A handful of tech journalists got their hands on Apple’s new $1,000 smartphone, the iPhone X. From a quick read of the reviews, it seems like the responses were overwhelmingly positive—gushing even—though some did have minor quibbles.
But is it worth the steep price tag? Here’s a roundup of reviews to help you decide.
Reviewers are awed by its beauty…
At first, the iPhone X looks so good one of our video editors kept saying it looked fake. It’s polished and tight and clean—my new favorite Apple thing is that the company managed to move all the regulatory text to software, leaving just the word “iPhone” on the back. The screen is bright and colorful and appears to be laminated tighter than previous iPhones, so it looks like the pixels are right on top. Honestly, it does kind of look like a live 3D render instead of an actual working phone.
Gareth Beavis, Tech Radar:
It’s hard to overstate how beautiful this screen is—and that’s not hyperbole brought on by extreme fatigue. It’s deep, rich and smooth, and draws level with Samsung in the quality stakes easily.
…but the notch at the top of the screen is polarizing.
Call it what you like—a cutout or a notch—but the area around the new front-facing cameras and sensors is definitely a black mark on the iPhone X’s screen. In the battle over bezels (the frame around a smartphone screen), Apple seems to have gone a little too far to push its screen to the very edges of the device.
Dave Smith, Tech Insider:
But have you seen that notch at the top of the phone? Yuck. … But based on early demos, it doesn’t look like Apple is doing much software-wise to hide the notch. It should. If customers are going to spend $1,000 on the iPhone X, they should have an optional setting that places a black status bar along the top of the phone to hide the notch.
John Gruber, Daring Fireball:
THE NOTCH: It offends me. It’s ungainly and unnatural. Clearly, the ideal of an “all-screen” design — to use Apple’s own words — has no notch at all. This is not that. But what I dislike more than the notch isn’t the notch itself but that Apple is fully embracing the notch in software.
Steve Kovach, Tech Insider:
Boy oh boy did the iPhone X’s notch trigger a bunch of angry nerds. … I don’t mind the notch. In fact, I kind of like it, and I think it blends in nicely to the rest of the phone’s software interface. The sides of the notch display the time, battery status, and WiFi and cell signals. By default, photos and video don’t bleed into the notch unless you double-tap them for a zoomed-in view. You barely notice the notch in most cases, and it looks especially nice when scrolling through apps like Twitter and Facebook.
The iPhone X recognizes your face pretty well.
David Phelan, The Guardian:
[Facial recognition] is one of the key features on the new phone and it’s a winner. I’ve gone into more detail separately here but the essence is that the Home Button found on all previous iPhones, and the fingerprint sensor, Touch ID, have been removed. Now, a sophisticated facial recognition system means that when you look at the phone, if it recognises you, it unlocks. Other phone manufacturers have included facial recognition but this one is significantly more consistent and reliable.
Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch:
Face ID works really well. First, it’s incredibly easy to set up. You choose to enable it and then rotate your nose around the points of a clock twice. That’s it. Second, it worked the vast majority of times I tried it, it never once unlocked using a picture of myself or another person’s face and the failure rate seemed to be about the same as Touch ID — aka almost never…At several points, the unlock procedure worked so well in pitch black or at weird angles that I laughed out loud. You get over the amazement pretty quickly, but it feels wild the first few dozen times you do it.
The augmented reality features are addictive and sophisticated.
A game called The Machines transmogrifies your kitchen table into a battleground where superheroes cavort. An Ikea app lets you place virtual furniture in your living room. Insight Heart is a total bonkers experience that lets you zoom into the body of a virtual human and then extract and examine a huge, bloody, beating 3D heart, suspended in your living room like a fugitive from a horror movie. It’s the most Magic Leap-y thing I’ve ever seen on a phone. And a beta of a new Snapchat feature uses Face ID technology to scarily layer masks and floral haberdashery onto your face, making Animojis even weirder.
Edward C. Baig, USA Today:
Animojis are addictive. The very idea of creating animated emoji strikes you as kind of silly at first. Only I predict that every one of you who buys the iPhone X will quickly fool around with them and send off such Animojis to your friends. You do so inside the Messages app. Your pals need not own an iPhone to receive Animojis. (They click a video file to open it.) How do Animojis work? The camera system on the phone analyzes and mirrors more than 50 different muscle movements of your face. When you smile, your Animoji smiles. When you make an angry face, so does your Animoji. Blink and the Animoji blinks. And when you speak, your Animoji’s mouth moves in kind.
Reviewers are yearning for the absent home button.
Living without the home button takes some adjustment. A number of new gestures take the place of the old home button. I kept reaching for the phantom button over the first few hours, feeling like I’d lost a thumb. Unlike phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which adds a virtual home button to create a “press for home” experience, the X remaps familiar gestures completely.
Holding the iPhone X in my hand triggers a distinct memory of the moment I first cradled the original iPhone. The sensation lingers as I caress the surgical steel band that wraps around the phone and I feel the cool glass back against my palm. Waking the phone snaps me back to the present. I’m suddenly unmoored as my eyes dart across the nearly unblemished Super Retina OLED screen, searching desperately for the home button.