Last known price of Apple iPhone X was Rs. 91,900. This phone is available in 64 GB, 256 GB storage variants.
When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone ten years ago, he promised that Apple's first smartphone will revolutionise the smartphone industry, which it did. The iPhone turned out to be an instant hit. It was not only smarter than competing devices of those times but also much easier to use. For a majority of the past decade, almost all modern smartphones have been inspired by the iPhone, featuring a big capacitive touchscreen, a naturally scrolling user interface, a home button, a non-removable battery and lots of apps. However, over the past few years, HTC, LG, Samsung and Xiaomi were quicker to implement newer technologies in their smartphones, including OLED screens, bezel-less screen designs, and wireless charging, overtaking Apple in terms of smartphone design.
Apple's reluctance to implement new features in iPhones led tech pundits and even consumers to question whether Apple has lost its zeal to innovate, something that Steve Jobs always focussed on when he was alive. To silence all the doubters, Apple released an all-new iPhone this year. Since 2017 marks the ten-year anniversary of the iPhone, Apple named its new smartphone the iPhone X (read as iPhone Ten). It isn't anything like previous iPhones. It incorporates a lot of new technologies, right from an OLED HDR screen with minimal bezels, a shinier design, the most powerful smartphone processor ever, faster connectivity, and wireless charging. It even became the first phone ever to implement 3D face scanning as a user authentication system.
So, is the iPhone X the best smartphone ever or is it just the best iPhone? Does it really warrant an astronomical price of Rs. 1,02,000 (for the 256GB variant)? Let's find out in our in-depth review.
Design & Build Quality
The iPhone X marks a radical change in Apple's smartphone design ethos. It has extremely thin bezels, thereby allowing a larger screen to fit into a smaller-sized device. Hence, carrying an iPhone X doesn't feel like you're carrying a brick in your pocket, something that I always feel while using the Plus variants of the iPhone. Apple has also replaced a metal back with a glass one this year, making it easier to design antennae and implement wireless charging. Coming back to the bezel-less screen, smartphone brands have their own ways of designing phones with bezel-less (well, I like to call them less-bezel displays) screens. The technology hasn't matured enough yet to fill the complete front fascia of the phone with its screen, because the front-facing camera, the earpiece, and the proximity sensor need to be on the front. While Xiaomi shifted the sensors and the camera below the Mi MIX 2's screen where there's some room left, Samsung chose to have symmetrical-yet-minimal bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. On the other hand, Apple chose to maximise the screen real estate by filling the complete front of the iPhone X with the screen, leaving just the area where the front-facing camera and sensors are placed without the screen, thereby creating a â€˜notch'.
There was a lot of hue and cry about the notch when Apple first showcased the iPhone X on the stage, and consumers were left with numerous questions and doubts as to how it will affect the viewing experience. When I first started using the iPhone X, the notch seemed like a hindrance, but I learnt to ignore it within the first week. Overall, thanks to a 5.8-inch screen and bezel-less design, the iPhone X feels comfortable in the hands. It fits even inside the tightest pockets without many problem. The phone feels solid, and has a heft to it, which makes it feel premium. However, thanks to glass front and back, you'll have to be extra careful with it since a drop can lead to shattered glass and tens of thousands worth hole in your pocket. It is quite resistant to dust and water, though, thanks to its IP67 certification. The stainless steel sides of the iPhone X are prone to scratches. Moreover, the vertically placed dual-camera module protrudes quite a bit, making the phone rattling when it is placed on a flat surface. It's best to use the iPhone X with a case if you don't want it to rattle.
There's no 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone X, and there should be no excuse for not having one as it causes users a lot of pain. While Apple ships a Lightning port to 3.5mm headphone port converter in the box, it can easily be forgotten or lost. If you end up losing it, you'll have to shell out Rs. 990 for it in India. There are only two decent Lightning earphones in India, and both of them cost a bomb. Due to the lack of a dedicated headphone port, you lose the ability to listen to audio through headphones while charging the iPhone. While there are a few dongles that allow you to do that, you'll have to spend some extra dough. Overall, the iPhone X looks modern and unique, but it's quite fragile. Apple could've done better with using a rear-facing fingerprint reader and slightly larger top and bottom bezels to accommodate the front-facing camera and the sensors without creating a notch for an even better experience.
Bezel-less OLED display with the notch
The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch screen, and it is the first iPhone to use an OLED panel and a bezel-less design. This brings Apple on par with 2017's smartphones. The notch, which hides the front-facing camera, proximity sensor, and all the sensors used for the Face ID system, is an eyesore, at least for the first few days. You learn to overlook it after some time, though. However, it still feels like a hindrance while watching full-screen videos. Coming to the quality of the screen, Apple has used the best OLED panel from Samsung, the maker of world's best smartphone OLED panels. The screen is insanely bright, has accurate colours, and the content looks like its painted right on the top of the screen. The screen is HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) and Wide Colour Gamut compliant, too. It can reach a peak brightness of over 1,000 nits while playing HDR videos through Netflix or Vimeo, and it's an amazing experience.
Apple doesn't allow tweaking the colour calibration on the iPhone X because it has the best colour-calibrated screen ever. The TrueTone feature adjusts the white balance according to the ambient light temperature, making it easier on the eyes. If you want to filter out blue light, you can turn on the Night Mode manually or schedule it according to the local sunrise and sunset times. I hope that Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, and YouTube start supporting HDR on the iPhone X. Quality-wise, it is the best screen I have ever used on a smartphone. However, we think that the Galaxy Note 8 offers a better viewing experience due to its symmetrical bezels around the screen and the ability to customise the colours as per a user's preference. 3D Touch remains a useful feature that lets you perform quick actions easily.
Similar to the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X has a dual rear-facing camera setup for bokeh effect. It consists of two 12-megapixel sensors, dual-tone LED flash, and the ability to record 4K videos at 60fps. However, since the iPhone X is special, it gets something extra in the imaging department. It is the first iPhone to feature optical image stabilisation (OIS) for both the camera sensors. Moreover, the secondary camera also gets a wide-aperture treatment (at F2.4 compared to F2.8 on the iPhone 8 Plus). Hence, even the secondary rear-facing camera with 2x optical zoom can click brighter, shake-free images and videos, even in low-light conditions. Everything else remains the same, right from the sensor size to the video recording resolution. The phone can also record 1080p slow-motion videos at 240fps. The iPhone X's front-facing camera uses the same 7MP sensor from last year's iPhones, but it is now accompanied by Face ID's depth-sensing mechanism, so it can click images with background blur (also known as Portrait Mode on most smartphones). The front-facing camera can record 1080p videos at 30fps. It can also be used to create fun â€˜Animojis'.
We tested the iPhone X's front and rear-facing cameras in a variety of situations, including scenes with bright sunlight, artificial lights, and low-light conditions. We tried capturing people, animals, vegetation, landscapes, and a lot more subjects, and were pretty satisfied with the iPhone X's camera. All the images showcased wide dynamic range and high amount of details. However, we also noticed that Apple has tweaked its image processing after consumers complained of bland-looking images from last year's iPhones. This year's iPhones have slightly warmer colours. No wonder, images clicked in low-light conditions had a orange/yellow tint to them. Also, the exposure was set lower than it should've been in low-light conditions, resulting in darker images. The Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8, HTC U11, and OnePlus 5T consistently clicked images with better exposure metering under similar scenarios. The quad-LED flash on the iPhone X is quite powerful, though, and can brighten up most subjects, unless you're when clicking images of a scenery.
The Portrait Mode, which clicks images with DSLR-like background blur effect, has been improved on the iPhone X. Portrait images now appear sharper. Also, thanks to the A11 Bionic's machine learning capabilities, Apple could implement artificial lighting (named Portrait Lighting in true Apple fashion). There are five effects to choose from, and Stage Light Mono is the most dramatic of them all, but it's also the hardest to get it right. I found that the Studio Light and Contour Light effects work well in most scenarios. Portrait images clicked using the front-facing camera are not that great. The Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL click relatively better background-blurred images using their front-facing cameras. If you want to record 4K videos at the ultra-smooth 60fps frame rate, you'll have to choose the high efficiency video codec (HEVC) format, which could mess up compatibility with older devices. 4K videos have plenty of details but the video stabilisation is not as good as the one that's used in the Pixels 2 phones and even the Galaxy S8/Note 8.
iOS 11, which comes pre-installed on the iPhone X, has brought a tonne of UX changes. It has been designed keeping the new iPhone X, it's bezel-less design, its notch and the lack of a home button in mind. First of all, the Control Centre has been moved to the top, and you can access it by swiping down from the right side of the notch, while notifications can be accessed by swiping down from the right side of the notch or by swiping down from the notch itself. That's confusing, isn't it? Moving on, the swipe up from the bottom of the screen, which used to open the Control Centre on older iPhones, is now used to go back to the home screen.
To add to the confusion, the power button now also acts as a way to summon Siri. You have to long press it to activate the Apple's AI-powered digital voice assistant. Since there's no physical home button, you have to click the power button and the volume up button at the same time to capture a screenshot. To open the multi-tasking menu, you have swipe up from the bottom of the screen halfway up. If you want to kill an app that appears in the multi-tasking menu, you'll have long-press the app card till a red â€˜close' icon appears on its left corner, then either tap on that icon or swipe up the card. To sum it up, iOS is no longer an intuitive smartphone operating system, especially on the iPhone X. iOS 11 was also supposed to offer iMessage Sync among all Apple devices tied to the same account, but the feature is nowhere to be seen.
Speaking of positives, iOS 11 brings built-in screenshot editor and annotating tool as well as a screen recording tool. You can arrange the order in which apps appear in the sharing menu. The new Files app lets you arrange individual files, and there's an option to integrate cloud storage services, including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Adobe Creative Cloud. There's a built-in QR code scanner inside the Camera app. The stock Notes app can be used to scan multi-page documents using the camera. The Gallery app can be used to change Live Photo animations, and there are three to choose from: Bounce, Long Exposure, and Loop. You can even change the precise moment from the Live Photo which should be displayed as the thumbnail for the an image inside the Gallery app. All the stock apps have been redesigned with a focus on content and images.
iOS 11 also brings support for augmented reality (AR), and there are hundreds of apps and games that offer some kind of AR experience. The Control Centre can now be customised, finally! While installing new apps or games from the App Store, iOS 11 prompts you to double-click the power button to start user authentication using Face ID, after which the download and installation starts. It also becomes easier to share stickers, emojis, and games with friends through iMessage. Siri is now even more powerful, and Indian users can now check out IPL and cricket scores. There's a newer version of AirPlay, logically named AirPlay 2, and it brings support for multi-room audio, but I couldn't test it because I did not have access to more than one AirPlay compatible speaker.
The A11 Bionic chipset runs the show on the iPhone X, and it is insanely powerful. It uses two high-performance CPU cores (Monsoon) clocked at 2.39GHz and four power-efficient CPU cores (Mistral). Apple's second-generation CPU controller allows all six cores to run at the same time (also known as heterogeneous multi processing or HMP), and this feature was missing in iPhones since a long time. The A11 Bionic is also Apple's first chipset to use a GPU that has been completely designed in-house by the company. The GPU has three cores, and it is the most powerful GPU used in any smartphone till now. There's 3GB of LP-DDR4X RAM and 64GB or 256GB of ultra-fast NVMe storage. As a result, the iPhone X's performance is excellent, light and heavy tasks alike. You can be sure that any game that you play on the iPhone X will achieve a smooth frame rate of over 60 frames per second.
The only place where I felt that the iPhone X's performance could be better is its ability to keep apps in the memory. No more than five apps remain in the memory at the same time. No matter how fast the processor is, it won't be of much use if the phone can't keep at least 10 apps in its memory. Even mid-range Android phones like the Mi A1 do better than the iPhone X in this regard. The performance is great in other areas, though, including the audio quality through loudspeakers as well as the quality of signal reception. The iPhone X has some of the best loudspeakers, and they do well in both clarity and volume. Heck, you can even notice some bass. The loudspeakers on the HTC U11 come close to the ones on the iPhone X, but the ones on the iPhone 8 Plus are slightly clearer than the other two. It's a shame that Apple isn't using any high-bitrate codec for Bluetooth such as aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC. The W1 chip inside Apple's AirPods and Beats series of earphones/headphones only improves the connection range and stability, but not the audio quality itself. Cellular reception and call clarity is great, too, thanks to the glass back.
Let's talk about Face ID now. It has been in the news ever since it was announced during the launch of the iPhone X. The Face ID 3D face scanning and recognition technology replaces the Touch ID fingerprint reader used in all the iPhones since 2013. It uses the company's TrueDepth camera, which projects 30,000 infrared dots on a user's face to create its 3D depth map and saves it in the phone's secure element. Then, the same information is used to authenticate a user while they're unlocking the phone, buying apps or content, and in various other third-party apps. Face ID is quite fast and secure, but not as fast or easy to use as the Touch ID fingerprint reader. The biggest problem arises when the phone is resting on a table, and you want to unlock the phone. With a fingerprint reader you could unlock it easily, but with face scanning you have to pick up the phone and bring it in front of your face to get the job done. I would've preferred a rear-facing fingerprint reader over Face ID, which would've made the notch smaller as well.
Apple did something new with the iPhone X's battery as well. Unlike most phones, the iPhone X has two batteries, one placed vertically and the other placed horizontally. Combined, the device has a battery capacity of 2716mAh, and it supports fast charging (50% in 30 minutes) as well as fast wireless charging (after iOS 11.2 update). However, even after charging a bomb, Apple doesn't ship a fast charger for its phones in the box, and that's a shame. If someone wants to fast charge their shiny new iPhone, they'll have to shell out an excess of Rs. 5,000 for Apple's USB-C Power Delivery charger and USB-C to Lightning cable. You can buy a third-party USB-C Power Delivery compatible wall charger for around Rs. 2,500. However, even when you use a compatible fast charger, the iPhone X stops charging rapidly after its battery gets charged to 80%.
I charged the iPhone X using the default charger and Samsung's Fast Wireless Charger during the course of the review. The phone took close to 3.5 hours to fully charge using the supplied charger. Charging the iPhone X using Samsung's Fast Wireless Charger was faster. Coming to the battery life, the iPhone X did as good as most high-end phones. It always lasted a complete day even with heavy usage. Since iOS doesn't show the complete screen-on figures, try to calculate the screen-on time of each app from the battery menu. However, going by my day-to-day usage, the iPhone should offer five hours of screen-on time, bringing it to the same level as that of the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus, and better than the likes of the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 8. The iPhone 8 Plus, which has a slightly larger capacity battery, lasts up to 1.5 days with the same usage pattern.
After testing the iPhone X for over a month since its release in India and putting it through the paces, we ended up liking the smartphone due to its excellent screen, good image and video quality, excellent stereo speakers, fast performance, well-optimised software, and day-long battery life. However, looking at its astronomical price, we think that Apple could've done better, especially some aspects of its design. It could've used a rear-facing fingerprint reader and make the notch disappear by using slightly bigger bezels. The exclusion of the 3.5mm headphone port hurts the user experience, too. iOS 11 feels unintuitive due to its confusing gestures and button combinations to get even simple things done. The iPhone X is an excellent smartphone, but we expected something better from Apple, especially at the price of the iPhone X.
|Processor||Apple A11 Bionic|
|Display||5.8 inches (14.73 cms)|
|Front Camera||Single (7 MP, f/2.2 Camera(32 mm focal length, 1.12 m pixel size))|
|Rear Camera||Dual (12 MP, f/1.8, Wide Angle Camera + 12 MP, Telephoto Camera(52 mm focal length, 3.4" sensor size, 1µm pixel size))|
|Launch Date||November 3, 2017|
|Dimensions||5.65 x 2.79 x 0.3 inch (143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm)|
|Build||Back: Gorilla Glass|
|Water Resistant||Yes, Water resistant (up to 30 minutes in a depth of 1 meter), IP67|
|Colors||Silver, Space Grey|
|Chipset||Apple A11 Bionic|
|No of Cores||6 (Hexa Core)|
|CPU||2.39GHz, Dual core, Monsoon + 1.42GHz, Quad core, Mistral|
|Graphics||Apple GPU (three-core graphics)|
|Operating System||iOS v11.0.1|
|Internal Memory||64 GB|
|Size||5.8 inches (14.73 cms)|
|Display Type||OLED, Oleophobic coating, Super Retina HD display|
|Resolution||1125 x 2436 pixels|
|Bezel-less display||Yes, with notch|
|TouchScreen||Yes, 3D Touch, Multi-touch|
|Color Reproduction||16M Colors|
|Screen to body percentage||80.93 %|
|Pixel Density||463 pixels per inch (ppi)|
|Rear||Dual (12 MP, f/1.8, Wide Angle Camera + 12 MP, Telephoto Camera(52 mm focal length, 3.4" sensor size, 1µm pixel size))|
|Sensor||Back-illuminated sensor (BSI)|
|Flash||Rear (Quad LED True Tone Flash), Front (Retina Flash)|
|Front||Single (7 MP, f/2.2 Camera(32 mm focal length, 1.12µm pixel size))|
|Camera Features||Auto Flash, Auto Focus, Face detection, Touch to focus|
|Shooting Modes||Continuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)|
|Image Stabilization||Yes, Optical Image Stabilization(OIS)|
|Video||Rear: 3840x2160 @ 60 fps, 1920x1080 @ 240 fps, 1280x720 @ 30 fps, Front: 1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|Charging speed||50 % in 30 minutes (claimed by Brand)|
|Talk time||Up to 21 Hours(3G)|
|Wi-Fi||Yes with a/ac/b/g/n/n 5GHz, MIMO|
|SIM Configuration||Single SIM (SIM1: Nano)|
|Network||4G: Available (supports Indian bands), 3G: Available, 2G: Available|
|Voice over LTE(VoLTE)||Yes|
|Wi-fi features||Mobile Hotspot|
|GPS||Yes with A-GPS, Glonass|
|Other Sensor||Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope|
|Audio Jack||Yes, Lightning|