iPhone X: An Apple User’s Crisis of Identity Pt. 1

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Chapter 1: The Crisis

As I sit here day-dreaming of what it will be like to use Apple’s most beautiful, advanced iPhone on a daily basis, I can’t help but worry. Will this be enough? Sure. The camera should be the best in its class, right? And it will no doubt be speedy and reliable. But so is my LG V30. Ugh, and that notch. My V30 doesn’t have that, nor does the Galaxy S8. Oof. That’s a really good-looking phone. And the camera’s exquisite. Android’s kind of fun to use too, and so customizable. Wait, why don’t I just use those again? *stares at the MacBook I’m currently typing on* Oh yeah. Come to think of it my car has iDevice integration too. I didn’t choose that! Blame car manufacturers! I do have a jailbroken 2nd Gen Apple TV, but with so many great alternatives, that doesn’t really matter much anymore. Google's Chromecast could be a much more fluid alternative – especially with Google Assistant. Oo, and maybe a Google Home. Agh! iPhone X, look at where you’re making my mind go! Honestly, if you don’t crush it, it may be time for me to rethink my entire ecosystem.

Chapter 2: How We Got Here

Over the years we’ve seen a gradual push and pull between Apple’s iPhone and various Android flagships. Though the iPhone’s hardware had seemingly pulled away long ago, devices like the Galaxy S8, LG V30, and even the Essential Phone make this observation increasingly hard to defend – perhaps even impossible, by some measures. The battle between operating systems, however, has traditionally been more subjective. While Apple may have objectively held the crown in areas like polish, reliability, and app compatibility, that too has become less clear – giving Android another plus on its list of advantages. So, what does the full picture of the Android vs. iPhone battle look like on the latter’s 10-year anniversary?

Chapter 3: Like it or Notch, This is Your Salvation

iPhone owners and market watchers like myself were really looking to this year’s iPhone announcement to bring us something spectacular, something beautiful, and something that would place Apple ahead of the competition, as the earliest iPhones did. In many ways, we got that, but a lot remains to be seen. In terms of design, stainless steel and glass are some of the most premium materials we’ve seen in a phone. Following the industry trend of edge-to-edge displays, Apple delivered a gorgeous OLED screen, rounded corners and all. But with all that screen, there’s no longer space for the home button/fingerprint sensor combo, and wait. Why does the screen have a long cut out on the top?

It’s hard to say why Apple was so staunchly against placing a fingerprint sensor in the rear of its newest iPhone(s) – embedding it within the Apple logo seems simple enough – and we just don’t buy Animojis and superb selfies as compelling justifications for the notch. We can absolutely see why perfecting facial recognition would be important to the company, but doing so at the steep expense of the iPhone’s beautiful crafting seems like it would cause Steve Jobs as much consternation as it does most of us. Nevertheless, instead of refining the technology to the point of seamless integration, as Apple’s done in the past, and simply moving Touch ID to the back panel in the meantime, we’ve been given the notch. 

In a mobile landscape where edge-to-edge displays are the new standard for beauty, and even the Essential phone’s diminutive, and mostly inconsequential notch was gazed upon inquisitively, Apple appears to have given over to the fact that other phones will look better. This is a concept that would typically boggle the mind of any observer, but based on Cupertino’s now four-year old iPhone design, it may come as little surprise to some. Apple has fallen behind in design leadership, and unfortunately had to learn this point embarrassingly while making the anniversary edition of its most iconic device. Fortunately, it’s still an iPhone – the much anticipated 10th anniversary edition, at that. As such, it has a lot of other stuff going for it, so it’s unlikely that Apple will see this effecting sales initially. However, designers in Cupertino would have to be delusional to not realize their sliding status.

Chapter 4: Android vs. iOS – A War of Philosophy and Execution

When it comes to the battle of Android vs. iOS, the stakes have never been lower, and personal preference has become the biggest (but still increasingly irrelevant) factor. That’s bad news for Apple. The disparity in support and reliability used to be quite substantial, with Apple traditionally coming out the victor. Now that Android’s nearly on even footing, iOS’s missteps are highlighted against the backdrop of Android’s maturation and its natural strengths. In other words, Apple needs to step its game up.

Notification Center is a Mess, and Always Has Been

Notifications may be the most annoying and anxiety-inducing part of owning a phone, but alas, phones would be essentially useless without them. What would you have left, anyway? Something that just makes phone calls? Like I said, useless. As important as they are though, the task of sorting and presenting these alerts can be just as, if not more, critical.

Android’s handling of notifications has long been enviable to the iOS user, beginning first with the simple existence of a notification shade – an addition Apple introduced to iOS years after Android. It seems Apple’s been playing catch up ever since, making major redesigns to its notification center on almost every release of iOS since the feature's debut on iOS 5.

Apple’s initial aversion to widgets led its developers to create a panel in the notification center where all your widgets are lined up to scroll through. Fine. A little overwhelming, especially if you’d like news stories in there, but it can be organized, more or less, to your liking. Inexplicably, Apple’s next move was to add more pages to the notification center, which, as evidenced by their absence in iOS 11, were largely useless. After going through a couple iterations with this additional clutter (iOS 7 – 9) Apple’s presently set on the notification center simply mimicking the lockscreen in every way, right down to the camera shortcut and seemingly accidental ability to lock your phone. Not only is this a confusing and often frustrating setup, but it appears lazy, unimaginative, redundant, and borderline careless.

When control center was introduced in iOS 7, it sought to remedy an issue Android had long ago sorted out: accessing quick settings and toggles. Control center is now a spattering of random squares and rectangles, which looks amateurish and downright ugly. Two pages for control center, one for music, and one for everything else? No way; not anymore. Make it look like Duplo Blocks and just use the whole screen. Three pages for the notification center? Of course. And make it just like the lockscreen now, ‘cause whatever, who cares?

Meanwhile, Android and its purveyors have stuck to the notification center delivering notifications and quick toggles – simple as that. “But where’s my today screen?” a fan of the feature on iOS might ask. Swipe right from your homescreen and you’ll find Google Assistant’s dashboard with tailored news and information for your day – all in a format that’s easy to glance, digest, and either scroll past or delve into further. And of course, it’s customizable.

Given the choice between clean and proper notification handling with Google’s tailored home screen, or a three-page notification center comprised of a notifications page, a today screen built entirely from widgets, and a page that inexplicably opens the camera, it would appear obvious what most users would prefer. I never thought I’d be saying this, but Apple, clean it up.

Handling Notifications

The handling of these alerts as they arrive, or build up, is integral to your mobile experience. If you get a lot of emails, or notifications of any kind, it’s absolutely paramount that you’re able to interact with them quickly and efficiently. Similarly, being able to go through numerous old notifications in an accessible and manageable way makes the task quicker, and less stressful. While there was a time that iOS was close to nailing the initial interaction – circa iOS 8 – now, interacting with alerts is clunky and even poorly formatted. The interaction of deleting an email takes a minimum of three gestures on iOS, compared to Android, which can complete the same action in as little as one. Check the GIFs below.

Then there’s the matter of organizing past notifications. For a few years now, Android has minimized multiple notifications (more than three) into a single expandable notification with a number denoting how many alerts from this particular app lie within. Each notification is lined up chronologically by the app with the latest alert. From here, simply tap to expand, and deal with each notification one by one, or swipe the entire notification to clear it. This is a pleasantly simple and efficient approach to sorting and interacting with what can otherwise be a daunting amount of notifications.

iOS, on the other hand, has never had a way to minimize multiple notifications. In fact, iOS 11 can’t even group your alerts by app anymore. Alerts simply form a single-file line from newest to oldest, which, without any sort of grouping or minimization, can take some substantial scrolling to make sure you’ve gotten to the bottom of all of them.

It’s clear that over time, iOS design has become increasingly reproachable, in form and in function, while Android continues to mature gracefully.

Chapter 5: The War Continues

Of course, iOS isn’t all bad, and has added some very functional features, such as shrinking pictures and videos to take up half the space they used to. It also remains a generally more reliable OS than Android, with better app support and a more seamless backup and update process.

Updates: Android’s Battle Within

While Google has made some strides in update dissemination, the nature of Android distribution is such that it can almost never be as sweeping and seamless as an iOS update. Pixel phones will provide you the closest experience to that of an iPhone user come update time, but while Google promises three years of major OS updates, Apple averages closer to five – a substantial value proposition. It’s also important to note that this comparison speaks solely to Pixel devices and excludes dozens of Android phones that simply don’t get updates when a new Android version arrives, even if less than a year old. Apple’s advantage of being the sole iPhone and iOS proprietor continues to be unrivaled in this regard.

App Support and Ecosystem

For years the fate of Android wasn’t as clear to everyone as it is today. As such, there was a time when few product manufacturers (cars, TV’s, speakers, etc.) would extend the honor of integration to the little green bot. As Android proved that it wasn’t leaving any time soon, more manufacturers brought on support for the OS, which has closed the gap significantly, but a disparity still exists, with iPhone being the beneficiary. A similar delay exists in third-party apps where, in most instances, Android receives new features later than its iOS-powered counterpart.

Although Google’s been ramping up their hardware production, Apple still has the edge with its first-party device ecosystem. Continuity allows users to pick up a number of apps exactly where they left off between iOS and Mac OS-powered devices. This also includes the super-convenient ability to send texts and make phone calls from your Mac. While third-party apps exist to gain some similar functionalities for Android devices, they’re often unreliable and lack the responsiveness and seamlessness to truly let the user put down their phone. Google has yet to create a software which can mimic any of these capabilities, nor has the company given users an iTunes-esque program to easily backup and update their devices. Given software companies’ increased reliance on the cloud, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see one either.

Chapter 6: An Unlikely Hero Makes Apple ‘Think Different’ Again

One thing the iPhone X and its questionable notch deserve credit for is making iOS developers think differently than they had for some time. Remember that creed? Unfortunately, it’s not as readily apparent in Apple’s design as it once was. Nevertheless, axing the home button and Touch ID forced Apple to integrate two controversial innovations: Face ID and gestures.

While the True Depth camera system will certainly lead to some fascinating third-party use cases – especially with AR Kit in tow – Apple’s own app “Clips” has shown potentially the most impressive secondary application of the system so far. Leveraging the hyper-specific data pulled in from these sensors, as well as the company’s latest neural networking abilities, Clips skillfully applies complex filters to front-facing video capture while replacing the background with robust 360-degree sceneries. Similar applications have already been seen in Snapchat as well as the most commonly talked about feature, Animojis. Predictably, developers will cast a wide net of support for the notch and the hefty hardware within; it is, after all, an iPhone. Altogether, the notch – while ugly by most conventional standards – will bring some much-needed fun back to iOS’s stagnating profile.

Gestures on the iPhone X may be another source of fun, functional as they may be. Without the home button, multitasking and app switching are executed in new, seemingly intuitive ways. While the intuitiveness and fluid functionality of these gestures will be examined and better assessed in the coming weeks, the prospect of interacting with the iPhone in any new way at all is one that adds just another small dose of wonder and excitement. The biggest worry here is that over time we find these gestures not to be better than the alternative (a software home button) but rather just a unique way around it. This may be one of the most telling examples of Apple’s prowess in not just software design, but hardware decision making.

Chapter 7: An Uncertain Future

At the end of the day, I want a phone so beautifully crafted that I find myself just examining its fluid curves and admiring its remarkable materials. Give me a camera so exquisite that I can’t help but snap photos of the seemingly mundane, just to witness its sheer power and refinement. When I unlock the device I should be saying, “Damn, that’s smooth” and “look at that gorgeous screen.” Of course, I want reliability and speed in the OS, but it should also be fun to use, or at least so intuitive that I don’t even think about it. A little fun is necessary, though. Make me use my phone in ways I never have before. Show me something I didn’t think I could or would ever do on my phone, and make it better than before. Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” So, please, show me what I want. Because, honestly iPhone X, if you don’t, I’ll find the device that will – and I mean it this time.

Related phones

iPhone X
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2716 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



2. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Omg the frustration is real.....lol Don't think about it, Just do it.

3. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I really wanted this to be great, but Apple made stupid decision with the notch which is a nightmare for developers, looks ridiculous and makes absolutely no advantage for the user. I know they wanted to stand out from the competition but I really feel that lately Apple's strategy for doing so is making stupid decisions and take features from consumers for no reason.

10. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

That notch gives extra screen to users, or smaller device. So yes there is advantage. Also it makes the screen look very smooth with all those curves. it also makes the screen look more lively.

15. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

How can the notch give extra screen, when it blocks the screen? Stupid! What advantage is that? nearly 3M app on app store and more than 2/3rd will never be updated. Which means, for people who use those apps where the content is blocked, will be force to try a different apps, which may not provide a good work-around. How can you justify this BS?! Oh wait. I already know. It does not make the screen look smooth. The screen looks as it does because Samsung made it. All you haters hated OLED displays when mostly only Samsung had it. Apple fans are always the typical hypocrites.

29. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Without notch there would be up and down bezels, same size bezel for down what notch is. About apps you are also wrong, Apple just made developers to force to use 32 apps. Which means active apps just got update. So the apps which work with iOS11 are very likely to be upgraded for iPhone X. It was smart move from Apple, now there's no dead apps anymore which works. And Yes OLED been quite bad with their oversatured unnatural colours. Luckily we got Apple tweaked screen which looks amazing which also is best screen in the market now, and i doubt anyone can top that in a long time.

36. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Again, you're lack so much sense, you didn't even read what I said. ANd then you said the same thing afterwards I already said. Like I said, the notch blocks the screen. Until an app is updated, any app that has content at the top will be block. All full screen videos will also be blocked. As I stated, even though lots of apps will be updated, the vast majority won't. I have old 32bit apps that still work on iOS11. I have already loaded those apps via Apple SDK. The content at the top is gonna be blocked. Yes the most popular apps like FB, Twitter, MS Office and plenty of apps will be updated to deal with the Notch. But here is the issue. For those sames apps that get updated to deal with the notch on the iPhone X, those same apps will have a bunch of wasted padded space at the top. I've already seen apps like this and I also develop apps for iOS. Apple tweaked screen is still over-saturated with colors. No matetr what you claim, because that is the "natural" look of all OLED panels do to the pixel arrangement. If you go an look at DisplayMate article, you will see. 6500K is the sweetspot. So any number higher than the colors are warmer, which means they will be darker. Anything under 6500 the colors are cooler which means they will be lighter in tone. According to Displaymate, the iPhone X resides around 6,591-6,597, which means the color is warmer/darker or more saturated vs the Note 8 which is 6,465-6,471. Which means the Note 8 is still closer to absolute color accuracy vs the iPhone X. Also the Kelvin which is what the 6500 if, is 100% adjustable on Galaxy S8 and Note 8. And not on the iPhone X. Even in the camera settings of the S8/Note 8 you can adjust the Kelvin which by default is set to 5500K. Do you even understand tech facts? The iPhone X according to DisplayMate is the best display to date. It should be because its a newer device. So Apple finally going OLED and they did a good job with it and I am impressed with that. If they didn't have that notch in the display, I would have bought it and if they had kept Touch ID with Face ID and not dropping what works for what doesn't work as good.

22. Klinton

Posts: 1409; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Of course Apple could make small bezel instead of the fugly notch. The NOTCH is there only for one reason: Apple to cheat you, that iPhone X is 5.8'' screen , and you to believe it . But the real usable size, is no more than 5.5 inch. BTW... how do you like , not to have battery percentage icon?

30. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"BTW... how do you like , not to have battery percentage icon?" Seriously? :D where i need that? You know the icon shows how much i have battery left, so i just look and see do i have 20/40/60/80 i don't need to know exact percentage and i want just swipe down from right corner, where's the problem? Android users too stupid to analyze icon with line getting smaller? :)

14. maherk

Posts: 7010; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I really hated the notch until yesterday, I tried the phone at Best Buy and within seconds I forgot it was there. If I didn't have the S8 Plus, that notch wouldn't affect my decision of buying the iPhone X, but for now, I'm sticking to my S8+.

19. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Suppose the S8 had that notch, what would you be saying? Because we all know what the Samsung haters would be saying. The reality is, Apple fans have no choice as all the rest of us have no choice; when OEM's make stupid decisions. But we can make OEM's pay for their stupid decisions, buy not buying their product until they get it right. If you NEVER show any sign of discouragement, then OEM's will do stupid crap like rmoving useful features to enable stupid unverified beta hard/software in their products because no one speaks against. The device isn't totally terrible. The Notch and all the stupid gestures and the fact gettign to the home screen which was a one-step process, is now two-step. The fact is, the FPS was the better solution because it can be used discretely, because it was faster, it was a one-step process and because the home button provide other benefits. The iOS 11 UI, proves that a 100% gesture driven UI on complicated device, simply makes it more complicate to use. Apple scoffed OEM's for removing features just to enable risky gimmicky ones, and look what they are doing. They removed the headphone jack for lame force touch and their stupid feedback hardware. So glad none of the Android OEM's have implemented Force Touch. Because it capabilities can be done 100% in software which is the best way to do it, so you have space in the phone for useful hardware.

20. kiko007

Posts: 7520; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Bruh, you take this stuff WAY too seriously... relax.

34. iSeeU

Posts: 49; Member since: Nov 03, 2017

Look whose talking ... The guy who insults and calls out other users if they hate Apple.... LMAO. You start to use abusive words when you lose an argument.

37. kiko007

Posts: 7520; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Hating anything inanimate that doesn't harm you is irrational, thus I ridicule those who do so. My "abusive" language is a byproduct of years of being called different breeds of animals for liking a specific set of features... sue me.

23. maherk

Posts: 7010; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Stop barking ffs

31. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Dude, if you really want the iPhone X this notch will never ever bother you. And on Apple's behalf they didn't put it just to ruin your user experience, they did it for an awesome reason that might change the future. It's called FaceID. If you are another Apple hater I understand your dramatic repulsion effect for this awesome phone, but if you love Apple this notch is not a big deal at all.

41. redmd

Posts: 1948; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

I think people will still love and justify the notch even if it's in the center

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Finally someone surpassed techie. Techie your turn.

5. Phullofphil

Posts: 1829; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I like the notch. Makes use of wasted space. How does it affect the developer, they don’t have to use it. Eventually screens will be on everything that could use one in all kinds of weird shapes. I like the camera system up front. The notch either had to be there or the area would have been wasted. I wonder if people that don’t like the notch are pessimistic by nature well in general anyway.

8. ColinW

Posts: 413; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

The point is there were ways to deal with the camera on the front, much better than an ugly notch.

12. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

You bet. Design was an afterthought

32. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Ways like what??? Bezels on top and bottom like in Galaxy s8? No thanks. That's so generic and looks old. Notch us million times better than that....lol

42. Phullofphil

Posts: 1829; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

How would you do that

18. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Extra space with questionable usability. There was more space to be gained around the screen (relatively thick border all around), space that would have actually benefited every application without botching up imaging.

6. joey18

Posts: 678; Member since: Jul 20, 2010

is fine not big deal

7. cmdacos

Posts: 4319; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Lazy design in what could have been amazing hardware. And then there's the limited software...

11. terhesg

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 09, 2016

I'm even worse than the writer :D However I pre-ordered the X, got it on the 3rd, and now I'm selling my S8. Love this phone. That's all

21. libra89

Posts: 2313; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Wow sounds like your s8 is no longer wanted anymore...

13. Whitedot

Posts: 866; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

"One thing the iPhone X and its questionable notch deserve credit for is making iOS developers think differently than they had for some time". That is so apologetically inside out. Next thing Apple should do is bring that notch right in the middle of the screen just to give developers sleepless nights. Genius.

33. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Notch is right in the middle of the screen???? Lol wtf? Ha ha haaaaaaaaaa... It's on the top corner and it's so small in size thus most people don't even notice it after couple of days.

38. Whitedot

Posts: 866; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

It's called notch assimilation program. Buy the time of notch iteration 4 people stop seeing it at all . It takes a few days for X users to ignore that blob sticking out on your screen but in the future user brain will be so well trained it will have no effect on people anymore. Trust me.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.