845 in every benchmark ( I know benchmarks stopped mattering after apple started beating the pants off qualcom. )
    Stop being a fanboy. Android isn't paying you. google isn't paying you. google does care about you.
    embrace ALL tech instead of losing out on tech because you have some ignorant hatred for No Reason at all. Did apple touch you somewhere bad? I bet not. but you sure seem really butthurt by them.
  • I've used an iPhone for 4 years (I had a 6s Plus) off and on with the last 2 years switching between Android and iOS, and I finally got tired of fighting with the OS just to connect to a public WiFi and not being able to make my phone truly mine, plus being control by Apple so I switched back to Android for good and I ain't never coming back, and yes Samsung is a big reason why Android is dominant and ai like the look of their phones which looks better than the iPhone X but their software isn't true Android with all their bloat, the Pixel line is what Android should be, fast, clean, smooth and bloat free experience with fast and consistent updates so don't talk crap to me when I've used both platforms and Android is far better than iOS and pretty much every Android flagship is better than the iPhone X with that hideous notch and as of now, Android is far smoother than iOS, how you like them Apples? Apple apologist.
  • I recently sold an iPhone 8 Plus and got a Pixel 2. The only thing I miss about the iPhone was Taptic Engine. It's so well done, I had to turn off haptic feedback on my Pixel 2 because it feels so loose in comparison.
  • You made the right decision trading your iPhone 8 for a Pixel 2, although personality, I prefer the XL version as I like big phones, apart from the taptic engine you know that your Pixel 2 is better than any IPhone out there and you're running true bloated free Android. I had a 6s Plus and don't miss anything about it, I plan on getting a Pixel 2 XL but I currently have a Alcatel Pop 4 which I'm using temporarily until my Oukitel K6 (Chinese phone) is fixed (cracked screen which isn't working now) which runs pretty much stock Android with the Pixel 2 launcher and the Android messaging app replacing the default message app. So have you had issues with battery life on your Pixel 2?
  • The price point is the first barrier to me ever getting an iPhone X. The next barrier is that while iOS is fine I never want to be locked into Apple services. The third barrier is the price. I'm content to use an Android phone and an iPad.
  • 3 things I hate about the iPhone X, it's price, iOS and the company that makes it, and I'll never buy another iPhone again, Android phones are better than iPhones and Android as a whole is better than iOS, you get freedom, flexibility and customisation with an Android phone, and you can download BB a 3rd party app from outside the Play Store and make your phone look the way want and not the way Apple wants can't do that on the overpriced iPhone X can ya?
  • I don't understand how people have a difficult time using the iris scanner on the S8/S8+/Note8 in sunny conditions. I use it all the time with a 99% success rate, even with my Oakley's on.
  • I struggle with the iris scanner.
    I wake the phone by touching the fingerprint sensor and the phone is open before I get the chance to use the iris scanner!
    Same with face ID.
    I suppose I could double tap or use the power button and add another step but my dislike off adding things for no reason prevents me....
  • I have iPhone X and Note 8. Love them both. There is only one thing that keeps me using iPhone, and it's has nothing to do with updates.
    iMessage. until android can equal iMessage, I am not sure I will ever see android as anything more than a Toy that I play around with.
    Full resolution picts and video, read receipts, visual text back preview, group messages, safe, encrypted cash transfers, encrypted messages, end to end. gifs, emoji, animoji (dumb but funny sometimes)
    Then, you throw in being able to also text apple to apple (not just iPhone to iPhone) any apple product to any apple product as well has HD FaceTime, HD Audio via FaceTime audio... you can add a swipe keyboard to apple but it's not great. it actually the only bad thing you can find in iMessage. and btw, All iMessages and picts and videos in imessage are also backed up the the iCloud. This is one area that android can't touch. messaging on android is literally terrible.
    My brother also has a Note 8 and we tried to send pics and video to each other, video was literally 6 day old, Hot Garbage at Best. it was so bad, you may as well say the feature doesn't exist because its useless.
    The ONLY way to send pics and video is using Samsung direct file transfer feature where I drop the pic or video in (basically a drop box) and it sends a link so he can go look at it.
    When it comes to pictures, not sure how much it was compressing them, but we used allo for picts. and after we tried short videos a couple times, we never tried that again...
    The notch is totally over blown. after you use the phone for a couple days, it don't even notice it at all, and to be honest, I actually like that way it looks. it might be the new signature for apple since the can use the round circle at the bottom.
    The note 8 and android rocks outside of messages. for regular texts (no video) Allo is my all time fav app. but iMessage makes it look like junk even tho allo is prettier.
  • As much as it pains me to say it, and being a farmer iPhone user turned Android user, messages is literally the only thing Apple has over Android but everything else with Android is far superior to Apple.
  • Except customization which i really don’t carr personally, i think ios is far more superior to Android imo. Good ecosystem, good design, simple...
  • « just like carrying the included analog-to-Lightning adapter still sucks«  Let the dongle attached to your headphone, it’s really simple!
  • « Notifications are still an absolute disaster on iOS«  Actually, no! It’s better imo than on Android. More readable and also interactive! The only bad point is that they could group the same app notification into a single bubble
  • « The whole process is slow, frustrating, and overly complicated — and a reminder that this phone is still very much in its testing phase months after its release » Come on that’s a minor downside, really a nitpick. That doesn’t make the phone a beta test!
  • « iOS isn't always convenient or intuitive » No OS is always perfect but ios is more intuitive, and less customizable, than Android