iPhone X 48 hours with iPhone X - Innovative, but Compromised

IJBrekke

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 24, 2009
387
153
Long Beach, CA
As the title states, I recently took advantage of the Verizon $400 discount to try out the iPhone X. This was my first real interaction with the new home button-less generation of phones, and while there were some real positives to the platform, I ultimately decided to return to the iPhone 6S. These are some thoughts on the experience.

The first surprise was that going without the home button works just fine. We have been trained for years to rely heavily on that button, so not having it immediately raises red flags conceptually. However, adjusting to an interface mostly based on swiping didn't take more than 30 minutes - it felt fluent and intuitive almost immediately. Based on this experience, I can buy in to Apple's home button-less future from an interface perspective.

Things that were definitely better and immediately noticeable: All cameras, speaker volume, and speed/fluidity. I wouldn't change a thing about any of these elements, they are fantastic.

After a lengthy test drive, I did conclude that there were definite personal usability issues with the size and the overall layout. Width-wise it's obviously almost identical to the 6S, but the additional height seems like a downgrade. What are they accomplishing here? Displaying additional text vertically on websites? It makes reachability issues worse without much clear benefit to the user. It's also a very odd aspect ratio that doesn't fit any existing standard sizing well. While the notch didn't bother me aesthetically, I hated that I couldn't see battery percentage or change what was displayed across the top.

Stretching the screen to the bottom corners created some discomfort when reaching with a thumb during one-handed use. The evidence for this is the placement of the keyboard when it pops up - Apple leaves a software-based bottom chin underneath because your thumbs naturally fall higher on the screen with a normal grip. This isn't any different with one-handed use, so stretching a thumb downward feels awkward and de-stabilizes the user's grip.

While swiping to close is an easy re-learn, the relocation of the control center is a clear downgrade. This is a menu I access pretty regularly and didn't enjoy the reduced convenience of sticking it as far away from a normal grip as possible (especially for me - I'm left-handed). I found the reachability shortcut easy to use, but two downward swipes is less convenient than one upward swipe.

It's also noticeably heavier and thicker, as has been noted by most people. I don't mind the thickness so much, but the weight contributed to the awkwardness of one-handed use when combined with the ergonomic issues.

I still like my headphone jack and use it regularly. While I was prepared to give this up, I still didn't want to.

Ultimately, this felt like a first-generation device in regards to the new interface and layout (which it is). The size and overall experience are an imperfect intersection of starting with an idea: "Let's make the entire front of the phone all screen" and following up with necessary compromises that are sometimes worse. The phrase that keeps popping into my head is: "They were so pre-occupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

All of this got me thinking about the ideal aspect ratio and size. After some thought, it seems obvious that the button-less layout needs to be offered in a smaller size. However, I think putting the full-screen layout in the body of the 5S would also be less than perfect - When the 5S came out it was the 4 width-wise, but stretched vertically. This was okay because that's how far our thumbs could naturally reach, and is why so many still prefer this size. But adding screen real estate above would create similar issues to the X.

If I could choose, I would like the original iPhone aspect ratio with a button-less layout and the screen width similar to the 6/7/8 body. It's evidence that Apple had some things figured out from the start and have drifted away from them as they have introduced new features and followed industry trends. Going back to an iPhone that is truly ergonomically-friendly would be well-received for many, many customers.

All told, I found the X to be a mostly compromised device when transitioning from the old standard. I believe that Apple's vision of a button-less layout can absolutely work, but they need to get the size and layout right to win over a chunk of their existing customers. Until they offer a smaller, more ergonomically-friendly size I will hold off the next purchase.

And as a final P.S. - I did miss the reliability of the home button and Touch I.D. There's something about good buttons that will always be appreciated in any interface and hardware design. Of all the things about the iPhone experience, I have never thought that the home button was any part of the problem.
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G4
Oct 1, 2007
10,839
7,692
All I need to see

Definitely give it more of a try

Cant argue with lack of percentage without pull down, and CC being in top right instead of customizable to a bottom corner

I have both addressed with my jailbrokenX , and have learned to deal without with my stock XR for now

It’s obvious UX things that should be implemented. But you’re complaining about iOS, which is part of iPhone (X) Experience.. but it is the software and the way its implemented or not is your main gripe
 

QueenTyrone

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2016
682
593
Definitely give it more of a try

Cant argue with lack of percentage without pull down, and CC being in top right instead of customizable to a bottom corner

I have both addressed with my jailbrokenX , and have learned to deal without with my stock XR for now

It’s obvious UX things that should be implemented. But you’re complaining about iOS, which is part of iPhone (X) Experience.. but it is the software and the way its implemented or not is your main gripe
Are you on Electra or uncover? And I agree OP didn't give it enough time at all
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G4
Oct 1, 2007
10,839
7,692
Are you on Electra or uncover? And I agree OP didn't give it enough time at all
Was Electra, now unc0ver

Works well Imo :p 12.9 2017 and X on it,



I kind of agree though that the weight heft feels premium but its kinda double edged

I like the way XR feels more in a case, evenly distributed instead of heavier on top or bottom, cant recall

Plus you may just enjoy 4.7” over 5.8”

Just like some 5.5” plus users probably prefer it to max 6.5”
 

akash.nu

macrumors 604
May 26, 2016
7,359
8,281
There’s one really annoying thing I need to deal with almost everyday on the Xs Max - Activating reachability within an app bottom tab bar navigation system. Almost always the phone just selects one of the options instead of activating reachability. It’ll be the same for the smaller size devices if one needs to activate that feature to reach the top corners.
 

1rottenapple

macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2004
2,320
578
Valid points. I don
Definitely give it more of a try

Cant argue with lack of percentage without pull down, and CC being in top right instead of customizable to a bottom corner

I have both addressed with my jailbrokenX , and have learned to deal without with my stock XR for now

It’s obvious UX things that should be implemented. But you’re complaining about iOS, which is part of iPhone (X) Experience.. but it is the software and the way its implemented or not is your main gripe
fair point. I don’t like the control center on my max. It’s waaay to high. I think swiping diagonally from bottom left or right might be a good compromise. The top right corner is too high.
 

janeauburn

macrumors 6502a
Nov 22, 2015
840
824
Good post. Thank you.

Stretching the screen to the bottom corners created some discomfort when reaching with a thumb during one-handed use.
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/x-thumb-ouch.2070462/
[doublepost=1543226470][/doublepost]
It's also noticeably heavier and thicker, as has been noted by most people. I don't mind the thickness so much, but the weight contributed to the awkwardness of one-handed use when combined with the ergonomic issues.
Agree. I was angry at the weight increase from the 6 to 6S. The company has continued to march in the wrong direction on this front. It's to the point now where the phones just feel ridiculous in the pocket.

I still like my headphone jack and use it regularly.
Yup.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
30,346
30,608
All I need to see

Valid observation. I respect the OP’s views, but 48 hours is hardly ‘Lengthy.’ I would consider lengthy Much longer.

Also, the OP’s review is overly- technical (Which I gather we are on a ‘tech’ site), and it’s well beyond what most expectations would be for the average iPhone consumer, who will look past most of the OP’s points. The bluest hurdle is the price point, but the XS is ‘innovative’ as the iPhone has ever been.
 

IJBrekke

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 24, 2009
387
153
Long Beach, CA
Thanks for the comments, all. In regards to the 48-hour window for trial, maybe “lengthy” was the wrong word to use in this context. Because of the holiday break I used the phone extensively over a two-day period.

In my opinion, ergonomic and fit issues don’t take all that long to assess - my hands won’t be changing size any time soon. Would I adjust over time if I had to? Of course. But I have the power of choice as a consumer, as my previous phone is still an option. It didn’t “win me over,” despite the great deal. Apple is facing similar scenarios with many current users, I’d bet.
 
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janeauburn

macrumors 6502a
Nov 22, 2015
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824
Because of the holiday break I used the phone extensively over a two-day period.

In my opinion, ergonomic and fit issues don’t take all that long to assess - my hands won’t be changing size any time soon.
I did roughly the same thing and came to the same conclusion.

Interestingly, it was easier w/ this model to decide "no" than it has been for earlier models. Just too many aspects of the phone seemed awkward. And then there's the weight: egad.

Plus I realized that the phone's greatest selling strength--a bit of extra vertical space--was really not all that desirable or necessary, certainly not $1400 necessary.

Speaking of the (outrageous) price: I assume that this is making it much easier for folks to return this phone once they see the marginal improvements (if any) it offers over what they have.

"Is this worth $1,400?" one has to ask.
 
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The Oak

macrumors 6502
Nov 12, 2013
270
166
...
All told, I found the X to be a mostly compromised device when transitioning from the old standard. I believe that Apple's vision of a button-less layout can absolutely work, but they need to get the size and layout right to win over a chunk of their existing customers. Until they offer a smaller, more ergonomically-friendly size I will hold off the next purchase.
...
I believe it is more about price - hence the attempt with XR. However the 8's are still selling strong being $600 now. With the 8 having the same guts as the X it really makes it a good deal.

I believe also that phones are also lasting longer and longer. The "need" to upgrade is dropping - folks are keeping their phones longer. With iOS giving 5 years support for a given phone ... why get a new phone? I was in the iPhone 7 generation - if my wife did not break her 7+ I would hung on to them and stuck it out to next year easy.
 
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1rottenapple

macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2004
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I believe it is more about price - hence the attempt with XR. However the 8's are still selling strong being $600 now. With the 8 having the same guts as the X it really makes it a good deal.

I believe also that phones are also lasting longer and longer. The "need" to upgrade is dropping - folks are keeping their phones longer. With iOS giving 5 years support for a given phone ... why get a new phone? I was in the iPhone 7 generation - if my wife did not break her 7+ I would hung on to them and stuck it out to next year easy.
That’s good. Less electronic waste, less energy to mine these metals. Go green by not consuming. Apple pushes the environmental angle so why not upgrade less.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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30,608
With iOS giving 5 years support for a given phone ... why get a new phone?
That’s a major part on why consumers don’t upgrade. iPhone hardware _is_ the best on the tech market with smart phones, and they just don’t break. And then add five years with iOS support, most consumers just use their phones on a daily basis without feeling the need to upgrade, unless, [A], It’s a hardware fault or , Their phone has slowed down to the point where it’s inconveniencing them.
 

The Oak

macrumors 6502
Nov 12, 2013
270
166
Also throw in Apple is doing battery upgrades now. If you are okay with the performance of your older phone a new battery will breathe new life and give you some more use out of it. A battery change will be a lot cheaper than a phone.