iPhone X First Impressions

There are scads of these mini-reviews out there, but here are some of my initial thoughts

I've had the device for a couple of days now and I thought I'd share share some of my impressions.


It's a pretty gorgeous screen. Colors are not overly saturated, but vivid. The extra real estate, while not overtly noticeable, is nice--especially on the vertical side.


My previous device was an iPhone 7 Jet Black. That thing was quite grippy compared to previous generation devices. The X is not as grippy as it, but definitely more so than the 6 generation.

The X is slightly wider and slightly taller than the 8, but still much smaller than the Plus size. Nevertheless, the 7/8 designs were on the cusp of just being too big for one-handed use and the X does not improve on this at all.

The Notch

Derided by many at announcement, the top 'notch' has been a point of contention on why it's even there. The reality is, that to have the FaceID technology, you have to have cameras and sensors that have to go somewhere. The notch represents a compromise between maintaining the aesthetic and providing function. Anyone who says that you should be able to create nice things without compromise has never made anything with sufficient complexity to appeal to a mass market.

That said, my 12-year-old son bemoaned the current design saying: 'Why did Apple have to design it that way? It looks like a Samsung now.' Sick-burn.

Personally, I don't mind the notch. As many have commented, you don't notice it until you put it in landscape. I would agree with that. Is it worth whining about? No. Not at all.


This is the real deal. The ability to unlock a phone with your face is not new, but it would seem that Apple has struck the right balance between security and usability. 99% of the time I don't even notice it's there. My biggest complaint with the technology is that it doesn't unlock in landscape mode, so if you're laying on your side on the couch or in bed, you'll be entering your passcode--like an animal. I'm not sure the reasons why Apple decided to go this route, but I'm sure the limitation is purely in-software, meaning they could change their minds in a future release.


Everyone thinks that FaceID is the star of the show, but while it is an essential part of the act, I think the new system gestures are what makes the whole thing work. Because there is no home-screen button on the new device, Apple has come up with a completely new system of gestural navigation for getting around on the phone. A series of distinct swipes differentiate between leaving an app, pulling up multitasking, or even switching back and forth between apps. There's a little bit of learning (10 years of home-button-clicking muscle memory, c'mon!) but in less than a day I was right at home. In fact, I was on my 7 to do some things and was momentarily puzzled why my swipes upward weren't closing the app I was in.

I thought I'd miss that button. Nope.

Closing Thoughts

The iPhone X is a solid upgrade. I'm still on the fence on whether it's truly worth a $1,000+ asking price, but if you got the means to get one, it is not disappointing. While this revision may seem incremental, the facial biometric authentication and upgrade gesture system transform the way you interact with the device.

From an app design perspective, I think apps need to pay more attention on making their interactions stick to the bottom to mid sections of the screen. Asking people to reach to the top to do things just doesn't feel right. This feels even more true with the X as when the Plus-sized phones first came out. With that extra vertical space, design should focus on bringing core interactions closer to the thumb. This is nothing new since the iPhone 5 came out, but I think the reasons why are even more pronounced with the home button gone.

Posted on Nov 5
Written by Wayne Hartman