iPhone X first impression: It's worth burning a hole in your pocket

This new flagship device from Apple is unlike anything the tech giant has ever made.

 |  7-minute read |   13-09-2017
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On Tuesday (September 12), Apple held its annual keynote event at the newly constructed Steve Jobs Theater inside its Palo Alto campus in California. This first-ever event at the "spaceship" like theater was of great significance for Apple as it marked the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone – the device which sparked the smartphone revolution that is still going strong.

So when Tim Cook and Co took to the stage around 10pm IST on Tuesday, they came with the singular aim of making this year's keynote a grand success. In the quest for the same, the Cupertino-based tech giant left no stone unturned and pulled all possible rabbits out of the proverbial hat to woo the millions watching the event through livestreams across the globe. 

During the two hour long event, Apple unveiled a really cool cellular supported Apple Watch with an inbuilt eSim that it claims is 1/100th the size of a conventional sim card, an Apple TV capable of handling 4K content, the successor to the current generation iPhones in the form of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. 

However, none of these blockbuster announcements came anywhere close to being the biggest of the night. That privilege was reserved solely for the showstopper – the iPhone X. 

This "futuristic" iPhone launched to mark the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone was announced with much fanfare and a starting price matching the hype created around it – $999 (Rs 89,000 for India). 

Speaking at the unveiling, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, described the device as being nothing short of “the future of the smartphone”. He added, “The first iPhone revolutionised a decade of technology and changed the world in the process... Now, 10 years later, it is only fitting that we are here in this place on this day to reveal a product that will set the path for technology for the next decade.”

But Tim Cook's words aside, is the new iPhone X worth the exorbitant amount that until recently seemed a laughable price for a phone. Here is our initial impression of the phone. 


Uncharacteristically for Apple, the new lineup of iPhones suffered from numerous leaks, with the last wave revealing the design and the name of the flagship phone. However, that did little to quell any excitement at the Steve Jobs theatre when the curtains were officially drawn from iPhone X.

As the leaks had suggested for a long time, the phone's drastic redesign sees it coming on board with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED curved display dominating the front which melts into the device's metal frame that again melts into a reinforced sheet of glass at the back of the phone. 

In a major design change, the new iPhone does away with the home button — and with it the trusted Touch ID – while also adding a cutout at the top of the screen which houses a camera module that holds within it an Infrared camera, hardware for the Face ID tech and a selfie camera capable of clicking portrait shots. 

The phone's front also boats of a thick bezel which takes away from the minimalistic edge-toedge design of the phone. There's also cut out for a dual camera module protruding out of the glass sheet at the back of the phone. 


Starting with the display, Apple has equipped the phone with a 5.8-inch OLED display capable of churning out 458 ppi. This high pixel density display reportedly made by Samsung employs Apple's "Super Retina Display" technology and renders a resolution as high as 1125x2436.

The phone runs the same SoC found on the iPhone 8 lineup – the A11 Bionic – paired with 3GBof RAM. The A11 Bionic module comes with a dual-core Neural engine which will be used exclusively by the phone's Face ID hardware.

There's no information yet on the size of the battery pack included, but Apple claims the iPhone team has worked overtime to bring a phone that will provide more than two hours of battery time than the existing iPhone 7 phones. 

All about the camera

The iPhone X's main camera module at the back brings with it dual 12-megapixel cameras – same as in the iPhone 8 Plus– with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures. But unlike iPhone 8, the dual camera setup here brings with it optical image stabilisation in both the sensors. The rear camera array also has a quad-LED True Tone Flash.

However, the more interesting hardware is fitted in the front camera module which houses a main camera, an infrared sensor and another camera sensor capable of throwing 30,000 invisible dots at the user's face that are used to create a detailed 3D model of the face for facial recognition purposes. 


Wireless charging

With iPhone X, Apple is bringing wireless charging capabilities to its iPhone lineup. For many years, wireless charging has been touted as a convenient solution to charge phones without using clunky cables, and now Apple has made the push to adopt the tech.

With the X, you won't have to plug your device into the wall to charge it. Just lay it down any of the Qi standard compatible wireless charging pads by companies such as Mophie and Belkin or Apple's very own charging accessory called AirPower that has room for your iPhone, your Apple Watch and then some for your EarPods.

Despite its tempting prospects and huge investments, the technology has so far failed to make its mark in the mobile industry. Slow performance, unstable connections, and overheating issues have contributed to a steady decline in the adoption of the technology by the industry. 

It will be interesting to see if Apple picking up wireless charging will now make a standard for future phones too. 

AR, Face ID and all the cool tech

The phone comes with a number of interesting features, but probably the most interesting of the lot is the Face ID tech. In terms of usability, this at least on paper looks to be a technology that could match the impact of the inclusion of fingerprint scanner on the previous generation iPhones. 

Once setup, users can unlock their phones, pay for products and log into apps by holding the phone up to their face. The technology here is pretty sophisticated and uses dedicated hardware and software resource to create a detailed 3D model of the users face that Apple claims is almost 20 times more secure than the Touch ID technology on its previous phones. 

There's also a push for Augmented Reality with the phone's hardware using Apple's ARKit platform to come up with great new uses of AR tech in everyday life. You can now use Animoji's – live emojis – and other AR powered features using the new flagship iPhone. 


Worth burning a hole in your pocket

So this is where things start to get interesting. This new flagship device from the stables of Apple is unlike anything the tech giant has ever made. The hardware is impressive, it looks great, and brings with it some really cool features that are sure to turn your head. However, all this comes at a steep price.  

The device has been launched in two storage variants – 64GB and 256 GB – the pricing of which starts at $999 and for India, Rs 89,000 going up to RS 1,02,000 for the beefier storage variant.

There is no denying the price tag almost touching 90k is steep, but on the flip side, the phone brings with itself facial recognition and AR capabilities, that for now at least, seem unmatched.  

And then there is the small consideration of this being the original iPhone's anniversary edition phone. As is the case with any iPhone, the price is never determined by the technology the phone offers but is reflective of the brand's premium value to the user, and for this phone that is nostalgia and futuristic tech all rolled into one, the price of Rs 89,000 for the 64GB variant seems borderline okay.

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Sushant Talwar Sushant Talwar @sushanttalwar

Tech journalist, DailyO

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