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All About IPhone X

The Good A great blend of handheld comfort and a big, gorgeous OLED screen. Rear telephoto camera outshoots the 8 Plus in low light, and the front camera snaps impressive portrait selfies. Face ID generally works fine.
The Bad New interface and no home button mean major adjustments, and key features such as the Control Center are harder to reach and use. It’ll take time for most apps to be optimized for notched screen. The phone is hella expensive.
The Bottom Line iPhone X is an overdue and winning evolution of the iPhone, but you’ll need to leave your comfort zone to make a jump into the face-recognizing future.

came home late from my first day of testing the iPhone X. My wife sent me audio clips over iMessage from the kids after I sent them pictures of myself, now beardless. "O-M-G. I can't even recognize Daddy!"
I couldn't recognize myself either. In the mirror, I looked smooth, like another version of me. I felt vulnerable. I had shaved my beard to test Face ID, Apple's new method for unlocking your iPhone by simply looking at it. But, what would it be like in public, on TV, when I hug my kids? At first, big personal changes feel uncomfortable but appealing.  Everything seems different but also potentially refreshing.
My smooth face was the perfect metaphor for my experience with the iPhone X: The 10-year anniversary iPhone feels the same, but different. Weird, but good. I've been alternating between both feelings over the last week. And you, future iPhone X owner, might feel the same. But tough it out -- because after a few days, you're probably going to like where you end up.
Editors' note, Nov. 3: Our evaluation of the iPhone X will continue in the days ahead with additional battery tests, durability, waterproofing and camera tests. Ratings are tentative until that testing is complete. You can also check out our earlier impressions of the iPhone X, plus in-depth looks at the selfie camera and rear cameras.
The iPhone's biggest ever design change
The basic pitch for the iPhone X is this: Take the iPhone 8 Plus ($974.99 at Amazon.com) and cram all of its features into a body that's closer to the size of the iPhone 8. Add Face ID but subtract the Touch ID home button, a casualty of the new, nearly all-screen design. That's the iPhone X.
To be clear, except for that home button -- and Touch ID -- all of the other iPhone 8 Plus features are here, including a blazing fast six-core A11 Bionic processor, water-resistance and -- unfortunately -- no headphone jack. The iPhone X also boasts dual rear cameras which are even a bit better than the already superb ones on the Plus. (More on that later.) Wireless charging is on board too, as is the glass-backed design needed to enable it. Yes, you'll need a good case. And you should strongly consider Apple Care Plus, because repair costs for smashed front or rear glass on the iPhone X are exorbitant.

Of course, Apple is charging a hefty premium for its most sophisticated-ever iPhone, too: $999, £999 or AU$1,579 for 64GB. Or step up to $1,149, £1,149 or AU$1,829 for the 256GB version.
Yes, the iPhone X changes the look and function of the iPhone. Before the X, the iPhone design was frozen for years: Home button at the bottom, thick bezels above and below the screen. iOS made some subtle changes over the years, but losing the home button completely shifts the definition of an iPhone.

But while the 5.8-inch display on the iPhone X dwarfs the 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 8, it doesn't mean the X's display is "bigger" than the iPhone 8 Plus' 5.5-inch screen. That's because they're shaped differently: The 8 and 8 Plus have the same 16:9 aspect ratio as your TV, while the X is more like 19:9 -- it's taller and wider than the 8, 7, 6S and 6.
In the end, the Plus may still work better bet for larger documents and stand as the best canvas for Apple's giant iOS game collection compared to the narrower X -- but returning to the 8 Plus feels like going back to a (smaller) iPad Mini ($364.00 at Amazon.com) by comparison. The X acknowledges that the Plus iPhones were a bit too big, that this new design is just right. It splits the difference, saying, "here's the bigger-screened phone, but it still feels nice in your hand." At long last, it's a Goldilocks design that fits right in the middle.
A closer look at that screen

The infamous notch above the X's display, which cuts out a small chunk of the upper screen to make room for the phone's front-facing camera and sensors, doesn't impact many apps or videos. In fact most I've tried put any critical info below that notch by default. But that does mean the effective display area is even smaller, with black bars on the top and bottom (in portrait mode) or on the sides (in landscape mode). 

At 458 pixels per inch, the Super Retina display resolution on the iPhone X is technically more crisp than that of the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 (401 and 326 ppi, respectively). The new OLED display -- the first in an Apple iPhone -- has beautiful perfect black levels and excellent color. It feels brighter than both previous iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ($948.47 at Amazon.com), and it's demonstrably better than the muted colors you'll find on the Pixel 2 XL($849.99 at Verizon Wireless).
Face ID and that depth-sensing front camera
Back to that notch. In addition to the a microphone (for ambient noise), speaker and ambient light sensor you'd find on other phones, it houses an infrared camera, "flood illuminator" and a dot projector and the 7-megapixel selfie camera. Collectively, Apple calls these imaging portions the "TrueDepth camera system."
TrueDepth enables the iPhone X's signature feature: Face ID. It's like a mini Microsoft Kinect -- yes, Apple bought the company that developed that Xbox accessory back in 2013 -- using your face as the authenticator to unlock the phone and for any transactions or passwords. It totally replaces Touch ID -- Apple's fingerprint reader.is nowhere to be found on iPhone X. Logging into the iPhone X  with your face feels weird at first, but I've come to love how automatically it fills in username and password data on apps and Web pages. It's starting to feel like a far more automatic future. 
Face ID was the biggest "what if" for the iPhone X, but the good news is that it performs very well. It recognized me with my beard and without, with glasses and without, with sunglasses and even in total darkness. (The infrared camera is doing the heavy lifting, not the selfie camera.) It didn't unlock for anyone else I tried it with, either.

The iPhone to get -- if you're ready to embrace change

I think about the iPhone 5 ($240.00 at Amazon.com) a lot lately. That was my first iPhone review for CNET five years ago. Back then, the 5 was for everyone. There was One New iPhone. And it was good! The improvements were all for the positive. You could upgrade or stay the course.
The X isn't that way. It's one of three -- three! -- new-for-2017 iPhones, and it's not the choice everyone who wants an iPhone should pick. It's an expensive top-end pick that aggressively moves design forward, but abandons some comfort zones ahead of the curve. And it makes some basic everyday tasks, such as unlocking the phone and reaching for quick settings, harder to do. It introduces fascinating new tech, but I'm not sure I'm completely ready for it yet. And I'm not sure iOS and the iPhone are either. It's a bold leap.

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