Review & User's Guide
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Orange Building, 11 November 2017. iPhone X tele 6mm camera at f/2.4 at 1/1,116 at ISO 16, as shot. bigger or camera-original © file. That's not distortion at the top; it's a wavy building. Look at these awesome colors, right out of the iPhone.
How sharp is it? Here's a 1,200 by 900 pixel crop of the little gizmos at the top left at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) on your screen, the complete image will print at 15 x 20," and if it's 12" (30cm) wide on your screen it will print at 30 x 40!"
Home by the Sea, 04 November 2017. iPhone X, wide 4mm camera at f/1.8 at 1/2,288 at ISO 20, as shot. bigger or camera-original © file. Amazon is cool; when I linked to Genesis' album above, since I have Amazon Prime I can listen to the whole album at that link — and so can you if you have Prime!
The Island of Carlsbad, 04 November 2017. iPhone X, wide 4mm camera 270º panorama at f/1.8 at 1/2,288 at ISO 20, as shot. bigger or huge 64 megapixel, 21 megabyte camera-original © JPG file.
How big and sharp are these panoramas? This one looks great printed at 4 by 16 feet (1.2 by 5 meters)! This is why I sold my Noblex years ago.
The first thing you notice about the iPhone X is how magic it feels in your hand: a solid slab of glass with a stainless steel ring around it. Long after Man has left Earth 10,000 years from now, millions of these identical glass blocks found all over the Earth will perplex space aliens for ages. These flawlessly flat and smooth objects have no writing or symbols on them other than a glyph of what Man knew as an apple and "iPhone" — no serial numbers, no "made-in," no model number — nothing. These will keep the aliens far more confused than Jeff Bezos' clock.
What's really new about the iPhone X is how fast, easy and instantaneous it is to get in. All you do is swipe up from the bottom, and you're in. Most of us do this hundreds of times a day and don't realize how important this is. In the old days we had to hit a HOME button, swipe sideways and enter a code; today, one flick and that's it.
Face ID works flawlessly and immediately, even if I put on glasses, am wearing a bicycle helmet, have a desk phone stuck to my head, make funny faces or stick out my tongue. Bravo! You won't even know Face ID is there; we always look at our phones when we open them, and day or night and regardless of if we're even looking directly at our phones, it just opens for us. Bravo!
The iPhone X even comes with an external 3.5mm headphone jack. It comes with this 3.5mm adapter that plugs in the lightning port, as well as a set of earpods with a lighting plug so you don't need the external 3.5mm jack.
It's easy to set it for hands-free, touch-free "Hey Siri" for making phone calls, checking the weather, composing and sending emails and texts and much more — and once set, it all works with your eyes closed and no hands!
The iPhone X is a class act. Not only is Apple's packaging a joy to unwrap, the iPhone X arrives fully charged so you can get going fast.
Now that I've had my iPhone X for a couple of weeks, it makes all my old iOS devices with Home buttons feel primitive and manual. I want my iPad to just open and swap among apps as magically as my iPhone X!
Size & Weight
The iPhone X is not a plus-sized phone; it's a little smaller in every external dimension than the iPhone 7 Plus.
This new iPhone X weighs a half ounce (15g) less than the iPhone 7 Plus (6.101 oz./173.0g versus 6.625 oz./187.7g actual measured weights).
It's a small difference, but it does feel lighter in my pocket.
The new OLED display looks great. Unlike other attempts, Apple's implementation is extremely color-accurate, and is easy to read even in direct sunlight.
While the iPhone X is smaller than the Plus, the new display, held vertically, is taller than an iPhone Plus display — but not as wide.
The vertical size of the X' display is the same as a Plus if you only count the full-width section of the X' display, and the extra top and bottom areas are bonuses. Pretty clever fitting all this in a smaller case!
The iPhone X screen for the first time has rounded corners reminiscent of a 1960s TV - but they and the cut-out at the top for more sensors never affect the images because the OS is designed around all this.
Here's another cool part: even though the iPhone X is smaller and lighter than an iPhone Plus, the X' clever display is just as big for watching movies and video, and it's even bigger for watching 'scope (2.4:1) movies!
There's a new True Tone display option that's activated by default. It optimizes the display's white point to the ambient lighting. Used indoors you can see the display change from cool to warm as you move away from an open window facing the sky towards your warm interior lighting.
Even with the curved glass edges and a screen that goes close to the iPhone X' case edge, all of the display is visible through flat glass. The iPhone X has none of Samsung's distortion problems with their displays being partially hidden behind the curved sections of their glass.
As covered above, you can get into the iPhone X faster than any iOS device. Multiply this by the hundreds of times a day we check our phones, and this saves a lot of time and aggravation.
I can get to the Camera or Flashlight faster than on any other iOS device: just press the Camera or Flashlight icon on the Lock screen, and I'm there! This is the world's fastest-waking camera; I can draw and fire faster than with any other digital camera to catch the reportage shots my LEICA would miss. Fantastisch!
It was often a bear trying to get into the Camera fast from the lock screen on older phones, and now it's one tap — one tap from the Lock screen and you're already at the camera! No more missed photos; I love it!
It's also much faster to switch and swap among apps, with just a single flick needed. See Usage for more.
All this makes the iPhone X is much less of a brain drain to use all day than earlier phones.
The iPhone X even reboots from complete power-off much more quickly than older phones.
Once setup, which is trivially easy, it works like magic — regardless of lighting, what you're wearing or what you're doing.
Even if one time in a thousand doesn't recognize you instantly and asks for your code, just look at it a moment more and it should recognize you and let you in.
The only single condition under which I had any trouble was under very contrasty mercury-vapor lighting. That happened only once, and for all I know if I had been more patient and just looked longer, it would have let me in.
Think you're going to point your friend's phone at their face while they're sleeping and sneak in? No way; it won't unlock if both eyes are closed — but it will if I open one eye.
Face ID works wonders; you never have to think about looking at your phone because we all just do. Because of this the iPhone X just unlocks for us every time we use it. Brilliant!
Not counting the sensors used for infra-red Face ID, the iPhone X has three cameras, all of which can make videos or still photos. There's the main (4mm/28mm eq.) wide camera, the 6mm (56mm eq.) tele camera, and the front self-portrait camera. Each camera has its own lens and its own sensor.
Perfect Aspect Ratio
All these cameras use the perfect 3:4 aspect ratio. This ratio is the best because more subjects fit into it horizontally or vertically with less cropping needed than any other shape. Bravo!
While the innocent might think more resolution is good, 12MP resolution is perfect because it is more than enough to enlarge or print at any size, it doesn't clog storage or memory, and most importantly, it lets the iPhone X engage in all sorts of high-speed internal cleverness to do more crazy and useful things with our photos, like being able to shoot at 10 FPS or make long time exposures even in broad daylight hand held:
Long Time Exposures
The iOS 11 camera allows Long Exposures, and it's even better than a DSLR because we can make 2½ second time exposures in broad daylight with no neutral-density filters, and we don't need a tripod! (see Long Exposures with iPhone.)
HDR is even better than before, and looks better than before. No longer are HDR shots often too dark; now they all look great.
Because they always look great automatically, gone is the HDR option inside the Camera app. Now the iPhone X camera simply shoots in HDR or not as it's needed, with no input from us, by default.
You have the option in Settings > Camera to turn off HDR (default is that it automatically works as it needs to) and you can turn on the option to save one regularly-exposed frame each time the iPhone X creates an HDR image.
Depending on the brightness range of what you're shooting, the iPhone X may shoot many of its frames as HDR.
How sharp is it? Super-sharp edge to edge; here's the wall of shame:
The iPhone has always been praised for its great macro ability, and the iPhone X is superb. It gets super close and stays super sharp:
But wait, let's hit the 2x zoom option:
The tele camera can't focus as close as the wide camera, so at macro distances these are actually digitally zoomed from the wide camera — not that you'd ever notice except by looking at the EXIF data.
Night photos? No problem! This is dark: LV 3●●!
Just hold the shutter button onscreen (or use either Volume button) and the iPhone runs at 10 FPS silently. Be sure to turn off the speaker/ringer switch if you want it silent.
Apple invented the iPhone. Everything else is just a copy.
I looked at the Samsung Galaxy 8, and it has a big screen — but its screen edges run under its curved glass, and therefore are distorted.
Worse, Samsung's operating system is rubbish and throws all sorts of distracting garbage on my screen so only about half of my screen I can use to browse the Internet and half is navigation bars! On iPhone my whole screen is usable, and any navigation options only appear when I need them — and otherwise magically disappear. Apple is brilliant.
Also Apple devices are part of a much larger ecosystem. I use Apple because all my everything all works together and all my everything is all visible from everywhere. I load music and my movies into iTunes, and it plays on all my iPhones and iPods and iPads, and also plays on all my stereos around my house. I have a movie theatre in each of my homes, and the same movies play on my big screens, and each theatre is controlled by but one Apple TV remote — not three different remotes.
I don't even need a remote to control my movie theatres or Hi-Fi systems: I can use Apple's free iTunes Remote app to control iTunes from my iPhone, and the free Apple TV Remote app to replace the Apple TV remote in my theatre. I and everyone in my family can control our theater from the iPhone in their pocket, and have access to all our movies - and that means all our home videos that normally no one ever can find.
With Apple TV, you may as well throw away the remote, since the iPhone app does even more. You can use your iPhone's volume buttons to control the sound from your theater's AV receiver!
This free Apple infrastructure moves full-bandwidth pictures and sound all over the house, all controlled anyway I find it most convenient. Other things like website bookmarks and notes and email and everything else also all appear on all my computers and mobile devices.
Because it's all in my iTunes library, I can see any of it anywhere on any device. With Apple, everyone in my family can play any of our media anywhere, any way they like it — and it was all very easy to set up.
While setup seems super easy because it prompts to hold it next to your old iPhone and it does the rest, it seems because I am a content creator rather than a content consumer like most people, the photos and movies and music I create and load into my phone with iTunes didn't all transfer over with this "restore from iCloud backup" routine.
No worries, instead I restored my new iPhone X from a backup of my old phone on my Mac that I made from inside iTunes. First, be sure you have a backup of your old phone (iTunes > select your old phone you have plugged in via USB > Summary > Manually back up and restore > Backup Now).
Now to restore everything from your old phone into your new iPhone X: iTunes > select your new iPhone X plugged in via USB > Summary > Manually back up and restore > Restore Backup > Select your old phone's backup from which to restore and then restore from that. Everything that was in your old phone should just copy over.
If you have to turn off Find My iPhone when you're doing any of these restores, be sure to turn it back on when you're done.
If all your media doesn't transfer over the first time, deselect the music or movies or photos or whatever, hit the Sync button in iTunes to unsync those things, let it finish, then select some of those items little by little and hit Sync again to bring them over piecemeal. I have a lot of media on my 256GB phone: tens of thousands of songs and over ten years of home video of my family.
Set "Rise to Wake"
I set Rise to Wake at Settings > Display & Brightness > Rise to Wake, and my iPhone X wakes just by lifting it. It's much faster than it was in the iPhone 7 Plus.
It's easy to set up Siri so it responds at any time simply by saying "Hey Siri."
Set this at Settings > Siri & Search > Listen for "Hey Siri" > ON.
That's right: just ask "Hey Siri" in the middle of the night and you can compose and send text and email, make phone calls, check your calender or whatever without ever touching your iPhone or even so much as opening your eyes.
I use Hey Siri when I'm driving to get directions or call anyplace I'd like to go all without taking my eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.
Make text legible
I find the default text too small and light. No worries, I set the text to be of a normal weight (darker and bolder) rather than the very thin and light text used by default.
I set this at Settings > Display & Brightness > Bold Text > ON.
I also make the text bigger at Settings > Display & Brightness > Text size and slide it most of the way to the right.
Set "Add Reachability"
If you'd like to be able to flick down from the bottom so you can reach the top of the screen, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reachability > ON.
It feels great, and it has machined color-matched aluminum buttons that feel just like those on the iPhone X.
The iPhone X is very different because it has no HOME button.
Here are the basics to turn it on and swap among apps.
Get to the Camera or Flashlight from the Lock screen
Just press the Flashlight or Camera icon, and you're there!
Tap the screen anywhere, or tap the lock button (top right).
I set Rise to Wake at Settings > Display & Brightness > Rise to Wake, and it wakes just by lifting it.
Wake it up, then just look at it.
Home Screen or Open to Home Screen
When unlocked, just swipe up from the bottom.
In other words, tap the screen, the Lock button or just lift the phone (Rise to Wake) as you're looking at it, then flick up from the bottom, and you're in. Voilà!
Flick between open apps
Swipe left or right along the bottom.
Select among many open apps at once
Swipe up from the bottom and hold for a moment. You'll see a parade of apps that can be selected just like older iPhones.
Swipe up from the bottom and hold for a moment. Then hold any of the open apps for a moment until you see red circles on the top left of each open app. Now you can tap the red circles, or flick up to close any or all of the apps.
Lock (put to sleep)
Tap the lock button (on the top right).
Note to people over age 72: always do this before you put your iPhone in your pocket. It still is "on" and will receive calls, but the screen turns off and it won't accidentally phone people while inside your pocket. Tapping this "lock" button is not turning it off; it's just locking it so it doesn't call people all by itself. Trust me; it's still awake and you won't miss your calls or alarms.
Get to Control Center
Swipe down from the top right.
See your carrier's name
Swipe down from the top right. You'll see this near the top left.
Hint: These are almost invisible if you have a light screen when you swipe down; have a dark screen on your iPhone X as you swipe down and this will be much more legible.
Read Bluetooth, Syncing & Location Services statuses and exact battery percentage
Swipe down from the top right. You'll see these near the top right.
Hint: These are almost invisible if you have a light screen when you swipe down; have a dark screen on your iPhone X as you swipe down and this will be much more legible — but swipe down over a light screen to see the dark syncing symbol.
Hold the lock button (on the top right) and tap the volume up button (on the left side).
Turn off completely
Hold the lock button and either volume button for a few moments. Release when you see the sliders, then slide POWER OFF to the right.
Turn back on after a complete power off
Hold the lock button until you see the Apple logo.
Force Restart a.k.a. Reboot
Tap Volume Up, then tap Volume Down, then hold the side button and release when you see the Apple logo.
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03 November 2017