The iPhone X is finally official, but is Apple’s first OLED smartphone the flagship we’ve all been waiting for? We’ve been hands on with the new handset to find out…
Despite all the leaks and rumours about the Apple iPhone X taking a bit of the edge off the global launch, a revamped iPhone is still headline news. And, Apple did have a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve. Here are our first impressions…
Design and build
The pictures of the Apple iPhone X look good, but it makes a much better impression in the flesh. It looks stunning – arguably the classiest-looking iPhone ever (which you’d probably expect, given the £999 starting price) – with a brightly gleaming stainless-steel band around the edges that holds the phone together and gives it an opulent feel.
Then there’s the glass back with its subtly shining Apple logo, colour-matched to the Space Grey or Silver finishes. Apple says it is made from the most durable glass ever used in a smartphone. We’ll see. It feels pretty strong. And it certainly attracts fingerprints.
Build quality, as you should expect in a phone of this price, seems immaculate, with perfect joints that make it feel smooth in the hand.
And then there’s the screen. It’s not the first OLED display, nor the highest resolution, though it is both those things when you’re talking iPhone.
The icing on the cake is the way the display covers the entire front of the phone. The screen to phone ratio appears higher than on almost any other phone we’ve seen – it’s definitely one of the most appealing things about the X.
The notch at the top that holds all the front-facing camera and facial recognition tech won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s carefully handled and is inconspicuous in most circumstances.
The iPhone X fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It’s slim and narrow enough to feel comfortable – remember it’s smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus but has the benefit of a bigger screen.
The 5.8in screen boasts 2436 x 1125 resolution and 458ppi (pixels per inch). Apple calls it the Super Retina Display and it boasts the highest pixel density of any iPhone to date.
Besides being the first OLED display used on an iPhone it’s also the first HDR screen, supporting both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards.
On the audio side, the handset features a new stereo speaker design and supports Bluetooth 5.0. The big news for audiophiles is that Apple has also introduced FLAC support for not just the X, but all its new handsets (and the iPhone 7).
FaceID is the name Apple has given to its TouchID replacement and, you guessed it, it relates to facial recognition. We persuaded an Apple staffer to show us this security system in action – over and over. It worked perfectly every time.
Raise the iPhone and the screen wakes. When it sees it’s you, it unlocks and you can swipe up to reach the home screen. That’s it.
Working at a brightly lit Apple event is all very well, though – the true test will be how it works in the real world, in dimly lit rooms, outdoors, everywhere.
FaceID also works with Apple Pay – you have to double-tap the side button and look at the display. That’s it, not a huge amount to do but more than with the TouchID-toting iPhones.
Wireless charging is common to all the new iPhones, and works using the Qi standard (pronounced “chi”), which is the most common. Apple’s own charging pad is coming later, but there are plenty of Qi pads around from the likes of Belkin and Mophie.
And, talking of charging and battery life, Apple says the iPhone X should last two hours longer than the iPhone 7. This equates to around 13 hours video playback and 60 hours for audio.
Picture and sound quality
During our brief time with the phone, video playback appeared smooth and judder-free and every clip we saw was extremely watchable. In gaming, the combination of the powerful A11 Bionic chip and detailed display seemed to do the trick too.
The iPhone X appears to display many of those trademark picture quality benefits we’ve seen in big-screen OLED TVs: rich and vivid colours, a good dose of detail and decent contrast.
It wasn’t really possible to test the audio excellence in a busy, noisy demo room, but the promise of new stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the phone could prove interesting, as could the addition of FLAC support.
The fact FLAC has finally arrived will be a boon to those who want to use the phone as their main audio source.
The iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone ever, but it’s also the most striking iPhone ever, crammed with new tech and features.
First impressions of picture quality are promising, but it will be interesting to see how the new arrival with its OLED and HDR smarts stacks up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ and the LG G6.
And the same goes for audio. Apple has a reputation for making some of the best-sounding smartphones around, but will that continue with the iPhone X?
When we get our hands on a review sample, you’ll be the first to know.