‘One more thing.’ If there was ever a phrase guaranteed to work a theatre full of tech journalists into a frenzy, that’s it. Apple hasn’t said it in a while, so when Apple CEO Tim Cook uttered the phrase on 12 September we knew we were in for treat.
When the stunning iPhone X images appeared on screen behind Tim Cook, any disappointment over the largely underwhelming iPhone 8 seemed to fade away. A bezel-free screen that covered (almost) the entire front of the phone, no home button ruining the clean aesthetic, the glass reminiscent of the stylish iPhone 4 and the subtle, attractive shift to a vertical camera bar – initial impressions were good.
After the awe of the reveal we started to learn more about the device. As futuristic as the phone looks, how much of what the iPhone X is doing is truly new?
The X is supposed to pay tribute to 10 years of the iPhone, but has the company renowned for innovation created a phone that’s looking back rather than forward?
Best Buy smartphones – the top Android, Apple and Windows phones on test.
Edge-to-edge displays – first seen in 2016
Screens that run to very edges of the device aren’t new. The Essential Phone, made by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, has a display that wraps around the front-facing camera just like the iPhone X, although it doesn’t run to the bottom of the phone.
The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 is the opposite: its screen stops short of the front camera, but covers the bottom of the phone where the Android navigation buttons live.
Samsung, Apple’s smartphone rival, released the Galaxy S8 earlier this year and, you guessed it, it has an edge-to-edge display.
The display is a first for Apple and the fact it runs to the top and bottom of the device is neat, but it’s far from an industry first.
Edge-to-edge displays look great, but they’re not a necessity in a great smartphone. Our guide to the top five best smartphones for 2017 highlights some worthy alternatives.
Wireless charging – first seen in 2009
This is a feature iPhone fans have been wanting for years. In fairness to Apple, it wasn’t the only leading smartphone manufacturer playing catch-up on this one – it just took it longer.
It wasn’t LG, HTC or Samsung who made the first smartphone with wireless charging – it was HP. It’s a company better known for its laptops, but not too long ago HP was making smartphones under the name Palm. The Palm Pre, which had a touchscreen that slid upwards to reveal a full keyboard, was the first with wireless charging when it was released in 2009.
It took Samsung five years to cotton on to the idea when it announced that the Galaxy S4 supported wireless charging. Google and LG released the Nexus 5 in 2013 with wireless charging and Nokia got there quicker than all of them, it released two Lumia handsets in 2012 that you could charge wire-free.
It’s taken Apple eight years to follow suit.
While we’re on the subject of charging, what about fast charging? Most Android smartphones support this feature, particularly if they use USB-C. USB-C is what the iPhone X uses to charge quickly, but because iPhones have Lightning ports rather than USB, you’ll need to buy an extra adaptor, which costs £25.
Browse our guide to mobile phones with the best battery life to find a smartphone that will go the distance.
OLED screen – first seen in 2008
OLED TVs are pricey and relatively new, but chop them down to handheld size and they become much more common and affordable. Incredibly, it was the Nokia N85 that pioneered OLED screens on phones in 2008. Many manufacturers have followed suit, including Samsung, LG, Sony, and Huawei.
Apple said the iPhone X, ‘features the first OLED screen that rises to the standards of iPhone’ and it is describing it as a Super Retina display. We’ll know if Apple’s first OLED iPhone screen is a match for the super AMOLED ones you find on Samsung Galaxy devices once we get the phone into our Test Lab.
Face-unlocking – first seen in 2011
It’s hard to forget this moment from the press conference. It’s not often that an Apple demo goes wrong, but the first iPhone X brought on stage didn’t recognise Craig Federighi, so it didn’t unlock. The second attempt was successful, but the blunder didn’t stop Craig’s face – and Apple’s stock value – from falling as a result.
You may be noticing a pattern here, but face-unlocking has been around since the Galaxy Nexus was released in 2011. Apparently the iPhone builds a 3D map of your face and makes face-unlocking much more reliable and more secure than a fingerprint, but if it’s temperamental then many people will find themselves going back to tapping in passcodes.
When can you read our review?
The iPhone X isn’t overly original, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad phone. You can read our first impressions from what we know already in our non-tested review, along with the iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.
We’ll be getting our hands on the phone the second it’s released, for a full and thorough test. Check back for our review in November.