Apple iPhone X First Impressions

Posted on December 10, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 87 Comments

I waited to purchase an iPhone X so that I could get the SIM-free version. Here are some quick first impressions.

Face ID. As reported elsewhere, Face ID seems to work pretty quickly, but it requires a screen swipe to get into the device, which seems like an odd extra step. It failed when I was wearing sunglasses.

Display. Apple’s first OLED display is beautiful to look at, and less HDR/oversaturated than is the case elsewhere. I really like the curved corners, which fulfill what I assume was Steve Jobs’ dream of making the whole device a rounded rectangle. That said, the bezels are big compared to modern Androids, and, of course, the display doesn’t curve to the edges, as do Samsung’s. The display is also only 5.8 inches, compared to 6-inches elsewhere.

Size. The iPhone X is closer in size to my daughter’s (non-Plus) iPhone 6 S—it’s a bit wider and taller—than it is to my iPhone 7 Plus. The display takes up most of the front of the device, however, so it’s like an iPhone 6/7/8 where almost the whole front is a display. Those looking for a phablet may want to hold out for a rumored bigger X-type device for late 2018.

From left to right: iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone 6 S

Form factor/design. Like other modern smartphones, the iPhone X takes the tall, 18:9-ish aspect ratio of the modern smartphone to iOS. And it looks great. The glass back feels and looks elegant, though I’m worried about durability. The vertically-aligned camera lens give it a unique look. But the curved aluminum (or steel, apparently) side material seems fake to me, somehow, and less premium than the rest of the device. I expect it to scratch off and reveal a plastic underneath.

Navigation. Give Apple some credit here: While the removal of the Home/Touch ID button seems odd in the abstract, navigation is nearly intuitive (assuming you’ve ever used a modern smartphone). All of the edge swipes work exactly as expected—up from the bottom to go to Home, down from the top to display Control Center, and so on—and screenshots were easily guessed: Now it’s Power + Volume Up. No problems here.

The notch. I’ve heard from many that the notch kind of disappears with use. I’m not convinced. It’s particularly noticeable in two places, so far: When the screen is white or light-colored and fills the space near the top, and when an app—sadly, far too many—isn’t designed for the new, tall, and notch display, and it appears letter boxed, in this case with empty black spaces at the top and bottom. It’s noticeable and even a distraction at times.

Camera. I arrived home mid-day Saturday from an overnight flight and 19 hours of travel, so I spent more time configuring the phone than testing the camera. But based on a few quick shots taken outside and compared side-by-side with the Pixel 2 XL, the iPhone X camera system looks solid, with slightly more vibrant colors. (The Pixel 2 XL excels at night/low-light shots too.) The new Portrait mode features look interesting, but there are edge issues, of course. Excuse the grizzled look.

My daughter is very grumpy about the iPhone X: It makes her old iPhone look, well, old by comparison. I’m not sure about it yet. I like the look, but don’t believe that Apple can justify the premium pricing. In fact, I kind of wonder why this wasn’t just the non-Plus design for 2017, with a bigger version being sold as the iPhone X Plus. But whatever. It’s an elegant phone, and beautiful and unique in that way that Apple’s best products are.

More soon.


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Comments (87)

87 responses to “Apple iPhone X First Impressions”

  1. ChristopherCollins

    I had to get a replacement for my Verizon phone due to a touch issue. I'm happy to note that the replacement was carrier unlocked. You pick from a list at the beginning. I suppose that (at least early on), replacements are the carrier unlocked versions.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to ChristopherCollins:

      That is interesting. They only started selling this device last week, not sure why.

    • paulkbiba

      In reply to ChristopherCollins:

      All Verizon phones are unlocked. The FCC negotiated this with Verizon when it allowed Verizon to purchase some new spectrum a few years ago.

      • ChristopherCollins

        In reply to paulkbiba:

        True, but only a SIM unlocked phone asks you to pick a network on setup... The Verizon phones ship and are sold predetermined to be Verizon phones, so if they had sent a Verizon phone instead of an actual SIM unlocked phone, putting my SIM in the phone would have been enough to activate it. May not be a true technical difference in the end, but they shipped me one of the phones they just started selling.

  2. pecosbob04

    Has anyone ever seen Mikey G. and the infected locust in the same room? Asking for a friend.

  3. johnlavey

    I BOUGHT the iPhone X, lock, stock and barrel. And I am happy I did. The upward swipe from the bottom is actually easier to use than the Home button. The swipes left and right and down from upper right side work fine. The display is wonderful and the effect of the notch is far less pervasive than some reviews have stated. FaceID is always good..and should I not be looking at the screen face front, using my Passcode is simple enough every now and then.

    The iPhone X is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus I owned previously. It's easy to see and read and easy to put in my pocket or next to the console in my car. I think it's a perfect size. I liked the size of the 8 Plus... but I don't miss it at all.

    I do have ONE problem which has happened a couple of times: the screen has frozen. I was able to fix it once myself and another time I had to chat with Apple support. Overpriced? Definitely. I guess Apple has me over a barrel on that aspect. But what price beauty, usability and convenience, etc. etc.?

  4. Locust Infested Orchard Inc.


    With the iPhone X having conquered the hearts of even more iSheeple this year, Tim Cook et al. have in an exclusive interview to Reuters, given a glimpse into the future with their 2018 successor to the iPhone X ― to the delight of all iSheeple, it shall have not one, but two notches. A design innovation that would ensure Steve Jobs continues to toss and turn in his resting place. No peace even for the deceased.

  5. glenn8878

    I’m increasingly waiting for the next year to buy the previous year’s iPhone. A larger iPhone X seems the sweet spot. Larger is better.

  6. JimP

    Meh. I had a OLED screen, optical recognition and no physical home button on my Lumia 950XL years ago.

    iPhone X = Windows Phone 2015.

    • Chris Payne

      In reply to JimP:

      I used to tell myself the exact same thing. But I recently made the switch from the 950 to the iPhone X, and I'm very happy I did. Apple has taken something the 950 did and perfected it. Face ID is soooo much better than the optical recognition on the 950... in a way that it has changed the way I used my phone. Now, because Face ID is so good and fast, there's no reason ever to not keep your phone locked.

      Not to mention the ecosystem is a batrillion times better on iOS than it is on Windows Mobile.

    • jfingas

      In reply to JimP:

      Meh, my car had four wheels, a steering column and a radio years ago. Mercedes AMG GT = Chrysler 2015.

      It's not merely having a feature that matters, it's how well it's implemented. The OLED screen on the iPhone X is overall better than the one you got on your Lumia 950XL, with greater color accuracy and brightness. Face ID is infinitely superior to the face detection Windows Mobile had two years ago; it's faster, more convenient and more secure. And yeah, you had no physical home button, but your 950XL didn't take advantage of that to expand the screen.

      Besides, like it or not, Windows Mobile is effectively dead. You're going to be buying an Android phone or iPhone down the line, it's just a question of when.

  7. NT6.1

    Apple users paying $999 and Apple don't even include a fast charger. The notch is also a design mistake. Let's not act if it was Samsung, Apple users wouldn't be outraged.

    • Stooks

      In reply to NT6.1:

      It seems that they are quite willing to pay that $999 and in fact I believe the 256gig model is more popular so more than $999.

      Apple's only problem is finding ink for their money printers.

  8. wocowboy

    I don't mind having to swipe away a screen when logging into my iPhone X at all, it is just another factor that prevents others from seeing what is on my home screen or any sensitive information that may be on-screen when logging in. Kudos to Apple for caring about my privacy and security. Having played with a friend's LG V30 I can say at least my swipe-screen does not display ads like that phone does, and that my Home screen doesn't display pop-up Google Play Store ads either like the V30 does. The V30 is a nice phone, with its great audio system, but those ads and the sounds the phone makes every single time one pops up would be EXTREMELY annoying!

    Anyway, back to the iPhone X, I don't find its bezels to be all that huge, don't mind the rounded corners, nor do I think that the .5% of a video that may obscured by the notch has any sort of effect at all on how I watch a movie or video. If a producer puts some extremely important element in that far edge of the screen, they aren't making movies or videos right imho.

    The swipes for navigation are a revelation and I don't miss the Home button at all, I never even think about it. Swiping back and forth across the bottom of the screen to bring up recently used applications is great, and more simple and easy to do than swiping partly up and across the screen to bring up the app switcher. More often I would be switching back and forth between 2 different apps anyway and this is the best way to do that.

    Swiping from the upper right corner to invoke the Control Center is easy and works just fine.

    I find the overall design of the iPhone X to be excellent, unlike the very ugly 2-material glass and metal backs of the Pixels.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to wocowboy:

      So I'm not sure that the bezels are "too big," I'm just sure that they are bigger than those on other phones and that, when you add in the notch, you're not looking at an all-screen device. It's tons better than previous iPhones, for sure.

  9. Vladimir Carli

    I started hating apple for the lack of innovation. Recently bought a surface book 2 after more than ten years with all sorts of macbooks. I'm slowly adapting to it. The iPhone X was going to be the last time I would trust them and be an "early adopter". What to say? I find the phone to be amazing, it looks very premium, the notch doesn't bother me at all, faceID works perfectly. I can't really judge the camera but it's way more than enough for my needs. Can't find a defect with it. Of course they could have released a larger version already now but that's a clever marketing strategy. I think I'll have to give up and sadly consider apple a phone company.


  10. cheetahdriver

    I have had mine for a week, and will say it hasn't been as bad as I feared. The X does seem to have better connectivity, my testing at 3-7500ft rarely got out of contact with the network. face ID didn't have a problem with the watch cap or headset I was wearing either. If I have a problem with the X, it is the battery life, it seems to be a bit light there. Of course, I have been stomping my 7plus into the ground almost daily, so perhaps I was hoping for too much. Beyond that, it just works. I have a pixel 2XL as a backup phone (on Google Fi) and honestly, the race between them is pretty close. The Apple wins hands down because of the watch. If Android Wear could get it's Apple on, this would be a hard choice. As it is, not somuch.


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    New Samsung note 8 cost 650usd

    iPhone 7 and 7 plus cost 550USD, 

    serious buyer should contact us.

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  13. 22nw22

    I can't believe how expensive an iPhone X is

  14. 22nw22

    My Touch ID on my new iPad I can rest my finger to open it or I could do an extra step but I don't thing this is optional on the new iPhone X

  15. toshdellapenna

    I just took my daughter to At&t yesterday to upgrade her ancient iPhone 5s. We picked up the 256gb space gray iPhone X. This was singlehandedly the most expensive single consumer electronics purchase I have ever made period. $1200 for a phone that doesn't have pc capability is crazy! Having said that, I have to say it's an impressive piece of hardware. I despise Apple with every fiber of my being, but would get this device for myself if it had a bigger screen and could run Windows (not iphone pro as bolting on one ecosystem to another through apps isn't the way to do things) just like running windows on a mac. If smartphones are the new "pc" wth can't we do this yet?

  16. plettza

    Oh wow, a cracked iPhone screen. I've never seen that before.

  17. liamrandall

    Indeed, IPhone users will really feel much lucky after having an upgraded model of the cellphone. The display of the cellphone is one of the most attractive feature of the new model. Although, it is much bigger in size as compared to other mobile phone sets. This is the only disadvantage of the new IPhone in my viewpoint. Cheap Assignment Writing Services UK

  18. GT Tecolotecreek

    After reading all of Paul's comments in both the Premium and Standard comments I think his Pixel2 very soon is getting a roommate. Is the followup article where he announces the X is his go to phone with the Pixel as backup???

    Can it be???????

  19. crfonseca

    Troy Hunt gets it:

    It works, except when it doesn't, and that gets very annoying, *fast*.

    Also, and this isn't a problem that Troy has, crappy office fluorescent lamps also mess up Face ID sometimes.

    • captobie

      In reply to crfonseca:

      I've had the phone for a month now, and FaceID works every single time for me. It takes a little while to learn all the nuances of your face, but once it does it can identify you even when a large portion of your face is covered with a scarf, sunglasses, hat, etc. I was a skeptic, and wanted to not like it, but I'm a believer now.

  20. JustMe

    I enjoy reading the reviews and seeing what Apple is doing - but as long as pricing is where it is, I wont be buying one. I simply cannot justify 1000 for a phone. So instead, I'll sit here and watch everyone else give Apple their money.

  21. John Noonan

    I prefer that the screen doesn't curve down like the Samsung phones as I am not a fan of that. I used to use Galaxy phones quite a lot, and if I still did they would have lost me when they stopped offering non-curved screens as an option. Web pages and other content that stretch to the far sides of the display look terrible (to me) on the curved screens.

  22. Chris Payne

    Paul, FWIW, I didn't like the stainless steel band around it either. But if you get the black (aka space gray) version, that ugly steel band is solid black/grey and blends in properly with the rest of the phone. I much prefer this version over the white.

  23. dhallman

    The iPhone X may turn out to be Apple's Windows 8 moment.

    My wife skipped the 7 and has opted for the 8 plus this year. She could not get used to the top right swipe to get what used to be available at the bottom. And the bottom swipe to home was too big a change for her. But she is not a tech person. She just wants it to work as expected. She told me 'if I am going to learn a new phone why stay with Apple?'. Why indeed.

    The fact the notch is ugly and effects usability did not help.

    Some changes users just refuse to accept. Even from Apple.

  24. RobertJasiek

    I do not buy a smartphone with these mistakes in order of importance:

    1. Notch equating a broken display.
    2. Buggy and not general file manager.
    3. iTunes behaving as malware until tamed by power user administration.
    4. Round corners hiding contents.
    5. Camera bump being annoying and preventing flat lying.
    6. Astronomic price.

    With the notch, Apple clearly distinguishes evangelists from non-evangelists. Ok, got it. I am none.

    The design and other features are immaterial in view of the mistakes.

    • Chris Payne

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      You know, I used to think the notch was a big problem too, but I got the iPhone X recently anyway, and like many people have said, it really does kind of disappear pretty quickly. Many apps use the upper space so well that it literally does disappear, because the upper area is black. The swipe actions for the right/left of the notch are a little weird, but the presence of the notch hasn't detracted from the display at all for me.

      Every other point of yours I concede are issues to some extent, except for the rounded corners. Not sure I've encountered it "hiding contents" anywhere.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to unkinected:

        It is maybe good for you if you can get used to a notch.

        I know that I won't ever buy a display with notch because I am very sensitive to such things and very much emphasise functionality related to clarity of view and accessibility of contents.

        However, I would like to understand your opinion a bit more. Wouldn't you agree that it would be better to have no notch and no camera on the display side to have a beautifully symmetric display and smartphone?

        • Chris Payne

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          If by "better" you mean a more cohesive design? Sure, it would be better without the notch. But better from a functionality standpoint? That's harder to argue... I think a front facing camera is pretty important, and the Face ID camera I can't live without anymore. If you need those, and the whole face is a screen, you have limited options where to put that stuff. So I'm willing to make the trade off of function vs form. And honestly you stop noticing the notch after awhile.

          But everyone values things differently of course. I only wanted to comment that one can get used to the notch.

  25. Mehedi Hassan

    I do not have any issues with Face ID, works with my glasses and sunglasses.


  26. jimbosf

    Paul, the sides of the iPhone X are high grade surgical stainless steel. You can rub all you want and you won't find plastic underneath

  27. DaddyBrownJr

    This is the first Apple product that I've been tempted by, but that camera bump looks like a kludge on such a premium device.

  28. robincapper

    I get getting rid of the home button, could not live with the notch. Thing that struck me both phone in hand and your photo is that camera bump looks like an anti-theft device the store has forgotten to remove.

  29. Jorge Garcia

    Ford : The Edsel

    Happy Days : The Shark

    SEGA : The 32X Add-On

    Apple iPhone : The Notch

    (Person/Place/Thing : The black mark that they will never be allowed to live down)

  30. Aaron Arruda

    I know a lot of people with iPhone X including myself and my wife. Almost all of them hated it or felt meh about it for the first few days. All of them stuck it out, and a week in, everyone of them, including myself, thinks it’s the best phone they have ever used. And I have used well over 200 cell phones in my life including every iPhone, Every Galaxy S, Most Notes (including the current 8) and many other phones.

  31. Fastm3driver

    Hmmm. The corners are what's weird to me. That combined with the notch screws with every kind of content. It's even weirder in your posted screen shots that have squared corners. The real screen data is there but being hidden. It's like 20% of pictures, video, or games is always missing. I know it let's you resize it to a much smaller size to display the native content. Did you do that much or did you just leave it cropped?

    After handling it I've taken to calling it the zune of iphones because of its squarqule design. :)

  32. skane2600

    Seems to be a well-balanced review. Good work.

  33. Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

    Quote by Paul Thurrott: "My daughter is very grumpy about the iPhone X"

    Genuinely console your daughter by informing her that there are non-Apple devices in 2018-2019 that shall utterly annihilate any future lack-lustre offerings by Apple, and in particular, when handset manufacturers embark on creating second versions of their flagship devices upon the magnificent Windows on ARM OS, your daughter should be enthused and buoyed by a new chapter being heralded by Microsoft.

    Quote by Paul Thurrott: "Give Apple some credit here..."

    I give credit to Apple for being able to set a new trend in selling a phone for more than $1000, and still get iSheeple suckered into queuing around the block across Apple stores Worldwide, prior to it going on sale on Friday 2nd November.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      You are a strange, singularly obsessed person.

      • Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        And of course those that indulge in courtship with Apple's products are not obsessed ? No of course not, for if tens of millions of people engage in an obsessive manner, it simply becomes the new norm.

        However if a minority of people are steadfast in their similar views, they are dismissed, exactly as your comment has suggested.

        We shall await Microsoft's response with Windows on ARM, to see if those minority, a view to which I subscribe, have truly been vindicated.

    • Stooks

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      "when handset manufacturers embark on creating second versions of their flagship devices upon the magnificent Windows on ARM OS" are killing me....hahahahahah..haha..ha..ohhh my gut hurts from laughing!!!

      That is some fanciful Claim Chowder Mr. Locust. Windows on ARM is going to fail and fail hard, just like it has twice already.

  34. jfingas

    The requirement for a swipe on the home screen is actually important: if you didn't have that, you'd always log into your phone the moment you look at it. It would be impossible to just take a quick glimpse at notifications.

    On the screen size front: 6-inch screens aren't common in this size class. The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, the G6 has a 5.7-inch screen... the OnePlus 5T, Pixel 2 XL and V30 have 6-inch screens, but they're all physically larger than the iPhone X!

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to jfingas:

      Funny, getting information at a glance doesn't seem to be a problem with Windows Hello.

      Oh, wait, that's because with Windows your icons actually have content so you didn't lose your only glanceable view that actually tells you something useful. Odd to have more information on the screen when you are logged out than when you are logged in.

      • PincasX

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        What’s really funny is in your moment of Microsoft fanboy exuberance all you have managed to do is remind us all how much Microsoft completely failed in the phone market. Kudos on not having to go conspiracy theory or fabricate events though. That is progress for you.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to MikeGalos: Yea, but on the Lumia I have to tap the screen or the on button to get the Hello running. So tap, look to unlock, get info. If I want to go farther, I scroll or tap the tile. On the iPhone I hold it up, and the motion brings up the screen with notifications/info. Bring up, get info. If I want to go farther I swipe up. It's unlocked. Then tap an icon. Really not that much difference. I can get more tiles on the WM home screen, but with more limited info than on the notifications on the iPhone. The drawback is that the iPhone doesn't need to be unlocked to see notifications, but you have control over what can be shown. Either works well and quickly.

  35. Maxpayne

    The reviews about the phone so far is incredible. There has been a lot of positive reviews about the camera of the phone which comes with some unique features like portrait spotlighting. The phone comes with face unlock feature which is also new in this segment.

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