The iPhone X is the iPhone to buy this year

Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone X sets a new gold standard for the next decade of iPhones. Coming hot on the heels of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X steals the show despite sharing nearly identical internal hardware. The X (pronounced “ten”) is a beautiful, modern sculpture, and iPhone owners finally have a reason to show off their phones again.

 

A STUNNING DISPLAY

Turn on the iPhone X, and it’s easy to forget almost every other phone released this year. Apple’s following the “bezel-less” smartphone design trend, where the edges around the screen melt away to offer an immersive all-screen experience. Technically, other phones may have slightly smaller bezels, but we like the approach Apple took here.

Right now, not all apps support the full display. Apps like Snapchat, Google Calendar, and Google Docs have giant black bars on the top and bottom that make the iPhone X look like an iPhone 8. Apple said all the major social media networks support the unusual screen, and it said many developers are in the process of submitting updated versions of their apps. We saw Slack, for example, adding support yesterday. You’ll likely see apps with black borders around them for a few more weeks as developers continue to issue updates.

The OLED display goes a long way in making amends for these quibbles. The 5.8-inch screen has a 2,436 x 1,125-pixel resolution (458 pixels per inch), and it’s razor-sharp. Colors are vibrant, blacks are finally as pitch-dark as many other OLED Android phones, and it was easy to read in direct sunlight.  You’ll have a hard time pulling your eyes away from this screen.

The X is a beautiful, modern sculpture, and iPhone owners finally have a reason to show off their phones again.

As on the iPhone 8 and iPad, Apple’s True Tone technology detects the lighting condition you’re in and adjusts the screen’s tint to make it more readable. It works extremely well and made the screen warmer — and easier on the eyes — in our harsh office lighting.

The phone’s all-glass rear is almost the same as the iPhone 8 Plus, except the dual-camera setup has turned to a vertical orientation. Apple says the front-facing depth sensors and cameras took up a lot of space up top, and the rear camera wouldn’t fit sideways. With only the Apple and iPhone logo printed on the glass, the back looks minimal and sleek. The vertical orientation is a dead giveaway you have the iPhone X, as it’s a pretty unusual camera orientation and placement on a phone.

One noticeable difference is the power button, which now perhaps should be called the “lock button.” Still situated on the right edge, it’s more elongated than before, which makes it easier to find and press. We say the lock button because to turn off the iPhone X, you need to press the lock button and the volume up or down buttons. Tapping on the lock button just wakes or turns off your screen, but you can double-tap it to activate Apple Pay, or press and hold it to launch Siri.

The mute switch is on the top left, and the volume rocker sits below. There’s still no headphone jack, and the only port is for your Lightning cable at the bottom edge, between the bottom-firing speakers. For music, you’ll either have to pair wireless earbuds with the Bluetooth 5 technology on board, or you can embrace the dongle life with the included Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter.

What we like most about the iPhone X is its size. It feels compact — it’s slightly larger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 8, but it has a bigger screen than the 5,5-inch iPhone 8 Plus. The X is comfortable in the hand, and it feels remarkable to have so much more screen real estate than a cumbersome “plus-sized” phone.

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