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iPhone X group review: four opinions on the tenth-anniversary Apple phone

iPhone X Group review

The iPhone X is the most talked-about smartphone for years. And with good reason.

After years in a holding pattern, Apple threw out its age-old blueprint for handsets this time around and did away with the home button that's been a fixture of iPhones since the first model landed back in 2007.

And then there's the small matter of the price. Priced from £999, it's Apple's most expensive smartphone ever. And is the best part of £300 more costly than high-end Android rivals.

So what's the story? Is iPhone X really 'all that'? We put four of best men on the case to find out.

Sold on the iPhone X? Take a look at our pick of the best deals.

Catherine Hiley

iPhone-X-camera-sample-Catherine

Lover of loud music. Lifelong Saints FC fan. Disney Princess.

As a hardcore Android fan, I was pretty sceptical about the £1,000 iPhone. After all, how could it possibly be worth that kind of money?

But even I couldn’t help but get a little swept along with the excitement of the tenth anniversary iPhone.

When I took it out of the box on the day it launched, everyone crowded around my desk to get a better look at it.

There was a collective ‘Ooooh’ as we all saw the iPhone X for the first time. I have to admit, it does look something special.

Although smaller than I’d imagined, the handset is carrying one of the biggest, brightest screens I’ve seen on a smartphone.

And it’s remarkable how quickly you stop noticing the black notch cut out of the top of the display for the front-facing camera and antenna.

But what really sets this phone apart from all the others is what goes on behind the screen.

Thanks to the absence of the home button, you’ve got to navigate by swiping.

Swipe up to get to the homescreen. Swipe from the top left to bring up the control centre. Swipe up and right to ‘throw away’ apps once you’ve finished with them. It’s surprisingly intuitive and I got used to it very quickly.

Face ID was pretty easy to set up and worked so seamlessly that initially I didn’t even notice the phone unlocking.

It was only once I passed it to a friend who was prompted to enter the passcode that I realised it had been registering my facial features and unlocking in a matter of milliseconds.

And it wouldn’t be fooled by a photo of me either. Thanks to the 3D face mapping, only the original would do. Which was rather reassuring.

It did struggle to recognise me first thing in the morning though, which was a tad soul-destroying to say the least.

Let’s face it, none of us look our best when we’ve just woken up, but does my half-asleep Saturday-morning mug really look completely different to my Friday-night face? Apparently so.

Luckily, after a few attempts, it began working again, so I’ve decided to blame the poor lighting in my bedroom rather than my panda eyes and bed-hair.

I’m a bit of an amateur photographer. And by that, I mean I like to fill my phone up with pictures of my cat and post photos of my food on Facebook.

But as much as I enjoy taking snaps, I have zero photography skills. So I need a smartphone camera that gives me great results without any know-how.

Thankfully, the iPhone X does exactly that. It comes with a great Portrait Mode that artfully blurs the background and brings the subject of the photo into stunningly sharp focus.

There’s also lots of additional lighting effects to make your photos look extra professional. The Spotlight Mode looks especially dramatic and Instagram-tastic.

The other feature I was curious to try out was Animoji. For those of you who’ve missed the hype, they’re emojis that you can animate with your face.

So you record your facial movements and the emoji will mirror what you’re doing. You can even add your voice so the Animoji not only mimics your expressions but talks in your voice too.

As you can imagine, it’s addictively fun to use. But as the tech is only available on the iPhone X, your friends won’t be able to send Animoji back to you unless they also have a £1,000 iPhone.

Want more on the iPhone X? Read our standalone review.

Christine Torlay

iPhone-X-camera-sample-Christine

Sufferer of chronic wanderlust. Cosmetics hoarder. Proud Starbucks groupie.

At a princely £999, the iPhone X certainly had a lot to live up to in my book. This sentiment is certainly skewed by the fact that I've very recently jumped ship to Android and am still in the blissful honeymoon period.

Given the price and my new-found love for my Samsung Note 8, it’s fair to say I was sceptical that the iPhone X could win me over.

On opening the box, I was struck by the time-honoured sleek look and feel of the device. It’s something Apple seems to get bang-on each and every time. The curved, shiny body exudes an air of quality and luxury and the phone felt very comfortable in my hand.

Going through the set-up process was relatively simple, however once I was on the home screen, I realised that not having a home button wasn't as easy to get used to as I thought it would be.

Because I’m so accustomed to my Note 8, I assumed the "swiping" action would be innate by now. I was wrong.

I found myself pressing the screen as if there were a home button far too many times, a habit which frustratingly seemed to take forever to break.

Being a self-confessed tech novice, understanding camera specs is like learning a foreign language. Aperture, optical zoom, megapixels - where do I even begin?

So, it's always important to me that a phone has a camera with settings that are easy to use and quite simply make my pictures look incredible with minimal effort. Am I asking too much? Apparently not for the X, as this phone did just that.

My favourite feature by far was the Portrait Mode. As with the iPhone 8 Plus, this mode enabled me to take pictures of professional standard very easily and blurs the background, while bringing the subject into super-sharp focus.

If I didn’t know better, I’d have said my pictures were taken on a high-grade DSLR camera. The colours were vivid, sharp and still really clear when shooting in low light.

After watching the live launch of the iPhone X, one thing I couldn't wait to try was the Animoji. This is a cute little feature that allows you to create animated emoji and send them as messages. Suffice to say it was very amusing!

One alarming thing I did notice though was the device seemed to get hot. I assumed it was because I had been playing with it for a little while and had a few apps running so I gave it a little rest.

However, even when I was being conscious of the fact and only using the camera, for example, the phone still seemed to heat up quickly.

I guess the major question everyone is asking is, is the iPhone X worth the money? In my opinion, no. £999 is a colossal amount of money for something that is going to depreciate the more you use it.

The features are cool and the camera is quality but I didn't come across anything that made it an absolute knockout compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. One thing I can guarantee though, Animoji are hilarious!

Ernest Doku

iPhone-X-camera-sample-Ernest

Avid gadget geek. Recluse. uSwitch tech talker.

Having drifted into becoming a full-time Android user for the better part of a year, returning to the features and foibles of the iPhone and iOS was a bit of a culture shock. Even more so with the face-scanning, home button-free iPhone X.

Thankfully the migration process was less painful than expected. The handy ‘Move to iOS’ app transported all my photos, texts, contacts and apps quickly and securely during set-up.

Whilst warming up, I did take time to marvel at the awesome display and revamped design. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and other bezel-free devices almost make the iPhone 8 design look a bit old-fashioned.

But seeing the astonishing technical feat of packing an expansive display in a relatively small form factor, along with the attractive glass rear and chrome accents certainly put the iPhone X back on a par in the style stakes for me.

Finally powering it up revealed a bewildering array of changes to the user experience when it comes to navigating the iPhone X, even compared to using the iPad Pro on iOS 11.

Gone was the humble home button and its lightning-fast fingerprint reader. So most core actions, whether you’re dismissing apps to unlocking the phone itself, are now performed with a swipe up from the base of the device.

In its place from a security perspective is Face ID. This uses an array of cameras at the top of the device to rapidly scan the peaks and valleys of your face to act as a password.

Regardless of the number of calibrations, I still found the Face ID scanning less responsive compared to scanning the traditional thumbprint, unless I was sitting bolt upright and staring directly at the phone.

Equally, my face being partially obscured by bed covers or wearing a hoodie often made this innovation a bit of a non-starter.

Such drastic changes to the iPhone simply felt a bit bizarre at first. However, that initial steep learning curve gives way to muscle memory taking over. After a while, using the phone becomes a breezy but familiar experience that is as slick and responsive as ever.

The unmitigated luxury and the overall package of the iPhone X experience shines brighter the longer you spend with it.

Bluetooth connectivity to wireless headphones is swift and unbroken. Meanwhile the power under the hood for gaming and productivity alike is unparalleled and the overall sheen from day-to-day use brings an unexpected joy.

A solitary and hopefully temporary disappointment is the lack of optimised for the iPhone X’s uniquely shaped display.

To see all of my favourite go-to apps, from Google Play Music to Inbox and Calendar, cropped by black bars across the top and bottom proves to be a frustrating experience.

That said, software is being updated daily to take advantage of the iPhone X’s vivid 5.8-inch screen, so hopefully this is merely a temporary frustration.

The iPhone X is an unmistakeably pricey way to get into the iOS ecosystem.

But with a bevy of refreshing features, an incredible screen and an all-new frame, it’s a financial decision that your heart justifies more every moment you spend with it.

Jonathan Leggett

iPhone-X-camera-sample-Jon

Vinegary churl. Poptimist. Likes girls' music.

The iPhone X is the tenth anniversary Apple phone. And for most of those ten years, the iPhone and I have been locked in a tight clinch.

I've owned other phones. But not for long. I always came back to the iPhone eventually.

But I'm not blind to iPhones' flaws. Like lots of other lapsed fanboys, by last year I'd grown a bit tired of Apple's increasingly staid design.

It was as though my ardour and steadfastness was being taken for granted.

Enter the iPhone X, which is billed as a radical break from Apple's recent past and is being touted by Apple as the future of smartphones.

The big change from previous iPhones is that it ditches the physical home button that's been a fixture of all Apple handsets from day one.

The result is a shimmering all-screen front that's impossibly modish. And makes my iPhone 7 Plus, where the screen is flanked by two huge expanses of dead space, seem creakingly old fashioned.

The beauty of it is that by removing the home button and allowing the display to take up the entire front of the iPhone X, Apple has managed to fit a 5.8-inch screen into a phone that's pretty compact.

But there are other consequences. With no home button to press, you’ve got to learn a whole host of new gestures to perform key functions. Such as closing apps, taking a screenshot and, of course, returning to the home screen.

Initially you feel a little all-at-sea. I’m sure I’m not the only person who kept reaching for a home button. But once you’ve unlearned all your old habits, the iPhone X becomes a joy to use.

Perhaps the slickest feature though is Face ID. As the name suggests, this is facial security technology that takes perhaps a minute or two to set up and allows you to unlock the iPhone X just by looking at it.

The iPhone X isn’t the first phone to offer this. But it’s certainly the phone that does it best. Unlocking it takes a second or so and recognised me 99.9% of the time. And on the few times it conked out, it was in low-light conditions.

Elsewhere, pretty much everything is done with the sense of aplomb that you’ve come to expect from Apple.

The dual camera is great, for instance, and belies its ho-hum spec sheet to serve up shots that are jam-packed with colour and rich detail.

A larger aperture means it lets more light for some of the best ‘low-light’ shots we’ve come across on a smartphone.

Around the front, the selfie camera now has a Portrait Mode that makes for superior self-portraits that let you fade out background details and bring your face into super-sharp focus.

And there are some neat studio lighting effects too, which may or may not help you on your mission to win Instagram fame.

The most arresting of the bunch is probably stage lighting, which gave me the air of a disgraced Vaudeville entertainer. A look I’ve heard that’s going to be big on Insta next year.

More wholesome are Apple’s Animoji, which harness the front-facing camera to record your speech and facial mannerisms to create an animated animal avatar in your image.

It’s something that kids are bound to go for in a big way. And even though I’m way too old for cute animals, I’ll happily concede I’m staggered at just how precisely the Animoji replicate my tics and movements.

Whether Animoji are a flash-in-the-pan or the start of a brand new, cutesier way to communicate remains to be seen.

But we can say for sure that the iPhone X itself is a giant step forwards for Apple smartphones and pocket technology in general. If you’ve got £1,000 going spare, you know what to do.

Want an iPhone, but not sure which one? Take a full range of iPhone models and deals at our comparison page.

Category: Reviews
Tagged: apple, iphone, iphone x

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