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My Review of the iPhone X: The All-screen iPhone

I got Apple's latest baby, the iPhone X, and I'm going to share what I think about it. In short: I think it's great, but possibly not worth the expense to everyone, especially those who already like the "Plus" iPhone models.

The iPhone X (starting at $999) was announced at the same time as the iPhone 8 (starting at $699) and 8 Plus (starting at $799), and it has similar excellent performance. What you're getting with the X is a screen of astounding quality, similar in size to that of an 8 Plus, but in a device that's closer to the size of an 8.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are nearly identical in appearance to the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7 (and their Plus models) but are faster, have a better camera, and offer wireless charging. Overall, it's a familiar experience, so I won't spend much time on it here.

And these are not the only iPhones Apple sells: you might still consider an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, which is still a very nice phone that now starts at $549, or an iPhone SE, if you like its small size or its small price of $349. (I don't recommend the iPhone 6s.)

The iPhone X feels different than every iPhone before it. Its striking feature is an edge-to-edge screen. In other words, the thick black or white bars above and below the screen, found on every previous iPhone, are absent, as is the home button beneath the screen.

I'm a non-Plus guy. So for me, the X is a big upgrade, because the screen feels huge, but I can still operate the phone with one hand (if barely), and it still fits comfortably in my pocket. If you are a Plus devotée, however, the X might feel less essential, unless the smaller physical size appeals to you. It's hard for me to reach the corners now, but if you use your iPhone two-handed, by pointing at it with your index finger, the extra reach won't affect you.

On the iPhone X, there's no home button. That means there's no more of: press to open, press to get back to home screen, double-press to switch applications, press and hold for Siri, or rest for Touch ID. Apple has added some of these capabilities to the side buttons, and replaced others with screen swipes. Instead of press to wake, you tap anywhere on the screen; Siri is accessed from the power button. To get back to your home screen, you swipe upwards from the bottom, and you now get to the Control Center by swiping down from the upper right hand corner. I was skeptical about the swiping, but it hasn't taken me long to adjust.

I can't overstate how responsive the phone is, and how amazingly good the screen and camera are, I'm not even a photo-oriented person, but I've taken great-looking portraits in atrocious lighting. I find myself just staring at the screen at because it looks so bright and colorful. It uses technology where each pixel is lit only if needed, which makes black truly and absolutely black.

My one worry about the iPhone X was its lack of Touch ID, which I used constantly. It has been replaced by Face ID, in which the phone recognizes your face, and yours alone (and no, a photo won't work, though identical twins can fool it). I felt that Face ID would have to work as well or better than Touch ID for me to be satisfied with the phone. And now that I've tried it, I can say that when it works, it's fantastic. It's remarkable when you get a message, and then the message contents are displayed as soon as you look at your phone. It's almost like not having a passcode at all, because you don't have to do anything. It even works in the dark.

But occasionally Face ID doesn't work. I sometimes have to bring the phone closer to my face than I typically hold it; and sometimes I want to unlock my phone without having to "make eye contact" with it, such as when it's lying on a desk. And while Apple says it still works with many sunglasses, apparently mine don't let enough infrared light through, so if I've got my shades on, I have to lift them up, or punch in my passcode. Personally, I've decided the occasional failure of Face ID is made up for by having the larger, more awesome screen.

The rest of the phone is familiar to anyone already running iOS 11 -- it's an iPhone. But it's a gorgeous iPhone, with a big screen in a small package. But if that's not what you need, you can certainly buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus and be in great shape.

 

Is It Safe to Update My Mac?

Several of you have been asking us whether it's safe to update your Mac operating system to High Sierra. For now, my advice is still to hold off, as it still has some issues. But, if you really want it, more than likely nothing bad will happen. Please check that you have a recent Time Machine backup before you do it, however. (Click on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar -- it looks like a clock with an arrow wrapped around it -- and look at the first grey line in the dropdown menu to see the most recent backup date.)

Is It Safe to Update My iPhone?

If you've been holding off on iOS 11 on your iPhone, it's safe to update. Go for it. If you want to be extra careful, check your iCloud backup: go to Settings -> (your name at the top) -> iCloud -> iCloud backup, and you will be able to see your most recent backup date; you may also click "Back Up Now" to get current.

(November 2017)

 

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