Is iPhone X the Real Deal?

iPhone X

Engadget had a nice spreadsheet comparing the specs of the iPhone X with other flagship smartphones. I have translated this into pros and cons to help me think through whether this will be my next phone.

iPhone X Pros

  • It is the most compact of the flagship phones, but competes in screen size. Apple has lagged in this area for many years compared to Android and now they take the lead.
  • Battery life. Android phones may start out well, like my Pixel, but are notorious for getting worse as they age. The iPhone typically is as good years later as the day one buys it.
  • Camera. DxOMark recently ousted the Pixel as the smartphone with the best image quality. The new holder of that distinction is the iPhone 8 Plus. There is no reason to think the iPhone X would have a worse camera than the 8. Also, Androids lack the portrait mode that blurs the background and suits the iPhone to artistic use. UPDATE (10/03/2017): The Galaxy Note 8 has tied the iPhone 8 Plus DxOMark score of 94.
  • Video. The ability to shoot 1080p at 240 fps means you can do action scenes in super smooth slow motion. Of course, it also shoots 4K.
  • Screen quality. The True Tone Apple display is one of the best on any device for viewing photographs.
  • Integration with the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS+LTE. For me having a watch that shares my phone’s number so I don’t always need to carry my phone is awesome. This and the battery longevity are the two factors most likely to cause me to switch back to an iPhone.
  • Aesthetics. The new flagship Android phones are long and skinny giving them a goofy look. This phone is pretty enough to lay on a wireless charger on the same desk as my iMac.
  • According to leaks of Google’s upcoming flagship, the iPhone X is priced competitively with the Pixel 2 XL. After a year, my Pixel battery seems to be shot. It doesn’t make it through the workday. I had the same issue with my Galaxy Note 4 before that. The new Note 8 is $60 less. So, yes, $50 or $60 more for a phone that doesn’t crap out in a year seems pretty reasonable to me.

iPhone X Cons (not that the iPhone is an ex-con)

  • The pixel density lags the competition. However, it is still extremely good and the difference to the eye will be barely detectable if at all.
  • There is no external storage. Because this is a phone that will last, I would spring for the 256 gb memory. Even if you don’t need it today, you will in a couple of years. 4k video takes up a lot of space.
  • It is only IP67, which is splash proof. Many Android phones are IP68, which can be taken swimming. Previous iPhones have survived submersion when tested by reviewers, but who wants to gamble with a $1149 phone? If it were waterproof, the iPhone X would be safe from obsolescence for years. I suspect in the next couple of years they will move to IP68.
  • The ability to integrate Google services like Google Maps, Assistant, Calendar, Voice, etc. is clunky and these services are in general superior to those provided by Apple.
  • While the iPhone works with some VR headsets, it doesn’t work with a universal controller. (Some app developers sell controllers for their apps.) This reduces the amount of interaction one can have in VR. This is also where the lesser pixel density will be most apparent.


  • We don’t yet know the amount of RAM. Apple has traditionally lagged behind Android in this area, but their integrated engineering has allowed them to still perform multi-tasking very smoothly.
  • Face ID has not been proven in the field, but Apple seldom introduces half-baked technology, especially when it relates to security. But then again there was Apple maps.

The Elephant in Your Face

  • At this point, the jury of tech reviewers is pretty unanimous in their condemnation of that ugly notch that disrupts the beautiful edge-to-edge screen.
  • The main issue to me is that the notch covers part of panoramic pictures. I’m guessing an iOS update will eventually fix that, though. At least a quick tap shrinks videos so that they aren’t covered.
  • We’ll see whether it becomes one of those niggling little annoyances that somehow manages to rob us of the joy of ownership.

Going for it?

  • Mark October 27, 2017 on your calendar. That’s the date on which we can pre-order, if we decide the pros outweigh the cons. Keep in mind that there are reportedly supply chain issues that will cause the iPhone X to sell out quickly. Is an iPhone X in your future?
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