For 10 years now, Apple organize a keynote each September when they unveil all their new achievements regarding smartphones (iPhone).
In 2007 we saw a device which changed our perception of the smartphone as we knew it forever, and which changed the way we interacted with the device, paving the path for the mobile industry as a whole – a iPhone 2G device in which Apple presented the capacitive touch screen which was ahead of its time. Manufacturers which offered touchscreen smartphones before the iPhone, (although scarce) mostly had resistive panels. The iPhone 2G made a huge boom on the market with its premium build and simple OS design.
In 2008 we saw the iPhone 3G version, and in 2009 the iPhone 3GS followed which brought stronger hardware and more advanced cameras.
In 2010 there was a leap forward regarding the design – the iPhone 4 represented the perfect symbiosis of glass and metal body and powerful hardware. For the first time ever, the world was presented with the Retina display. After the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S was unveiled, again with more advanced hardware but with the same design.
Apple stuck to their 3.5” displays until 2011, and in 2012 they opted for the bigger and better 4” display in the iPhone 5, which was a significant step forward technology and design-wise, but which still had the same Retina display. The iPhone 5S (presented in September 2013) represented logical continuation of the whole lineup, and as the successor to the iPhone 5 it brought a more advanced camera, and something that Apple have perfected in the following years – the Touch ID, as the new security measure.
The market got overwhelmed with Android devices which followed the trend of bigger and bigger displays, and Apple decided to sacrifice their consistency opting for a bigger display themselves. In September 2014 Apple announced the new iPhone 6, which, as the main news, brought the 4.7” display, new chassis design and more powerful hardware. The general design of the iPhone 6 remains current even today, since the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus have very similar designs which really express the authenticity and the build quality.
But this year’s true star is the third device from the Apple line-up – the iPhone X.
Today we’re testing a Silver X with 64GB of internal storage. This device definitely dominates among the three presented, and what makes it so special is its edge-to-edge display and an amazing glass and metal design. Next to this, the new iPhone brings us a whole new way of data protection which Apple like to call Face ID – but more on that a little bit later. Also, just as we have a double camera setup on the iPhone 8 Plus, we have it here as well, and it is one of the things that place the iPhone X on the very top of the market. We get an impression that Apple how found their way in producing new smartphones through the design of the iPhone X, and this year is probably the last in which we will have the classic iPhone look (iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7, iPhone 8).
Inside the factory box, next to the device itself, we have: user manuals, Apple headphones with the Lightning connector (as well as the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter), an Apple charging adapter, a USB cable and a SIM tray tool. Next to this color and storage option you can also get the iPhone X in Space Gray, as well as with 256GB of internal storage. What does the revolutionary iPhone bring us? Make yourself cozy and keep on.
The 5.8” display in chassis which is just slightly bigger that the iPhone 8’s, and yet significantly smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. As we’ve already mention, the display is Super AMOLED, which geeks associate with excellent Samsung displays, but this time in an iPhone. This time Apple have unveiled the flagship without IPS LCD displays with LED backlight, which definitely are some of the best LCD panels on the market. The resolution of the display is 1125 x 2436 pixels, the aspect ratio is 19.5:9, and this translates to more than just good 458 PPI, which is a new record for Apple. The sharpness of the display is excellent. Web surfing on the iPhone X is a real pleasure, and you honestly won’t see any difference if you compare the iPhone X with other devices with much bigger number of PPI. Let’s go back to the panel – Super AMOLED. It can show up to 16.7 million of colors. The display on the iPhone X looks magnificent. Color reproduction is very realistic, with no oversaturation that are common in Samsung devices, changing viewing angles doesn’t harm this display at all, and the visibility on the sunlight is just remarkable. What makes us particularly happy is the brightness of the panel – up to 624 nit at maximal brightness. Minimal brightness is also very good, but this way the display has a small brightness loss. What Apple point out is the Wide Color Gamut which is basically the DCI-P3 algorithm used in American film industry. Add to this the True-tone mode, and the reproduction on this screen becomes phenomenal. This device is fully HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible, which is great since we can see more and more HDR content.
Something that we’ve had a chance to see in the iPhone 6S for the first time and that has remained in the “iPhone X” is the 3D Touch. It is a system that brings multi-touch capabilities to a whole new level. The thing is that the screen can actually register the “strength” of the press, and in regards to it offers multiple options. Combined with the Taptic Engine, the 3D touch offers better sense of interaction with the device itself, producing a slight vibration when the screen is pressed harder. Next to all this, it is worth to mention the “Night Shift” mode, which reduces the stress on the eyes during use by emitting yellowing shades. This is Apple’s response to Samsung’s “Blue Light Filter”. Another very practical option in the iPhone X is the “Double Tap to Wake Up” which is always active by default. Speaking in general – the display of the iPhone X is at the moment the very top of what the market has to offer, and it is a great choice for the iPhone flagship. This has been confirmed by DisplayMate as well. As this is basically Samsung’s panel, all credits go to Samsung.
Some of the features of this display are:
- sharpest color reproduction up to date
- highest brightness level in an OLED panel (634 nit)
- highest contrast level
- lowest reflection percentage (only 4.5%)
- smallest change in brightness when viewing angles are changed
Hardware and OS
The thing that Apple point out in particular, and what represents the heart of the new iPhone, is the chipset. It is the newly developed Apple A11 Bionic chipset which brings to the market never before seen performances. According to Apple, the A11 will bring up to 70% better performances compared to the last year’s A10 found in iPhones 7 and 7 Plus. As usual, Apple set the bar regarding CPU performances very high each September, and this year is no exception. This chipset is consisted of 6 cores, with two stronger Monsoon cores clocked at 2.1 GHz in charge of more demanding tasks, and four weaker Mistral cores in charge of everyday operations which don’t put a lot of stress on the hardware. All these cores have the capability to work simultaneously.
Also, we can find the dual-core “Neural Engine” in charge of machine learning, and serves to even further increase the speed of execution of generally high demanding operations. Another thing that is new is the tri-core GPU which offers brutal performances, better even than the very powerful Adreno 540. The GPU is completely made in house by Apple. Combining this GPU with the low resolution display results in remarkable 3D performances and perfectly fluid user experience. While certain devices of Android world boast with 6GB of RAM, or even 8GB, Apple chose to stay at 3GB of RAM. Although this seems to be little, multitasking performances aren’t endangered in any way, and they are comparable to, for example, the Galaxy Note 8’s, which has 2 times more RAM memory.
Paired with 3GB or RAM, the iPhone X comes with either 64GB or 256GB of internal storage, which is not expandable via a microSD card. The iPhone X scored 232 000 points on the AnTuTu benchmark, which is an amazing result around 30% better compared to the best Android device. Overheating is not something the iPhone X is not familiar with. Screen transitions, application execution and web surfing all work perfectly. What especially sets the iPhone apart from its Android counterparts are its gaming performances – if you like gaming you’ll notice far shorter loading times.
The device has outstanding stereo speakers implemented, which offer amazing sound reproduction.
As all modern premium devices, the iPhone X is also water and dust resistant. It is IP67 certified which means that your iPhone will endure submerging to 1m depth for 30 minutes.
One of the biggest news in the iPhone X is the Face ID. As we’ve mentioned before, Apple have raised the security to a new level in 2013 with the implementation of a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5S. This system offered very quick and safe data protection. In the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, we still have the same Touch ID system on the front side, but the iPhone X has its own way to go.
We don’t have any buttons on the front, so the Touch ID button has to be on the back, right? No.
The Touch ID system is fully removed from the iPhone X, and it is replaced by the revolutionary Face ID system.
It is a system which uses 3D mapping of your face in order to enable access to the device. No, this is not a system which uses the front facing camera in order to recognize the face. This system cannot be fooled with a printed photo of one’s face, which was the biggest flaw of devices which had implemented the facial recognition this way.
Apple have something new and far more complex than anything we’ve had a chance to see so far. The Face ID consists of several sensors located on the front side of the device (True Depth sensor, Infrared camera, Dot projector) and all of them work together in order to register the face the following way:
- Proximity sensor and ambience light sensor help the True Depth sensor “figure out” how much light is needed in order to recognize the face.
- The “Flood illuminator” sensor sheds the light invisible to the human eye onto the face.
- The mini dot projector projects more than 30.000 dots onto your face in order to make a 3D map of it.
- The infrared camera picks up this dot map, as well as the light reflected off of the face.
- The infrared image is sent into the iPhone’s “Neural Engine” which creates the 3D model of the face.
- The received map is “presented” to preset algorithms, and it is compared to previously saved face maps.
- The computer makes a calculation in order to determine the percentage in which the scanned face and the stored face are matched.
- The system enables the device to unlock if this percentage is higher than the minimum match value.
The same keynote that presented the iPhone also presented the new iOS it will run on.
It is the iOS 11 which brings a lot of new things which you can see on the official website: iOS 11 for iPhone X
As we’ve already mentioned, we didn’t get the Home button this time around. How do I then get back to the home screen? In the new iPhone X, Apple have unveiled a completely new way of interaction. Swiping from the bottom left corner we get the notification screen, and swiping from the bottom right corner we get the “action center” which has certain shortcuts:
- brightness adjustment
- volume adjustment
- WiFi, Bluetooth, HotSpot, Airplane mode, LED light switches
- multimedia player
- portrait orientation lock
- Night Shift switch
Next to all innovations in the field of display, design and chipset, a good part in this device is played by its cameras. As this is a device that represents the cutting edge of what Apple have to offer, two main cameras are mandatory. Apple chose to implement two 12MP cameras in a vertical position, and the similar setup we could see in the iPhone 8 Plus, only in a horizontal position. We say similar because there are differences under the hood, not only in the orientation of sensors. We’re still talking about 12MP sensors which care capable of pair work, and this way they can capture photos with excellent Bokeh effect. One of the sensors is wide angle and it has the aperture of f/1.8, while the other one is a “telephoto” sensor which has the aperture of f/2.4 and as such it lets more light in compared to the one implemented into the iPhone 8 Plus (f/2.8), which should provide better photos in low light shooting environments. Speaking of the technical details regarding the camera, we have: Phase Detection Auto-Focus, optical image stabilization (OIS) in both sensors, 2x optical zoom achieved by using both sensors, Geo-tagging and of course HDR mode.
Regarding the quality of photos and videos, it is obvious that Apple have left nothing unfinished, so we can freely say that this is the best and the most complete smartphone regarding photo and video experience. Photos are perfectly clear, with good color reproduction, low levels of noise and good dynamic range. The general impression is even further enhanced through Auto-HDR which will activate itself when necessary and secure amazing photos. Night time photos are on par with those made by the iPhones 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which means that you’ll be able to make perfect photos even without using the quad dual-tone LED flash. What also bought us is the 2x optical zoom with no loss of quality, which will during daytime use only slightly increase the level of noise. A special something are also photos made by the iPhone X with the Bokeh effect. Focused object will be pretty pronounced compared to the blurred background, so the effect will be complete.
The new iPhone also has the “High Efficiency” shooting mode, which shoots photos in HEIF format. It is the “High Efficiency Image Format” which uses higher compression levels but with no loss of quality. This way memory is saved up to 50%. Apple really scored with this format, it really does reach excellent results. Although videos and photos are recorded in relatively unsupported formats, you won’t have any problems viewing them on other devices, because Apple have thought of this as well. When sending HEVC videos to other devices, video formats will automatically be converted to H.264 format. Same thing goes for photos as well – from HEIF to .jpeg. Amazing, thumbs up, Apple!
Another area where Apple shine is video recording, in a way that iPhones 8 / iPhone 8 Plus / iPhone X all have the capability to record high quality 4K videos at 60fps. Videos look remarkable, and they are very fluid with stable 60fps framerate. All this is enabled through the high efficiency mode which captures videos in HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding H.265) format which really isn’t that wide-spread. Next to 4K@60fps videos there is also one of the best “slow motion” videos out there – 1080p FullHD videos at 240fps. Adding 2x optical zoom makes things even better and enables recording of better and more creative videos.
Next to these two, also available are:
Speaking of the camera interface itself, nothing much has changed. A typical iPhone environment we’d say.
Let’s start from the top: upper left corner contains the flash mode, next to it to the right is the “switch” for Live Photo mode, then the self-timer and finally on the far right there is a button that lets you choose the effects:
- Vivid Warm
- Vivid Cool
- Dramatic Warm
- Dramatic Cool
Supported modes are:
- Slow-Motion (1080p@240fps)
- Video mode
- Photo mode
- Square mode
- Panorama mode
FullHD 1080p videos at 60fps also work excellently, and they are nicely stabilized. Videos taken in 24fps are there only to add to the movie effect. The only downside to taking videos is the mono sound. When it comes to the front facing camera, we have the same sensor as on the iPhone 7. It is the 7MP sensor with the aperture of f/2.2. It can detect faces in order to sharpen the image, it supports the HDR mode and it can capture panorama photos. Pictures taken with the front facing camera are very good with a solid level of details, however, we did see better results in some Android devices. A flaw is definitely the lack of autofocus system. The front facing camera captures videos in 1080p FullHD resolution at 30fps, and it also enables slow-motion video capturing in 720p HD resolution at 240fps. Flash is executed through software means.
Speaking of the connectivity options of the iPhone X, not many things lack. This device supports 4G connections. We are used to having iPhones only as SingleSIM devices with no microSD card slot, and it is the case here as well. The main news this year regarding connectivity is wireless charging. Lightning port, which is reversible, is used for charging and data transfer, much like the USB Type-C that we have in Android devices. Supported wireless connections are:
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth v5.0
- NFC (used only for ApplePay on supportedmarkets)
NFC is very limited, it is only used to contactless payments through the ApplePay.
Supported frequencies are:
- 2G GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- 3G UMTS: 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
- 4G LTE: 700 / 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
- 4G TDD-LTE: 1700 / 1900 / 2000 / 2100 / 2300 / 2500 / 2600 MHz
Battery in the iPhone X has the capacity of only 2716 mAh. Although, on paper, it seems small, thanks to the perfectly optimized software and very efficient chipset regarding battery consumption, it can offer up to 60 hours of music reproduction or around 21 hours of 3G talking time on a single charge. As usual, the battery is non-removable and it is a Lithium-Ion battery. The device support fast charging, but despite it being supported, the fast charger is not shipped with the device inside the factory box. As we have previously mentioned, wireless charging is also enabled through the glass on the back, but – you guessed it – you’ll have to buy the wireless charger separately.
Modern smartphone premium class got another contender, which places at the very top of the market in our opinion. Long story short – the iPhone X is a complete device in all regards: amazing cameras, the best display you’ve had a chance to see in a smartphone, excellent build with futuristic design, and as icing on the cake, very powerful hardware. Also we liked the implementation of the Face ID system, which will, we’re sure, improve even more in future, and which significantly simplifies unlocking your device. The 3.5mm port is missing, but we’ve got over that last year with the iPhone 7. Water resistance is another advantage, although it is not IP68, but only IP67 certified. At the beginning, you might consider some things a disadvantage since they need some getting used to, for example the lack of the Home button, but in a couple of days you’ll find yourself enjoying the new interface and controls. Does the iPhone X justify the price difference between it and the iPhones 8 and iPhone 8 Plus? Definitely, if you’re ready to set aside a significant amount of money for the latest Apple’s baby, you’ll get the very best a smartphone can offer at this moment.
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