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The X Factor... how latest version of iPhone points to the future of Apple design

What is the smartest flagship phone out there? In a new series, Tech Editor Adrian Weckler pits the market's three best flagship handsets against each other - picking out their strengths and weaknesses. This week, he takes a look at the iPhone X


If you want the absolute best iPhone out there, then the iPhone X is unquestionably it

If you want the absolute best iPhone out there, then the iPhone X is unquestionably it

Iphone X

Iphone X

If you want the absolute best iPhone out there, then the iPhone X is unquestionably it

Pros: Stunning design, innovative Face ID, best iPhone camera. Cons: No headphone jack, relatively modest battery life. Price: £889

There's little doubt that the iPhone X represents the future of iPhone design. And there's no question that this is the best iPhone you can now get. The question is whether it justifies that big, big price?

As well as packing in the very latest powerful technology under the hood, the iPhone X has two main distinguishing features about it: an edge-to-edge screen and facial recognition instead of a fingerprint reader.

The first of these, the iPhone X's 'super retina' screen, is simply gorgeous.

The way that it stretches almost totally from corner to corner is a first for Apple and an ergonomic game changer for those who like big screens but dislike having extra-big phones to accommodate those screens.

(Obviously, rivals such as Samsung have had this in place for some time.)

The deal here is that the display is 5.8in, making the screen longer (but slimmer and hence not bigger overall) than the iPhone 8 Plus's 5.5in display.

Because of this edge-to-edge design, there's no appreciable bezel, meaning that the overall device is significantly smaller than an iPhone 8 Plus (or rivals such as the S9 Plus and P20 Pro). In fact, it's much closer in size to a regular iPhone, despite its screen being way bigger. This is obviously a great advantage for pockets, as well as overstretched thumbs.

As an ergonomic upgrade, it works.

The quality of the Oled screen is also absolutely top drawer, adjusting to lighting conditions in order to ease eye strain.

The other big feature that regular iPhone users will need to get used to is its Face ID and, hence, the lack of a physical button.

The Face ID system is largely flawless, with few misfires in my time with the phone.

It's certainly much quicker and more accurate than the equivalent technology on rival devices such as Samsung's Note 8 or Huawei's phones.

As for the removal of the 'home' button, you now swipe up instead. This becomes second nature after a short while, although I can see why some people may not the like the idea at first - that home button has been a safety valve of sorts (or a short cut) in a variety of scenarios for many years.

On the camera front, the iPhone X sports the best Apple can offer.

It has two 12-megapixel lenses, one with a wide-angle 28mm perspective and the other with a telephoto 50mm view.

Like the iPhone 8 Plus (and 7 Plus), these combine to give you way more flexibility and quality than a single-lens phone camera. But, unlike the iPhone 8 Plus, the telephoto 50mm lens here is also stabilised, meaning clearer, better photos, especially in low light. That's a notable upgrade.

While you don't quite get the 40-megapixel detail from Huawei's P20 Pro, Apple's colour-rendering and, especially, video-recording performance means that this doesn't feel like second-best at all. It's a brilliant camera to use.

If I was looking for negatives, I might say that the iPhone X's battery life doesn't match that of its flagship competitors.

It's generally fine for the best part of a day (or more, if you don't use it heavily), but if you hang out of your phone the way I do, you'll need an extra shot of power some time during the evening.

The iPhone X also doesn't have a headphone jack, although it's not alone in this regard.

And while 256GB storage is available, the 'base' model only comes with 64GB, which feels modest at this price tier.

In summary, the iPhone X is definitely Apple's top performer. But can the extra cost be justified over, say, an iPhone 8?

This can only be a subjective answer.

But here's a guide: if you want the absolute best, newest, highest-performing iPhone out there, this is unquestionably it.

If you're genuinely happy with a high-end iPhone in a more traditional form, then look to the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus.

Next week, Adrian tests out the Samsung S9 PlusPros

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