Quick Review: iPhone X

I’ve had my iPhone X about a week now and used it as my primary phone for almost the entire time.  The unit I have is a Verizon version which I purchased in New York City from Best Buy.  As you can imagine, the iPhone X is sold out pretty much everywhere and I was just lucky enough to stumble into some from Best Buy’s Fifth Avenue branch.  I got a 64GB model in silver, mainly because that’s the only color available.

A silver iPhone X with the vertically-aligned dual camera at the back

First impressions: it is a very beautiful phone!  It is practically all glass except for the metallic band running around its edges.  I had to opportunity to compare both the silver and gray side by side inside an Apple store and they are pretty much identical when looked at from the front.  Their differences start to appear once you look closer at the metallic bands from the side: the silver ones sport a mirror-like finish of polished metal while the gray ones sport a darker color.  Finally, the back is where the true differences in color are highlighted.

A gray iPhone X with the darker metal edges

Perhaps the iPhone X’s most distinguishing feature is its screen.  For the first time, Apple is using an OLED screen on an iPhone.  And you know it’s going to be good because it’s made by Samsung, arguably the leader in this department as far as mobile devices are concerned.  But unlike Samsung’s that “screams” with very high saturation, Apple calibrated it so that you won’t get alienated coming from the LCD ones of other iPhones.  And personally, I love it and I really think that screen is just gorgeous to look at.

And like most flagships of 2017, Apple went “bezel-less” by extending the screen edge-to-edge, except for that controversial notch at the top where the speakers, cameras, and other sensors are located.  At first, I thought it would bother me a lot but as I continuously used the device, I forgot that it’s even there.  Since the screen is OLED, once the top part of the screen becomes black, it just disappears.

No more home button as well

One of the main reasons to get an iPhone X is its camera.  I wouldn’t delve so much on its technicalities but the iPhone X having a photo score of 101 from DxOMark (the highest score so far on a mobile phone) probably meant something.  As for the regular user like me, hands down the photos look really stunning.  The optical zoom was really handy when taking photos of distant objects and the image stabilization I think worked really well as I’ve not had a blurry photo yet due to shaking.  The dual rear camera setup and the sensors at the front make for some really, really good portrait photos and interestingly enough, it works not only for faces but other objects too.  Even video calls benefit from the excellent camera as I’ve had the clearest FaceTime calls ever with my partner who is also using an iPhone X.  But to my surprise, it performed poorly on dark sceneries.  See the unedited, full-resolution shots from my iPhone X below:

Lady Liberty
The busy Times Square
The skyline of New York City
Skyline of NYC from a different angle

Allowing all the hardware to work together is the operating system and the iPhone X comes out of the box with iOS 11.  In the case of the iPhone X, iOS 11 is more than just a change in aesthetics but more of an overhaul as the ubiquitous home button is no longer there.  While Android had gracefully evolved to foregoing the physical buttons, iOS had always relied on the home button so it’s sudden disappearance meant that a lot of things now had to be done differently, often through gestures that aren’t that obvious as there are no visual cues.  Some things like taking a screenshot now becomes trivial and even some of the most mundane tasks like turning off your phone becomes something you need to ask for help.  Or you can simply turn on AssistiveTouch!

And since the home button is gone, Touch ID is also gone so in it’s place is the Face ID.  In a nutshell, iPhone X projects an invisible grid to your face to map its contours and that’s how it’s able to identify you.  Like many people, this feature makes me feel uneasy as I feel this is much less secure than using your fingerprint (as everyone can see your face, even from afar).  At first, I was hesitant to use this and I relied on unlocking the phone with a pin, but eventually I succumbed to Face ID as I found it quite tedious to type a six digit pin every time I need to unlock my phone.  When I did though, Face ID just worked flawlessly.  Face ID was able to recognize me even with glasses on.  And Face ID won’t unlock your phone when someone merely puts it in front of your face—you have to also be looking at your phone.

I feel like I can’t really comment on the battery life as so far, it lasted me the entire day I was out with still some juice remaining for the night, and I was using the camera extensively and occasionally uploading to social media.  I wasn’t able to time how fast it charges so I guess it’s the same as the current iPhones and I haven’t been able to try the wireless charging.

As for the headphones, the ones in the box are using Lightning connector so you can only use it with other iPhones.  A 3.5mm jack to Lightning adapter is included in the box if you want to use your good old headsets.

I think I covered pretty much all the basics, so here’s my summary:


  • Very, very good OLED screen that remains bright even under direct sunlight
  • Excellent cameras with optical stabilization and zoom
  • Phone size: neither too big nor too small
  • Edge-to-edge screen coverage
  • Stereo speakers
  • iOS 11 platform
  • Wireless charging
  • Face ID works well and fast


  • Cost: the most expensive iPhone yet
  • Fragile: being covered in glass, it’s almost guaranteed to crack on its first fall (and there’s no Apple Care in the Philippines!)
  • No headphone jack (yes, I still miss this!)
  • Learning curve due to the removal of the home button

Overall, as much as I love the iPhone X, it is definitely not for everyone.  First, you have to get over the fact that it costs $1,000!  Assuming you’re willing to spend all that money, you have to ask yourself if you’ve ever dropped a phone before.  If you did, you seriously have to invest in some very good cases.  You also have to be willing to learn the iOS 11 gestures (or keep the AssistiveTouch on).  You also need to be comfortable that you’ll be unlocking your phone with your face.  If you have a twin or a child or someone who looks very much like you, they may be able to do so.

Once you embraced all these caveats, iPhone X is definitely one of the best phones in the market today!  It looks good both in paper and in your hand!  And as long as your iPhone X is unlocked, you can use it just about anywhere in the world with a local SIM (my unlocked iPhone X from Verizon was using AT&T SIM and works with a Globe SIM here in the Philippines).

* * *

December 08, 2017 Update: The iPhone X is now available at Lazada and now, being an authorized Apple reseller, provides one of the best prices in the Philippines.  The 64GB version is sold for ₱62,990 and the 256GB version for ₱71,990.

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