When the first iPhone came out in 2007, it was laughed at by competing phone companies. "There's not even a keyboard on it! Ten years later, we know how much the iPhone has taken the landscape of smartphones by storm. In terms of software, controls and apps, for years Apple has been laying out the lines of what we do and can do with phones.
But over the last few years, the draught got in a bit. Major innovations were missing in the hardware and software - and the price compared to the competition was still high.
Competitors such as Samsung, LG and Huawei continued to innovate, with sloping screen edges, AMOLED screens and dual cameras, where Apple improved marginally as Volkswagen does with its Golf. Each time a little better - but no longer leading.
Content of the box
Earpods (Apple Earpods)
3.5mm audio jack to Lightning adaptor
This year it's different. Apple celebrates the 10th anniversary of its iPhone with the iPhone X. For the first time in years, a redesigned device with thin screen edges and a large screen, a buttonless interface and Face ID: a face scanner instead of a fingerprint scanner. How good is the iPhone X?
It's about time: iPhone X is the first redesigned iPhone since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. That 2014 design was extended directly to the 6s (2015), 7 (2016) and the 8 released in the fall of 2017.
Like the 8, the iPhone X has a glass back. Apple still calls the dark version Space Grey, but the colour grey is darker than before. The edge on the side is nicely curved and has a more metallic look than the black front and dark grey glass back. The latter looks expensive and 'premium', but is particularly finger spot sensitive. Apple's choice wasn't just because of the design: because of the glass back, the device can also be charged wirelessly by placing it on a charging plate. It is also striking that the camera part again protrudes from the back and is now positioned vertically instead of horizontally.
Black bite in the screen
But the back isn't the iPhone X's design hit. It's the front that plays the leading role. It gives this iPhone a more modern appearance than any other iPhone. Only the sides of the device have black bars - and at the top, there's a black bite on the screen for the self-image camera and face scanner that unlocks the phone. It replaces the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that was dropped on this device. The rest of the front is screen. Pure screen. That's as big as 5.8 inches - a lot bigger than the iPhone 8's 4.7 inches and even bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus's 5.5 inches - while it's just a little bigger than the small iPhone.
The black bite from the screen is controversial. For example, the battery percentage in the upper bar breaks down and it looks a bit crazy. At the same time, the bar doesn't get in the way - and you could even say it gives the iPhone a distinctive design in the midst of all those other smartphones striving for smaller and smaller edges. Just to look for the nuance.
A choice of glass
The screen is made in what Apple calls its strongest glass ever - and several tests prove it. The iPhone X can take a beating. On the back, however, the opposite is true, with the choice of glass. That choice was made to charge the iPhone wirelessly, but it's not the safest option for every-day use.
Furthermore, the iPhone must be able to survive a splash under water without tearing, partly because Apple omitted the 3.5 mm audio jacket. At the bottom, instead of the 3.5 mm audio jack, there is room for (very good) stereo speakers. If you want to listen to wired music, you have to do so using the included Lightning to 3.5 mm cable. It's nice that this is not audible at the expense of sound quality - no matter which earplugs we test with.
Tribute to own history
The design of the iPhone X may not be as groundbreaking as Samsungs top devices, but it's more functional. The screen gets (almost) as much space as the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S9. It holds securely, has a larger screen and a more manageable size than many 5.5-inch devices. And: it's a tribute to its own history. Put all the iPhones side by side and the design seems like a logical evolution. In fact, the X's convex, shiny edges are reminiscent of the very first iPhone in 2007. It's unmistakeably an iPhone. Only the finger spot sensitivity is a pity.
The iPhone X is equipped with the latest generation of chips and most working memory to date in an Apple device. That's what you notice as a user. It's blazing fast, and it shows no delays throughout system usage, whether you're starting up a game, turning on the camera, or switching between apps.
Switching between apps deserves special attention on the X. Since this is no longer done with a double tap of the home button, but with swipe gestures at the bottom of the screen, it is important that swipe gestures are properly registered. After a small period of getting used to it - first drag your finger upwards and then sideways to get to the overview of open apps, you'll notice how quickly the X does that. With a swipe at the bottom of the screen, you swipe between apps and it's always done without a hitch. Even apps you haven't touched in a long time start up quickly.
Battery power is good, charging takes long
The battery is a big windfall. You'd expect a relatively short battery life with a fast system and a bright, large screen, but you won't find it on iPhone X. Compared to other Apple devices, the 2716 mAh battery lasts a long time. With normal use, it'll last a day and a half before recharging - even if you spend time on Netflix, Spotify, and some shooting. There are more and more Android devices with larger battery sizes, but Apple's custom adjustment between the battery and its own software makes battery life long.
Recharging the phone unfortunately takes quite a long time. With the included charger we can reach 80 percent battery in two hours, counting from an empty iPhone. With the separately available quick charger, the iPhone X is just as full. You can also charge the iPhone X wirelessly by placing it on charging plates with the back, but that's not fast at all. Within two hours, iPhone X was less than 50 percent charged. Charging it wirelessly seems fun, but if you want new juice fast, you'd better use a wire.
The iPhone doesn't get hot quickly, but it can get hot when playing a heavier game. And even more so when the phone hangs on the charger. The temperature is fortunately - literally - controllable.
The iPhone X screen is one of the highlights of the device. It's great, with deep and pronounced colours, high contrast and impressive viewing angles. Whichever angle you view the screen from, the colours are always right. Because it's an OLED screen, black is real black. It's hard, if not impossible, to tell the difference between black on the screen and the edge of the screen around it.
"The iPhone X screen is fantastic"
With True Tone colours that adjust the screen to the light around you, the iPhone screen can turn out as blue or yellow as it pleases you. It also intelligently adjusts brightness. So colours always come into their own and the phone doesn't dazzle you when you pick it up in a completely dark room. The only thing to notice about True Tone is that photos can look deceptively warm. If you shoot a lot of photos or videos in a location, it's a good idea to turn True Tone off to better estimate how your photos will look in other people's Instagram accounts.
What's more, because the iPhone X comes in a new kind of glass on the front, the screen can take a beating. That's great if you're spending more than 1000 euros on a phone.
The iPhone X is equipped with Apple's latest system, iOS 11, which has been specially adapted for the iPhone X. Because it has no buttons on the front (you log in with the facial scanner), the whole system works with swipes. It takes a little getting used to, but it's very intuitive after a day or two. You just need to know where to go - and Apple should have explained the swipes more clearly.
Powerhouse with Apple's own software
After your face is recognised, swipe the screen up to get into the home screen. There you swipe the notifications and widgets from the top left corner of the screen. Your control panel with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, brightness, volume can be reached with a swipe from the top right. However, the most important swipe is from the bottom of the screen to the top. This will close an app and take you to the home screen. Simply swipe from the bottom of the screen, then immediately to the right, and you're in the multitask screen and you're browsing apps. Closing apps and switching between apps is incredibly fast and smooth. You won't know how fast and fluid iOS 11 is on iPhone X until you use another phone. The iPhone X is a powerhouse.
iOS: pros and cons
Furthermore, iOS retains its own advantages and disadvantages compared to the widely used Android. Widgets are a bit less convenient than on Android, because you don't always see them on your home screen, but have to pull them down in the message centre. There are also fewer possibilities to set up your home screen.
There's something in return. It's proven to be safer, Apple continues to support devices with the latest version of iOS for about five years, and you can uninstall most of Apple's apps. Furthermore, you still have a deep pressure on the screen for extra options. For example, not just to open an app, but to go directly to a search function within an app or to write a new message. iOS 11 is convenient, clear, reliable and fast on the iPhone X.
We've already looked at the hardware over the last few pages, especially the shape, the screen and the performance. The lack of a 3.5 mm audio jack and the other finishing touches make the phone waterproof. You can use it in the shower - and it should be able to survive a fall in the toilet or swimming pool.
Now that that has been stated, we will continue this chapter on the camera.
The iPhone X has two main cameras at the back. They are both 12-megapixel cameras. One for the wide angle, a telephoto lens that is closer to the surroundings or an object. Just like the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus, this dual setup allows you to work with depth of field. Take an object in the foreground, and the background is stylishly blurred to make the front look better.
Good, but not the best portrait mode
For people there is a special portrait mode, which calculates the depth of field around faces. This can produce spectacular results, in which one or more people can almost stand out from the background in an SLR-like manner. This can produce great results, but it's not flawless. Edges of hairstyles and glasses frames in particular are wiped away, while they are sometimes razor-sharp in the prevue before taking the picture.
Therefore, the X is not a class leader in this field. The Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL provide more detail and contrast to the environment with one camera and smart software tricks. In addition, the portrait mode also delivers phenomenal results with the front-facing camera. On the iPhone X, there is a portrait mode on the front camera, but because that 7-megapixel camera has less to offer, photos become cloudier and more detailed than the rear camera. It is a pity that Apple didn't make a noticeable step forward compared to previous iPhones.
Unfortunately, the possibilities of highlighting people in portrait photographs with other light situations, such as studio light, rarely produce a convincingly realistic result. According to Apple, the software that makes that possible is being further developed. It is to be hoped that the iPhone X will benefit from that.
All in all, the iPhone X's portrait mode is very impressive. Pieces of hair, ears and eyeglass edges sometimes fade into the background, but the result is often razor-sharp and of high beauty - without applying exaggerated beauty filters, which we regularly find on Asian devices.
As an all-round camera, the iPhone X camera also impresses. Landscapes, close-ups and nite shots come into their own with bright, vibrant colours. Noise in front of a phone camera is pretty much suppressed in nite shots - altho you can see it with a little zooming in, of course.
What's noticeable is that the iPhone X doesn't always grab the best light when you just point it at something. Compared to previous iPhones, you'll have to tap the screen more often to shift the focus and colours. Point-and-shoot photography is possible because of the iPhone X's quick start-up and image stabiliser, but photos get more balanced colours regularly by setting an exposure point yourself.
Filming: in 4K without image stabilisation
The iPhone X is also more than suitable for filming, altho it may prefer filming in 1080p in 60 frames per second compared to 4K filming in 60 frames per second. In the latter case, Apple compresses video with its own HEVC structure, which can make files almost half the size.
You can shoot in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, but in Apple's proprietary HEVC file format that isn't widely supported by video editors and other systems. At 1080p, you can shoot at 60 frames per second and have excellent image stabilisation, which calms moving movie footage. Apple also stores photos in a proprietary compression format (HEIF) as standard to save space on the phone.
If you like to do more with photos than sharing them on social networks, we recommend saving photos as JPEG. Colours will then be better preserved on other systems. It's a shame Apple doesn't do that by default, but you'll have to set it up.
Despite the comments we make, it can be said: the iPhone X contains the best camera in an iPhone so far. Colours, details and portraits come into their own.
The iPhone X is the most beautifully finished iPhone ever, with thin screen edges, smooth shapes and impressive aspect ratio. Yet it's not undisputed. Not everyone likes the bite in the top of the screen and the price will scare away potential customers. The fragile glass back counts as a miss on top - couldn't it have been different?
Still, Apple's flagship of 2017 and early 2018 is a great phone. The facial scanner is an excellent successor to the fingerprint scanner, the device is fast as an arrow, the battery is powerful and the screen is brilliant with great viewing angles. The camera is versatile and produces great photos in all kinds of conditions, and iOS remains a proven reliable system that has been supported by Apple for years.
The iPhone X may not be the best choice rationally due to its pricing - but it is certainly one of the most elegant and powerful phones on the market. And what Apple itself says is undoubtedly true: it's the best iPhone ever. So far.