While trying to get through AT&T‘s inability to activate a phone with a current account with the same number due to insufficient server capacity (this shouldn’t be happening anymore) I was presented with activating the iPhone X via a similar method to what the Apple Watch does to pair it to an iPhone (which I really wish worked, thanks AT&T). Once the iPhone X was activated about 20 minutes later and I restored everything I was off to business as usual.
It’s all about the Face
Face detection is nothing new. We’ve had Microsoft’s Windows Hello and Samsung’s facial recognition in their S8 and Note 8 smartphones where each has worked with varying degrees. We’ve also seen face detection fooled by various methods including something as simple as a low quality photo off the internet. So it seems that it all boils down to implementation. Apple’s implementation seems to have really been thought out which it shows in the setup and use of what they call Face ID.
Setting up Face ID is quite simple. All that’s required is for you to rotate your head in a circular pattern and that’s it. This is much simpler and easier than Touch ID and unlike Touch ID you can see yourself on the phone as you follow the instructions so you get a actual idea of what it’s doing.
Using Face ID doesn’t require you to stare at the camera, simply glance at the phone. I performed a few tests in broad daylight, various levels of low light, night time and of course complete darkness, which all nicely went without a hitch. Speed is another aspect I looked at compared to Touch ID. Here I think it all depends on your perspective. My first few hours using it I paid close attention to what I was doing, maybe even over exaggerated how I looked at the phone at times to make sure it saw me. As the day went on I paid less attention to that as I became use to it and would just pick up my phone like I usually do and it would unlock by the time I was ready to put a finger to the screen.
So where as Touch ID requires you to place your finger on the Home button and at minimum touch it. Face ID requires nothing more than a glance at the phone. Of course, you have to do it at the correct angle but once you realize how natural it is when you pick up your phone anyway you just stop consciously trying to do it.
Apple believes in removing obstructions and distractions away from the user and Face ID is another step towards that goal. For example, if you have the phone setup up to auto lock the screen it won’t as long as the camera has your attention. Step away from the phone for the required amount of time to pass and the phone will auto lock.
Third party applications will also have to be updated and thankfully not only have many already done so but any application that used Touch ID are also already compatible with Face ID. All developers have to do now is add Face ID to their security choices and the proper implementation so it doesn’t look like a they hacked it on at the last minute.
A complete HDR ticket
The display is nothing more than fantastic. You can now view full 10-bit HEVC (H.265 4K HDR) content on your phone. It’s calibrated using the DCI-P3 cinematic color gamut in order to display the wider color space of richer and more vibrant colors and deeper blacks and is fully HDR10 and Dolby Vision compliant. Apple pushed LCD technology as far as it could and I expect nothing less with OLED. Due to how OLED works and this being Apple’s first in a smartphone I’m giving it a full week to see if there is any noticeable ghosting or burn-in as OLED is susceptible to having. Thus far over the past 36-hours of use I can see none at all.
Viewing photos or video hasn’t changed for me except that it’s a much, much nicer experience compared to past iPhones. The notch is a none issue for me as I don’t think about it nor do I view video in full screen. Even when I did I liked as much then as I did with past phones. I didn’t. They all cut off some of the image because it zooms in which I never cared for. Also, during regular use the horns as some have called them aren’t useless space. Apple makes use of them by displaying information such as the time, cellular, Wi-Fi and battery status. So until it’s possible to either put this technology under the display or embed it into the display itself, this is probably how it’s going to be going forward.
Getting along with gestures
For the most part gestures remain the same with a few changes to accommodate the removal of the home button. For some people this may take some getting use to but as with anything else in life when things change we have to change with it. For example Control Center is now accessed by swiping down from the top right corner, swiping up from the bottom and holding midway up brings up the multi-tasker and Apple Pay is activated by pressing the side button twice. Do I miss the Home button? Sometimes… just a little bit. Mostly, because I’m use to it and in specific use cases like when the phone is laying on a table. Placing my finger on the Home button for Touch ID to unlock it was effortless, now I have to pick up the phone and put it back down. Inconvenient, not really, just a habit, because prior to Touch ID I use to type in my password which takes longer. That situation for example is now reversed when I’m using a charging stand where I don’t have to press or move anything and Face ID just unlocks my phone for me by looking at it.
Almost completely wireless
Wireless (inductive) charging is another feature Apple finally added to the iPhone. My feelings about it haven’t changed much since it was first introduced around 2008. It’s faster than it use to be but it’s still slower than plugging in your device. So far I’ve only felt the need to use it at home to charge the iPhone overnight. I can’t deny that it’s nice to pick up your phone when your rushing out the door and not have to physically unplug it or just rest it on the charging base when you walk in and it starts charging with no other physical intervention. It’s mostly a convenience feature that’s definitely a nice to have.
That’s it for now
The front and back glass design while beautiful does make the device more fragile in my option. It feels and looks good and as usual Apple iPhone has tight seal tolerances that have always been better than other smartphones. As far as the camera, unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to test it out or other aspects of the iPhone X as I wanted to just use the phone like I normally do and taking photos isn’t a priority for me. I will only say that now we have a optically stabilized dual 12 megapixel camera system that has a wide angle lens with a ƒ/1.8 aperture and a telephoto lens with a ƒ/2.4 aperture so, I’m pretty confident it will take gorgeous pictures. But I will test it out for myself as time goes on. All said right now I’m very happy with the iPhone X especially since all this technology is packaged into a smaller, more one-handed friendly form factor.