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Apple iPhone X Review - Questionable design choice, TOP NOTCH performance!

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Apple's latest and greatest yet is the iPhone X. It's the 10th anniversary iPhone which boasts an all new design, improved specs, and cool exclusive features.
Apple iPhone X Review - Questionable design choice, TOP NOTCH performance!
The "X" you deserve?

Now, the question is, is this the proper top-of-the-line smartphone its fans and soon to be users deserve?

Here's our review!

Apple iPhone X Specs

Display: 5.8-inch OLED True Tone 2436 x 1125 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass at 458 ppi
CPU: 64-bit Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core processor
RAM: 3GB
ROM: 64GB / 256GB
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 w/ 2x optical zoom, OIS, laser AF, PDAF, and quad LED flash
Selfie Camera: 7MP w/ f/2.2 w/ screen flash
Battery: 2,716mAh w/ fast charging and Qi wireless charging
OS: iOS 11
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE-A, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS, single SIM
Sensors: TrueDepth camera for Face ID 3D facial recognition, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Others: IP67 water and dust resistance
Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
Weight: 174 g
Price: Starts at PHP 63,990 or Plan 3,199 per month

Unboxing / Accessories

The box and everything inside
The box and everything inside

As usual, Apple kept it simple with the iPhone X. It showed the full front view of the phone in front and the rest of the accessories inside.

As expected, it includes the phone itself and the usual inclusions like the 1A USB wall charger, USB to lighting cable, SIM ejector to, earpods with mic, paper documents, and Apple logo stickers.

Unfortunately, failed to add a fast charger instead of the very basic wall charger. You will need to buy the pricey USB Type-C PD charger to experience Apple's fast charging.

Build Quality / Design

Glass back
Glass back

The iPhone X is the first iPhone since the iPhone 6 with a brand new build and design. Apple's choice is striking and catchy! Some may like it and some may not.

Personally, I expected the construction of the iPhone X to be much better!

Why? The iPhone X is feels fragile for a very expensive smartphone. It's made out of sandwiched metal and glass design like Note 8 and Huawei Mate 10 series, but it doesn't feel as premium versus those much affordable flagships.

Apple claims that it has the "most durable glass" on a smartphone yet though. It even has IP67 water and dust resistance.

However, it felt like Apple rushed the construction and design of this handset.
Nothing on top (we wish the headphone jack slot was there)
Nothing on top (we wish the headphone jack slot was there)
Stereo speakers below and mic
Stereo speakers below and mic
Silent key, volume rocker
Silent key, volume rocker
Power / Siri button and single SIM slot
Power / Siri button and single SIM slot

Design-wise, it is shiny and refreshing in the eyes. Finally Apple has a new design for the iPhone. But, it is beautiful? My answer is: "it is decent". However, it is just decent and there's nothing exceptional about it.

It is still iPhone curvy, but it felt thicker than its 7.7 mm slim frame. The camera hump is also bigger versus most flagships today.

Then aside from the useful 3.5 mm headphone jack standard, Apple totally removed the fingerprint scanner in favor of the inconsistent face unlock.

Apple even ruined its near full screen look by putting the controversial "notch". It's okay for some, but on my end, I cannot unsee it. The notch is needed for all the sensors that makes the the face unlock, selfie camera, and the animoji work though.

Other than that, this handset has great ergonomics. All the buttons are on easy to locate familiar locations.

One handed operation is possible even if it has a big 5.8-inch screen! It is even smaller and narrower than the iPhone 8 Plus with 5.5-inch display.

Display

Beautiful screen quality!
Beautiful screen quality!

If you can unsee the "notch", the screen of the iPhone X is arguably the best on any smartphone today! Like what we mentioned later, its the first iPhone to use an OLED screen!
Amazing colors and sharpness!
Amazing colors and sharpness!

In particular, it has a 5.8-inch True Tone display with 2436 x 1125 resolution at 458 pixels per inch crisp. The True Tone tech adapts the screen color based on the lighting condition.

Note: You can turn off the True Tone display if you like a more consistent screen quality.

It has one of the nicest colors around that's punchy and accurate. Contrast and blacks are amazing too. It even has support for HDR videos.

Sunlight legibility is GREAT too. Apple listed that it just has 625 nits of brightness, but it felt brighter than my Mate 10 with higher up to 730 nits.

However, the notch could get in the way when you watch videos.

Audio Quality

One of the highlights of this new iPhones are its pair of loud stereo speakers located below. Even if it isn't placed in front, it is richer, louder, and clearer than at least 80 percent of the high-end phones today.

Quality of the rest of the spectrum is crisp and clear. It even has some hint of bass which is rare for a smartphone. Distortion is also minimal. The speakers of this phone sounded really good.

Audio thru the lighting headphones are amazing too. When you use your favorite set of wired HiFi headphones attached on the dongle, you'll immediately notice that sound is balanced and very detailed.

It was even able to enhance the clarity, separation, and soundstage of my Baseus Encok H07 earphones. Driving power is strong for a phone too!

As expected, microphone quality is top notch. It is arguably even better and clearer than our LG G6. It is great even for pretty serious voice records. Unreal!

Battery Life

Much better battery life than expected
Much better battery life than expected

The iPhone X is just equipped with just 2,716mAh Li-polymer battery. Some may expect that it is too low for a phone with big 5.8-inch OLED screen, but they are wrong.

Stellar and optimized battery performance!

In our real life battery test, we recorded 6 hours and 30 mins of total usage on first try and 7 hours and 44 mins on second try. Standby time is at 11 hours and 21 minutes!

Those scores are noticeably better than the iPhone 7 Plus last year. It can even compete with the Mate 10 with 4,000mAh battery.

The downside? The charging time. If you don't have the proprietary fast charger of Apple, the charging time using the stock charger is a bit more than 3 hours.


Note: It also has the standard Qi wireless charging tech if you are a fan of that.

The Tronsmart charger with adaptive safe charging tech gave me a faster 2.5 hours charging time.

However, that it still considered slow versus all the top Android flagships today.

Camera

One of the best point and shoot cameras on a phone today
One of the best point and shoot cameras on a phone today

The iPhone X has the same dual camera implementation found on the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus. But, Apple saved their best camera specs yet on the iPhone X. It has a 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 w/ 2x optical zoom, OIS, laser AF, PDAF, and quad LED flash.
It has no pro mode though
It has no pro mode though

In terms of camera UI and features, Apple kept it simple with the iPhone X. It only has the auto HDR mode, panorama, time-lapse, and portrait mode. The portrait mode has interesting lighting effects like: natural light, studio light, contour light, stage light, and stage light mono.

As expected, camera quality is flagship grade. It arguably has the fastest focus speed on a phone today. Shutter speed is also crazy fast even on HDR mode. However, it isn't that great for macro shots. It can't focus as close as the OnePlus 5T and Mate 10.

Daylight images are stunning. It can compete or even best the Mate 10 in daylight photography. Images will have tons of details, rich colors, and good contrasts. I
ndoor shots are mostly great too.

In lowlight, performance is also very good. Lowlight output is mostly clean. Yes, there are still grains, but it is not that noticable.


The quad flash of the iPhone X is the best in the market.

Rear Camera Samples

HDR 1
HDR 1
HDR 2
HDR 2
Daylight
Daylight
Close-up
Close-up
2x zoom
2x zoom
Stage light mono 1
Stage light mono 1
Stage light mono 2
Stage light mono 2
Indoor flat lay
Indoor flat lay
Close-up
Close-up
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 2
Lowlight 2
Power of quad LED flash
Power of quad LED flash

For selfies, it has a 7MP camera w/ f/2.2 aperture and screen flash. It still has auto HDR mode and the portrait mode effects.

Quality is quite stellar and life like on well lit places too. It is very detailed in some shots too. However, quality could be a bit underexposed in some conditions. It has screen flash for selfies to avoid grains in lowlight.

Selfie Camera Samples

Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie with flash
Lowlight selfie with flash

For videos, the iPhone X is the only smartphone that can shoot in up to 4K in resolution at 60 fps. It also has super slow motion 1080p videos at 240 fps. But, my favorite is its 1080p at 60 fps. It's one of the most stabilized videos we tested. Only the Note 8 is arguably better than this in terms of stabilization.

Video Samples


Performance

Beast!
Beast!

The new 64-bit Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core processor inside this handset is a beast. It also has 3GB RAM and 64GB and 256GB storage options. It recorded the highest AnTuTu benchmark score we ever saw.

Almost 200K AnTuTu benchmark score!

As a result, performance is blazing fast. It handles all apps with ease. Multitasking is amazing too. Gaming is stellar. Thermal management is decent. It doesn't get that hot even on WiFi hotspot mode.
iOS is clean as ever!
iOS is clean as ever!

Apple iOS 11 is great as expected. There's just a bit of a learning curve since this has not home button anymore. To close an app you need to swipe up. To switch between apps, swipe up and slide to the right. But, after that, nearly everything is breeze. In our experience, we needed two hours of tinkering.
Notification and shortcut controls
Notification and shortcut controls

However, there are little things that Apple or the App developers on iOS should improve. On the Facebook Pages manager, you cannot edit your comment twice. Its hard to close the private messages too. Notifications should be less cluttered too.

The other highlight of this phone is the TrueDepth Camera. It's responsible for the face unlock tech of Apple dubbed as the Face ID. It can also do the cool animoji.

The Face ID is simple and easy to use. However, it isn't the most accurate biometric security around. In our experience, 2 out of 5 tries won't work. It isn't instantaneous too. First you need to look at your phone, then it will unlock. After that, you need to swipe up to open your phone.
Animoji!

The Animoji is cool! It can properly analyze and mimic the muscle movements of your face. You can only access this tough its messaging app though. Then you may save your Animoji before uploading it to your favorite social media apps or other messaging apps.

The rest of the telephony experience is decent. Bluetooth 5.0 is great as you can connect multiple Bluetooth devices. WiFi is also stable. The only issue we experience is in the LTE signal reception. GPS is also stable. It isn't as strong as our other flagship Android phones.

Pros - IP67 rating, finally OLED screen, blazing fast performance, much improved battery performance, one of the best point and shoot cameras on a phone, ANIMOJI ROCKS
Cons - Not that premium looking design, failed full screen attempt (notch), no headphone jack, no fingerprint scanner, storage is not expandable, not that strong signal reception, not all apps are compatible with the full screen view of this phone yet

Verdict

No question, the Apple iPhone X is one of the best performing smartphone in the world today. It is also the very best iPhone yet. Battery life is stellar, cameras are top notch, performance is blazing fast, and the Animoji rocks!

However, we find its design choice and build quality questionable. It doesn't feel as premium versus most of the top Android flagships today. The notch is also not for everyone.

I also expected the iPhone X to be a bit better for its high starting asking price of PHP 63,990.

It is wiser to get the iPhone X through a postpaid plan. At Smart, this handset is available starting at PHP 3,199 per month.

See also: Why you should consider getting the iPhone X with Smart?

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.375 / 5
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