• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

The iPhone X isn’t out yet, but we know just about everything there is to know about Apple’s new superphone, and as many of the specs and features are the same as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are out, we even have a good idea of how it will perform.

With that in mind we’ve analysed every aspect of the iPhone X to come up with an early verdict of the phone.

Read on to see how it stacks up across all the key categories and how good it’s likely to be overall.

Screen

iPhone 8 screen

The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch 1125 x 2436 screen with a pixel density of 458 pixels per inch. That makes it the biggest phone Apple has ever made and competitive in size with other flagships, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8.

The resolution is not quite as competitive – although above 1080p it’s still not QHD, and some phones have now moved on to QHD+. However, unless you’re interested in VR the extra resolution is little more than a number. In real world use you’re unlikely to notice the difference, and keeping the resolution slightly lower could help improve the iPhone X’s battery life.

This isn’t a screen where the resolution is the main feature though, as there’s plenty more going on here. For example, the iPhone X has a Super AMOLED screen. That’s the same technology as used by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google Pixel 2, but it’s still not used by most phones.

It’s a significant upgrade for Apple though, as it delivers blacker blacks, better contrast and more vivid colours than a typical LCD panel. In fact, at 1,000,000:1 the iPhone X has a great contrast ratio, and at 625 nits it’s got a high maximum brightness.

It’s also an HDR display, which is still relatively rare on phones – even the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus don’t have true HDR screens. The advantage of this is that it can properly display HDR video content, which tends to look a lot better than non-HDR content.

And the iPhone X also has True Tone technology. This allows it to automatically adjust the white balance to suit the ambient light, so the colour temperature of the screen is always optimal.

Of course, it also has 3D Touch, a feature that Apple’s been using for a while now on its phones. This is a software trick as much as a screen one, but it means that the display can respond to different levels of pressure. So for example, a light tap on an app might launch it, while a heavier press could open a context-sensitive menu.

The upshot of all this is that the iPhone X has one of the best smartphone screens around. There are sharper screens and bigger screens, but arguably none that have as much tech packed in or that are meaningfully better for it.

Design

iphone x design

The iPhone X is the only one of Apple’s new handsets to sport a completely new design, and it’s a good one, with a screen-filled front and almost no bezel. In fact, the only real hint of bezel is a small notch at the top of the display.

Otherwise it’s all screen, which both looks great and means that 5.8-inch display can be packed into a relatively compact size, with the iPhone X coming in at 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm. That’s not tiny but it is smaller than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus, and it’s also lighter at 174g.

The screen-to-body ratio for the iPhone X has been calculated at 82.9%. For the iPhone 8 Plus as a comparison it’s just 67.4%.

The sides of the iPhone X are made of surgical-grade stainless steel and round the back it’s all glass, so there’s nothing but premium materials here, leaving the phone looking and feeling great.

It’s also IP67 certified dust and water resistant, meaning it can be submerged up to 1 metre deep in water for up to 30 minutes, so you can safely use it in the rain or the bath.

That’s actually one slightly disappointing aspect though, as some phones are IP68 certified, giving them even more protection from water, and while IP67 should be enough we really expect the best of the best from such an expensive phone.

The other arguably disappointing - or at least divisive - aspect of the design is the notch on the front. The lack of bezels is generally stunning but the notch sticking out the top looks a little odd.

And you don’t get much visual choice when buying the iPhone X, as it only comes in Space Grey or Silver, though we wouldn’t be surprised if more colour options were ultimately launched.

Power and OS

Apple’s phones are always impressively powerful and the iPhone X is its most powerful yet, though it shares the same specs as the iPhone 8 Plus.

That’s slightly disappointing since this is a more expensive phone, but it does mean we can fully evaluate the power ahead of its launch.

There’s a hexa-core A11 Bionic chipset in the phone, with four Mistral cores which are up to 70% faster than the A10 Fusion chipset in the iPhone 7, and two Monsoon cores which are up to 25% faster. And for times when you need even more power it can engage all six cores at once.

That gives it access to more cores than past handsets too, as the iPhone 7 has just a quad-core chipset. Of course, many Android phones have octa-core chips, but generally they can only engage four cores at once.

The iPhone X also has a three-core GPU that’s up to 30% faster than the A10 Fusion one, and there’s 3GB of RAM.

That’s a number that’s again beaten by many Android phones, but Apple always seems to make its RAM go further, so we wouldn’t expect any slowdown at all from the iPhone X, and indeed the iPhone 8 Plus is a very smooth performer with the same specs.

That’s perhaps helped by its neural engine, which is something most rivals can’t boast. This is designed to power machine learning on the phone, helping with AI tasks like identifying faces with Face ID (covered below), and it’s apparently capable of up to 600 billion operations every second.

The iPhone X also has the latest generation of Apple’s motion coprocessor. This is used to collect data from sensors like the accelerometer and barometer, so the phone can track things (most notably health and fitness) without constantly using the main processor. That makes it far more efficient than many handsets and should help improve battery life.

You also get iOS 11 with the iPhone X, and this is the latest and greatest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, complete with updates like a customizable Control Centre, so you can choose which shortcuts you want, and a new Files app, so you can more easily manage your files and folders.

It’s available on other Apple devices too though, even those which are a few years old, so isn’t a major selling point of the phone.

However, it’s worth noting that the iPhone X will be supported with software updates for years to come.

Camera

iphone x review

The iPhone X has not one but two 12MP rear-facing cameras. There’s a main wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.8, and a secondary telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4.

The former doesn’t have quite as large a lens opening as, say the f/1.7 Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but it’s close and based on the iPhone 8 Plus (which has the same camera) it’s very fast to focus and capable of taking great shots without a lot of effort – you just point and shoot.

Some cameras require you to mess around adjusting settings for optimal results, but the iPhone X does all this automatically in the background with its image signal processor, so you don’t have to. That processor also allows the camera to capture more detail, for better photos than you’ll get from previous iPhones.

The main exception to this is when the lighting is bad. Here the results are adequate, but not best in class, despite the presence of both optical image stabilisation and a quad-LED flash. They’re still the best you’ll find on an iPhone though.

Of course, we haven’t even touched on the skills that second lens brings to the table. This enables a Portrait mode, which can artfully blur the background of shots while keeping the foreground in focus. You’ll have seen lots of images taken like this because it’s a generally good look.

That second lens also allows for 2x optical zoom without any loss of quality, so you can get in closer without, well, getting in closer.

There are also a number of simple yet powerful editing tools, most notably Portrait Lighting, which adds a range of impressive lighting effects to images, leading to potentially professional looking shots.

You also get Live Photos of course, letting you add a brief clip to each photo you take, and there are new effects you can add to these as well. It’s a powerful set of tools, and while it’s not all-encompassing there are apps available to fill in any gaps.

On the video front, the iPhone X can shoot in up to 4K quality at up to 60fps, for seriously smooth, high-resolution footage (albeit footage that will take up a lot of space on your phone). It can also shoot time lapse footage and in 1080p slow motion at up to 240fps.

The front-facing camera is less interesting, but still reasonable. There’s a 7MP f/2.2 lens, capable of recording video in 1080p at up to 30fps. That’s pretty standard, though the results for both stills and video are solid (again, based on the similarly spec’d iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus).

However, the iPhone X is also capable of Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting using its front-facing camera, so you can seriously power up your selfies.

Features

iphone x face id

The main feature of the iPhone X is its Face ID scanner, which scans your face and unlocks the phone if you’re the owner. That essentially means you can unlock the iPhone X just by looking at it.

It achieves this using what Apple’s calling a TrueDepth camera system, which can project and analyse more than 30,000 invisible dots on your face.

That in turn allows it to create a 3D depth map of your face, and that’s one of the key things that makes it stand out from other smartphone face scanners, as typically they scan a 2D image, meaning they’re likely to be fooled by a picture. This views your face in 3D, so shouldn’t be foolable.

That, plus the neural engine that Apple’s using in combination with the hardware, also means it should be able to recognize you if you wear a hat or glasses for example.

Supposedly the chance of it unlocking for an unauthorized user is around one in a million, up from roughly one in 50,000 for a fingerprint scanner, so it should be more secure than Apple’s previous Touch ID system – which is good, because the iPhone X doesn’t have Touch ID. It also can’t be hacked, as all the processing is done by your phone rather than a server.

This is one thing that we can’t fully evaluate right now, as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus don’t have this system, but it certainly sounds impressive. Assuming it works well the only other question will be whether users actually take to it.

As well as securing your phone, Face ID can also be used to authorise Apple Pay purchases, and for Animoji, which are animated emoji that will imitate your facial expressions and even your mouth movements. So you can record a message overlaid with one of them and send it to a friend. This is a bit of a gimmick, but undeniably impressive and fun.

Other features of the iPhone X include improved augmented reality – though this is more a software than hardware feature and is available on older devices too.

Still, it impresses, with new AR experiences showing far more awareness for the world around you, and therefore integrating themselves in more seamlessly.

The iPhone X also sports stereo speakers which should provide louder, better sound than previous iPhones or indeed most handsets. Note though that as with the last generation of iPhones there’s no 3.5mm headphone port, so if you don’t want to use the built-in speakers you’ll either need an adapter or to go wireless.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

iphone x wireless

There’s a 2,716mAh battery in the iPhone X, which makes it marginally larger than the battery in the iPhone 8 Plus. That phone can generally see you through a day but not much more. In other words it offers standard, middle of the road battery life by smartphone standards. Not bad but not great either.

There’s little to suggest the iPhone X will last any longer, in fact worryingly it will probably last less time, since it has a bigger, sharper screen to power and according to Apple for certain use cases it will last an hour less than the iPhone 8 Plus, with quotes of up to 12 hours for internet use and 13 hours for video playback.

You should at least be able to charge it quickly and easily though, as the iPhone X supports both wireless charging and fast charging, the latter of which can juice it up from zero to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Memory comes in at 64GB or 256GB, and it’s this decision that will affect how much you pay. A 64GB version costs £999, while a 256GB one will set you back £1149. And of course, being an Apple handset there’s no microSD card slot, so choose wisely.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC (though only for Apple Pay). Of those Bluetooth 5.0 is worth a slightly closer look, as this is the latest standard, offering four times the range, twice the speed and eight times the capacity of the previous version.

That means you can be further away from the device you’re connected to without it cutting out, and even that you can connect to more than one Bluetooth device at once, though for most of the benefits the devices you’re connecting to will need to have Bluetooth 5.0 as well.

Verdict

The iPhone X is undoubtedly one of the best phones of the year, as well as being the most exciting iPhone in many years.

It remains to be seen how users will take to Face ID, and battery life looks to be pretty average – though that’s never held Apple back before, but in just about every other sense, from its great screen, to its stunning design, oodles of power and impressive camera, this looks to be a brilliant, cutting edge handset.

The £1000 price tag might be tough to stomach, but if any phone has ever come close to justifying it it’s this.

Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions (mm): 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7

Weight (g): 174

Battery capacity (mAh): 2691

Colours: Silver, Space Grey

Screen size (inches):  5.8

Resolution: 1125 x 2436

Pixels per inch (PPI): 458

Processor: Six-core

Processor make: Apple A11 Bionic

RAM: 3GB

Internal storage: 64GB, 256GB

Expandable storage up to (GB): N/A

Camera: 12MP dual-lens (7MP front-facing)

Operating System: iOS 11

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