Techno-optimist: We are in the era of innovation with technology reshaping the course of mankind. Techno-sceptic: Innovation has slowed and we have crossed the peak of tech era. Truth is, the significance of any technological change is best seen in hindsight. That’s exactly the case when I recently unboxed a renewed iPhone X that ControlZ had sent in for an experience. It’s a significant phone not just for the folks at Apple but history books dedicated to smartphones. Come November, the phone will complete its fifth anniversary.
It’s still there, like a rock that has stood the march of time, working as smoothly as it did the day it went into sale. It’s still there in public circulation with people clinging on to it. It still costs more than mid-range Android phones because there is value in the device. Some will no doubt call this romanticism of the Apple logo, yet nobody can deny that every other smartphone brand wants to copy that one feature Apple boasts of — trust, something that can’t be created overnight.
Still winning photogs
What the iPhone X brought with it are changes that set the tone for the next decade of smartphones and how we interact with the device. This was the phone that brought about some fundamental changes. Suddenly the world woke up to the benefits of a secure facial ID system, of gesture controls to make the phone work instead of tactile buttons, and Animoji.
Using a phone from 2017 in 2022 has never been more satisfactory, especially when realising that rival phones from that year have almost disappeared. The phone looks as fresh today as it did in November 2017. The build quality is impeccable, the glass sandwich design appears contemporary while the stainless steel chassis feels classy. Clutching the 5.8-inch screen feels so right even though we now have bigger phones.
Obviously when ControlZ wondered if we could review the device, the company also wanted us to check out ways Apple comes up with phones that have a long life cycle. This can be seen in various departments.
Let’s talk about the tech aspect. It’s the first phone where the home button got replaced, requiring Apple customers to learn gestures and swipes to control the phone. In 2017 it took a couple of days to master this but now, take out any phone — not just the iPhone — out of the box and we know what to do with it. No home button also means no fingerprint reader, which was replaced by Face ID and Apple’s version of it has become the gold standard for getting into the phone. In 2017, users changed hairstyles, wore sunglasses, men tried to shave their beard off… all this just to make Face ID falter. It didn’t. The only difference I see today is that the technology works much faster than it did five years ago.
Meaningful changes were made on the camera front. The launch year of the phone was also the time when Google Pixel phones were making great strides. Sure, the Pixel phone from that era remains quite good when it comes to photography but the iPhone X does a fantastic job overall — photo and video. Suddenly, we had bright, contrast-y photos, there was a proper telephoto lens and the camera has excellent dynamic range while colour accuracy is on point. I took photos — plenty of them — with the iPhone X and each of them sharp enough to match the quality of many contemporary Android flagship phones.
Where the iPhone X wins hands down is software experience. My iPhone 13 Pro Max is using the latest version of iOS 15 and so is this iPhone X. The widgets are there and many of the important software features. iOS works flawlessly and free of stumbles. It’s one of the reasons why people buy iPhones — get one and continue to use it for six-seven years. There is resell value in the iPhone, a fact not lost on the team at ControlZ. The phone didn’t come in the original Apple box but the packaging lives up to high Apple standards. Easy to unbox and when the phone is revealed, it looks like a star shining in the middle of a large stage. This iPhone X is expected to continue getting software upgrade. It will get iOS 16 later this year and I am pretty sure, it will even see through 2023.
The phone’s age can perhaps be only seen if you play complicated video games. Not that the game will play up; some of the other apps in the background may automatically close to free up the RAM to handle the game.
I am pretty sure your next query is battery life. Older iPhones had smaller batteries and you could barely make it through the day without charging. Those days are long gone, something people who haven’t used an iPhone in the last two-three years need to realise. With the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, you will easily get by a day and a half. The renewed iPhone comes with a battery which has 100 per cent health and it should easily last sometime. The screen is flawless and so is the chassis and rear panel… as if I had been using the phone for five years and taken good care of the device.
Why it matters
Technology will continue to change, new features will come in but for a substantial chunk of smartphone users, it all boils down to decent cameras, decent processor, decent screen, decent audio output… the word decent is not something Apple dabbles in because everything has to be brilliant since customers are paying a premium. The Super Retina or OLED display on the iPhone X is fantastic (with Dolby Vision support and HDR10), the camera is fantastic, the build is fantastic, looks are timeless. That’s the magic of iPhones — it continues to set trends and maintain high standards, may we say gold standard?
Device: iPhone X (renewed; from ControlZ, price Rs 32,000)
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