Patience is a virtue.
The new iPhone X is finally here and with it the impulse to buy the latest and greatest of Apple’s products. I’m here to tell you to resist that urge like crazy.
The iPhone X is undoubtedly the best iPhone yet, bringing with it an edge-to-edge OLED screen, upgraded cameras, Face ID, and a new $999 base price. While some might find the new features worth the price of admission, I would argue that your money is better spent on the iPhone
Bionic Processor, Bluetooth 5.0, Video Recording, Storage, Water-Resistance
First to focus on what’s the same. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X both use Apple’s newest A11 Bionic processor. This means that the lesser iPhone doesn’t suffer having a last-gen processor to keep it differentiated. Apps that run lightning quick on the iPhone X will run just as fast on the iPhone 8. They both use Bluetooth 5.0, the newest Bluetooth protocol that enhances the distance, speed, and strength of Bluetooth signals (hardware dependent, but still future-proof). Both iPhones support recording in 4K at 60 frames per second, up 30 fps from the iPhone 7. 64 GB storage is the standard base storage on both phones, with 256 GB available. And you won’t have to worry about either phone getting wet because they’re both water-resistant.
You’re not giving up much by going with the iPhone 8
The iPhone X and the iPhone 8 are nearly identical spec-wise. Aside from a few new iPhone X-specific features, you’re not giving up much by going with the iPhone 8. And remember that those features don’t fundamentally add anything of specific value to the iPhone experience.
No Touch ID
Touch ID was a main selling point back when the iPhone 5S launched. Touch ID enabled users to log into a device, authenticate with purchases, and securely access locked apps with just a touch. Not anymore. iPhone X users will now log into their devices using their face. While using your face as a security measure isn’t new (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich first with Face Unlock), Apple’s implementation uses brand-new technology to make it faster and more secure than ever. But it isn’t without its limitations.
Face ID requires the device to be raised up enough to see the user’s face. This may not sound like a big deal at first, but imagine positioning an iPhone just so every time you want to unlock your phone, open your bank app, or use Apple Pay. It’s not as simple and user-friendly as touching your finger to the home button.
Under-glass fingerprint sensors make a lot of sense when you think about the bezel-less displays of modern smartphones. But allegedly the technology wasn’t ready yet.
Earlier this year, Samsung and Apple were both rumored to be ditching their respective home buttons for under-glass fingerprint sensor technology. This would have effectively meant that fingerprint sensors could have been built into the display of a smartphone. This makes a lot of sense when you think about the bezel-less displays of modern smartphones. But allegedly the technology wasn’t ready yet, which is why the iPhone X shipped without Touch ID and the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus/Note8 shipped with terribly located fingerprint sensors.
Supposedly this technology could be ready within a year’s time which means that the successor to the iPhone X could incorporate a display-integrated fingerprint sensor. It’s not guaranteed to happen, but something to think about.
The Price for OLED
OLED displays aren’t new. Samsung has been the leader in AMOLED screen technology for years and they actually provide most of the AMOLED screens for other phone manufacturers. This year, Apple contracted with Samsung to provide the OLED screens for the iPhone X. However, there is currently a shortage of OLED screen production and that means that Samsung can command a premium for their screens. In addition to delaying the delivery date, OLED screens are partially responsible for why the iPhone X costs so much.
It is rumored that Apple and Alphabet (Google’s parent companies) are both making sizable investments in OLED manufacturers to increase supply and decrease costs. It wouldn’t surprise me if the next iPhone X employed a lower-cost OLED screen – perhaps with Apple passing some of the savings on to the customer.
Remember the iPhone 4 and Antennagate? Or the iPhone 6 and Bendgate? Aside from being stupidly named, these issues arose from designs and new technologies that hadn’t been real-world tested yet. The iPhone 5 fixed the reception issues of the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 6S used sturdier materials than the 6 to make them less prone to bending. Whenever a product is redesigned is usually brings about issues that are later fixed in a subsequent generation.
Take the iPhone 8. Aside from a glass back, it is almost exactly the same design as the iPhone 7, which was a refresh of the design of the iPhone 6 and 6S that predated it. It has been refined and perfected.
The iPhone X is the most dramatic redesign of the iPhone chassis ever and that’s going to mean first-generation product issues. We don’t know what those might be yet, but you can bet that the next generation will find solutions to these problems, making it superior to the first generation product.
No More Home Button
How do you go home on the new iPhone X? Switch apps? Activate Siri? Gestures, mostly. Apple has redesigned navigation to compensate for the lack of a home button. Getting back to your app launcher is now a swipe up – swipe up halfway and pause for a moment and you’ll get your app switcher. Siri is now activated by a long press of the larger power/wake button. Since swiping from the bottom now takes you home, swiping down from the right “ear” (Apple’s words, not mine) from the top of the screen now gets you to the Control Center. A swipe in the middle or left now gets you to the redesigned notification panel.
Navigation is totally different – and maybe not all that intuitive
This sounds confusing for a user moving from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X. Some gestures are completely counter-intuitive to what iPhone navigation has been for years. I’m sure it won’t take long to get acclimated, but I think Apple will further refine these gestures in later iterations.
Trust Me, Get the 8
So, don’t get the iPhone X. It’s shiny and new, will be a status symbol that might make you the envy of your iPhone 7-toting friends. But it’s a first-generation product that is sure to be refined even further next year. A year from now, Apple might be unveiling a cheaper iPhone X with Touch ID embedded in the then-better OLED display with software and hardware kinks worked out. Anyone dropping $999 today for an iPhone X will be simultaneously itching to upgrade to it and wishing they had held off.
I’m telling you to hold off. The potential advancements for what may come next are too great to jump in now. And the iPhone 8 is a great upgrade if you have an aging iPhone 6 or 6S (if you have an iPhone 7, just wait. You’re phone is fine). It’s familiar but packs most of the tangible upgrades from the iPhone X and you won’t be beta testing a new product. And you’ll be saving a couple bucks on top of that.
Back when the original iPhone was released, it didn’t support third-party apps (imagine no App Store!), didn’t support 3G, and was priced at $499 for 4GB of storage. A year later, the iPhone 3G had double the storage, usable internet speeds, App Store support and started at $199.
What a difference a year makes
Apple may have invented the iPhone all over again but, like the iPhone 2.0, it’s always better the second time around.