by Richard N. Lorenc
November 15, 2017
Is there any sweeter joy than unboxing a brand new iPhone in the crisp autumn air?
Call it smartphone addiction or Apple fanboy indulgence, but the dopamine rush I get every other year when I upgrade my iPhone is one of my favorite things.
This year was extra-special. Instead of upgrading to a finely-honed version of last year’s iPhone, I took the leap with the brand-new iPhone X. Although this is outside of my normal upgrade pattern, it’s not uncharacteristic. I’m a sucker for new gadgets; I was an early adopter of the Apple Watch and I plan to get a HomePod next month.
After spending a full weekend with my new toy, I can say confidently the iPhone X is the best gadget I’ve ever owned.
The Same But Different
There’s nothing entirely unfamiliar about the iPhone X. It’s about the same size as the previous models and runs the same iOS software we’ve used for 10 years. The biggest difference, identified immediately, is that it’s missing the iconic iPhone home button.
In its place is a new edge-to-edge display and “True Depth” front-facing camera system. The True Depth system is the key to your iPhone, allowing for a truly magical unlocking experience through the new Face ID.
There’s been a lot of chatter about how non-iPhones have had facial or corneal recognition abilities for years, but it’s my impression that the iPhone X, with its ability to authenticate its owner without a code, is superior. In Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’s understated turn of phrase: It just works. And it works regardless of my level of sleep deprivation, sunglasses, or other such disguises. That fact is what continues the iPhone’s legacy as an intuitive technological masterpiece.
It’s The Small Stuff
Details are what have always set the iPhone apart from the hundreds of other smartphones that pull from the same technology pool, yet can’t quite put it all together in the same way.
One surprising detail about the new iPhone X is how Apple has programmed the operating system to tap into the phone’s Face ID system when it would otherwise require a fingerprint on the now-obsolete home button. This means I can use my face to authenticate into apps whose developers haven’t yet updated their software to work with Face ID. Soon every app will have this functionality, but, in the meantime, it just works.
Some of the gestures used to access different planes and parts of the system are different than before, but it took me about 10 minutes to become accustomed to swiping upward instead of pressing the Home button. Apple placed a persistent simple white line on the bottom of the screen to constantly remind the user that that is how you now exit apps.
The Entrepreneurial Challenge
As with any new Apple product launch, naysayers leap on the opportunity to explain how the company is out of innovative ideas. This is despite the fact that iPhones sell out quickly, and Apple has already sold more iPhone X units than Google will sell of its new Pixel 2 over 12 months.
But selling millions of phones isn’t really the biggest entrepreneurial challenge. Rather it’s the profitable combination of tools, technologies, and creativity to create products that customers didn’t even realize they desired previously.
It’s true the iPhone X is somewhat fragile (and beautiful with its smooth glass front and back), and that it lacks certain features other phones have. But hastily throwing every new technology into a product isn’t what Apple’s customers want in a handheld supercomputer. They want surprise, delight, beauty, and function.
On all of the fronts that matter to you and me, the iPhone X delivers.