Test Apple iPhone X: a successful new start

Presentation

Apple is a special company in the smartphone market. For 4 years, the iPhone has been wearing the same design and yet, they remain the best selling smartphones in the world. This has at least had the merit of sparing the iPhone X's advertising effects. If the latter brings a few new features, it seems to work in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and otherLG G6. This new design also brings fundamental changes in the use of an iPhone and Apple's bet is still rather successful.

Ergonomics and design

Que lesiPhone 8and8 look bland, with their 2014 design, next to the iPhone X! The X is in fact the first smartphone of the brand to feature a screen with thin borders, with an Oled slab on top. The result is a smartphone whose format is halfway between the iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus, but with a screen that occupies about 82% of its front side.

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iPhone X, with the screen occupying more than 82% of the front panel.

C'is a real leap forward for the iPhone family. The iPhone X brings big changes in grip. It's easier to use with one hand than an iPhone 8 Plus and offers a larger screen than an iPhone 8, without being overweight. The X can be criticized for being a bit slippery, like many current smartphones unfortunately. Compared to the iPhone 8, the back of the X doesn't change much. We find a glass surface occupied only by two prominent photo modules. Their orientation has changed, the place being occupied at the top by the components of the Face ID.

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Face ID module that nibbles the screen.

Il is by the way another upheaval for Apple. With a screen that takes up so much space, we had to do without the Home button on the front panel, and thus the Touch ID fingerprint reader. The biometric lock is now provided by the Face ID, a facial recognition system. Its operation is both simple and effective - more so than its competitors. The key to success lies in the technology used, which maps a face in 3D using infrared. This has several advantages, including greater latitude in the orientation of the smartphone in relation to the face and an unlocking feature that works even when part of the face is masked, for example by a scarf or glasses.

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glass back of the iPhone X.

For sunglasses, you will have to disable the "Demand attention" option, which only allows unlocking the iPhone when it detects that you are looking at it, which is prevented by the sunglasses being too dark. In 90% of the uses, the use of Face ID is as efficient as the use of Touch ID. The limit is when the device is placed on a table, too far away to detect the user's face.

La disappearance of the Home button also pushes Apple to review the navigation in iOS. The iPhone X introduces new gestures that may initially confuse the brand's smartphone regulars, but finally prove to be well thought out. When you are in an application, you have to slide your finger from the bottom to the top to return to the home screen. If you drag and hold your thumb in the center of the screen, the applications open on the phone will appear.

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La 3.5 mm jack plug has not been reintegrated.

Il can also navigate between open applications by sliding your finger horizontally across the bottom of the screen - a handy feature when you want to work on two apps in parallel.

Parlons now from this "peninsula" created by the Face ID components, which nibbles away at some of the screen surface. It's not that annoying in most applications that you use in portrait mode. The screen then displays the time and battery gauge on either side of the notch. However, in landscape mode, the applications don't adapt to the size of the screen, you end up with a lost space, and the impression of having an iPhone 8 in your hands. Applications that make good use of the entire surface are slightly truncated.

On can also still blame the iPhone for losing its 3.5mm jack plug and not offering memory expansion via microSD. On the other hand, the iPhone X is dustproof and waterproof (IP67, up to 1 m immersion for 30 min).

Screen

iPhone X is the first smartphone of the brand to use an Oled slab. Here, a Pentile panel from Samsung is used. The screen has a diagonal of 5.8 inches (≈14.7 cm) and a 19.5:9 ratio, longer and narrower than that of an iPhone 8 Plus. Apple thus catches up with its great Korean rival in terms of display, with a nearly infinite contrast ratio, excellent maximum brightness (750 cd/m²) and a light reflection rate of 8%. All this allows it to remain legible in all conditions.

Apple also took care of the colorimetry of its screen. We measured a delta E at 1.4, which is excellent, and a satisfactory color temperature at 6 940 K. The True Tone mode can adjust the temperature according to the lighting environment. This allows to "warm up" the display in the dark and to suffer less from the iPhone X screen.

For Finally, the responsiveness of the iPhone X screen is in line with that of other smartphones of the brand. We measured a touch delay of 41 ms and zero afterglow.

Performances

La Apple A11 Bionic chip is very efficient. It provides the iPhone X with excellent performance, even on particularly demanding tasks. On the majority of high-end Android smartphones, the amount of RAM rarely drops below 4 GB and sometimes even up to 8 GB. The iPhone X and its "only" 3 GB of RAM is far from suffering for all that. The transition between applications and their launch is very fast, and slowdowns are almost non-existent.

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Températures during CPU/iGPU solicitation.

iPhone X has a temperature rise similar to that of the iPhone 8. The temperature on the back of the smartphone rises to 40°C when the CPU and iGPU are subjected to a high level of stress on a small portion of the back. At the front, the temperature rises less. The heating is much more moderate when capturing photos and videos: 35.7°C measured on the back in an area close to the photo module.

La graphic chip developed by Apple for its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is found in the iPhone X. The latter logically offers an excellent performance in video games. All the titles, even the very greedy ones, run like clockwork on Apple's smartphone. One only regrets that the entire screen surface is not exploited. The majority of games are displayed in 16:9, which leaves black stripes on both sides. We would have liked the games to fit better, as it is the case on a Samsung Galaxy S8. Let's hope that developers can adapt their applications to this atypical screen. Only a handful of games from the App Store are displayed as "ideal for the iPhone X".

Audio

For celebrating the iPhone's 10th anniversary, Apple was not kind enough to offer a return of the 3.5 mm jack plug. So you should always use a wireless headset or use the adapter provided with a wired headset. This adapter does not evolve and always offers satisfactory performance, without being transcendental.

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iPhone X comes with two stereo speakers. One is on the front panel, the other is on the lower edge. This asymmetrical positioning does not pose a problem in terms of rendering. The stereo is correct and the sound is satisfactory as long as you don't push the speakers all the way down, otherwise you will detect some inaccuracies in the treble. However, care should be taken not to obstruct the slice speaker with one's hand when holding the smartphone in landscape mode.

Photo

Apple has slightly revised its formula for taking pictures with its iPhone X. There are still 2 photo modules on the back of the terminal and the first one doesn't change compared to an iPhone 8 Plus. It is based on a 12 MP sensor, surmounted by a stabilized optics (28 mm equivalent) and opening at f/1.8. The second module is evolving a little: the 12 MP sensor now works with an equivalent 56 mm stabilized optic opening at f/2.4. The iPhone X thus gains a stabilized and brighter telephoto lens. Enough to take it to the next level? Not really, unfortunately.

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Au wide-angle, the performance of the iPhone X is similar to that of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. In daylight, the level of detail is satisfactory, with a good balance between electronic noise and smoothing. An HTC U11 or LG G6 does better on this point, but the iPhone has a warmer colorimetry, producing quite natural images. The quality of the optics allows to keep a good stitching right to the edge of the images. As always, responsiveness is there, with fast focusing and triggering.

In In low light, the result of the iPhone X on our test scene is above average in image quality. Again, electronic noise is properly managed and a good amount of detail is retained. However, this good result should be tempered by the fact that the iPhone releases very slowly (1/4 s) when lighting conditions are difficult. This allows it not to exceed ISO 320, which is very low for this test. This tends to prove that the iPhone X is not at ease in the increase in sensitivity, probably because the sensor is too small. For comparison, the HTC U11 triggers at 1/10 s and climbs to ISO 2200, for a much better result. The problem is that iPhone X doesn't always deliver perfectly sharp photos when used freehand, because optical stabilization doesn't always compensate for low speed.

second module delivers slightly better images than the second module of the iPhone 8 Plus. There is a slight gain in detail in daylight, thanks to a lighter smoothing. The pictures are slightly less accentuated than those of a Galaxy Note 8. In low light, despite the larger aperture and stabilization, iPhone X switches to the wide-angle module and applies a digital zoom. The result is logically very bad, as on all dual-module smartphones.

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portrait mode does not change compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. It remains quite random in its rendering and the cutting of the subject is not always very precise. The new "Portrait Lighting" features are still not very well developed.

front sensor of 7 Mpx is correct, it ensures a satisfactory level of detail and moderate smoothing. The portrait mode that also appeared on the front does not work any better than on the back.

Autonomy

Apple announced that its iPhone X offers about 2 hours more autonomy than an iPhone 7. In fact, we were more than pleasantly surprised by the X's endurance, similar to that of an iPhone 8 Plus. In practice, the iPhone X is able to survive almost 2 days of standard use, can even handle a very big day without any problem and run until the morning of the second day. In our Netflix battery life test, the iPhone X lasted 12 hours and 21 minutes. A better score than the iPhone 8 Plus (11 hours 53).

Avec the charger provided by Apple, it takes 2 hours 30 to fully charge the iPhone X battery.