Apple dropped a couple big announcements at their keynote—Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, some good steps forward with AR capability, the iPhone 8/8 Plus, etc.. But the big announcement that everyone was waiting for was the iPhone X, which naturally came at the very end of the nearly hour-and-a-half presentation event.
The iPhone X confirms a lot of the rumors and suspicions people had about what we thought would be the iPhone 8, and if you’re a fan of the Apple iPhone, you were probably smiling throughout the reveal.
Yes, they went bezel-less. Yes, they finally stepped into the world of OLED displays. Yes, it’s bigger. They gave the iPhone a complete makeover to help compete with its Android adversaries, and for all intents and purposes, it’s a gorgeous phone.
But there’s also one question lingering on the tip of everyone’s tongue that very few people seem to feel comfortable asking: Is it going to be enough? Will what Apple has done for the iPhone X be enough to edge out say, the Note 8?
Eh… I’m not so sure.
The iPhone X comes with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display, and I have no problem admitting it’s gorgeous. It seems like Apple put a lot of time and care into the brand new bezel-less screen, and it really, really shows. The standard iPhone 8 only comes with a 4.7-inch screen (8 Plus comes with 5.5). For an Apple product, that’s great.
But even the baseline Galaxy S8 comes in with a 5.8-inch screen, and the S8+ and Note 8 positively dwarf the X, with 6.2-inch and 6.3-inch screens, respectively.
Of course, all of this only matters if size is all that matters, which it isn’t, both in phones and in life, God damn it.
iPhone X Display
The iPhone X is also Apple’s first go at the OLED market. They’ve caught tons of flack in the tech sphere over the last couple years because they were the only company still using LCD displays—and even now, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come with LCD. In the past, Apple fed the world a bunch of reasons bull shit as to why they still use the outdated tech, but the iPhone X finally almost brings them up to speed with every other heavy-hitter smartphone on the market today.
... Notice that I said “almost.”
The iPhone X features an OLED True Tone display that also boasts Apple’s “Super Retina” technology. What that translates to is a phone with a resolution of 2436 x 1125 and 458 PPI, which in and of itself is visually stunning. However, the Note 8, with its 6.3-inch infinity screen and Super AMOLED display clocks in at 2960 x 1440 and 532 PPI. There’s also competition from LG’s V30 (1440 x 2880, 537 PPI), the HTC U11 (1440 x 2560, 534 PPI), and even the Google Pixel (1040 x 1920, 441 PPI).
The display appeared gorgeous during yesterday’s keynote, but we won’t know whose bangs the best until we can get our hands on one for a side-by-side comparison.
iPhone X’s A11 Bionic Chip
With the unveiling of the new batch of iPhones came the reveal of Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip, which really does look like it’s going to give the Apple an advantage in an area where it has lost serious footing over the last couple years.
The competition—including the Note 8—is using Snapdragon’s 835 chip, which albeit bad ass, doesn’t look like it can hold a candle to Apple’s six-core, 4.3-billion-transistor A11 (If the rumored benchmarks are indeed true, that is).
Of course, this race is also still too close to call. The iPhone X looks to have undoubtedly more raw processing power than the Note 8, but there’s an equalizer here: RAM. Though the details are still a little murky, from what we can tell, the iPhone X will pack just 3GB of RAM. The Note 8 packs a confirmed 6GB. A difference that big is sure to level the playing field a bit, but how much, exactly, remains to be seen.
Either way you cut it, the iPhone X is going to be incredibly fast.
iPhone X Storage and Battery
The iPhone X will come in two different models: 64GB and 256GB, and as usual—and much to the furious chagrin of iPhone fans—will not support any kind of flash memory.
This was to be expected, but it’s worth noting that most of the iPhone’s competition, including the Note 8, supports flash memory (Sometimes up to 2TB).
Far as battery life is concerned, Apple reports that the iPhone X will support 21 hours of talk time, 12 hours of internet use, 13 hours of video playback, and 60 hours of audio playback, but we don’t know exactly how big its battery is.
The Note 8, following sharp on the heels of last year’s Note 7 failure, boasts a 3,300mAh battery which means 22 hours of talk time, 14 hours of wireless internet use, 16 hours of video playback, and 74 hours of audio-only playback.
iPhone X Cameras
The iPhone X cameras are definitely a step above the 7 Plus, but technically speaking, it’s pretty standard equipment, at this point.
The front-facing camera is a 7MP “TrueDepth” with an aperture of f/2.2, which isn’t really anything to write home about. The dual cameras in the back both offer optical image stabilization and 12 megapixels. The wide-angle clocks in at f/1.8, and the telephoto at f2.4. The Note 8 features a noticeably better front camera at 8mp and f/1.7, and its rear cameras measure up at 12 megapixels, with the telephoto having a maximum aperture of f/2.4, and the wide angle having a maximum aperture of f/1.7.
And even then, the Note 8 could have a better camera setup. To tech nerds, that translates to: “If you can’t even outgun the ‘just okay’ Note 8, you sure as hell don’t have a spot at the table yet.”
However, I will note that I do really love the iPhone’s portrait mode, and compared to what I personally experienced with the Note 8, I think the iPhone X is definitely going to have it outgunned.
I’m also really interested to learn more about the iPhone X’s brand new camera feature, Portrait Lighting mode. Apparently, they’re not just filters, but rather depth-sensing cameras that create intuitive and detailed facial maps in order to create studio quality lighting effects in real time. That’s a big deal.
iPhone X Face ID
Far as I know and have heard (which certainly isn’t everything), this is really the only aspect of the new iPhone X that’s otherwise unrivaled by anyone else in the industry. Apple’s Face ID is an exceptionally smart security authentication platform that uses your front-facing camera to unlock your phone. The concept itself isn’t new, but Apple’s mastery of it is.
The Face ID is enabled by the TrueDepth camera and is set up by basically wiggling your face in front of the camera for a little bit. From your wiggling and head turning, the camera creates a precision depth map of your face comprising over 30,000 individual pinpoints.
More so than that, it also utilizes an infrared camera to create a facial heat map, which prevents everyone’s big problem with facial recognition: Fraud. People were in an uproar last week after a video Tweeted by software developer Mel Tajon seemed to show him unlocking a Note 8 with a selfie taken on another Note 8. Several people have since released videos that seem to clearly debunk Tajon’s, but nevertheless, you won’t have to worry about that bull shit with the iPhone X.
And for that, we should all be grateful.
iPhone X Final Thoughts
I think the iPhone X is going to be a tremendous phone and a big step forward for the iPhone family. In fact, I’m certain of it.
But overall, I’m skeptical, and here’s why:
In all of the comparison videos I’ve watched and articles I’ve read in the last 24 hours, it seems to me that everyone is trying to get away with comparing the iPhone X to the Galaxy S8, and hyping the phone up as the superior model.
I think so many outlets are doing this because no one really wants to admit that the iPhone X, while a tremendous phone, won’t pack enough punch to take out the Note 8—the phone it was invented to unseat.
The comparisons should flow like this:
Galaxy S8 >>> iPhone 8
Galaxy S8 Plus >>> iPhone 8 Plus
Galaxy Note 8 >>> iPhone X
Instead, I keep finding review after review, comparison after comparison, of the Galaxy S8/8 Plus to the iPhone X, which gives a pretty slanted advantage to the iPhone X. For me, those comparisons really sum up the situation quite perfectly:
The iPhone is a phenomenal little phone that looks whip-fast, comes with an absolutely gorgeous display, and features some pretty awesome new-to-iPhones tech that’s definitely going to become a mainstay for the flagship.
The problem is, so many sentences talking about the great new things found in the iPhone X either start and end with “For an iphone.” “For an iPhone, it’s camera is truly ground breaking.” “This OLED display is revolutionary for an iPhone.” It’s a tough problem to mitigate.
Can it touch the Note 8? Eh. I’d bet not.
Will I still probably end up upgrading to one over any Android device? That’s a pretty safe bet.
For a deeper diver into Samsung's Note 8 be sure to read our in-depth review of the comeback device in full.