Yes, I bought a $1000 animoji machine

I'm a nerd. This should come as no surprise. I bought the first iPhone when it launched in 2007. At first Apple didn't even have an app store - what came with the phone was your only software. There was no front-facing camera and no video capability, It was, however, an awesome mp3 player/internet surfer/phone. And I admit, it was a bit fun when I brought it to work that first time, a crowd of curious co-workers wanting to see the magical gadget.

Ten years later when the iPhone X launched I waffled. It's expensive. It's glass. It swaps out one perfectly fine security feature with another. But that beautiful edge-to-edge OLED screen was compelling, quenching my desire to have an phablet-sized screen in a standard-sized phone. So, last week I reached a tipping point and bought one.

In my mind, I envisioned walking into the AT&T store, saying, "I would like an iPhone X, good sir," handing over my briefcase filled with cash, and watching the clerk slap the box into my eager hand.

The AT&T store's response

The AT&T store's response

Of course, AT&T will not let you buy the phone outright, but instead insists on you signing up for AT&T Next. So, a jillion signatures and forty-minutes later, I finally left with my 64 gb Space Gray iPhone X.

Here's my thoughts after using it for a week:

  • First, I love it. Not sure why I waffled so long.


  • It's a little taller, wider and heavier than my old 6s. When I hold it with one hand, I hold it differently, resting my pinky underneath the bottom for support. Holding it this way for a while is tiring. It feels much more natural to hold the phone with my left hand while my right does the gestures.
  • Those beautiful stainless steel and glass curves simultaneously feel great in your hand and like a wet bar of soap. Sadly, a case is necessary.
  • The new gestures are awesome and I do not miss the home button at all. In general, you swipe up instead of clicking the home button, and you swipe up and pause to enter multi-tasking. In multi-tasking you can still fling apps off screen to close them.
  • Face ID works so well that I often forget it exists. I'm used to apps prompting me for touch ID when I open them, but now they just unlock without asking for anything.
  • The rear camera takes amazing pictures in portrait mode.
  • The front camera takes weird pictures in portrait mode. They're fine in regular mode, but the stage/contour lighting produced images which looked like bad Photoshopping.
My first selfie with the iPhone X front portrait camera

My first selfie with the iPhone X front portrait camera

  • The edge-to-edge screen looks great.  You can notice the OLED difference if you set the background to black (in which case, it's pitch black, and icons almost have a 3D effect).  In terms of color and clarity, though, it doesn't look much different than a regular iPhone.
  • In portrait mode, I ignore the notch. In landscape mode, the notch is a little weird, but not a big deal.
  • Although I'm not sure if I'll use animoji, every single person I showed them to was entranced and played with them, laughing.

A few quirks:

  • When reading a webpage, it's typical to scroll up with your thumb and pause while you read new content.  But this is the same gesture to launch multi-tasking.
  • The power-button-that's-sometimes-the-power button is odd.  It's now a multi-function button that does everything from opening Siri to using Apple Pay. You can turn the phone on with it, but turning the phone off requires pressing it and the volume button.
  • At work, I lay my phone flat beside my computer. To trigger face ID, I need to lean into the phone a bit. By default, all notifications on the lock screen are masked (they just show the app and something like "new message") until the phone sees you. It's kind of cool that it's a "for your eyes only" feature, but I turned it off because I got tired of constantly leaning in to see my emails.
  • Although the phone displays a remaining battery graphic, the battery percentage is hidden in the control center. I miss the battery percentage.
  • Surprisingly, the phone comes with wired headphones which have a lightning connector, but the headphones no longer include the plastic storage case.

But, overall it's a great phone, and I'm glad I upgraded from my 6S to it.