iPhone X Review

One week with the iPhone of the future – today.

Display


• Superb resolution and rendering of fonts

• Blackest blacks and highest contrast

• Great color rendition when looking straight perpendicular at the display

• Noticeable shift to blue color tint when the phone is tilted out of perpendicular view by ~15°, most noticeable with bright or white backgrounds. I had a chance to look at a Samsung Galaxy S8 this week, which has a far more pronounced color shift problem, when not looking straight at the display.

• At the screen edges you can see a slight shift in hue, also most noticeable with bright backgrounds.

• True Tone sometimes feels a little too “warm“ to me, but I keep it enabled since otherwise everything is way too blue if you are inside especially with incandescent light. I have disabled Night Shift and use True Tone only.

• I had no problem to use the iPhone X with polarizing sun glasses, no color shift or drastically reduced brightness, no matter if the device is used in portrait or landscape orientation. This is a big improvement over the LCD displays that in portrait orientation were hard to read with such sun glasses.

• Bright backgrounds don’t suit the iPhone X screen well. Dark backgrounds make the slight problems with off-angle viewing almost unnoticeable, promote the great contrast the display has and black background lets the bezels and the notch completely disappear.

• Speaking of the notch, I don’t mind it, most of the time don’t even notice it, except when you switch to an app with bright background. I actually like having the time and status shown up there in the “ears”.

FaceID


• It just works!

• Works in complete darkness

• Cool animation of the lock while FaceID is doing its magic

• Works with my polarizing sun glasses with attention awareness turned on

• Works for me even while lying in bed

• Haven’t had to enter my code because of failed FaceID attempt once

• My brother wasn’t able to unlock my iPhone X with FaceID. Although many people confuse me with him, FaceID is able to distinguish us.

• Using FaceID in apps that did already support TouchID and to fill passwords from iCloud Keychain works frictionless.

Design and Build Quality


• I have the silver version with the shiny stainless steel frame

• It’s just beautiful!

• Perfectly matches the aesthetics of the stainless steel Apple Watch

• Coming from a Plus sized iPhone, it feels nice to have a big screen in a much smaller device.

• The iPhone X has its heft without feeling heavy. It feels good in the hand. The glass back improves the grip, so that I am confident enough to use it without a case.

Ease of Use


• Using iPhone X feels like the original iPhone again, instead of sliding to unlock you now swipe up to unlock and you are good to go.

• No authentication interrupting you. With FaceID you have the benefit of security, without the hassle of a passcode.

• FaceID is slower than 2nd generation TouchID, but I never had the impression I was held off or had to wait for it.

• The animations for unlocking, multitasking, opening and closing apps are so smooth and feel so natural, it’s a fun to use this phone with its new gesture based UI, even just going back and forth between apps or to the Homescreen.

• I don’t miss the Home Button!

• Swiping up to “uncover”, go home or activate app switcher feels natural

• Activating Control Center from the top right takes time to get used to and is hard to do one handed.

• I have tested Reachability and turned it off again, the UI feels weird if you combine Reachability and activating Control Center or the Cover Sheet for notifications and widgets, too much sliding going on.

• Switching apps swiping horizontally in the Home Indicator area is nice and easy, sometimes though an app you would expect to the right is no longer there but seems to be resorted in the stack and you must swipe right to find it on the left side.

• To reliably activate the multitasking AppSwitcher move your finger to the right while swiping up from the Home Indicator.

• Tap to the wake is another seemingly small addition that feels overdue when going back to others iPhones that don’t have it.

Camera


• I am not the selfie guy, but having portrait mode on the front camera is a great addition.

• Portrait Lighting is officially still in beta, but the studio light setting looked good in my tests, better than default natural light. Results for the Stage Light effect vary, but often look not good enough.

• Wide angle camera 28 mm (equivalent focal length, real 4 mm, 7x crop), same as in 7, 7 Plus, for comparison the Google Pixel has a 26 mm equivalent lens with a real focal length of 4,67 mm (5,57x crop) which means the Pixel has over 50% more sensor area than the iPhone 7/8/X wide camera

• Telefocus camera lens 52 mm (equivalent, real 6 mm, 8,67x crop), slightly wider than 7 Plus telephoto lens, Sensor now with optical image stabilization, but even smaller than in the 7 Plus which had 56 mm (6,6 mm, 8,48x crop)

• Indoors the iPhone most of the time does not use the telephoto camera, but does digital zoom, unless it’s really bright.

• Given the small sensors used in the iPhone cameras – compared to the Google Pixel – it’s surprising that iPhone keeps up so well in image quality. Apple obviously has perfected image processing algorithms with its custom ISP.

• In a direct comparison of the iPhone 7 Plus camera with the Google Pixel, that I did last year, the iPhone had no chance matching the Pixel’s resolution and details, which is no surprise given the difference in sensor size. The iPhone had slightly better color rendition and overall exposure. If you are not pixel peeping, the iPhone images often look a little more pleasing and therefore often win in “real world” comparisons.

Battery Life and Charging

• Still very early to really judge, but battery life seems at least on par with my iPhone 7 Plus.

• Without really timing it, charging it with a 10 W iPad charger felt quicker than with older iPhones.

• Charging with the Qi inductive charger integrated in the stand of my HP S240uj display at the office worked without problems.

Setup Process

• This was the first time I used the Quick Start feature that lets you transfer settings from another iOS device by just holding it close to the new iPhone.

• After the settings are transferred it is just a few steps until your data is restored from an iCloud backup.

• Having to do an over the air update to iOS 11.1 during this process was a new experience to me.

• This was the first time I didn’t restore a new iPhone from an iTunes backup, so I was a little nervous, but the process was smooth and everything went well. Waiting for all apps and data to be downloaded took longer than restoring from iTunes, but succeeded flawlessly. Even activity data that seemed to be missing at first reappeared after a while.

• Important advice for Apple Watch users: Unpair your watch on the old phone before setting up the new one. This will backup all data and once the new phone has finished initial setup it will automatically detect your watch, let you pair it and restore the watch from the backup.

Other Impressions

• Animoji are fun and it’s stunning how detailed the facial animations are. Don’t show them to your kids, if you want your phone back anytime soon. Interesting to see that Animoji do not include your tongue, though.

• After just a little more than a day with the iPhone X the screens of older iPhones already feel letterboxed and strangely square.

• I always want to swipe up now, being forced to use the Home Button on older iPhones feels cumbersome.

• Animated WiFi signal strength indicator and the animated plane in the status bar “ears” when switching Airplane Mode are cute little details.

• iPhones always lacked in their ability to cling to a weak cellular signal compared to the simple feature phones that I used in the early 2000s. iPhone X pleasantly surprised me. It stays much better connected to cellular during my daily commute train ride than the iPhone 7 Plus that I used until a week ago.

Conclusion

It’s fair to say I love this phone. It’s a gorgeous well built device. Impressive FaceID, the beautiful, big screen and all the other improvements, even in details, make this the greatest Apple product I have owned so far.

Stay tuned for more, I will update this review after I had more time with the device. Especially more details on the camera and image quality are still to come.

Why I won’t buy Apple Watch Series 2

I really was excited hearing about the new features of Apple Watch Series 2, but after some thinking I came to the conclusion that I am not going to buy it. 

Performance, I am currently running watchOS 3 Beta on my original stainless steel Apple Watch. Since upgrading to watchOS 3 performance is fine and no longer unbearable. 

GPS, when I go running, walking or biking I normally do have my iPhone with me, because I want to listen to podcasts or be able to take photos. Thus I have GPS tethered from the iPhone. The iOS 10 Activity app is showing GPS tracks for these workouts even with the original Apple Watch.

Waterproofing, I already wore my original Apple Watch while swimming and can’t complain about its waterproofing. Swim workouts are rare for me and do not justify spending that much money. 

The looks, I really like my stainless steel Watch and would feel downgraded if I would “only” buy the aluminum Series 2. Also the Series 2 is about one millimeter thicker than the original one. Going from 10.5 to 11.4 is a 9% increase in thickness. I formerly was a slim line watch guy, adding another millimeter in thickness, is not what I want of a new Apple Watch. 

So I will happily use my original Apple Watch with watchOS 3, keep my Milanese Loop and Nylon bands (royal blue/gold and black) probably add one of the new Nylon bands (Toasted Coffee/Caramel looks good) and wait what Series 3 might bring. I hope it will add a barometer to count flights of stairs and altitude for workouts like bike rides and mountain hiking.

Though having the extended brightness of the Series 2, is definitely one of my main desires for an Apple Watch update. Again, let’s wait and probably spend that money on a new iPhone, with a great camera, my other obsession 😉

Finally, Flickr for Apple TV updated

It’s been almost four years since I bought my second Generation Apple TV, which I (still) really like for its capabilities, but there was one thing which annoyed me right from day one:
Flickr integration was very limited. It wasn’t even possible to log into your Flickr account and view your private photos, only pictures you were sharing publicly were available via Apple TV.

What a surprise last week when I turned on my Apple TV, there was a new Flickr icon and yes, it got a nice visual refresh, new features and finally the possibility to log in and view your private pictures with its latest update.

You can connect your Apple TV to your Flickr account by entering a code shown on your tv screen at flickr.com/appletv

Thanks Apple TV team (thanks Michael if you are reading this), thanks Flickr.
I am not sure how much I will actually use this feature since iCloud Photo Library is coming with iOS 8 this fall, but it’s good to see such a substantial improvement also in a long time Apple TV feature.

I am also waiting for an Apple TV SDK since my first WWDC in 2012. Maybe next year 😉

Apple TV (2nd Generation) is missing one big feature

I really do like my Apple TV, it’s just amazing how capable this little gadget is. But it could do a lot more with little effort. There is one thing that really bugs me: You are not able to log in to your flickr account, which means you are not able to view any photos on flickr which are not publicly visible. Viewing my cloud-stored photos on the big screen was one of the main reasons why I bought an Apple TV.
The only official way to get this fixed is requesting Apple to enhance the new Apple TV. So please file enhancement requests using the online Apple TV Feedback form: http://www.apple.com/feedback/appletv.html if you also would like to view your private photos on flickr using your Apple TV (2G).

A solution to WebException trouble with .NET Compact Framework

I spent almost half a day to find a solution to a problem I had developing a little Windows Mobile application at work. This app downloads a CAB file via HTTP to install it on the device. I am using HttpWebRequest and Response classes from the .NET Compact Framework to do the download and it worked fine as long as I downloaded the file from server in our company’s network. As soon as I tried to download the file from a server on the internet which requires to use our company’s web proxy I got WebExceptions (ServerProtocolViolation: “The response did not contain an end of entity mark.”) whenever the getResponse is called on the HttpWebRequest. Continue reading

TrailRunner – Cool GPS track planning tool for Mac OS X

I just discovered a cool GPS track editing and planning tool for Mac OS X, it’s called TrailRunner (http://www.trailrunnerx.com). Have been playing with just for an hour trying to plan a hiking tour for 1st of May and are quite amazed how many features are included and how well it is designed.
It has integrated several online map services (Google, Openstreetmap, Bing, …) to show your tracks on road maps, terrain maps and satellite or aerial photos.

Hüttenwochenende im Zillertal

Nachdem unsere Hütte durch den Verpächter nach mehr als 30 Jahren gekündigt wurde, wir dies wohl leider eins der letzten Hüttenwochenenden in der Form sein.
Das Wetter spielt zum Glück mit, so daß wir bei angenehmen Temperaturen ohne Regen zur Brindlingalm wandern konnten und hier gerade bei tollem Blick über das Zillertal entspannen können.

Force quit of an iPhone app on OS 3.0

So far I was lucky not to need this function but suddenly this morning Safari on my iPhone 3 GS did not load any page anymore. Even stopping Safari going back to the homescreen and restarting Safari did not help. All other apps loading data from the net were working properly, only Safari was unable to load any data.
Looking for a solution to this problem without having to restart the iPhone, I found a blog post explaining how to kill apps on iPhone OS 3.0, it’s quite simple if you know how:
Press the standby/power button until the “switch off” slider appears.
Then hold the Home button until the homescreen comes up.
That’s it. If you restart Safari now you are back where you were before it started misbehaving.

How to take iPhone screenshots

Recently I was surprised that I have some screenshots of my iPhone in my photo gallery on the phone. Now I learned that it is really easy to take screenshots with your iPhone at any time:
Just hold the Home button pressed and then press the standby button. That’s it! The screenshot will be saved in your photo gallery immediately.
I added an example shot of the calculator on my 3GS, which I took just a few minutes ago.