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Launched during Apple's September event and shipped November 3, the iPhone X is the latest iteration of the well-known smartphone, announced alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X departs from the physical design usually associated with the iPhone, with the key features being the removal of the Home button, the introduction of Face ID, wireless charging, and a large OLED display that covers the majority of the iPhone's face. 

AppleInsider reviewed the iPhone X ahead of its release, giving it a score of 4.5 out of a possible 5. 

External Design

Weighing in at 6.14 ounces, the iPhone X is midway between the weight of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. Its height of 5.65 inches and width of 2.79 inches makes it slightly larger than the iPhone 8 in terms of footprint, but its 7.7mm (0.30 inch) thickness is marginally larger than the iPhone 8 Plus. 

Apple has gone with a glass front and back for the iPhone X, with a seven-layer color process applied to allow for precise color hues and opacity for the glass finish. Surrounding the edge is a highly polished surgical-grade stainless steel band, with the glass and the band all made to create a continuous curve on the edges. 

While previous iPhones had the home button at the base of the display, it has been removed for this edition, providing a clean appearance when the iPhone X is switched off. On the back is a small camera bump, with the dual cameras in a vertical alignment instead of the horizontal version used in Plus models of the iPhone. 

On the left edge are the volume buttons and a ring/silent switch, while another side button is located on the right. At the base are the stereo speaker grilles, and a Lightning connector. 

Just as with the iPhone 7, the iPhone X is rated with IP67 water and dust resistance. 

Display Changes

The OLED screen covering almost the entire front of the iPhone X is a major change in design from previous iPhone generations, and not just from the physical appearance. Switching from LCD, the wide color P3 OLED panel has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 625 cd/m2 max brightness. This high dynamic range display means video and images can be shown on it with a high contrast and accurate color representation.  

Apple claims the display measures 5.8 inches, though the rounded corners makes the visible display area marginally smaller. The Cupertino company also calls the screen a Super Retina HD display, with its 2436 by 1125-pixel resolution giving it a pixel density of 458 ppi. 

While the screen estate practically stretches close to all edges of the iPhone X's front face, leaving a thin bezel around the edge, Apple has worked around the problem of placing its cameras and sensors within a small notch at the top. The screen continues up on each side of the notch, with these small areas used to display the time and icons showing the battery and connectivity status of the device. 

Whereas previous iPhones included a space for a Home button, the iPhone X instead allows the display to reach the bottom edge. The Home button and Touch ID have been replaced by gestures and Face ID respectively. 

Another feature introduced to iPhones for the first time is True Tone, a display technology first used in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Sensors monitor the ambient light of the iPhone X's surroundings and uses that data to change the white point and brightness of the display, making the screen more comfortable to look at in different environments, and in turn easing eyestrain and preventing overexposure to blue-toned light. 

As with other Apple devices, the iPhone X has an oleophobic coating on the screen, which aims to reduce the number of fingerprints and visible smears. 

A11 Bionic Chip

In this premium edition, Apple has introduced the 64-bit A11 Bionic chip with Neural engine and M11 motion coprocessor. While the A10 used in the iPhone 7 device family had two high-power cores and two high-efficiency cores, the A11 increases the number of high-efficiency cores to four, brining the total number up to six cores. 

According to Apple's benchmarks, the four efficiency cores are up to 70 percent faster than those used in the A10 Fusion, with the two performance cores up to 25 percent faster. The chip also includes the first Apple-designed GPU, which itself is 30 percent faster than the GPU used in the A10. 

This new chip is also the driving force behind the new facial recognition system included in the iPhone X. The dual-core Neural engine is capable of 600 billion operations per second, allowing it to perform facial recognition on the device without sending data to Apple's servers for further processing. 

According to a Chinese TENAA filing, the iPhone X's A11 Bionic chip is clocked at 2.4GHz, and is paired with 3GB of memory.  

TrueDepth Camera and Face ID

Cut into the top of the display, the “notch” contains a number of sensors used by the iPhone X for its security and face-related features, alongside a microphone and a speaker. A four-component array called the TrueDepth camera system takes up most of the room in the notch and enables this functionality. 

The array consists of a 7-megapixel camera sensor, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, and a dot projector. Aside from taking standard 2D still images, this array projects more than 30,000 dots to help create a depth map of the user's face, which can be combined with the still image to create a 3D version. 

This facial map is then stored in the encrypted Secure Enclave, where it is used for Face ID, Apple's facial recognition system. Replacing Touch ID, Face ID uses the array to analyze the person holding the iPhone X's face, unlocking only when the user is detected, and when they are looking at the device with their eyes open. 

According to Apple, Face ID is capable of generating far fewer false positives than Touch ID, decreasing the chance of an incorrect authentication from 50,000:1 to 1,000,000:1. The system is designed to resist spoofing of the owner's face by the use of photographs and masks.

It was noted during launch that identical twins with extremely similar facial features may be able to beat the authentication of their twin's device. Early tests prior to release seem to indicate that Face ID is capable of detecting the minute differences in facial structure between twins, making it more secure than previously thought. 

While twins were brought up as one of the main possible ways for Face ID to be fooled into unlocking for the wrong person, it is also plausible for the same to happen for family members sharing similar facial features. One video released shortly after launch reportedly shows a 10-year-old boy unlocking his mother's phone using Face ID.

It is also claimed that Face ID will be flexible enough to recognize changes in the owner's appearance over time. This relates to both gradual facial changes, such as a man growing a beard, as well as occasions where the user wears partially obscuring clothing, like hats or glasses. 

In the same way as Touch ID, Apple has built in a back-up authentication method, with users able to enter in a security code to gain access. 

Apple Pay continues to function in the same way, with Face ID performing the authentication duties of Touch ID for transactions. This means that users will have to confirm their identity by looking at the iPhone at the time of purchase. 

The TrueDepth camera is also capable of taking more conventional self portraits, featuring an f/2.2 aperture with auto HDR, auto image stabilization, Retina Flash, 1080p video recording, body and face detection, burst, and timer modes. 

It is worth noting that, while a flashing light can be seen when filming the TrueDepth camera array with another camera, it is not visible to the human eye. Digital camera sensors are capable of capturing some of the infrared light from the array's Dot Projector, but it is outside the usual visible light spectrum the eye is capable of seeing. 

Rear Camera

On the back are two 12-megapixel sensors, consisting of a wide-angle f/1.8 camera and a telephoto f/2.4 camera. Equipped with six-element lenses, backside illumination sensors, and a sapphire crystal lens cover, the cameras also have dual optical image stabilization, auto image stabilization, a quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync, a hybrid IR filter, and autofocus with Focus Pixels. 

In terms of modes, the rear cameras can take 12-megapixel photographs, a 63-megapixel panorama, includes body and face detection, exposure control, burst and timer modes, and has improved local tone mapping. Image formats captured are listed as HEIF and JPEG. 

For video, the rear cameras can record 4K video at 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps, as well as 1080p and 720p video, with slow motion support for 1080p at up to 240fps, output in HEVC and H.264 video formats. Able to be used with optical image stabilization, video can be recorded with an optical zoom or a 6x digital zoom, offers cinematic video stabilization at 1080p and 720p, time lapse videos with stabilization, and the ability to take 8-megapixel still photos while recording 4K video. 

To improve photographs in low-light situations, Apple has included a Slow-Sync flash feature that keeps the shutter open for longer and reduces the brightness of the flash itself. Though this can introduce motion blur, the resulting shot illuminates the subject evenly without any harsh bright spots, with more details visible in dark backgrounds. 

 

Photo Features

The ability to scan the user's face with the TrueDepth is also used in other applications than security, such as for animation and effects for self portraits. 

The Animoji iMessage app uses the TrueDepth camera to capture over 50 different facial expressions, which are then mapped to a character's head that reacts to the user's own facial movements. This animation can be recorded with the user's voice, with the video able to be sent to another user to view. 

Taking advantage of the A11's processing capabilities, both the single front-facing TrueDepth camera and the rear two cameras have the same new features in Portrait mode. For both sides, users can create shots with a shallow depth of field, including blacking out the background, and apply five different lighting styles to the subject. 

 

Portrait Lighting options for Portrait mode Portrait Lighting options for Portrait mode

Battery and Wireless Charging

Apple has yet to reveal the capacity of the lithium-ion battery within the iPhone X, but does advise it will last up to two hours longer than the iPhone 7. Talk time is said to be up to 21 hours for the iPhone X, with internet use of up to 12 hours, wireless video playback for 13 hours, and up to 60 hours of wireless audio playback. 

A Chinese TENAA filing reveals the iPhone X has a 2,716mAh battery. This is larger than the 2,691mAh battery used in the iPhone 8 Plus, and the 1,821mAh unit enclosed in the iPhone 8. 

The iPhone X also benefits from a fast-charge capability, with it able to reach up to 50 percent charge within 30 minutes using its Lightning port. Notably, Apple's test was conducted using its 29W USB-C power adaptors, but the iPhone X will ship with a 5W USB-A charger, meaning that users wanting to charge quickly will have to acquire another charger. 

The introduction of wireless charging, using the open Qi protocol, means the iPhone X can be used with a wide array of existing wireless charging systems, including some installed in stores and restaurants. 

Apple has also teased a new wireless charging accessory it will be bringing out in 2018, with the AirPower offering a large charging area that could be used by multiple devices at the same time. During the presentation, it was shown that an iPhone, AirPods wireless charging case, and an Apple Watch Series 3 could all fit onto the charging pad. 

In late October, Apple issued a support document detailing the brands of auto maker that supports iPhone wireless charging in their vehicles. The initial list includes models from Buick, Cadilac, Chevrolet, and GMC, though it is noted that only specific models meeting the Qi standard Apple relies on will actually charge the iPhone. 

 

Connectivity, Location, and Other Sensors

Aside from the Lightning port at the base, which can be used to charge as well as for data transfers, the iPhone X includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC connectivity, the latter of which can be used for Apple Pay transactions. Cellular connectivity ranges from GSM/EDGE to LTE, with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) supported by a number of carriers for higher quality call audio. 

The iPhone X is able to find its location using the satellite-based assisted GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS. It can also use cellular networks, Wi-Fi hotspots, and iBeacons to assist its location detection in areas with a limited view of the sky. 

Other sensors, aside from the TrueDepth array, include a barometer, three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor. 

 

Colors, Pricing and Availability

Apple is offering the iPhone X in a choice of two color options: Space Gray and Silver. The 64 gigabyte capacity model will cost $999, while the 256 gigabyte variant is priced at $1149.

Though revealed on September 12, Apple held back pre-orders for the iPhone X until October 27, a week before the iPhone X shipped on November 3. The supply of iPhone X units from Apple's online store was exhausted just minutes after preorders commenced, with shipment estimates reaching 5 to 6 weeks less than two hours later. 

Apple opened up a pre-approvals process for particpants in its iPhone Upgrade Program, allowing customers to go through everything they need to do in order to get their upgrade to an iPhone X as soon as possible after release. Gaining pre-approval did not ensure the customer will get an iPhone X on the release date, but did allow participation in pre-ordering the device on October 27. 

Some iPhone Upgrade Program participants were blocked from ordering early, due to issues with Apple's financial partner Citizen One, which was unable to process loan payments in a timely manner. Affected customers were told to wait for the verification notification, but this pushed them further back in the ordering queue, with deliveries as late as December for some.

On October 29, Apple advised it would be providing earlier iPhone X delivery date to participants affected by the issue, with some customers reporting the delivery estimates were reinstated to shipping dates promised before the financial problems were encountered. 

"We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts," an Apple spokeswoman confirmed. "We're working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible." 

While customers who pre-ordered the iPhone X were the most likely to get their device on the November 3 release date, Apple advised there would be limited inventory available at Apple retail outlets for walk-in customers on that date.

Apple also opened up its Reserve and Pickup retail system in a number of countries on November 4, allowing customers to hold an iPhone X at a brick-and-mortar Apple store from an online form, before visiting the store within the following 30 minutes.The list of countries this was offered within included Australia, Belgium, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the UAE. 

To help users acclimatise to the iPhone X, Apple offered a half-hour phone conversation with an Apple Specialist to customers who bought the device, with the call accompanied by a video designed to help users "go further" with the hardware. 

On November 7, Apple confirmed it would be expanding sales of the iPhone X into one more county on November 23 and 13 more the following day. At that time, the iPhone X will be available to order within 71 countries. 

Limited Supply Rumors

It is unclear how many iPhone X units will be available to purchase during the initial release period, as it has been rumored that supplies will be limited. Numerous analysts and other sources claim various production issues are to blame, with production supposedly down to fewer than 10,000 units per day, according to initial reports. 

By mid-October, production figures have allegedly risen, with Foxconn said to have ramped up production from 100,000 units per week to 400,000. Even with the supposed production increase, this is unlikely to match the demand from consumers at launch. 

A report on October 16 from Xinhuanet.com claims assembly partner Foxconn has shipped its first consignment of iPhone X units, though apparently that batch includes just 46,500 handsets. 

Supply chain sources of DigiTimes claim Apple is employing a conservative approach to production for the iPhone X, with suppliers supposedly shipping parts and components at about 40 percent of what was originally anticipated. While it is said that Apple is looking at pre-sale orders for the iPhone X and sales performance for the iPhone 8 and Plus before entering full-scale production, it is thought that Apple will go to capacity in mid-October. 

Despite the potential limited supply, analysts are confident that Apple will still sell large quantities of the iPhone X, albeit at a later time.  

An Octover 17 DigiTimes report suggests that chip vendors were "not aware" of production delays or shipment cutbacks, and chip deliveries have been on schedule. The report indicates supply chain bottlenecks could be cleared before the end of the year, but supply and demand equilibrium for the iPhone X won't be reached until the first quarter of 2018. 

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities wrote on September 25 that the pre-order demand for the iPhone X could reach as high as 50 million units, with the major revamp potentially echoing the "super cycle" of the iPhone 6 in 2014. The Face ID feature is a major selling point, but Kuo warns it is also a bottleneck for iPhone X production. 

It is of note that Apple is not the only manufacturer allegedly affected by the TrueDepth camera's production bottleneck, as other reports suggest other vendors are having similar issues. It is reported that Chinese vendors Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo are expected to launch their own smartphones equipped with 3D sensors before the end of 2017, but low yield rates are apparently pushing device shipments into the first half of 2018 as a result. 

Another report from the Nikkei Asian Review adds to the 3D sensor production issue claim, adding that the "Romeo" transmission module in the dot projector being hard to manufacture. A later report from the same publication on October 24 claims Apple will only be able to get 20 million units delivered by the end of the year, half the quantity intended by Apple, citing "problematic parts" associated with Face ID. 

Comments from Largan Precision CEO Lin En-ping picked up by DigiTimes suggests Apple could diversify its TrueDepth camera suppliers with the firm. Largan is apparently looking to make the entire module, combining the lenses and lasers into one component. 

An October 25 rumor via Bloomberg alleged Apple loosened up the testing requirements for the Face ID sensor array, to improve the yields of components and improve the supply of the parts. Apple swiftly refuted the claim, which also suggested Face ID's security would be weakened as a byproduct, with a statement calling Bloomberg's report "completely false." 

Customers waiting for the iPhone X hasn't put much of a dent on the sales of the iPhone 8 at launch, with Apple CEO Tim Cook noting the smartphone to be out of stock in some locations. Some reports also note some locations were seeing fewer iPhone 8 sales than expected, presumably with upgraders prepared to wait for the iPhone X. 

On November 11, supply chain reports from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates the high sales of the iPhone 8 Plus is "cannibalizing demand" for the iPhone 8, prompting some of Apple's manufacturing partners to switch production lines from the iPhone 8 to the Plus and the iPhone X to fix supply and demand balance issues. 

Reception

As expected, the iPhone X launch was a success, with supplies of the smartphone exhausted minutes after it went up for pre-order through Apple's online store. Less than two hours after it became available to purchase, shipping estimates ranged between five and six weeks. 

In the day before the release, the customary lines at Apple stores started to form, with some involving hundreds of people waiting to get their devices overnight. Despite the long lines, Apple had prepared its outlets for high initial sales, with over 300 units at hand in some stores, and close to a thousand at some popular locations. 

The high level of activations on release date caused issues for some iPhone X owners, with the massive load on AT&T and Verizon servers prompting error messages on device screens to try again later. 

While the high sales in the US and Europe can be deemed a success for Apple, some analysts have looked to gray market sales as an indicator of demand in Asia. Within the first days of availability, it was reported the 256GB iPhone X was being sold with a markup of up to 29 percent, down from the 163 percent markup for the jet black iPhone 7 Plus sold in 2016, with analysts suggesting the high iPhone X price is likely to be a factor in this change. 

Shortly after release, the Animoji feature of the iPhone X became a tool for a popular "Animoji Karaoke" meme, which quickly spread across social media. Owners were using Animoji to mime along to a song, then used the screen recording feature of iOS 11 to bypass the ten-second limit, before editing the video and adding the original soundtrack back in instead of the user's voice. 

Lengthy Development

The iPhone X was one of the most difficult projects Apple has undertaken, Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive revealed in an interview with Casa Brutus in October. Ive told the Japanese design magazine the iPhone X spent more than two years being developed, and the fact that it was ready for the iPhone's 10th anniversary was a "wonderful coincidence." 

The addition of Face ID is the culmination of years of work towards a "non-contact user interface," Ive claimed. Users tend to percieve features that do not require physical interaction make a device feel simpler, but simultaneously more robust, with Ive adding Face ID's replacement of Touch ID equates to a heightened user experience. 

For the physical design, Ive said previous models felt as if they were a combination of many different parts, with the most obvious being the chassis and the display. Ive feels the design of the iPhone X is contiguous and integrated, adding that it took many years to achieve its level of fit and finish, and that next-generation designs are already being worked on. 

Summing up the iPhone X, Ive doesn't see it as the ultimate expression of "iPhone," instead suggesting it represents a new chapter in the platform's history. 

Environmental Credentials

An Apple report concerning the iPhone X's environmental impact suggests the smartphone is more recycleable and better for the environment than previous iPhone models and other earlier Apple devices. 

The report notes the device is absent of beryllium, bominated flame retardants, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride. The frame is produced from recyclable stainless steel, while the glass is arsenic-free. 

The battery is mercury-, lead-, and cadmium-free, and is designed to deliver up to 500 full charge and discharge cycles before it depletes to 80 percent of its original capacity. 

Over its lifetime, Apple predicts the iPhone X will produce 79 kilograms of carbon monoxide, with 80 percent of it generated during its production, 17 percent from energy required for consumer use, two percent for transport, and one percent from recycling. 

Even the packaging is extremely environmentally friendly, with it using 56 percent less plastic than the iPhone 5s' packaging, at 8 grams of plastic films. For the rest of the packaging, it is produced from 175 grams of bamboo, managed forest, recycled paper, or waste sugar cane. 

TrueDepth Privacy

On November 2, a number of privacy advocates expressed concern over Apple's allowance of third-party companies using data sourced from the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera. 

Apple allows third-party developers access to the TrueDepth camera data, allowing them to use the information in their apps. This allows for features such as applying an AR mask for a self portrait to be offered to users.

Developers only get access to "certain facial data" provided by the camera, and do not have access to identification data stored within the Secure Enclave. It is possible for some of the data to be collected by developers, so long as they request "clear and conspicuous consent" from the user beforehand. 

Privacy advocates argue that this could be harmful to users, such as being collected and used for advertising and marketing purposes, or sold on to other companies, and could be compiled to generate user profiles to identify anonymous users. Apple's terms prohibit developers from using the data for such purposes, with the sale of the data also forbidden. 

Effectively, the issue is less about developers following Apple's terms, but those who choose to disregard them. 

An Apple corporate employee not authorized to speak on behalf of the firm told AppleInsider the data developers are allowed to use is "profoundly, seriously limited." What data is provided is claimed to be too imprecise to be used to build a third-party facial recognition database, even if users elected to allow their data to be collected in the first place. 

Initial Issues

A number of users posted to the Apple community support forums shortly after the iPhone X's launch, complaining about the GPS accuracy for the device, and for the iPhone 8. Affected users found their location drifts away from where they were, with the drift getting worse when the user is travelling at high speeds, like on a highway. 

One user confirmed Apple had "captured" three iPhone 8 units over the course of a month, providing data to engineering teams to diagnose the issue. AppleInsider sources within Apple suggest that various GPS fixes that could solve the issue have been included in iOS 11.1 and the beta releases of iOS 11.2, with forum users divided between whether the fixes within the earlier or later update solved the problem for them. 

On November 10, reports appeared on the forums and social media that some iPhone X displays were showing green lines on the edge of the screen area. Thought to be developed after use, and appearing in at least one case within a day of ownership, the lines appear on the left or right-hand sides, and cannot be fixed by restarting or restoring the device. 

Apple has indicated that it is replacing affected iPhones at no charge, and may be collecting data for engineer investigations into the problem. 

Following reports that some users found the iPhone X occasionally failed to respond to touch in cold weather, Apple released iOS 11.1.2 to solve the problem. 

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