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iPhone X review: It doesn't get better than this

There has never been a perfect phone. And there will never be. This is because devices always have room for improvements. The iPhone X too has a few things that could have been better. But if there is a phone that can be called perfect, then it is the iPhone X. It is a mix of all the goodness that we have seen in the iPhones in the last 10 years, rolled into a beautiful metal and glass frame, and served with a slice of future. The iPhone X is an expensive phone with a price of Rs 89,000 in India. But it is also a phone that is totally worth its price because it is the best phone made. Yet.

Did you notice I didn't say the iPhone X was the best iPhone made yet? The iPhone part is moot. It is "the best phone" made yet, despite its flaws, which are there and that I will explain in a while. The reason why the iPhone X is so good is because it has a design that is unique, yet familiar, has hardware that is fantastic, and gets almost everything, which is important in a phone, right.

There is still space for some other high-end phones in the market. The iPhone 8 Plus is cheaper. The Pixel 2 XL is not only cheaper but also comes with the goodness of Android Oreo and a great camera. The Galaxy Note 8 has a stylus. The Galaxy S8 has the curved screen. But if you are willing to pay the price, chances are that the iPhone X is the best phone for you because it does almost everything in one single package.

That screen. And design

We all have heard that bit: The design is subjective. True. But most of the time when you show people something that has been designed well and built well, they like it. The iPhone X has been designed well. It has been built with care and passion. It is gorgeous.

It is also an iPhone that comes with some radical design changes as far as iPhones go. But changes are for the better. In terms of size, the iPhone X is between the regular iPhone and the Plus version. It's bigger than the regular iPhone and at around 174 grams also heavier. But its narrower screen, even though the larger one with size of 5.8-inch, makes the iPhone X is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. It is also lighter by around 30 grams, which is easily felt when you hold the iPhone X and use it.

In a way, this is arguably the best designed iPhone so far. But that is not the big deal about the iPhone X. The big deal is just how good, how sleek, how sexy it looks. The steel frame and the metal ring around the camera module with chrome finish give it a jewel like look, which is not there in iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. Add to that the all-screen front and the all-glass back cover, and you have a phone that is very slick. Now, even the top Galaxy phones use a metal and glass design, but the iPhone has a character of its own, largely because of the shiny Apple logo, and the dual-camera module in shiny chrome finish.

This is the best iPhone Apple has ever made. The hardware is superlatively good. The software is good enough. If you are going to spend Rs 70,000 or more on a phone, ensure you spend it on the iPhone X. It's that good

I am usually not a fan of shiny phones. They show fingerprints and smudges as soon as you use them. And the same is true for the iPhone X. But overall, even as Apple has made the phone that throws away light, particular the silver colour, it has also kept the design understated and classy enough to ensure it doesn't look gaudy. It's not an easy balance to achieve. But Apple does it.

The iPhone X, just like other iPhones now, is a water and dust-proof phone. I washed it several times just to test it. It worked all fine. Wash it, wipe it. It works.

My only niggle as far as the design is concerned is that the metal frame and glass don't bond seamlessly. If you run a finger at the lines where they meet, you can feel this minute gap. Of course, there is no gap. But the curved glass doesn't go all the way into the metal frame the way it happens in a phone like the Galaxy S8. Most people won't notice it. But some may do.

Given the new design, which lacks the home button, there are some changes that Apple has made. The phone's front, as noted earlier, is all screen. The bezels are not as thin as what phones like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 sport, but they are thin enough to not bother you, except in one case (will explain).

The lack of home button means you use the iPhone X with gestures and using the power button, which is bigger, a symbolic change in design to tell users that this button is more important now. For example, a long press on the Home button brings up Siri. The gestures, meanwhile, are easy to learn and use. You will get used to them within hours and won't miss home button at all. Just flick away the open app to go to home screen. Or hold the bottom edge of the screen and swipe to the middle of the phone to open the app switcher. It's really easy.

Now, lack of the home button also means that there is no Touch ID on the phone. But this too you won't miss because the Face ID works very well. You can set it up when you are setting up the phone or afterwards going into the settings. The phone can use only one Face ID at a time.

The Face ID is not as fast as the Touch ID in helping you reach the phone's home screen, but the difference is not much once you have understood how it works. And the way it works best is when you gaze at the phone and the iPhone X sees your eyes. As soon as you see the phone, it unlocks. At the same time, you should swipe up on the notification pan to reach the home screen. It takes just a second or so, once you are used to it.

Talking of the Face ID, it's time to mention the notch aka the bunny ears. In the iPhone X, the screen goes all the way to the top edge. But in the centre of phone, there is notch that hides the front camera, depth sensing module that is used for Face ID, and other sensors. This notch is the blemish on an otherwise the best screen I have ever seen in a phone, although after a while your brain and eyes will lean to ignore the notch when you are looking at the phone.

The screen in the iPhone, as I noted earlier is the best ever I have seen in a phone. And that is because of two things: excellent Super AMOLED panel, which is extremely vibrant and shows great colours, and Apple's colour calibration complete with the TrueTone display. The iPhone 10 display is sharp for texts, and extremely beautiful for anything that has colours in it. It's on the warmer side but that is because it shows true colours.

Apart from the colours, it seems that Apple has also changed the way it laminates and bonds the screens because on the iPhone X, just the way it looks on the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 8 Plus, the screen seems as if it is floating just right over the phone. Or it looks as if it has been rendered or painted on top of the screen because it is so vibrant and surreal. This is something I have never seen in any other phone earlier. Let's hope if Apple's phone competitors are going to copy something from the iPhone X then they will copy its screen.

A lot of praise, I know. But believe me: it is deserving. Though I do have a niggle with the screen too This is about the aspect ratio -- weird 2436 x 1125 pixels resolution -- of the phone and the way it shows the videos. If an app support the screen aspect ratio, then the video fills the whole screen. But if the app doesn't, or if the video is in some different aspect ratio, there are ugly black bars around the phone and the picture that you see is too narrow. The effect, especially in a dark room, is just too ugly. Hopefully, as more and more app gets updated for the iPhone X screen, this won't be an issue.

Everything works

Apart from the design and the Face ID, the rest of the iPhone X is just like the iPhone 8 Plus. It is as fast as the iPhone 8, and for obvious reasons: the hardware and software in both phones is the same. There is the same A11 Bionic processor inside the iPhone X and the same iOS 11, with its slicker and faster animations, powers it. The iPhone X has same amount of 3GB RAM and same 64GB storage.

In my over 10 days of use, I never saw lag or any other performance issues.

Irrespective of what you do on the iPhone X, it is a fast phone. Fast camera. Fast browsing. Fast photo editing. Smooth scrolling. There are no performance issues at all, whether you play games or open 10 tabs in Chrome.

Although some limitations that the iOS has remain. The notification screen is a mess. Notifications just pile on top of each other. The settings, even for specific apps, are buried deep within the Settings app. The home screen is boring, even if the screen of the iPhone X shows brilliant colours. Siri is still not very smart because Apple's services are still in the development phase in India.

But then none of these issues are deal-breaking for most people, and specially not for people already using an iPhone . And what you lose with the iOS 11 -- the flexibility and versatility of Android Oreo -- gets compensated well enough by what you gain. The iOS 11 offers stability of software updates, security, a more consistent -- if not better -- user interface. Because I also reviewed the Google Pixel 2 XL recently, I have found that apps crash on both the iOS 11 and the 2 XL. But the number of crashes are lower on the iPhone, at least this time.

I talked about gestures earlier. They are easy to use. And fun. So is the Animoji feature, which uses the Face ID and turns your facial movement and gestures into animated emojis. These can be recorded, along with a message, and can be sent or shared. Seems like a gimmick but then it is so fun that you will wonder how you lived without it so far.

Some limitations that the iOS has remain. The notification screen is a mess. The home screen is boring, even if the screen of the iPhone X shows brilliant colours. Siri is still not very smart because Apple's services are still in the development phase in India

The iPhone X has stereo speakers. They sound nice, although not as nice as the BoomSound speakers in high-end HTC phones. The call quality is very good, and while using the phone I didn't notice anything amiss on cellular or Wi-Fi performance.

The iPhone X comes with a battery of around 2716mAh. It is good enough for around 13 to 14 hours of use, including some photography. Not great, but not bad either. Although what I don't like about the battery of the iPhone X is that it charges slowly, takes around 2 hours to completely charge. The iPhone X supports fast charging, but to use that feature you need to buy a separate charger from Apple. The bundled charger charges the phone slowly. This is cheap!

Camera and the portrait mode

One of the top features of the iPhone, according to Apple, is its camera. I have found the camera in the iPhone X is fantastic, but it doesn't top the Pixel 2 XL that is the new best, especially in low light.

On the back, the iPhone has a 12-megapixel camera. It comes with two lenses. One is a regular wide-angle lens. The other one is a zoom lens with focal length of around 56mm, offering the iPhone X users ability to use 2X optical zoom. The regular camera has an F1.8 lens. The second lens has F2.4 aperture. Both lenses have optical image stabilisation.

On the front, the iPhone X has an 8-megapixel camera. Both rear and front cameras offer portrait mode with those blurred background. The rear camera does so because it uses both lenses to capture necessary data. The front camera uses data captured with Face ID module. While I used the iPhone X, here is what I found about its camera:

-- The images clicked in good light are fantastic. They have superb colours, lot of detail (see the brick photo that I clicked just to highlight details) and they are well exposed.

-- The images have very good colours, and fantastic skin tones in portrait photos.

-- Images clicked in low light are also good, but on the mushy side as the iPhone X tries to keep the noise low and hence lose some details. This is in low light where I find the Pixel 2 XL much better.

-- The focus is fast and clicking photos with the iPhone X is very fast. You can shoot, shoot, shoot. Like 5 photos in 2 seconds. -- For most people the iPhone X will click photos they will love. Although the pixel-peepers or people who click images mostly in low light, night, evenings, indoors, will definitely prefer images shot with the Pixel 2 XL. I feel the iPhone X camera is still held back by its sensor.

-- The portrait mode works well enough but it is also inconsistent in applying blur. Occasionally it is perfect but mostly it tends to smooth over hair, edges. This is particularly the case for the selfie portraits.

-- The video recording performance including the slow-mo mode is fantastic. Best in the industry!

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So, should you spend Rs 89,000 on iPhone X

Yes, you should. If you can. This is the best iPhone Apple has ever made. I am mostly an Android users, and yet I can see that this phone is in a league of its own. The hardware is superlatively good. The software is good enough. If you are going to spend Rs 70,000 or more on a phone, ensure you spend it on the iPhone X. It's that good.

If you just want a great camera and don't care about everything else, may be look at the Pixel 2 XL. Or for the stylus look at the Galaxy Note 8. But those are niche use cases. The iPhone X is the best phone for most people. And it is not only best because of its hardware, software, build quality, or the way it works. But it is the best because every time you take it out of the pocket and use it, you will fall in love with it. Again. And again.

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Apple iPhone X review####9/10

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  • Good stuff
  • Gorgeous design
  • Great performance
  • A complete phone

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  • Bad stuff
  • No fast-charging charger
  • iOS still has its quirks
  • Low-light photos lack detail