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Living with iPhone X: thoughts after the first three months

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No phone has required such a pronounced adjustment period as the iPhone X, thanks to its habit-wrecking design and pioneering gesture-based UI. We loved the phone in its early weeks, but what has it been like living with the iPhone X since launch? Here’s one user’s take

After three months or so, the initial buzz of Apple’s new device has pretty much worn off. In that time certain quirks have turned into irritants, while other qualms have all but disappeared. My feelings have definitely evolved since day one.

From a physical perspective, the iPhone X has generally stood up well to daily usage. My own handset has picked up no noticeable scratches or dings, though I do consider myself a particularly careful user and have employed a leather case from day one.

One physical flaw I have noticed over time, however, is a slight gap around the display. There’s a little ridge between screen and body that isn’t immediately obvious, but which seems to have spent the last three months gathering lint and other foreign particles. It’s nigh-on impossible to fully clear, and it feels decidedly un-Apple.

Look closely and you can see lint and debris under the display

That said, I seem to be in the minority here with colleagues experiencing no such problem, so perhaps this particular quirk is exacerbated by my dust-attracting leather case. Your mileage may vary.

Home button? What home button?

Probably the biggest departure for the iPhone X from the very beginning was the way it ditched Apple’s iconic home button. It’s an omission that may have seemed like sacrilege for many long-term iPhone users.

However, I adjusted to the lack of a home button surprisingly quickly, and three months on any lingering muscle memory has disappeared altogether. Swapping back to an older iPhone for a moment feels positively archaic at this point. It’s official: the home button is dead, and I for one couldn’t care less.

The reason for this is that Apple’s various workarounds have been executed so solidly. Swiping up to return home when in an app feels like the most natural gesture in the world, as does swiping up and holding to switch between open apps. Can you believe we used to double-press a physical button for that?

The new gestures seemed natural after just a few days

Even better is the fact that you can swipe left and right along the bottom edge of the screen to quickly go back and forth between apps – a hugely simple timesaver.

Fancy biometrics

Then there’s Face ID. It’s the biggest new feature of the iPhone X, yet it’s a testament to its design and function that after three months I barely even think about it.

These days, gaining access to your iPhone just means swiping up from the bottom of the lock screen.  The initially stilted process of deliberately holding the phone a little squarer in front of you is now a natural process.

It’s still not perfect, but I find that I now unconsciously allow for many of the situations where it consistently fails. For example, I don’t even try to use Face ID when I turn over and pick up my iPhone X in the morning. I know it will look at my bleary-eyed face with incomprehension, so I instinctively take an extra second and prepare for PIN entry.

In most situations, Face ID just works – to the extent that you forget it’s even there.

The second app-ocalypse

Perhaps the biggest issue with the iPhone X in the early weeks was the lack of proper app support. The number of applications with thick black borders or downright distorted UIs following the iPhone X release was rather irritating, to say the least, and it took even major developers a while to get their acts together.

It’s still an issue, frankly, but it’s a lot better here in early 2018 than it was in late 2017. Things are going in the right direction, and most apps at least work with iPhone X even if not fully optimized for it.

One thing that now seems likely to me, though, is that some apps will never look or feel as good on iPhone X as they do on, say, the iPhone 8 Plus. The phone’s irregular screen shape (notch and all) means that screen elements are often partially cut off. It can be particularly problematic in games – especially those that adopt a landscape orientation, where UI and control elements are often situated at the edges.

Occasionally the “notch” interferes with elements of an app’s interface

I have to assume that this will become less and less of an issue as time goes on, particularly if this unusual screen shape becomes the norm with successive iPhones. This does, however, mean that the iPhone X may never offer an optimal app experience, as the internal hardware will be long in the tooth by the time Apple’s new app design guidelines have been fully absorbed by developers.

That’s life on the cutting edge for you. And make no mistake – living with the iPhone X still feels like you’re living with the future of smartphones. In fact, the most remarkable thing after three months is how refined this vision of the future already is.