How a Fallen iPhone X Resulted in my Falling Back in Love a Little with the iPhone 7

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Back in June of this year, ill-advised as it is, I was walking out of my apartment complex while typing a text message at the same time. Into and over a large flower pot I went, picking up a few cuts and bruises to my shins, but much worse than that, to my horror, realizing my iPhone X had gone flying through the air, lending heavily on the concrete ground. For a few moments, as the phone lay on the ground, I owned what a friend later dubbed “Schrödinger's iPhone”, it's fate as yet unknown. With some trepidation I picked up the phone, and was horrified to find the screen badly scratched and cracked in several places.

Of course the repair cane at some considerable cost, the risk you take if you choose not to purchase AppleCare or insurance, though in nine years of owning an iPhone, this was my first such incident, so I'm probably still ahead of the game on that front.

The phone had to be sent off to Apple for that repair, meaning I was back using an iPhone 7 for about a week. This turned out to be an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast the two devices, the edge to edge display, new gestures and Face ID versus the bezels around the edge and the home button with Touch ID.

Physical Dimensions

The iPhone7 has a 4.7 inch display, with the iPhone X coming in at 5.8 inches. However the size differential between the two devices is much less than it sounds, because on the iPhone X, the screen takes up the whole front of the device, no home button and no bezels. This means that the physical device is only marginally larger than the iPhone 7. That said though, the iPhone X does still feel noticeably heavier and chunkier then the iPhone 7. While I appreciate the larger screen, going back to the iPhone 7 made me realise that it really was that bit nicer to hold and more comfortable to use. One - Nil to the iPhone 7.

Screen & Gestures

While the size and weight of the iPhone 7 is just about perfect for me, the edge to edge screen and new gestures of the iPhone X definitely counter balance this. It's nice having the slightly larger screen for sure, but I also really like the edge to edge nature of it. It's so easy as a VoiceOver user to find the status bar or the bottom row of icons for example, when these are right at the top and bottom of the physical device. Aesthetically I prefer it too. While there was nothing particularly wrong with the home button, it served me well for many years, I do love the new gestures for Home and the App Switcher. To me they feel extremely natural, and have done since day one of owning the device. Similarly, I find the new one finger gestures for Notification Centre and Control Centre much easier than the old method of putting VoiceOver focus on the status bar and swiping up or down with three fingers, an awkward and cumbersome manoeuvre in my opinion. The score is One-One then.

Face ID and Touch ID

In 2013 Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5S and many people including myself were blown away. The first version wasn't perfect, but it was pretty great and certainly got better and better as the years went on. Using the iPhone 7 for that week, I was reminded just how amazing, fast and reliable Touch ID really is. It virtually never lets me down, only doing so on the odd occasion when my hands are wet or something. It's fantastic. The iPhone X of course brought with it the new Face ID system, relying on facial recognition rather than fingerprints. Face ID can feel magical at times, and has the advantage that it doesn't matter if your hands are wet or otherwise compromised, but in my own experience, the reliability is night and day. Face ID lets me down more times in half a day than Touch ID did in a week. It can be immensely frustrating when for no apparent reason, it refuses to recognise me. I realise that many other people out there report much greater satisfaction with Face ID than I do, but for me, the reliability just isn't there at this point in time, and is without a doubt my biggest bugbear with the iPhone X. So I guess that makes the score Two-One to the iPhone 7.

The Verdict

Even I am surprised to see the above scoreline, because the fact is that I am now back on the iPhone X and more than happy to stay there. Despite the victories in some areas for the iPhone 7, the fact is that on the whole I still love the iPhone X. It's a closer call than perhaps it should be, but I would still stick with the iPhone X if I had to make a choice.

I would love an updated version that's a little slimmer and lighter, and I hope against hope that there is substance to rumours of a Touch ID sensor embedded in the screen, but even leaving those things aside, Face ID will surely improve over time, and I do believe that Apple is on the right track with this new design for the decade ahead.

I'd be very keen to hear what others think of the new direction Apple took with the iPhone X, now that we are several months down the road from its initial introduction.

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11 Comments

#1 Wake-Up Call?

Thanks for this great post. I don't own an iPhone 10 but wish to comment a bit. First off, I think this is certainly a wake-up call for me. Although I never plan on even accidentally knocking my iPhone 7 off the desk or whatever, I suppose I am rather curious as to what would happen to it even with the protective casing that I got. A downstairs neighbor of mine actually did throw his iPhone on the floor in a fit of rage awhile back. That's kinda a story inandof itself, and he ended up paying bigtime. Back to me and my iPhone 7 though. I'm liking it more and more. I think I've gotten touch ID to work as advertised, sort of. I have slight manual dexterity issues, but I've found the gestures to be pretty easy if I have the phone on a flat surface such as one of my desks and when the thing isn't sliding around all over. But having said that, I think I'm perhaps getting better at performing the gestures when holding the thing in my hands for example. Regarding performance, I've had no issues thus far. The myriad of accessibility settings is definitely a big win for me and for other users.

#2 Definitely unfortunate you

Definitely unfortunate you dropped your X. Anyway, I've had an X since early January this year, and don't regret upgrading from the 6S plus. In my 8 years of owning iPhones, wow can't believe I've had iPhones since 2011, lol. I've never dropped my device on a hard surface, concrete, etc. Truthfully, I've only dropped it on carpet in my house and it's perfect. The all glass phone is nice, but it's a risk, if you accidentally drop your phone, it's bound to break/shatter. Unfortunate, I know, and you know now too. Also, did you have a case on your device? If not, get one. I can't stress some kind of case whether it be a battery case or some kind of iPhone case, you definitely need a case. Definitely can't stress to everyone the importance of a phone case, I don't care if it's bulky, accept this and learn from horror stories of people dropping their phones. Sorry if I sound demanding, but I think a case in this day and age is a necessary thing for people who own an iPhone.

#3 No case

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Thanks for the comments. No, I actually didn't have a case on the phone. In fact I have rarely put cases on my phones over the years, I don't really like the look of them or the extra bulk. But after this, of course, I might just have to rethink my position on this!

#4 iPhone 7 and a few observations

I love my iPhone 7. I have the apple smart battery case and, while it adds a bit more bulk, I still have more battery power than most phones do in 2018. Combine that with the fact that this battery case allows me to use lightning accessories and voiceover tells me the percentage of each battery - the phone *and* the case, I'm happy. The total mAH for anyone interested, with my phone and case, amounts to 4500. 1900+2600. This is why if anyone is wanting extra batterylife, I highly recommend going with the 4.7 inch device. You'll thank me later as the plus models don't offer this particular case. It seems to hold up quite well, too - mine is now 2 years old and comes everywhere with me. The phones battery is still only at 92% thanks to the smart battery case taking most of the wear cycles.

That said, I bought the iPhone 7 256 gb outright. I have no regrets, but I also don't see myself upgrading for a long, long time. I don't think the x allows for a battery case. I'm well aware most phones get you through quite a lot with the batteries they have inside, but I'm also not constantly looking for a lightning to 3.5 mm jack that also has a lightning port for charging. I think that was the silliest thing apple has done in the history of mobile devices. I say that even though I've for the most part switched to bluetooth simply because having to make sure to keep a lightning to 3.5 mm adapter is really quite annoying and unnecessary. The Samsung galaxy s9 retains the headphone jack and I would argue that it remains one of the most elegant and beautiful phones to run your hands over that isn't an apple.

I haven't actually gotten my iPhone smashed though it has taken some pretty hefty tumbles. Not this one in particular but a 4s I had. Luckily there have been no cracked screens etc, but just to be safe I got apple care. Customer service is really quite steller.

I've been using an iPhone since 2009 and the introduction of the 3gs. iOS 11 really made me despise using it but it's gotten better with the introduction of iOS 12 beta. (Don't talk to me about watch OS 4, though...). Maybe my watch has something wrong but I'm really not a fan. Using a series 2.

#5 ...

"Similarly, I find the new one finger gestures for Notification Centre and Control Centre much easier than the old method of putting VoiceOver focus on the status bar and swiping up or down with three fingers"

you don't have to do that. put one finger on the status bar, wait for the tone and swipe down will get you to the notification center; put one finger above the home button, wait for the tone and swipe up to get to the control center.

nobody talks about apple pay, that's when touch id shines. click power button twice, authenticate with face id then move your phone to the card reader? what a lousy way to pay. with touch id, your just hold your finger on the home button, scan and done, one can do it even when one is extremely drunk.

i think the solid home button is one of apple's great invention, unfortunately apple seems to be abandoning it simply because they can't find a way to embed it onto the display.

#6 A Case is Not a Bad Idea

Hi , I can surely understand not wanting to put a case on your phone, and I was one of those persons who didn't want one either back when I got my first 4S, but after dropping it and cracking the screen, decided to bite the bullet and get one. I've tried many cases and most of them were always too bulky. But after upgrading my 4S to a 6 Plus, went out to search for a rugged but thin case and landed on a Spigen Tough Armor. Now you can get different types of Spigen cases, some thinner then others, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got the ToughArmor. It is rugged but still thin. Don't get me wrong, it does add a little bulk to the phone, but the phone still feels comfortable in yor hands and doesn't feel too bulky. Even after upgrading my 6 Plus to an 8 Plus, I still went back to the same Spigen case, and as before, the case is a little thinker but still feels great in the hand. I've dropped both my 6 Plus and 8 Plus at high distances and the phone survived without a scratch. When I say high I mean like 6 to 7 feet off the ground on a hard wood floor or a ceramic floor. I can't always Guaranty that the phone screen won't survive each time your phone drops, it all depends on how it hits the floor and on what exactly the phone lands on, but for most drops, a good case will protect your phone from damage. Now for some people, they can have their phones in no case at all and never drop it, but for some, like myself, I would rather not take the chance and always buy the AppleCare and a good solid case. Being completely, I don't have any shame in hiding the iPhone's beautifully designed look, as some tech journalist claim it anyways.

, I believe that the one finger gesture on the status bar and on the dock, just above the home button, those gestures have been around for quite a while. It actually took me some time to figure out how to properly do it correctly. For the longest time, I always did the three finger swipe down from the status bar. But one day was listening to a podcast, I believe over a year ago, and the host gave some pretty clear instructions on how to successfully do it and since then, that is how I usually access the notification centre and control centre.

Thanks again Dave for the wonderful article, very well written.

#7 Hi,

Hi,
As for a battery case for my iPhone X, I have a 8000 MAH battery case by a company called Zerolemon. Had it since january, and it's a pretty neat case. One thing that's interesting is you can take the battery out of the case completely recharge it if you wish, put it back int the case put the phone on top of the battery, and connect this dongle thing to the port in the battery inside the case and it'll charge your phone for quite a while before it needs a charge. Think i can get 3 or so days of recharging the phone if not used loads, but I am not exactly sure. One time I got a whole week without pluggin into a power bank to recharge, which was nice. Sure it adds bulk, but I don't give a crap about that, I want something that gives a punch and can run for a long time without being recharged. If anyone is interested, it's like $39 or so, and if the battery fails, I can just buy another case, swap the batteries from one case to another and "Bam" I'm good to go. Found on Amazon!

#8 Touch ID

So, if the iPhone x is England and the iPhone 7 Croatia, we have a 2-1 win for Croatia but England make the final? Dave, if only you were in charge of the World Cup! As it is, you could probably get a job co-authoring the chapter of a textbook on the law of torts that deals with contributory negligence after your affair with the flowerpot. To business: I have only used Face ID on a demo iPhone X in the Apple Store. I got it to work something like 80 percent of the time after a little practice, perhaps 85 percent of the time. That's still a lot less than Touch ID which I would say works 999 times out of 1000. That was a deal-breaker for me, especially when you factor in the possibility that someone could unlock my iPhone while I was asleep or something similar—a possibility which the very helpful Apple employee in the store acknowledged as a weakness. This was a shame as I liked so much else about the iPhone X. With Face ID being as it is, however, I couldn't buy it.By the way, the reason I was in the Apple Store on that occasion was that my iPhone 7 had been stolen on the Tube—first time I've had a device lost, damaged or stolen in eight years of iPhone ownership. I don't have insurance for the iPhone either, but still conider myself ahead of the game even after purchase of the iPhone 8 as a replacement. Hang on, I almost forgot: did I say my iPhone 7 was stolen on the Tube? Well, I thought it was, but a week later I discovered that Transport For London had it in their lost property office. So there are still some decent members of the public out there who will hand lost valuables in, which is great to know.

#9 Batteries and cases

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes I've heard that the Apple battery case for iPhone 7 is great, and I'm sure there are good third party ones too. Personally I wouldn't really need one unless going away for a weekend or something and wanting the freedom not to have to charge it.
I've found the battery on iPhone X to be much better than that on the iPhone 7. I didn't write about that though because the iPhone 7 in question is about a year older, and according to the information in settings, the battery has degredated to 90%, so not an entirely fair comparison. Even grand new though, I think the iPhone X probably does perform a little better than the iPhone 7 when it comes to battery.
Thanks for the case recommendation , if I am to get one, I would like it to be rugged enough to offer decent protection, but as slim as possible.

#10 Face ID

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Haha , indeed it is not at all logical that I would declare the iPhone X the victor after a 2-1 defeat, but there it is! I love the X but there really are some things about the 7 that I miss.
It's true, Touch ID really is fantastic, if Face ID is to be the future, then I really think they are going to have to make major improvements to it.
, at first I would have agreed with you about Apple Pay, and even now I probably do still prefer it with Touch ID as you've explained, but I actually got used to the new way of doing it with Face ID fairly quickly, so it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me personally.

#11 iPhone 8 and loving it

I electe3d to go with the iPhone 8, and I'm glad. I haven't even attempted the face ID part, but either it was the oddness that was this person's screen protector or I just didn't understand how to make it work, but I could not, for the life of me, get the swipe up from the bottom with one finger gestures to work. I think I managed to get to app switcher once out of the 10 times I attempted it. Mind you, I am not a new iPhone user... got my first 4S I believe in 2012. I'll be hanging onto this phone with a physical home button as long as I can and dreading when they take it out of all future models. Hopefully, by then, I'll have played with enough devices to master the single finger swipe up to reliably get to the app switcher by then.