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 IPHONE FEATURE

Should you bother queuing up for an iPhone X?

Q & A about the X
Product: iPhone X | Publisher: Apple | Format: iPhone
 
After all the leaks, rumours, announcements and reaction pieces, Apple's most ambitious smartphone since the very first iPhone is about to hit shops.

I say that, but if you're planning to actually walk into a shop and buy one on November 3 (that's tomorrow), you'll probably need to start queuing up around about now. I'm not even joking.

But is the iPhone X worth sleeping on the street in the freezing cold for?

Here are the essential points you need to know about the iPhone X to hopefully help you make that - let's be honest, really quite weird - decision.

What is the iPhone X?

The iPhone X is the latest range-topping iPhone from Apple. It's called the 'X' (pronounced 'ten') because 2017 is the tenth anniversary of the iPhone line.

This is the boldest phone design the company has ever gone with after several years of iterative updates.

So what's new?

The most obvious design innovation is the X's 5.8-inch AMOLED display, which is the biggest, sharpest and most vibrant iPhone screen yet.



It also stretches virtually to the edges of the phone, even into the curved corners. As a result, despite the X having a larger screen than the iPhone 8 Plus, the phone itself is only a little bigger than the iPhone 8.

What's with that notch?

Apple might say that the iPhone X is 'all screen,' but of course there's a rather unsightly notch digging into the top of the display.

This is the TrueDepth Camera, which is arguably the X's defining feature. It's basically a bunch of sophisticated sensors that can 3D map your face and use it as a biometric approval system called Face ID.



That all-screen design means there's no home button and no Touch ID, so the iPhone X uses your unique facial contours to grant access and approve Apple Pay payments.

The TrueDepth Camera also enables you to create some cool lighting and bokeh effects when you're taking a selfie.

And the rest of the specs?

The rest of the iPhone X is as expected, and more or less the same as the iPhone 8 Plus. You get an A11 Bionic CPU, which is much faster and more energy efficient than last year's model.

You get a 12MP twin-camera set-up that takes better pictures than before.



The iPhone X even gets the unique addition of OIS on the telephoto camera, which should improve your zoomed-in shots.

You get two hours more battery life than the iPhone 7, and you also get to use Qi wireless charging like the iPhone 8 family.

How much will it cost?

That's the real kicker. The iPhone X starts from £999 / $999 for the 64GB model. That's £300 more than the equivalent iPhone 8 - which itself has received a hefty bump up since last year's iPhone 7.

You can also bump up the storage to 256GB, but that'll cost you £1,149 / $1,149.

What if you don't queue?

The chances of you being able to stroll into an Apple Store - or any store for that matter - within normal opening hours and simply pick up an iPhone X are in the 'slim-to-none' category.

Wide ranging supply line reports suggest that stocks will be seriously constrained right up through Christmas and into 2018.

You can blame all that cutting edge technology we mentioned above - particularly that custom OLED display and TrueSense camera.



iPhone X pre-orders went live last Friday, and delivery times swiftly slipped to 5-6 weeks. Having said that, this was actually a lot better than many people feared, so who knows? Maybe Apple has managed to assemble more stock than expected.

I wouldn't count on any availability for those unwilling to queue, though.

What's been the early response?

Apple curiously limited its iPhone X review models, opting to give many of them out to YouTube influencers and lifestyle publications instead of the usual tech writers.

What's more, of the tech writers it did give an iPhone X to, most only received it relatively late in the day. This means that the vast majority of early iPhone X opinion out there is of limited critical value.



This might suggest a damage limitation effort from a company that knows it's made a dud, but that's not necessarily the case. Of the small few trustworthy sources who managed to bag an iPhone X earlier - there appear to have been just four - the overall impression is positive.

The screen is said to be the best yet seen in an iPhone, Face ID apparently works well, and the new gestures that are required in the absence of that home button aren't the disaster some feared. Still, early days and all that.

Will it be good for games?

It would be remiss of us to let this round-up pass without mentioning the iPhone X's likely gaming chops. We are a portable gaming website, after all.

It's looking good on that front. The 5.8-inch OLED display promises to show games off better than any iPhone before, while the A11 Bionic processor is going to run 3D games without breaking into a sweat.



The iPhone X will also be the best phone on which to play the forthcoming wave of AR-enabled games. Apple's really pushing AR, and the X has all the sensors to make it sing.

Special mention also to the X's speakers, which are stereo and a lot louder than before.

One potential downside is that the iPhone X's unique display requires app developers to update their apps in order to make use of the extra space and weird shape. If they don't they will either be letterboxed or glitchy, so the initial gaming experience might be somewhat compromised.

Conclusion

So, should you queue up for the iPhone X? To be frank, if you're even asking yourself that question, the answer should probably be 'no'.

It takes a special breed of unquestioning Apple enthusiast to be willing to stand out in the cold for hours, missing sleep and work/school just for the privilege of handing over £1000 for a new gadget a few weeks before everyone else.

That's not to say that the iPhone X won't be awesome. It could well be. But the very fact that this is unknown - coupled with the aforementioned sky-high price - means that the sensible bet would be to hold off until a more rounded critical consensus has been formed.

If you're really eager, why not walk into your local Apple Store first thing Friday morning and have an extended play with the iPhone X?

If you're sold, slap that pre-order down - online pre-order dates remain stuck at the 5-6 weeks point, which means that you'll still get the phone before Christmas.
 

Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 2 November 2017
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