I'm beginning to think buying an iPhone X was a huge mistake

iPhone X with notch

Before moving to the iPhone X, I was a very happy user of the 7 Plus. The screen was superb, the battery life good, the storage immense and the fingerprint reader worked so well I didn't think about it.

Along came the iPhone X, and I managed to resist the temptation of buying one at launch. I thought I'd wait awhile. Then it became clear that several iOS apps were having problems with screen layout on the X, which meant I needed to buy one for the lab. One such package, from a well-known UK company, claimed it had been "optimised for iPhone X" for two versions before its developers held a physical phone in their hands. Would this train crash be repeated amongst the broader developer community?

I moved my world from the 7 Plus to the X one afternoon. It was physically smaller, but the screen felt just as big because of its borderless design. A good start. But once I tried out a few apps, it became clear that the changes to the UI were more than just a few rearrangements. Now iOS exists, essentially, on two platforms: the X version, and the Everything Else version, which includes the iPad.

To cut to the chase, I'm very tempted to dump the iPhone X and go back to the 7 Plus. I've given it a fair trial, having taken it around the world twice now, and used it 24/7 as my primary pocket device for weeks.

Why the downbeat mood? Because I think someone, somewhere in Apple decided that the face recognition system was 'A Really Cool Thing' and decided to make it work reliably. Which it does, most of the time. And then Apple decided it could differentiate itself from the rest of the market by doing away with the fingerprint reader altogether, despite having only recently introduced it.

What was an interesting idea, and most certainly a good adjunct to the fingerprint reader, suddenly turned into a crusade. Either you were a believer or you weren't. If you were a believer, then you would do most anything to keep going down that road. Throw away important status information at the top of the screen? Why not? Change the way the side button works, even for ingrained tasks such as power on and off? For sure! Tell developers that they need to work to an entirely different screen design, shape and aspect ratio? They will be more than delighted to comply!

In the past, someone had the balls to say, "sorry chaps, not good enough". And he was Mr Jobs. Today, the iPhone X has all the hallmarks of an interesting solution to a not particularly important problem that has snowballed out of proportion.

"But", you splutter, "this is the future for the Apple platform!" Really? So where is the equivalent tech on the iPad? If it really were the future, why isn't there a shipment by now of an iPad X?

The issue with the face recognition is that it doesn't always work. It hates my face when I'm not wearing my glasses you could argue it's showing good taste at this point. It doesn't work in the dark, so it's a pain when you want to check something at 2am without waking your partner. It doesn't work when I am wearing a motorcycle helmet, even a Shoei Neotec that has a flip front. In all of these situations, the fingerprint reader was instant and 100% reliable.

I'm annoyed that I have to pick up the X to get it to unlock, whereas I used to unlock the 7 Plus all the time just by stabbing a finger onto the fingerprint reader when the phone was resting on the desk. For sure, I could enter a six-digit pin, but I prefer a long complex password with upper/lower case, numbers and symbols for added security. On the 7 Plus, I could register ten fingertips, including some that were not mine but my husband's. On the X, I can only register one face.

You might argue that these are edge cases. You may be right. However, if I'm moving from a 7 Plus to an X, at a price tag of over a grand, I don't expect to go backwards. And, even after three months, these issues grate.

Add that to the fairly miserable app experience so far, and it's clear that the iPhone X is one step forward, two steps sideways and three steps backwards. Going back to the 7 Plus would be like taking off tight boots. But I would miss the wireless charging. So I really need to buy an 8 Plus with 256GB of storage for another 949.

Ah, so maybe that was the whole idea? Get existing iPhone 7 customers to buy an X and then go back to 8 Plus to keep the wireless charging but get rid of the X foibles. A truly brilliant move by Apple. The work of a genius. I applaud you, Mr Cook.

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