Apple on Tuesday raised the curtain on its next-generation iPhone X, and it so far has been greeted with praise — though tentative — from early hands-on reviewers.
For the most part, they gave the X kudos for design and build, but reserved their unequivocal endorsements until they could spend more time with the phone.
“The iPhone X is one of the most exciting phones released this decade — but not because it offers anything particularly innovative or new,” wrote Gareth Beavis for TechRadar.
“It’s exciting because it’s the most radical redesign of an iPhone yet,” he continued, “tying together a number of key trends in the industry and adding in a level of polish that will attract legions of Apple fans to upgrade, and spend another couple of years in the iCycle.”
A sore point with many reviewers was the mobile’s price. A unit with 64 gigabytes of storage costs US$999 and one with 256 GB costs $1,146.
Not all reviewers were annoyed by the pricing, though.
“The thing that a lot of people want to talk about with the iPhone X is its $999 starting price, but when you have the phone in your hand, it feels… worth it,” wrote Nilay Patel for The Verge.
Smashing Ideas Into the Future
Tech critics hailed the X’s design.
“The new iPhone X is easily the best-looking phone Apple’s ever made,” TechRadar’s Beavis wrote.
“We were fans of the industrial design that heralded the arrival of the iPhone 4, and the curved lines of the iPhone 6,” he continued. “But it feels like the new phone takes all of those ideas and smashes them into the future.”
Others found the X’s size a definite plus.
“This phone gives you the jumbo screen size of a Plus model into the compact body size of the non-Plus iPhones,” wrote David Pogue for Yahoo Finance.
“That’s a big, big deal for anyone who loves the features of the Plus models (a zoom camera lens, longer battery life, huge screen) but isn’t crazy about wielding a phone the size of a VHS cassette,” he added.
A Display That Wows
The X’s 5.8-inch OLED “Super Retina HD Display” made a favorable first impression with many evaluators.
“If the planned effect of the iPhone X was to wow with its display, it’s certainly done that,” TechRadar’s Beavis noted. “The colors are just so vivid on the all-screen front, and it truly feels like you’re holding one of the iPhone concepts we wrote about years ago.”
To give the X an edge-to-edge look, Apple had to shrink the bezels around the display. As thin as the bezels are, though, they aren’t thin enough for everyone.
“What did bother me a little more than expected were the bezels that run around the screen,” wrote Chris Velazco for Engadget.
“To be absolutely clear: they’re really not that big, and I expect most people thinking about dropping $1,000 on a phone couldn’t care less,” he explained. “Still, given that Apple’s competition has done an incredible job trimming the cruft from around their displays, I can’t help but feel that the iPhone X’s design doesn’t have the same kind of impact as, say, the Essential or Samsung’s recent Galaxys.”
Missing Home Button
With the X, Apple scrapped using a fingerprint reader to unlock the phone and has gone to a facial recognition scheme. Many critics expected that feature could be critical to the phone’s success, but reserved judgment because they didn’t have time to truly test it at the Apple event Tuesday.
“Overall, it’s much better than the face-unlock systems we’ve seen on other smartphones, but we’ll have to really test it out in harsher conditions — and try to fool it, of course,” wrote The Verge’s Patel.
Another radical departure for Apple is the elimination of the “home” button in the X. It’s been replaced by screen gestures, like swiping. That change has detractors and supporters among early reviewers.
“Swiping is easy, but it isn’t as easy as hitting a button, and it may throw some people off at first,” wrote Farhad Manjoo for The New York Times.
“The learning curve will be interesting to watch,” he added.
“After years of mashing the home button, using the iPhone X was… very strange for the first few minutes,” wrote Engadget’s Velazco.
“Once everything clicked, I was shocked that Apple hadn’t tried to do this sooner,” he continued. “It feels incredibly natural, to the point where after a few minutes of playtime, I really don’t want to go back to the 7 Plus.”
Enormous Demand for X
Whatever the critics say about the X, it likely will be a success in the market.
“It’s a visibly different iPhone design and there’ll be enormous demand for it,” said Ian Fogg, a mobile and telecom analyst with IHS Markit.
“Apple has done what it set out to do,” he told TechNewsWorld. “They set out to create a phone that is their vision for the future of the smartphone, and they’ve done precisely that.”
The market’s reception should be positive, noted Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
“For those who want the best from Apple, this is the phone for them,” he told TechNewsWorld.
The X will do well in the market, predicted Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst for Technalysis Research.
“It’s got a cool design and all the things people are looking for these days in a smartphone,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s distinctly different from any other iPhone, and for that reason, big iPhone fans will go for it.”