A Few Random Thoughts After 24 Hours of iPhone X

I’ve spent the last 24 hours playing with my silver iPhone X and occaisionally making a few notes. Here they are:

  • Face ID is the real deal. I already like it better than Touch ID. I’m not the first person to say this, but it reminds me of the original iPhone where there was no authentication at all. You just lift the phone up and start working. Security almost becomes a non-event. I’ve tested it in the dark, outside with the sun at my back (and front), with sunglasses, and with a hat. It just works. I’m letting my beard grow for the week to see what happens but I fully expect it to continue working fine. The only failure I’ve encountered is when the phone is held upside down, which isn’t really fair but easier than you think given this buttonless flat piece of glass.
  • 1Password and Face ID together are kind of awesome. It does feel like living in the future.
  • The longer screen makes sense. I spend a lot of time in apps that list data, like Notes, OmniFocus, and Fantastical. The extra vertical space is useful. Some apps handle the extra space (and notch) nicely. Others don’t, but it’s too early to call anyone out. The conscientious developers will figure out the best UI for the new display.
  • Speaking of the notch, I don’t like it. When I’m in an app that has a dark user interface, I don’t notice it. When I’m in a light colored app interface, I think it looks terrible. Edge-to-edge everywhere else really makes the notch stand out. All that said, I’m glad Apple didn’t wait until they could bury the sensors under the screen to make this phone. As much as I don’t like the notch, I’m willing to live with it in exchange for all the other stuff the phone can do.
  • After years of buying Space Gray, this year I went Silver. There are a few reasons for that. First, the silver phone still has a black bezel in front. (I wasn’t a fan of the white bezel.) Second, those stainless steel edges look damn fine next to my stainless steel Apple Watch. It kind of reminds me of the original iPhone. (Catching a theme here?)
  • Looking at an iPhone sans home button is jarring. After 10 years of seeing the same face on my phone, it still looks like something got cut off.
  • The new gestures do not take long to internalize. It’s kind of remarkable to me how quickly swiping up for home screen became second nature. I’m still not sold on having to go to the right ear to swipe down the control center. I’d have preferred a long swipe up from the bottom. Swiping left or right on the home bar lets you switch between apps. That is easily best app switching gesture Apple has provided us to date.
  • Reachability is taking a back seat. You have to go to accessibility preferences to turn it on and the gesture, swiping down at the home bar feels awkward to me.
  • The OLED screen looks great but it is not on the same level as the transition from non-retina to retina screens. After just a day, I don’t notice the OLED as much as I thought I would
  • Coming from the 7 Plus, the new camera system is better. This is particularly true with the 2X lens, which now also includes image stabilization and lets in more light. Indoor shots have improved. I took several test photos on my walk this morning and the iPhone continues to take better pictures. The biggest upgrade is the selfie camera, that can now take a pretty great portrait-style selfie. There’s a gallery below.
  • The sleep/wake button on the right is bigger and more prominent than I’ve ever seen it on the iPhone.
  • The iPhone X sounds excellent. I turned up the volume all the way, and the iPhone X speaker is fine for podcasts, audio books, and – in a real pinch – Dexter Gordon.
  • It’s too early to report on battery life. This thing has been hot and sucking down battery since I first turned it on. That’s typical for someone like me that has his entire life stored in cloud services. I expect things will calm down in a few days.
  • Carrier authorization when I was first setting things up was a mess. This also reminded me of the first iPhone.
  • Transitioning from a Plus size phone down to the iPhone X has been interesting. I like the way the smaller phone fits in my hand, and I’d forgotten about that feeling after using the bigger phone for the last two years. Despite physically being nearly the same size as the standard phone, the screen is nearly as big as the Plus size screen, which almost makes you feel like it is bigger on the inside. I’m worse at typing on the smaller on-screen keyboard but, overall, I’m looking forward to carrying a smaller phone.
  • Overall, I like the iPhone X. I guess there is no surprise in that. It’s not going to change the world in the same way the original iPhone did, but after so many years of evolutionary updates to the iPhone, it’s kind of nice to have something a little more revolutionary.