Ten years ago Apple unveiled the original iPhone. I had that phone and can still remember how it felt when I first held it in my hands.
Back then, there was nothing quite like the iPhone, but much has changed over the last decade. While Apple shaped the smartphone world as we know it, many other players have come and made their mark on the space. And for us gadget enthusiasts, there’s no better time to be alive.
While the 10th-anniversary iPhone, the iPhone X, doesn’t start shipping till this Friday, November 3rd, we got our hands on the device early. I unboxed it yesterday, and feelings of the original iPhone came flooding back.
While some will debate the merits of any hype surrounding the iPhone X, the phone’s launch marks an important next step for Apple. This phone embodies everything they’ve learned thus far, and more importantly, the future it envisions.
For Apple, this is the future.
Unlike all the other iPhones released in the last three to four years, this one looks different. Its signature feature is its edge-to-edge display. Its back is now made of glass, and the frame is forged from stainless steel.
The iPhone X has the tallest screen on an iPhone to date, but is significantly smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. It’s also the first iPhone with an OLED display, and right off the bat you’ll notice that colors are richer.
While I love my big-screen TV, I still consume most content on my phone, mainly Netflix and YouTube. I’m thrilled about the Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, which paired with the iPhone’s stereo speakers, should make the mobile video-watching experience a whole lot better.
To achieve the iPhone X’s new edge-to-edge look, certain concessions had to be made.
There’s a love it or hate it notch up top and the iconic circular home button that also acted as a fingerprint sensor has been removed for good.
Behind the notch up top is Apple’s TrueDepth System — probably one of the most important pieces of technology on this new phone. This combination of infrared cameras, dot projectors, and a high tech neural engine is what allows for a combination of features including the new Face ID face unlock system which replaces the fingerprint-based Touch ID.
When Apple first announced the iPhone X, my biggest concern was about the reliability of Face ID, especially since in the absence of a fingerprint sensor, this is your only biometric option.
While I’ll need more time with the device to say if I’ll ever miss the home button, I can say that the technology is fast. And didn’t take a lot to set up. In fact it was much easier to set up than adding a fingerprint on previous iPhones.
All you have to do is position your face in the circle and move it around in a circle. Because the TrueDepth System can map face and measure depth, it enables the selfie camera to take portrait-style photos and use the iPhone’s new Portrait Style Lighting Effects.
Emoji gets a new twist too with a feature built into the messaging app called Animoji that can recognize and track facial expressions to animate a set of 12 different emoji. You must check out our first impressions video to see it in action.
Here are some sample photos taken with the rear camera:
While Apple has been pretty serious about a consistent experience across all its products, the new iPhone X diverts from what Apple users have come to expect.
First, its power button is now called a side button. To power off the device, you’ll need to press down on both the side button and volume up button. Press once on the side button and it turns off the display; press and hold it to summon Siri.
The absence of the home button also introduces a whole range of gesture-based navigation controls.
From any app swipe up from the bottom of the display to go home; swipe up and pause to bring up the multitasking window; swipe down from the right side of the notch to bring up the control center; swipe down from the left side to bring up the lock screen slash notification panel; and swipe down from anywhere else on the screen to bring up the search menu.
It takes a whole lot of getting used to, mostly because swiping up and down did other things on previous versions of the iPhone.
I think that, in a nutshell, lays the predicate for our review coming soon. While we are excited about everything the iPhone X has to offer, because it’s so different from previous iPhones, we’re curious to see how we’ll feel when we’ve made the iPhone X our daily driver over the next week or so.
There are other things worth looking into. How important is its A11 Bionic Chip? Is battery life good as Apple promises? Is wireless charging a feature that no one will use even if it’s something us tech journalists have sorta demanded?
We’ll be publishing a full review really soon, but in the meantime, let us know what you’d like us to find out about the iPhone X. And while you wait for that review, here’s our unboxing and hands-on video.
[irp posts=”23181″ name=”Apple iPhone X Unboxing and Hands-On”]
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up
The company’s greatest contender
Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.
Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.
Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.
Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.
It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.
Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.
If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.
Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.
Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.
It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.
Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.
Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.
The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.
The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.
As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:
An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:
It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.
If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?
Huawei outdoes itself again
In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.
In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
A pocketable gaming rig with flagship features
Razer has improved last year’s model, and from the looks of it, we might just have a phone that not only gamers would want to use. This is our Razer Phone 2 hands-on.
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