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iPhone X review review: They mostly like it!

Face ID seems to work well enough.

iPhone X display, Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, iPhone X event, Sept. 12, 2017 Recode / Dan Frommer

Apple’s iPhone X goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3, and it’s the company’s biggest launch in years. The first wave of reviews are in, and while no one seems to have lost their minds in awe, it sounds like Apple will have the major hit it needs.

The iPhone X brings two major changes: The way it works and the way it looks.

Most noticeably, Apple has removed the iPhone’s home button — that thing you’ve used hundreds of times per day for years — and its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and replaced it with a new facial recognition system called Face ID.

Does Face ID work?

  • BuzzFeed: “Simply put: Face ID is really fucking impressive. But that’s because it’s invisible.”
  • Marques Brownlee: “The setup ... was pretty quick and painless, and it’s been working pretty well since then for unlocking my phone. I’ve only really had this phone for a day, like the rest of press, but so far in this time it’s been fine and it works as advertised as far as being smart and not easily spoofed ... so no, your girl can’t unlock your phone while you’re asleep with your eyes closed, for those of you who were wondering that.”
  • TechCrunch: “Face ID works really well. First, it’s incredibly easy to set up. ... Second, it worked the vast majority of times I tried it, it never once unlocked using a picture of myself or another person’s face and the failure rate seemed to be about the same as Touch ID — a.k.a. almost never.”
  • The Verge: “... for now I’d say Face ID definitely works well enough to replace Touch ID, but not so well that you won’t run into the occasional need to try again.”
  • Neil Cybart: “It’s not a perfect replacement for Touch ID but it’s more than adequate. iPhone X will place Face ID as the first genuine technology that will make facial recognition go mainstream in a smartphone.”
  • Digital Trends: “It works well most of the time, but it’s still not as fast and reliable as Touch ID — which lets you unlock your phone as you draw it out of your pocket. In a few instances, it just wouldn’t recognize our face, forcing us to use the PIN code or try again. It’s also annoying that even after the iPhone X recognizes your face, you still need to swipe up from the bottom to get to the home screen — it should already take you there.”

So it sounds mostly fine!

What about that garish new notch at the top of the big, beautiful screen?

  • Neil Cybart: “Much like the home button, the ‘notch’ will be quickly forgotten. It just melts away after a few hours of use. Let’s not beat around the bush — an iPhone X without any notch would obviously be the closest representation to Apple’s vision of hardware melting away to just leave the user interacting with software. However, the technology for such a feat just isn’t available today (although Apple R&D suggests the company is working at it). But Apple sure comes close to that perfection, even when taking into account the notch.”
  • TechCrunch: “In use, I have to say, the notch is just zero problem for me. I don’t give a rat’s ass about it. I know I’ll probably catch heat but I’m not carrying water for Apple here. I think it is absolutely a compromise but, after using Face ID and the True Depth camera for other stuff, I am willing to deal with it.”
  • The Verge: “It’s ugly, but it tends to fade away after a while in portrait mode. It’s definitely intrusive in landscape, though — it makes landscape in general pretty messy.”
  • BuzzFeed: “I don’t feel strongly about the notch either way, but it’s really the other end of the screen that feels awkward. It’s when the keyboard, in any app, is on screen (which, for me, is most of the time): There’s all this dead space on the bottom, where Apple could have put common punctuation, frequently used emojis, or literally anything, but instead left it blank.”
  • Digital Trends: “We prefer the notch on the Essential Phone, which is just a tiny black dot compared to the iPhone’s wide black stripe ... it’s easy to feel a break in immersion when watching YouTube videos and movies on Netflix.”

Also sounds mostly fine!

Overall conclusions?

  • Digital Trends: “Should you buy it? We’re still exploring the iPhone X, but our tentative response is yes. We can’t peel our eyes away from the gorgeous OLED screen, and using gestures to move around iOS is pure bliss.”
  • BuzzFeed: “Ultimately, the most striking thing to me about this phone isn’t the Face ID, 3D-face scanning tech, or the new OLED display. It’s that it’s got the 8 Plus’s screen size — and two-lens camera — in a form factor that’s much better for smaller hands and pockets.”
  • The Verge: “The iPhone X is clearly the best iPhone ever made ... But if you didn’t preorder, I suspect you might not feel that left out for a while.”
  • TechCrunch: “Overall, using the iPhone X well takes some time ... There are some rough edges here and there ... But overall Apple bet enormously big on a bunch of technologies all at once on the iPhone X and it delivered almost across the board. It really is like using the future of smartphones, today.”

We’ll see, once people start receiving their iPhone X orders this week, if there’s going to be any sort of populist backlash like Antennagate or Bendgate. Maybe the talking poop emoji will have a dark side.

But so far — albeit based on a handful of reviews performed in a very short period of time by publications Apple hand picked — it sounds like Apple nailed it.

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