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What is there left for Apple to achieve? When it comes to smartphones the reputation of the iPhone has been top-notch for many years. As I said when I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S8+, all phones run pretty much the same apps, so it is tricky for consumers to justify the expense of the top-of-the-range models. The latest flagship phone release of the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) has to deliver something new and desirable. I have four new things about iPhone to highlight here.
The first of the new things about iPhone X is Face ID. This not the first smartphone to be unlocked by facial recognition, but it’s a first for Apple. They have made a big deal about this feature. I quite like it but it doesn’t always work, then I have to wave the phone away from my face for a moment and try again. If I really mess up then I can type in a code to unlock.
Often the phone unlocks when I am not expecting it. For example, if it is next to me on my desk, sometimes it just spots my face and unlocks. It seems to work at quite a distance, up to arm’s length. Any gadget that saves me typing in a four digit code every time is welcome, to my mind. On the whole it’s a nice feature but I would prefer fingerprint recognition.
In the messaging app I can click on the animoji button and a little animal face pops up. Then I record myself talking or singing or making faces. The little animoji copies my face and it’s extremely accurate. Eyebrows will raise, heads will nod and mouth shapes are copied too. I can then send my little talking animoji to someone as a message.
I cannot think of a single person I would send this to and at the risk of sounding old, this doesn’t appeal to me. Not even my teenage daughter is impressed. It’s a pity really because it’s a very clever bit of technology. The novelty wears off pretty quick.
No more “home” button
This sounds like the strangest of the new things about iPhone X. I was quite worried about the missing home button. In order to get round it, I had to spend a few minutes learning a series of “swipe” moves. These instructions are shown to new users when the phone is first registered.
Certain swipes in certain directions, with certain pauses and holds will open or minimize or close certain windows. Sounds confusing? Actually it’s fine.
I did worry that I would forget these “swipe” moves quickly and get stuck. However, they’re quite intuitive and I quickly forgot the home button was ever there. The swipes are more versatile than the home button, and now I prefer it this way. I’m a fan!
New Things about iPhone Camera and Portrait lighting
Overall the camera is good, as you would expect with an iPhone. I tested it on a snowy day in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens.
The way the iPhone X tackles shadowy areas is particularly nice, as these can be recovered fairly well in editing without introducing noise. (I used Snapseed to edit). It swings easily from too much magenta in the blue sky to too much cyan, but that’s a common problem with smartphone cameras.
The portrait feature is novel. When taking a selfie or a portrait of someone, a little cube icon appears on the screen. If I tap it and slide through the options then I see a list of lighting styles. Default is natural light, but there is also studio, contour, stage light and monochrome stage light.
It’s actually quite hard to demonstrate the difference between natural, studio and contour lighting. It very subtle and doesn’t show up when I take a photo anywhere with lots of diffuse ambient light.
One of new things about iPhone X which is highly effective is the camera stage light. This function blacks out the area surrounding the face so that it looks like a low-key studio portrait. It will take practice to make a good job of it. I found it works best with a fairly plain, pale background. Standing in front of a window or direct light source does not work. It’s better to use a wall.
The reason I nearly missed the portrait lighting function is that the special effects don’t show up until after you have pressed the shutter. This is a bit of a departure for digital photography, because I’m not able to see exactly what I’m shooting until it has “developed”.
Be wary however as the photos may be saved as HEIC files and not as jpegs. Using a popular online converter to turn them into jpegs meant I lost all the interesting lighting effects in conversion. I saved my photos by sending them to my android using WhatsApp, but you can also air drop them to an iPad.
Selfie culture with iPhone X
I don’t take selfies as a rule and I found the iPhone quite unflattering so this feature did not sell it for me. You need a young, smooth face to look good in an iPhone X selfie. However selfie portraiture is such a big deal now that I’m sure there are plenty of people who will love these new features.
As I’m not strong on the selfie culture, here are some more of my iPhone X photos which are my style.
Does cabin fever have long-lasting effects? After being largely stuck at home for two months I was kidding myself that I didn’t need to go out. . When I did go to the park and take this photo I then kidded myself that “going out” hadn’t changed how I felt; I’d been fine all along. Hadn’t I? . Then I gazed at this photo for a while and I knew … I need to move, travel, go out, see things with my own eyes. I need to RECOVER.
I was loaned the iPhone X for review purposes by ThreeUK. All opinions here are entirely my own.
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