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Apple iPhone X: First impressions

Does Face ID recognise you when you wear a sheet mask? An ELLE editor finds out

By Andrea Tim | Published: 6 Dec 2017

iPhone X review
Photo: ELLE Malaysia

The iPhone X is Apple's most expensive phone ever (RM5,149 for the 64GB, RM5,899 for the 256GB), an investment I'm sure many loyal users are willing to make. I'm on my second iPhone now (I had the iPhone 4S and now own the iPhone 7), but was lucky enough to add a third to the repertoire when I borrowed the iPhone X from Apple to test for a couple of weeks. By test, I mean basically iCloud transfer everything from my iPhone 7 to the iPhone X for the full experience.

Getting used to no home button
The round home button was Apple's signature, but they've removed it from the iPhone X. "It's the end of the world!" some cried. No it's not, really. What Apple has done is sacrifice the button for a stunning 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display. A sacrifice well made.

Videos can be pinch-zoomed to fit the screen (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

They made a beautiful phone
Where first impressions are concerned, Apple passes with flying colours – the glass coating is supposed to be the strongest ever used on a smartphone (not that I was going to do a drop test on an intelligent, expensive glass wafer), the display is vibrant and provides lifelike clarity, videos can be pinch-zoomed to fit the screen, and the stereo speakers add to the cinematic richness of the phone as an entertainment device. I'd give up my TV if I wasn't a purist. The iPhone X is the only Black Mirror I want right now.

The iPhone X in Silver (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Everything comes with a swipe
Except for adjusting the volume, locking the phone and turning the phone on/off, most of what you'll do requires tapping and swiping. If you're already used to Apple's interface and latest iOS 11, you have only the gestures to get used to. I finally stopped pressing a non-existent home button after just two days.

Moving from Touch ID to Face ID
With no home button, the iPhone X uses Face ID as your password instead of a fingerprint. My friends have not stopped trying to trick the phone with pictures of me. My sister was also disappointed she couldn't unlock the phone. That's how secure Face ID is – you can only register one face per phone. You also have to have at least one eye open (I found out because I wake up with only one eye open), so people can't unlock your iPhone X while you're asleep.

The only exceptions to Face ID's security are identical twins and children. Children's faces change so much, so quickly that it increases the probability of a stranger's face being matched to the ID.

What's great about Face ID
It's fast, so none of this waiting around business. It also works in the dark, thanks to infrared light technology. But the real jaw-dropping experience I had with Face ID was when I wore a sheet mask.

The Face ID system continues to learn the many expressions you put on and adapt to different environments you may be in, little changes to your face as well as different apparel and eyewear you may have on. Including sheet masks! This is not a loophole: sheet masks adhere to the skin, so my facial contours could still be registered.

The camera
What you're really here for: the 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, with all the frills you can ask of the best smartphone camera. But Apple's main attraction is the Portrait mode, which now comes with Portrait lightning effects. This is how you get fancy with photos of your friends (congratulations, you are now the official OOTD photographer).

The photos below were taken by me on the iPhone X.

Above: Taken in Portrait mode, with Natural Light (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Above: Taken in Portrait mode, with Stage Light (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Above: Portrait mode tends to make the photo run a little dark if taken in low light environments, but it's nothing a little editing can't fix (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Above: I guess I'm the official food photographer for family holidays now too (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

The camera supports 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, meaning that these hi-def videos are so sharp, you can see your pores. But the files are gigantic, so it's worth paying more for the 256GB capacity.

Filmed on the iPhone X (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Communicating with animojis
It's inevitable, and honestly quite entertaining. The TrueDepth camera detects your every expression and projects it onto the Animoji so quickly that it's like looking into a mirror, except the reflection is a unicorn (there are 12 Animojis in total). My friends will never be ready for this.

Wireless charging
I've never used a wireless charger before, so I approached one from Belkin tentatively ("Will the charger blow up? Will the phone melt? Will I get radiation sickness?"). I had nothing to fear, obviously, but found that wireless charging is a little slower than on the cable.

Augmented reality made better
Apple is taking advantage of the steady rise of augmented reality in the best way. Ikea Place and AR MeasureKit are some of the best apps to experience this with. Using your camera, Ikea Place lets you virtually place furniture in your home, while AR MeasureKit uses the camera's depth perception to measure things for you. I wouldn't say I'll ever stop going to the store myself or put away my measuring tape, but the iPhone X makes a great case for the convenience of augmented reality.

The final verdict
Learn how to survive on cup noodles for a year, because the iPhone X's price tag is worth the investment, especially if you're the type to make your gadget last for years.

The December issue of ELLE Malaysia, shot on the iPhone X (Photo: ELLE Malaysia)

Related: Apple unveils the iPhone X and iPhone 8
Related: There may be a "brassiere" folder in your iPhone photos


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