Apple iPhone X camera review

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Approximatly one hour after taking my iPhone X out of the box, I bounce as high as I can on a trampoline, trying to see how Face ID works under, say, less than ideal circumstances. I’m eight feet in the air, sweaty and wincing, only half paying attention to the phone as I try not to break my legs on impact. I grab the phone, bring it to my face, and try to focus.

The first time, Face ID works great. It unlocks virtually instantly, as soon as I fix my eyes on the TrueDepth camera in the notch around the iPhone X screen. The second time, same deal. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, nothing happens at all. When Face ID fails, it usually vibrates impatiently in your hand to tell you to try something else. But this time, nothing. So I’m in the air trying to type in my password so I can take a selfie.

OK, so this is not the most representative test. And so far in the day I’ve been using the phone, Face ID works way more often than not. But it definitely fails sometimes, and it’s not always clear why. Even its implementation was accompanied by a few false starts. When it works, the process only takes about 30 seconds, and all you have to do is move your head in a circle as if you were craning your neck before a good yoga session. But once the phone kept telling me to move it lower, even when my head was already in frame of the screen; I would go a little lower, and it would say, no, higher! I restarted the whole process, and it worked perfectly.

Trampolines provided a perfect way to test out many of the iPhone X’s most notable features, almost all of which involved the camera. I took selfies and portraits while jumping, then filmed a much more talented trampolinist in slow motion and 4K. I also took pictures everywhere. I left without surprise but impressed. The iPhone’s three cameras (two on the back, one on the front) capture excellent, crisp images. The rear cameras both offer optical image stabilization and I noticed the stability of my shots. Sure, some things are still moving too fast for a smartphone camera, but the iPhone X, which hits stores this Friday, seems to be holding up with the best of its kind.

Notes on a handheld

I only had the phone for a day so I can’t say much about things like battery life, durability, or whether I’m going to end up hating the notch. (I’ve gone back and forth on the notch 20 times already.) In no particular order, here are some notes from my first day with the iPhone X:

  • It will take time to get used to all the new gestures. Swiping up and down to get home feels so much less natural than just smashing a button. I did not understand how far to sweep, then how far to hold, to bring up multitasking. I keep looking for Control Center at the bottom of the screen, not at his new home in the upper right corner. Everything’s just a little different now, and it’s breaking my brain.

  • By far the most annoying gesture comes right after unlocking the phone, when you still have to slide your finger up to get to the home screen. This makes turning on your phone a three-step process, whereas with TouchID all you had to do was stick your finger on the reader.

  • I love that Apple added a flashlight shortcut to the lock screen. It’s small, but it’s one of those things that I use all the time that is now subtly easier.

  • Face ID works when I’m wearing headphones and through a pair of sunglasses I’ve tried on, but does not work with my Ray-ban Wayfarers. And for that to work, you have to really try to make it work: my phone is about an arm’s length over my desk, and I have to bend down and watch every time I want to turn it on.

  • One cool thing about Face ID: When you pick up your phone for the first time, it hides the content of your notifications until it’s verified that you’re the one looking. Once it detects your face, it expands to show you the full text inside the notification.

  • It looks like the size of the iPhone Goldilocks. It’s not as comfortable to type as the 8 Plus, as it’s a narrower device, but that 5.8-inch display is both large enough to be immersive and small enough to be comfortably handled. .

  • I really like the OLED display. It doesn’t have the fading issues that plague some Google Pixel displays, although Apple has recognized the possibility of screen burn-in over time. So far, it looks awesome.

  • Apps that haven’t been optimized for the new design look like crap. Large black space at the top and bottom, much like trying to run iPhone apps on an iPad. Many apps place their navigation icons at the very bottom of the screen, which can be overlapped with the drag-y-bar-home-button-thing button. I suspect the developers will update soon, but until they do, be prepared for the pain.

  • Most of the benefits of the iPhone 8 also apply here. I was worried that all of this new tech would bring messy bugs and complications, but for the most part, everything is going as smoothly and quickly as ever. You notice the A11 Bionic processor especially in games, which are so much smoother than on any Android device.

  • Animoji are hilarious and fun, but I wonder how long I’m going to be using them. I think maybe forever?

Face the facts

So far, the iPhone X is what I expected. That is, it is an iPhone. It has a terrific camera, a beautiful design and a nice screen. Facial ID looks better than I expected, honestly, but still far from perfect. (I recommend choosing an easy-to-type password, as you’ll need it a lot.) Even the 7. But I can sense the potential here. In the front camera, which clearly has power to spare and a lot to offer developers. In augmented reality applications, which don’t really exist yet. One day, it will no longer be a smartphone with a good camera. It will be a camera with a keyboard, just in case you have to type things like our ancestors did. The camera is the future, and there are a lot of cameras in the iPhone X.

I’ll have a lot more to say about the iPhone X in a few days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out Steven Levy’s first impressions.


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