Mobiles & Tablets

Apple’s pricey iPhone X brings a host of marquee features

Mala Bhargava | Updated on January 09, 2018

It’s one thing to hear about one of the most anticipated devices of the year, and quite another to actually hold it in your hands. Apple launched three phones on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, but it’s the iPhone X (pronounced ten not ex) that is the real McCoy as they say where the phone comes from. And it feels different.

It’s interesting that even without having seen and felt the iPhone X, people in India are more than willing to buy it starting Rs 89,000. The iPhone X will cost ₹89,000 for the 64GB model and ₹1.02 lakh for the 256GB model. Even before it’s available, Apple’s most expensive phone sold out over a lakh units in minutes, quite a testimony to the faith users have in the company’s products.

The iPhone X feels distinctly different in the hand. It’s all glass, framed by solid stainless steel to protect it — we hope. The device fits perfectly in the hand and your fingers and palm can feel the curvature of the glass. It’s slim and has a certain flatness that combines with the glass to make it feel very premium, which, of course, it is. But it’s going to be slippery so a case is going to be absolutely essential — and those aren’t cheap either. Of the two colours available, the grey is the one that looks particularly pretty and distinctive as you can see the wrap-around look of the glass on the back.

The OLED display - Apple’s first - absolutely pops out, seeming to be elevated above the device’s body somehow. It’s dazzling, with its deep rich colours. Immediately, the almost nonexistent bezels show up, making the display look more floating and seamless. You notice the now-famous notch as well, in the middle of the top bezel on the device. But in my short time with the phone so far, I found you ignore the notch at times and get annoyed at its presence at others.

The notch contains the TrueDepth camera (and a surprising number of other components) the iPhone X needs for its marquee feature, Face ID. Setting up this was very easy. Hold the phone up until a circle appears to frame your face, swivel your head around on its axis for a while, and it’s registered. A passcode is needed as a backup. From then on, the moment you raise the phone to face level, it unlocks. I am yet to try it under different lighting conditions.

The TrueDepth camera also makes possible motion tracking of your head and face so you can pair the movement with ‘Animojis’ or funny cartoon-like figures that will move the way you do, including expressions, and will record your voice along with that. They’re the phone’s silliest and likely most popular feature. There’s little doubt users of all age groups will have fun with this feature.

There’s no home button on the iPhone X but I didn’t miss it for a moment. This may well be thanks to many of the Android phones I use that have shed the home button for a long time now. The gestures you use to call up the Control Centre, go to the Home screen, switch through apps, etc, are smooth but will take a little while to become a habit, specially if you’ve used an iPhone before.

Both cameras on the iPhone X now have optical image stabilisation, but this needs more than a peek to understand yet, as does the contribution of the TrueDepth camera to regular photos. Portrait mode for selfies certainly looked rather good, with the background blur and ability to use lighting styles making for interesting images. Instagram is going to be bursting with more iPhonography.

The folks at Apple echo Tim Cook’s line on the iPhone X being the future of smartphones, but it isn’t quite clear how specifically this is going to pan out. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more on this phone as we move beyond first impressions.

Published on October 31, 2017

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