How do you get consumers to part with $1800 to $2100 for a smartphone? That's the question Apple sought to answer with the iPhone X, which despite the high price has become a new consumer object of desire.

Having had an iPhone X for a week now, it's clear that the online presentation didn't do it justice. It's not perfect however, with Apple having to make some design trade-offs with the iPhone X that are worth bearing in mind.

Also, if you come from even recent iPhones, the X is in many ways a break with the past.

The iPhone X is cleanly designed and beautiful, being mostly glass with thin bezels and it really does make the new (and very good) iPhone 8/8 Plus look dated.


You'll want a case to protect the iPhone X and its glass body, as it's likely to suffer damage if you drop the device. Apple's new silicon cases for instance are nice looking, but they add thickness in return for protection.

Looking at the iPhone X, the new OLED technology screen is bright and contrasty, with accurate colour rendering. Best ever screen, said specialist firm DisplayMate in fact.

Despite the iPhone X being smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, the OLED screen on the former is bigger, has much higher resolution and a stunning million to one contrast ratio. The display on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is very good, but the X blows the older technology away.

Shalin Mobi, of India, reacts after being the first person to purchase the new iPhone X. Photo / AP
Shalin Mobi, of India, reacts after being the first person to purchase the new iPhone X. Photo / AP

You have to be careful not to leave the iPhone X turned on all the time though, as the OLED display could suffer screen burn-in if the same image is left to show for too long.

One thing that I thought would bother me is the black area on the top of the screen - The Notch - that houses the Face ID authentication system with multiple cameras and sensors that unlocks the iPhone X, but after a while you don't think about it.

I was dubious about Face ID being an improvement on the easy to use and quick Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It is: the technology from the Israeli company behind Microsoft's Kinect system recognises your face accurately and quickly, even if you wear glasses and it also works in the dark.

Face ID is faster to set up than Touch ID too, and soon becomes second nature. Unlike Samsung, Apple thought a bit further than just making the technology work as an optional feature: it made Face ID secure and ensured it won't compromise users' privacy, so they can use it without worries.

Again, Face ID isn't perfect: if you're used to poking the Touch ID button to get into your phone while it's lying flat on its back, that's not going to work with Face ID. Instead, you have to raise the device towards your face, or enter a PIN code to unlock it.

The iPhone X provides a glimpse into the future. Photo / AP
The iPhone X provides a glimpse into the future. Photo / AP

That's something to get used to, along with the Home button at the bottom of the screen going away. This was always going to happen at some point, and honestly, you won't miss the Home button.

Using the new swipey gestures to get back to the Home screen, and to multitask is actually more natural than pressing a button at the bottom of a phone. Apple says this is "interacting directly with the software" of the iPhone X and it kind of is, although most users will simply think it's an easy way to operate the device.

Apple didn't take the button-less design to its extreme though, as the iPhone X still has power, volume up/down and a mute switch on its sides. These have been "overloaded" and do double duty for Apple Pay, taking screenshots, invoking Siri and more, and feel... a bit wrong really. It would be difficult to create a totally buttonless smartphone design, but I'd like to see that, maybe for the iPhone XXX.

That's where we're heading for with smartphone design: a slab of glass device that is entirely software-driven with the clicky parts replaced by sensors that recognise your particular way of operating the phone.

There's still room for innovation with smartphones as technology improves, and the iPhone X provides a glimpse of that future - at a steep price that a surprising amount of people are prepared to pay.