A little over ten years ago on June 29, 2007, I spent the day sitting in front of the Aspen Grove Apple store in Littleton, Colorado to pick up my first iPhone. At the time, nobody really knew if the device was going to be a success or not. Ten year later, the iPhone accounts for 55 percent of Apple’s soaring revenues, and it’s expected that the success of the iPhone X will make Apple the first company with a trillion-dollar market capitalization. Today, I spent about 15 minutes picking up an iPhone X from the same Apple retail store, and here are my first impressions of the new iPhone during setup.
Having been a “plus-size” iPhone owner since the larger devices have been available, the smaller form factor of the iPhone X is a surprise. With that smaller size comes a display about as large as that on the iPhone 8 Plus. I chose the Space Gray model, and with the display turned off the iPhone X looks like a featureless black slab. Turn it on, and you see just how impressive the OLED display is.
After checking in at the Apple store, I was given a chance to play with an iPhone X…outside in the bright mid-morning sunlight. The readability of the display is incredibly good, even in bright direct sunlight. Holding my former iPhone (iPhone 7 Plus) next to the iPhone X, the screen on the former looked dim and washed out. Colors are stunningly bright and saturated, contrast is impressively high, and the side-to-side display — with the exception of the TrueDepth camera “notch” at the top of the screen — is the best I’ve seen on any mobile device.
Apple has created a special app that can be used in Apple stores to let people see how well Face ID works. The app allows any number of customers to try out the process without storing the biometric info, and during my short wait outside the store I was able to try this out. The Face ID setup process is fast and easy — you center your face in a small circle on the screen, then move your head around in a circular fashion as an indicator ring “fills up”. Do this twice, and then Face ID is set up.
The app had a way to test Face ID, and I was instructed by the Apple store employee to look away from the screen, then suddenly turn towards it. In a heartbeat, the iPhone X showed me that it had recognized me and “unlocked” the app. Face ID is a winner; I can’t wait to see it on all iPhones, iPads, and (hopefully) Macs soon.
The gestures used on the iPhone X are definitely different thanks to the lack of a Home button. A swipe down from the upper left corner when the screen is unlocked (by Face ID, of course) brings up notifications, while a swipe down from the upper right corner reveals Control Center. Swiping up while in any app brings you back to the Home screen, while a swipe on the “line” at the bottom of app windows right or left flips between active apps.
I think until Face ID is common on all iOS devices, it could be difficult to keep gestures straight between iPhone and iPad! The new iPhone X gestures seem very intuitive, and I can see my brain deciding to make those same gestures on an iPad Pro without Face ID.
The setup process for the iPhone X is quite different as well. You power on the device using a long press on the power button on the right side of the iPhone X, at which point you’re asked to enter your region. The device asks if you wish to set it up manually or using another iOS device. I chose the latter, and the process is similar to what’s used to set up an Apple Watch.
I brought the iPhone X near my 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and immediately both devices recognized each other. A swirling pattern of dots appeared on the iPhone X screen, and I was asked to point the iPad Pro camera at that pattern. Immediately the message on the iPad Pro changed to “Finish on New iPhone — Keep this iPad near your new iPhone while your information is transferred”.
This still took a while; an activation screen remained on the iPhone X while data was moved to the iPhone and I began to wonder if the process had failed. Of course, I did have several hundred apps on my old iPhone so that could have been why it took so long (I’ll update this post later with information on how the process completed).
Fit and Finish
Typical of Apple products, the iPhone X is beautiful and looks extremely well-built. There are no extra frills; it’s simply a gorgeous design. I think the glass back on the X will have a tendency to pick up fingerprints, so a case like the NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone X is going to be a necessity. You’ll also want a case just to keep your new, expensive phone safe from drops.
As soon as the activation and information transfer for the iPhone X is complete, I’ll update this post with further details on items like the camera, the new portrait modes, and so on.
Update: It appears that Apple has sold a lot of the new iPhones. Activation has been a problem for a number of purchasers, including myself and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. I called AT&T after about an hour of non-activation and it appeared that Apple’s system had not populated the AT&T system with IMEI and SIM information, so I had to give that info to the AT&T rep. After it was in the system, she had me shut down the iPhone X, wait, and then power it up again. It still didn’t complete the activation process, after which she connected me to an Apple rep who told me the only thing I could do is wait…