One week with the iPhone X! My impressions (Part II)

On my last post, I talked about my initial impressions of using the iPhone X. I talked about the screen, the phone size, the overall build, the famous notch (love it or hate it, it is gonna be there) and the flagship feature, FaceID.

Battery

Battery life is great. However, I do feel that the plus size models of the iPhone (like the iPhone 7 plus and iPhone 8 plus) offer slightly longer battery life than the iPhone X. It is not a game breaker, it can still do wonderful things without draining battery too much too fast. The phone can still last the entire day without needing a recharge. However I still feel that battery life on the new iPhone X is slightly shorter than I am used to. Perhaps this could all boil down to the OLED screen. When the OLED screen is bright and pushes out white or bright colours, power consumptions on the OLED screen can be quite high. There have been videos on YouTube showing that if you minimize bright coloured pixels like white, blue or green, the battery life of the iPhone can clearly be extended by a significant margin. So it’s not surprising that the main feature of the phone, the OLED screen, could potentially be a hard feature that consumes the most battery. Certain apps have night mode options, which I will enable it without hesitation to save some battery life.

App switching is quick and responsive

App switching requires new gestures, now that the phone has no home button. You simply swipe up and stay there for a fraction of a section to cycle through the app that are current open and running, or simply swipe up and flick right to switch app back and forth. Appe switching is fast, not just the action of swiping but the fact that the app immediately ‘wakes up’ and responds to your touch the moment it is active on your screen. It is near instantaneous to the point that I now switch app incessantly, without feeling the frustration of waiting for the app to refresh, load or respond to my touch the moment is becomes the active app. Clearly the blazing fast processor that is in the current iPhone X is fast enough for that task at hand.

Overall, I am loving the iPhone X. Sure, it is crazy expensive and it is definitely not for everyone. But coming from an Apple fan, Apple has clearly rejuvenate their smartphone lineup with an exciting new design and new technology that is perfect in everyway, especially when it is supposed to be a 10-year anniversary phone. 10 years is not a very long  time in tech terms but the improvements made from the software and hardware point of view where Apple’s smartphones are concerned are measured by leaps and bounds. Who knows what smartphones would look like in the next 10 years?

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One week with the iPhone X! My impressions!

The last time I talked about how the purchase of the iPhone X was purely on impulse. It wasn’t a planned purchase, especially on something that costs a whopping S$1888 for the 256GB model of the iPhone X. I somehow got lucky that there was an in-store pickup option available when I was just fooling around on the Apple online store. Sensing that I had a very narrow window of opportunity before somebody else online snatches those precious few iPhone Xs available in the wild after the initial launch, I placed my fingerprint on the TouchID and my fate was irrevocably sealed. I had just surrendered my precious S$1888 to Apple in exchange for their latest flagship phone. The next morning, I head down to the Apple Store at Orchard and within 15 minutes, the iPhone X was in my hand. The order was placed on a Saturday, a week and one day after the official launch of the phone.

 

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So here are my general first impressions.

The Build

With an all glass build, this new iPhone X is sleek and sexy. Apple is the master of craftsmanship, especially on an industrial scale. It is no surprise that the company does not skimp on manufacturing, ensuring that every little detail is accounted and well thought out with the end user in mind. For example, at the back of the phone, there is just one word; iPhone. There is no longer any logo or safety symbols that is made mandatory to be there for all electronic devices. Apple has gone great lengths to ensure that the back of the phone is pristine and minimalistic, maintaining the perception, that this is a super high-end product.

Sure, there have been numerous criticism about the phone’s overal fragility, especially when deciding upon glass to cover the entire phone, but a good quality iPhone case would mitigate that problem.

As far as fingerprint magnets are concerned, yes, with such a smooth material like glass being used, naturally it is a fingerprint magnet. However, the adoption of stainless steel surrounding the phone has given it added strength it the previously used aluminium from the older models. The glass is surprisingly scratch resistant.

The screen

Without getting all too technical about the screen and the resolution, (you can read those on the official website) one thing is for sure; it is gorgeous. The moment you look at it, you can immediately notice a rather large visual upgrade from the usual LCD panels that we are so used to in older models of the iPhone. The OLED display certainly catches your attention. It is noticeably visible that it is overall brighter, colours punchier (but not overly saturated like the Samsung Galaxy model of phones) and very accurate. The bezel-less design have the effect of drawing you in, capturing every ounce of attention away from everything else until you are fully immersed in the screen. It is that good. For something that you interact with most of the time where smartphones are concerns, Apple certainly did not skimp on the visuals department, going all out to ensure that it has the best display ever on a smartphone, in all measures.

The notch

Upon using it for the first time, the next thing you notice is the notch. It looked… weird at first, but after a while, you get used to it. It is not very wide as some would suggest. It is noticeable, but definitely not an eyesore for me. Personally, I feel that the notch serves two function; product differentiation and the allowance of FaceID components (among other things within the notch). In a crowded marketplace of smartphones from different manufacturers all designing a bezel-less phone, Apple has attempted to differentiate itself from its competition, by making its flagship bezel-less phone look different. Knowing that the notch is there, and seeing it instantaneously informs a consumer that this is an iPhone X. And none other. The notch is also necessary to house all the high tech components that make up FaceID. Watching videos could potentially be a problem for some, but for me, I dont really watch videos at great lengths on my iPhone, so I can’t really comment on that aspect with regards to the presence of the notch.

FaceID

When Apple introduced FaceID for the first time, a lot of people were quite intrigued. TouchID was excellent (and will remain an excellent form of a secure biometric ID for years to come) Apple has refined TouchID to the point where it became seemless and invisible. We don’t think about it anymore. It is just there. Place your finger on the Home Button and in a fraction of a second, upon recognition, it unlocks your phone instantaneously. So why change it?

According to Apple, with FaceID, using your face as a form of identification is more secure than your fingerprint. The chances of a random stranger (other than your very similar looking evil twin, which can fool FaceID) unlocking your phone using their face is much lower than a fingerprint.

Using your face as a form of ID is not new. Samsung has it’s own retina scan feature. So Apple isn’t the first to market with such ID system implemented on a smartphone. What Apple did (and did well) was to implemented it and get it right. In my personal use of FaceID, it worked 98% of the time. The other 2% was when I wasn’t looking at my phone, or it was at an odd angle that the phone couldn’t find my face, or it is just held too near or too far from my face. It is fast enough for me not to notice that my face is being scanned before unlocking my phone. Touch ID is still a tiny sliver faster than FaceID, although I am confident that through software enhancements and future hardware iteration in future models, Touch ID will improve by leaps and bounds, making it more accurate, more responsive and more secure.

The only downside I can think about it using FaceID (aside from the fact that it is a tiny bit slower than TouchID) is that now, you gotta pay attention to the phone and make an effort at looking at it to unlock. Notifications gets pinged to you all day long and if your phone is flat on the table and you need to unlock your phone or read those notifications, you really need lift up your phone, face it in front of you and look at it to unlock. You can still unlock your phone while it is flat on the table, but from my experience you kinda have to lean forward more towards the screen before it can find your face and unlock it for you.

The advantage of FaceID is the added privacy feature of hiding the contents of your notifications, and revealing them as you unlock your phone. This ensures that only the correct pair of eyes and face are actually looking at the phone before revealing it’s contents. A neat feature to have.

There are a few other positive and negative impressions which I will write in my next posting. So long!

 

Introducing the iPhone X

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This is an impulse buy.

I do not need this phone.

My current iPhone 7 plus served me well for the past year and continued to serve me well till today. Last night, I went to the Apple online store and realised that in-store pickups were available. I immediately pounced on the opportunity to secure myself a 256GB space gray iPhone X. I headed to the Orchard Apple Store the next morning and within 10 minutes inside the store, the phone was in my hands.

It’s S$1888. That is insane. I just bought a S$1888 phone. Even deducting the resale value of my current iPhone 7 Plus (S$550) I am still paying more than S$1300 for a new phone. That is still insane. I don’t know what got me into clicking the ‘buy’ button. There is just something about Apple’s product that just mesmerises me. It could be the screen, the edge to edge display, the faceID, I don’t know, but I am feeling a hint of buyers remorse. Sure the phone is great looking, but do I really need it?

To hell with it. I have already bought it, unboxed it and set up my phone. There is no going back. Guess I will have to brace myself for the credit card bill next month. Thank God for the 13th month bonus!

And… Darn you Apple for making such gorgeous products!

 

 

Giving up my iPad mini 4

Almost a year ago I bought an iPad mini 4. I was excited when it came out. I bought the gold, 128 gb model and I used it primarily to read books and magazines while on my long daily commute. 

It served me well. It’s a great reading companion while in the subway to and from work. I took care of the ipad really well since I last bought it, with not a single scratch on the back of the ipad despite not getting a protector. 

But now that I have the iphone 7 plus, with a bigger screen, I have made my decision to let it go and pass it on to my mum who would utilise it better. Since I only used it for reading and nothing else, it would be far more useful for my mum than me. And now that I have a bigger screen iphone, it seems that the phone could be my main reading companion. I would definitely miss the bigger the screen of the iPad mini, but I feel more satisfied that it’s been to put to far greater use than merely using it only for reading. 

And why complicate my life owning so many gadgets? The new iphone 7 plus is so much more powerful than its predecessor and I personally feel that it could handily replace what the iPad mini could offer when I first bought it. 

Iphone 7 plus 

It’s been 2 years since my last handset upgrade. I must be one of the lucky ones to secure the initial batch of iphone 7 plus. Successfully managed to preregister my interest in getting one from SingTel, and then securing my reservation and collection slot a few days later. 

The iphone 7 plus is sold out worldwide. Like completely sold out. Of course more are on the way in the coming weeks. And those were have been unsuccessful in getting one would have to wait a little longer. 

 I am very satisfied with my purchase. Coming from an iPhone 6 user, the increase in size is a welcome but drastic transition. It’s just so big. I now have to use it with both hands when I’m typing messages to my friends. But everything else is just perfect. I haven’t had the chance to fully utilise the awesome camera, but I’m pretty sure it will take gorgeous photos, not that in a huge fan of selfies. 


So there it is, the gold iphone 7 plus. 

Apple Pay is finally here

American Express is the first credit card company in Singapore to implement Apple Pay. As an Amex user (who recently signed up to take advantage of the 5% cash rebate on the first $5000 spend, spending most of it on my recent Iceland trip) I got to task in keying my credit card information on iOS’s wallet app. The registration was dead simple and in no time at all, my credit card information was safely stored in my phone. I went to my nearby NTUC Fairprice supermarket, where it is one of the first few merchants to fully support Apple Pay and made my first purchase using my phone. It was magical and painless. I simply had to double tap my phone while in sleep mode and it immediately asked for my fingerprint to be scanned. Soon, once verified, I pointed my phone to the NFC payment device and immediately the phone gave a subtle vibration to notify you that the payment transaction was complete. And after that, the phone showed the purchase transaction I made in the wallet app.

Currently, Topshop, Topman, NTUC Fairprice supermarket, Starhub, Uniqlo and Starbucks are just some of a few merchants supporting Apple Pay, but my guess is that any merchant that supports American Express cards AND have the NFC payment device at the cash register would be able to use Apple Pay without any problems. Visa and associated local banks like OCBC, UOB and DBS will be implementing their credit cards to Apple Pay. Competitors like Samsung Pay is also rolling out its payment system sometime this year soon.

I really look forward to registering more of my credit cards to the wallet app in the future, and making payments using a smartphone as ubiquitous as swiping the credit card in the past.

 

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Apps and smartphones have fundamentally changed the way we plan our travels

With the advent of smartphones and apps, we have fundamentally changed the way we plan and manage our travel itineraries. From the way we book our air tickets, our accommodations, to how we get tips and advice on local tourist destinations to even getting access to the different modes of transportation, to how we manage our packing list when packing for our trip. At every step, we have leveraged on the use of our smartphone and the apps that come with it to make travel planning much easier.

For example from my typical experience when planning a trip, I would first open my Skyscanner app to look for great air ticket deals and compare different airline’s air ticket prices, flight durations and the number of transit stops I have to make before reaching my destination. I can also compare prices within the week to select the best days of travel.

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To book my accommodation I would use either the Hostelworld app to book hostels, Airbnb for homestay, or Agoda app to book hotels.

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When I’m actually about to purchase my air tickets, I would allow App in the Air to manage my air ticket ticket reservations and notify me of my upcoming travels.

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Days before flying off, I would use various packing lists app to make sure I have packed everything I needed to pack for my trip.

Before flying off, I would check the local weather using the Apple Weather app, or their local weather app to check on the weather and temperature to make sure I have enough warm clothing if I am travelling to a cold country.

And since I am travelling to Iceland soon as we speak, I use the Aurora Forecast app to find out the best nights to camp out and catch the northern lights.

If I need to check out what are some of the interesting attractions I need to see and visit, I open the TripAdvisor app to look at reviews and ratings of various establishments and attractions available in the local vicinity.

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If I need to catch a cab, I use Uber or GrabTaxi if it is available locally. If I’m in a big city with a complex network of subways and trains like Seoul or Tokyo, I use the subway app to that I don’t get lost in transit. If I rent a car and got lost, I would refer to Google Maps to bring me to my correct destination.

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If I need something translated I use Wordlens app to translate on the fly. If I need to say a particular phrase or word, I refer to the various language app available for smartphones.

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If I see something interesting and I want to take a picture or a video, my smartphone will do the trick. I can make the pictures I took nicer by using various filter apps available and post it on Instagram for all to see. I can use my tumblr or Facebook app to share my travel experience in real time. I can use FaceTime or WhatsApp chat to communicate with my friends and family overseas. I can also blog about it, using Tumblr, or Day One app to chronicle my day to day travels.

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And the list goes on and on. The apps I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of apps to book all kinds of accommodation for your travels. Similarly, there are all kinds of social media apps to share your travel experience with the world as well as travel portal app to get local info.

We have fundamentally changed the way we plan and book our travel itinerary. Almost everything can be done with the smartphone.