Top 4 Features of iPhone X

One of the most daring — and expensive — phones of 2017, the iPhone X has some great design and software features that attempt to justify the stratospheric $1,000 price. It’s got ultraslim bezels and an all-screen face, an excellent camera and cutting-edge face-scanning technology.

Of course, the iPhone X has more than a few maddening feature flaws that make me shake my head in disappointment, but after using the X for over two months, I’ve come to really love some of the subtler changes. They successfully make it much smoother and more useful than previous iPhones. And when you’re using the phone for hours a day, every day, even small conveniences add up.

Here are the five that made the biggest impression on me, plus one runner-up that needs a little work.

Lock screen notifications for your eyes only

Your notifications and alerts aren’t anyone’s business but your own, which is what makes this anti-Peeping Tom feature so great.

Give the lock screen a sidelong glance and your list of notifications simply shows you the apps that are alerting you: Gmail, text, Facebook Messenger and so on.

But when the iPhone X’s depth-sensing Face ID camera recognizes you, the details of the alert fill in. You suddenly see the sender and the actual message; either the full text if it’s short or an excerpt if it’s long.

When Android phones begin adding similar advanced face-scanning technology — remember, Qualcomm is making this technology available to all phones that use its Snapdragon 845 chipset — I expect to see them adopt this approach, too.

Face ID saves time logging into websites

Face ID doesn’t always work when I want it to, but when it does, it can whisk me right into password-protected websites such as Amazon and my bank. That saves me from having to type my password a million times. It works similarly to registering your fingerprint to access a site — except you literally never have to lift a finger.

This is a feature you opt in to, so you don’t have to use it if you prefer tight password control. You can also use Face ID to authenticate purchases, but that’ll happen on a seller-by-seller basis.

Fancy portrait selfies

With the iPhone X, Apple wants you to take even more portrait shots.

Both the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X give you new portrait lighting options (in beta) to give bokeh-effect photos some additional theatrical drama. But only the iPhone X extends the same courtesies to the front-facing camera.

Flip over to selfie mode and you’re able to tap Portrait to gently blur the background and make your mug pop. You’ll also be able to choose from lighting options: natural, studio, contour, stage and stage light mono. These can make a big difference in rounding out your self-portrait.

One thing to keep in mind: While Apple uses two rear cameras to achieve portrait mode on the iPhone X, 8 Plus and 7 Plus, portrait mode selfies rely on a single camera lens, assisted by software. Don’t expect the same level of quality and detail as dual-camera portrait mode.

Check out what happens when you try taking portraits with the front-facing camera.

Easier app switching

The typical way to flip from one open app to another is to swipe up from the iPhone X’s bottom edge until a carousel of apps appears, and then swipe right to leaf through those.

Another way that I find faster is to place your finger at the edge of the bottom bezel and then flick right. That opens your latest apps in full-screen mode — the above carousel method shows you shrunken “thumbnail” versions that you can then expand once you’ve selected the one you want. This is especially useful if you want to go to an app you opened immediately before.

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