Early reviews say iPhone X is best yet

10th Anniversary smart phone marks a total redesign of the monolithic Apple device

A man tries out the Animoji feature on the iPhone X during its launch at the Apple store in Singapore November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Apple announced its iPhone X back in September, but U.S. consumers will get their first hands-on experience with the 10th anniversary iPhone on Nov. 3. The phone — which the company pronounces as iPhone 10 — is a glass and stainless steel device with an edge-to-edge display that Chief Executive Tim Cook called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.”

The first reviews of the phone are out and the verdict is clear: it is the best iPhone yet.

“It’s thin, it’s powerful, it has ambitious ideas about what cameras on phones can be used for, and it pushes the design language of phones into a strange new place,” Verge reviewer Nilay Patel said in a lengthy review, which he promised to keep updated as he explored more features.

CNET reviewer Scott Stein posted pictures of himself with various props, giving FaceID a thumbs up under most circumstances.

“I tried the phone with at least five of my coworkers. None of their faces unlocked it – although none of them look remotely like me,” he said, adding that all the tests worked far better than Samsung’s face unlock feature on the Galaxy Note 8.

Reviewers said FaceID, as well as the lack of a home button, would take some getting used to.

The phone’s $999 starting price might be the biggest innovation as the iPhone X will be $200 more than Apple’s comparably screen-sized iPhone 8 Plus. Beyond the price, the new iPhone X has some evolutionary — if not revolutionary — improvements over phones currently in the hands of Apple users:

Wireless Charging. Apple was somewhat late to the game with wireless charging features. However, the ubiquity of wireless charging capabilities in vehicles, hotels, and a bevy of accessories means that this improvement will allow the iPhone X to interface with a lot of existing technology.

No Home Button. The traditional iPhone home button is gone and users will instead tap the device to wake it up. A simple swipe up from the bottom of the screen will bring up the Home screen. The side button picks up new functions in the iPhone X and can be used to activate Siri.

Facial Recognition. The Facial ID system on the iPhone X uses an infrared camera that can detect faces in low-light conditions. The camera replaces the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone since the edge-to-edge screen eliminated the fingerprint scan in the home button.

Super Retina Display. The iPhone X screen is comparable to the screen of the current iPhone 7 Plus, though the outside dimensions of the X are smaller than the Plus format. A new screen technology called OLED provides higher resolution than the current LED technology in the iPhone 8 and previous versions.

Improved Battery Life. The iPhone X has two hours more battery life than the iPhone 7, but the Plus form factor is still tops in battery life.

Fast Charging. While battery life is improved, the iPhone X, and iPhone 8, feature fast charging capabilities that can charge the phone to 50 percent is just 30 minutes. The needed accessories use USB-C technology which is not included with the iPhone X.

Water Resistance. The iPhone X is IP67 water and dust resistant. It is allegedly impervious to dust and can be submerged in water up to 3 feet for 30 minutes.

Portrait Mode. The new TrueDepth camera allows for Portrait Mode, which was previously available only on the iPhone 7 Plus, and the front-facing camera as well as the rear camera has this capability on the iPhone X. Portrait Mode allows for shallow depth-of-field effects to be added while the photo is being made. These effects make people in the photo sharper than the background.

Animoji. This new feature is 3-D emoji created from the user’s facial expressions and voice. The iPhone X’s 3-D camera maps the user’s eyes, mouth and cheeks to emojis to bring them to life. A Japanese software company is suing Apple in a U.S. court over the trademark for the term “animoji”, alleging the U.S. technology company stole the name to use on a feature of its iPhone X. Tokyo-based Emonster kk sued Apple last Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, saying it holds the U.S. trademark on the term animoji and that Apple’s use of the word is a “textbook case” of deliberate infringement.