iPhone X

It's all about the Face ID

It is commonly said that ‘X’ marks the spot and with the release of the new iPhone X, we look to see if Apple has managed to hit a sweet one.

Excitement hit fever pitch last week as the much anticipated iPhone X finally found its way into stores, with thousands of devoted fans getting their hands on a device that Apple promise is set to revolutionise the smartphone market.

We unwrapped the premium 256GB model and took it through its paces and for once, you get the feeling that just maybe, the “Cupertino clan” may be able to justify the hype.

The first thing that grabs your attention is the screen. It is a truly magnificent display that has little in common with previous iPhones and gives it an initial look and feel not dissimilar to a premium Samsung device.

However, switch it on and all similarities are immediately irrelevant as the beauty of its 5.8 OLED display (Apple insist on calling it Super Retina) gives you some indication – at least in part – as to why they are asking you to hand over £1000 for the pleasure of owning it.

Bigger than a standard iPhone and with a screen measuring larger even than the Plus models, you don’t immediately realise that what you’re holding is the biggest iPhone screen yet developed on a handset. Having dispensed with the borders there is now only a thin black margin separating the screen from the edge.

The other significant omission is the home button and for some this will be a major hurdle to overcome. After all, it was ubiquitous in so many apps as well as being integral to everything from unlocking your device to activating Apple Pay.

The alternative is Face ID, a game changer in terms of operations and something that works a lot better than I had expected. Again, there will be doubters but fundamentally when you’re using - and consequently looking at your phone - its unlocked and when you’re otherwise engaged, well it’s not. This might not be enough to satisfy many people but once you get over the initial change it is actually a good thing.

Everything now is about the gestures and embracing that concept – for which there is no clear alternative – will determine just how well you get on with the iPhone X.

The camera is almost identical to the one in the iPhone 8, which is excellent if not quite on par with the best from Samsung. Images are stunning and IOS 11 lets you get the most out of it.

Battery life is still a challenge and you’re unlikely to make it beyond the end of the day before you need to charge but when you consider just what is going on inside these devices now – we often forget we are carrying a mini computer around in our pockets – it should no longer come as such a surprise.

Which brings us nicely into wireless charging, which won’t seem that revolutionary to anyone already used to the latest Samsung devices but does represent a first for Apple. It’s quick and dispenses with cables and more places such as coffee bars are deploying but you’re still going to need an extra device to utilise it at home.

All in all I’m quite impressed with the iPhone X but there’s still the challenge of getting over the biggest elephant in the room, the price. £999 for a handset (rising to £1,149 if you want the larger storage option) is certainly not in the average person’s budget.

What you’re buying into here is a completely new approach to the smartphone and whilst a great deal of the iPhone X’s functionality is similar to the lower priced 8, there is still enough new tech under the hood to make it a worthwhile purchase. In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest it could be the most innovative thing Apple has attempted for several years now. Whether the general public agree will be played out over the next few months.

George R Vaughan