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”]
Motorola razr Hands-On
The popular RAZR is back!
The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.
It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.
But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?
This is our Motorola razr hands-on.
Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future
It’s not for everyone
2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.
Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.
In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.
When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.
On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.
Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.
There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.
The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.
Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.
One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.
To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.
When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.
Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.
While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.
The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.
Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.
Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.
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I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.
With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.
Motorola razr hands-on: Futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia
The price we have to pay to move forward
The iconic Motorola razr flip phone is back — bringing what we love from the past, into the future.
Like many of you, I love a good old nostalgic release, which is why I’m incredibly excited that this phone made its comeback. Of all the phones that ruled the late 90s and early 2000s, there’s nothing more iconic than the Motorola razr V3. It was a sleek, edgy, and fashion forward flip phone. From its launch in 2004, about 130 million razr V3’s were sold — making it the best selling clamshell of all time.
Like the original, the new Motorola razr is a flip phone, so you can answer and end calls like a boss.
Just like the hottest phones of this year, the new razr, too, is a foldable phone; or to be more precise, a phone with a foldable display. The main difference is instead of unfolding horizontally into a square tablet, it folds out vertically.
Inside there is no physical keyboard where there once was. Instead it’s all display — 6.2 inches of Flex View pOLED of it. Surprisingly there’s no noticeable crease on the screen. Motorola says the hinge is designed to flex into the shape of a water drop to avoid this. We’ll have to see over time if this indeed solves the challenge of the folding display technology.
When opened up, the new Motorola Razr feels just like any other smartphone. It’s just as tall and as wide but much thinner; except for the lip at the bottom which houses most of the phone’s components as well as its fingerprint sensor, which is fast and accurate.
When you turn the phone on you’re greeted by Android OS. That means all your favorite apps are right here. There’s a small notch on top of the display to make room for the earpiece and a 5MP selfie camera.
When you fold the phone close, you’ll find that it’s wider than the original razr V3. Motorola says bringing back the clamshell form factor using foldable display tech is meant to solve a customer pain point — portablity.
On the outside, there’s a secondary 2.7″ gOLED Quick View display. It’s not as high resolution as the main display, but i’ts good enough for showing the time and notifications.
You can also tap to view a notification. There’s also Google Assistant Voice Detection, whichyou can use to dictate a text messages reply.
The Quick View display can also be used for taking selfies using the 16MP rear camera. You can just flick the phone twice to activate the camera. Smiling or flashing your palm will trigger the shutter.
The rear camera features an opening of f/1.7, electronic image stabilization, dual pixel and laser autofocus, dual LED flash. It also serves as the main camera when the phone is flipped open.
Just like the original Moto Razr — the new 2019 model is sleek and stylish. With an aluminum chassis and sharp edges. The back side has a carbon fiber-like textured finish that feels like plastic — the only sore spot in its otherwise ultra premium feel. At launch it will only be available in black, but fingers crossed we get other color options too. Motorola says its employed a special zero gap mechanism that gives this foldable display a level of toughness that will survive the rigors of the real world.
In the hands, the phone feels super sturdy. Even if it’s got a foldable screen it doesn’t feel fragile at all. In fact I think I wouldn’t mind just snapping it open and close without a worry.
Button and port placements are like this: volume and power on the right hand side. A USB-C port on the bottom chin as well as speaker. The phone has no headphone jack but ships with a pair of USB-C headphones and a USB-C to headphone jack adapter. There’s also no SIM card slot instead as it only supports e-SIMs. It’s also water and dust and resistant.
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From the star studded guest list at tonight’s launch event, it’s pretty clear that Motorola is targeting the hip, fashion forward market, and not the pro techie crowd. If you look at its spec sheet, this is meant to be a midrange smartphone — with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a measly a 2510mAh battery, albeit with a bundled 15W Turbo Charger. But specs isn’t really what the new razr is about.
In the US the Motorola razr will be available exclusively on Verizon, and pre-orders start December 26th. It will hit stores beginning January 9, 2020. It will also be available in select markets across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.
The pricetag? US$ 1,499 USD. Is that too much to pay for a futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia? Let us know in the comments below.
Watch our hands-on:
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