Apple’s new smartphone breaks franchise with its ancestors. Does he manage to justify his “stratospheric” tariff?
The central button disappears, the unlocking changes, the ergonomics are turned upside down. Is the “X” comfortable to use? Its screen without edge is it useful? Its exorbitant price of 1,160 euros is justified? Aesthetics is his main asset
The visual pleasure offered by the iPhone X would be less if its screen was not so nice. Thanks to OLED technology, its colors are particularly natural, its contrasts deeper, and its brightness remains very bright. On this new screen, the images look a little more real than on the old models.
The perimeter of the X trades aluminum for a shiny steel with a chrome appearance. The set forms a seductive whole, but not necessarily more elegant than its main competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S8, particularly slender. At the top of the screen, a small black notch breaks the general harmony of the X. It houses the speaker and various components. A false note in a beautiful partition? Or a logical choice of design? On any mobile, this area displays the time and battery level. This information does not need the full width of the screen to spread. Everyone will have their opinion on the issue, but this curious notch now marks the Apple identity. It will get used to it.
A more serene unlock
Just present his face to the iPhone X to unlock it. A simple operation that requires less concentration, less address than entering a password or put your finger on the fingerprint reader. Thanks to “Face ID”, crossing the barrier that protects the iPhone becomes more transparent. Only busy and highly skilled users will complain about the slowness of this system compared to Touch ID.
Face ID recognizes the face of its owner even when he wears glasses, changes haircuts, wears makeup. When Face ID blocks, simply move the mobile to the face to lift the lock. However, this gesture proves to be indelicate when talking with a loved one, or when attending an important meeting.
Side security, Face ID is very difficult to catch in default. The measurements of the owner’s face are housed in a very secure encrypted memory, within the mobile. Can not flunk Face ID with a simple photograph. Unable to wake the phone by presenting it in front of the face of its sleeping owner: his eyes must be open.
If Face ID is a great success, some users would have liked Apple to combine digital and facial recognition. For them, the fingerprint sensor remains faster and more discreet. Associated with Face ID, he would have filled the professionals who need a high level of security.
Screen without the edge: not so useful
The X screen displays the same surface like the iPhone Plus – 83 cm² – in a more compact format:
Unfortunately, the screen of the X is much smaller than that of the Plus. The width is the key point of a screen. It determines the readability of texts, icons, and the comfort of the keyboard. The iPhone X is no miracle: its display width is halfway between that of his “brothers”.
The X inaugurates a curious screen format 19 / 9th, very elongated up. Few applications benefit. Some even suffer: photographs and videos do not occupy the entire screen. Maps are unnecessarily stretched up. But some popular applications take advantage of the 19 / 9th. Twitter, WhatsApp, and all messaging apps exploit the extra vertical space.
A comfort in regression
The X will not be comfortable in all palms. Larger than the classic iPhone, it fits comfortably only in large hands. The thumb suffers. The screen of the X is so high that it becomes difficult to reach its summit. The problem is as troublesome as on the iPhone Plus. The top of the screen is an area where the thumb often walks. Many applications have housed their buttons.
The bottom of the screen is less difficult to access, but to reach it, it is necessary to hold the mobile very low in hand. Apple is aware of the problem. The keyboard of the iPhone X is not stuck at the bottom of the screen, as on its predecessors, it is housed unusually high for easy typing.
The borderless screen of the iPhone X poses a final ergonomic concern: that of knowing where to enter it. No area is intended to accommodate the fingers. This is particularly troublesome when you switch the mobile in landscape mode.
Always so simple
Exit the button at the bottom of the screen, which simplified the use of the iPhone. Apple has fortunately well-thought transition: how to access the homepage of the smartphone, just sweep the screen from bottom to top. Most users will only have this gesture to learn. This movement is also used to close the applications: we see the application shrink, then come to rank among the neighboring icons in a beautifully curved trajectory. A brilliant ergonomic find that reconciles eye and finger.
Unfortunately, for this gesture to work, you have to put your finger at the very bottom of the screen. This forces to keep the mobile very low, the imbalance in the hand. As the thumb is not telescopic, the mobile must travel in the hand to allow the thumb to touch all areas. Notably to open the quick shortcuts panel, which has moved to the very top of the screen. This high-low slip gymnastics is unpleasant. It is time-consuming and increases the risk of falling.
The iPhone inaugurates a series of novel gestural shortcuts. Only the hustlers will really need it, and they will learn quickly. The gesture that opens the list of previous applications is slow, but it will be replaced by this one:
Soft and warm photos
The X takes photographs very close to the Samsung S8, its main competitor. At night, there is a slight improvement for the iPhone, whose images look a little cleaner. In the daytime, we can only decide between them with a subjective look. The Samsung images are harder: more contrasted, sharper, sometimes darker. Those of Apple is softer and warmer. A matter of taste.
When photographing a landscape, it’s difficult to distinguish photos from iPhone X and 8 Plus. To make a portrait, these two mobiles have a second sensor with a small zoom, which is lacking in the Samsung. The portraits taken with the iPhone X are a little better than the iPhone 8 – but you have to squint to see the difference.
Video side, the stabilization of the iPhone X is comparable to the 8: excellent but not better than Samsung. The X does not have an audio jack, you have to connect an adapter. Which is painful. Fortunately, the sound quality is remarkable, combining precision and balance.
Battery: a few more hours
The autonomy of the iPhone X is close to that of the iPhone Plus, about 20% higher than that of the classic iPhone. The X can be placed on a wireless charging station, which Apple does not provide despite the salty addition. Better to invest in a good charger. Wireless charging will be faster, and there is less risk of waking up in the morning with an unloaded smartphone.
Fragile like glass
The US insurer SquareTrade has submitted the iPhone X has its traditional battery crash tests. The result is catastrophic. The X is simply the most fragile iPhone ever tested. Its durability rating is significantly lower than the Galaxy S8, whose screen margins are much narrower. The choice of steel increases the X, which increases the violence of the falls. The conclusion is simple: a protective shell is needed. Apple bills the repair 320 to 610 euros, depending on the case.