Six years ago, the iPhone X set the table for everything that has come since

in iPhone edited September 2023

In September 2017, Tim Cook said the iPhone X would "set the path for technology for the next decade." All these years later, it looks like Cook was right.

Apple's iPhone X
Apple's iPhone X

When Tim Cook introduced the iPhone X on September 12, 2017, he did so under the famous "One more thing..." banner.

"We have great respect for these words," he said, "and we don't use them lightly."

This new iPhone was unveiled specifically to mark and to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone. So the launch made sense in that way, but it was also odd in another.

It was the last thing announced at the 2017 iPhone event, which means it followed a long segment introducing the iPhone 8. That was the big release, that was what Apple initially appeared to be devoting the presentation to, but then it pulled the rug out from its own new creation.

Very few who saw the iPhone X unveiling shrugged and decided they would prefer the iPhone 8.

But, this was Apple's first iPhone that started at that $999 price point. If any part of that pricing decision was a marketing test to see how much we could be persuaded to pay out, it was unfortunately a giant success.

What you got for your money

If nothing else, Cook was right about the iPhone X setting the path for the future, because now it is the norm. These days, if you pick up an old iPhone you have to adapt, and you may even have to be shown how to use it.

Whereas in September 2017, Apple's launch of the iPhone X was all about teaching us how to use the then-new paradigm. There was no more Home button, so Phil Schiller even asked aloud: "How do you wake up your iPhone X?"

With the Home button removed, Apple could make what it called an all-screen display. It isn't all screen, there was the notch, another new feature that has become so very familiar.

The notch gave us Face ID, which Schiller painstakingly explained. He also gushed about the glass front and back, plus the stainless steel surround.

Then he spent some time detailing the OLED screen that was new with the iPhone X. Previous iPhones used an LCD panel, but now we had what Apple called a Super Retina HD Display, with a 2436 x 1125 resolution, giving it a pixel density of 458 PPI.

"Now all this innovative super Retina display technology is great," said Schiller, "but it's the point of it that matters."

"And the point of it is to enable an entirely new experience that's more fluid more intuitive," he continued.

Phil Schiller demonstrates the new iPhone X
Phil Schiller demonstrates the new iPhone X

He described the now-familiar way we glance at our iPhones and then swipe up.

"This is an important part and a big step forward in the iPhone user experience," he said. "Something we use hundreds of times a day for so many tasks is an opportunity to rethink how iPhone should work and how we can make it better."

"So now we want to go to the homescreen, simply swipe up from the bottom," continued Schiller. "You go home. It's that simple. It's that easy. It's incredibly smooth."

"And once you do it for the first time, you know there's never been a better way," he said. "There has never been anything like it."

The iPhone X display was larger than before, it was brighter, and it had better color accuracy. It was no more possible to resist in 2017 than it is today to imagine having anything less.

Perhaps Tim Cook exaggerated when he also said it was "it is the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone." But just as you can see how all smartphones changed once that original iPhone was launched, from today's perspective, we can see the iPhone X caused a sea change too.

The first the world saw of Face ID
The first the world saw of Face ID

How it was received

"The iPhone X is cool," said the first review in the New York Times. "That doesn't mean you are ready for one."

AppleInsider got a bit more detailed and described just where the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 actually overlap in terms of performance and features. But even so, it said "owning Apple's top-of-the-line $1,000 iPhone X is a fashion statement."

"Apple finally knocks it out of the park," said The Guardian review at the time.

"The iPhone X is Apple's most important - and most expensive - new smartphone in four years," continued the newspaper, "bringing with it a significant change to the design, dumping the home button to usher in a full-screen experience."

"Thankfully, Apple nailed it," concluded The Guardian.

"iPhone X is a gorgeous gadget, worth appreciating on aesthetic value alone," said Wired -- in a review that repeatedly praised the phone, but said Cook was wrong.

"The iPhone X is not the phone of the future," it said. "It could be, someday, if Apple's right about augmented reality and the power of a great camera."

But it was "Apple's most ambitious attempt ever at making a phone absolutely seamless," continued the review.

The new notch contained so much, but also look at the curves of the screen as the display goes right into the corners
The new notch contained so much, but also look at the curves of the screen as the display goes right into the corners

"When I first got the iPhone X, Face ID felt like an annoying extra step," it said, talking about turning on the iPhone, waiting for "the lock icon to swing to the unlocked position," and then swiping up to actually go do anything.

"But that's me trying to re-learn a bad habit," continued the reviewer. "If, instead, I pick up the phone and the screen automatically turns on as I lift it, all I have to do is swipe up from the bottom of the screen."

And Engadget perhaps summed the iPhone X up the best. Its review was headlined: "Embrace the new normal."

The impact of the iPhone X

In the short term, the iPhone X had its problems -- and so did Face ID. There were sufficient faults that Apple Stores would regularly replace a customer's entire iPhone X.

There were also activation issues with AT&T -- but when aren't carriers a problem? And despite Schiller's shilling of the Apple Pay contactless payment system, that had some issues in Japan.

And the much-hyped OLED screen also had problems. Some users reported green lines down the left or right side of the screen.

Notice the green line down the right hand side
Notice the green line down the right hand side

That was all disappointing in a phone that was meant to "set the path for technology," but then it was a huge update. And when you make millions of them, things will go wrong somewhere.

Ultimately, all of the issues with individual iPhone X units were fixed, and now we can see the longer term view.

In that longer term, the iPhone X did transform all phones -- or almost all phones. There is still the iPhone SE which, for now, is hanging on to its Home button.

But it must be the last smartphone to have that, or anything like it. Everything else - everything else - is an "all-display" phone with some kind of notch or hole punch for a face-scanning lens system.

We've had notches and holes and cutouts in every possible combination, but it was Apple's iPhone X that made them mainstream.

And it was the iPhone X that made the $1,000 smartphone certainly commonplace, and practically normal.

When it came out for a grand, the iPhone X was released alongside the iPhone 8, which started at $699. Five years later, the base iPhone 14 started at $799.

So it's not that every phone has risen as far, but Apple's Pro models will never go back down below the thousand. And it's typically the Pro models that are the most popular -- because they are the most capable.

Perhaps, then, the iPhone X also set a path for just how much a phone can do.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 17
    I don’t regret that I got the iPhone 8 and I absolutely loved the jet black color.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    I’m reading this on my iPhone X - and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed owning it. It’s showing signs of aging now - although getting the battery changed by a third party was a bad idea (dust under the screen in front of the front camera, and screen/touch misalignment) - however it’s still good. I’ve ordered my iPhone 14 Pro and looking forward to the upgrade.
    StrangeDaysAlex_VAnilu_777watto_cobrajony0Bart Y
  • Reply 3 of 17
    Still enjoy my iphone 10. Only issue I ever had with it (and still do) is faceid never worked in bright sunlight. Size is great too, not too big, not too small. Battery still lasts 24 hours, even after 5 years.
    bonobobStrangeDaysAlex_VAnilu_777watto_cobrajony0dewmeBart Y
  • Reply 4 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    My longest iPhone by far; every other iPhone I've had I felt compelled to upgrade after one or two years, but the iPhone X still holds its own and I have no desire to part with it. Five years!
    Alex_VAnilu_777watto_cobrajony0dewmeBart Y
  • Reply 5 of 17
    Thank you AppleInsider for a trip down Apple Memory Lane.
    Alex_Vwatto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 6 of 17
    The iPhone X certainly set the path for the next decade. When people try to use fingerprint readers it looks like it is a decade old. The A11 and TrueDepth camera has allowed for fun things like Portrait photos and Animojis, but the fact that iPad Air and mini still use Touchid in 2022 is sad. I am going to the iPad Pro for that reason. On the Mac too TouchID feels antique but Apple Watch unlock makes it kind of seemless. 
  • Reply 7 of 17
    The iPhone X certainly set the path for the next decade. When people try to use fingerprint readers it looks like it is a decade old. The A11 and TrueDepth camera has allowed for fun things like Portrait photos and Animojis, but the fact that iPad Air and mini still use Touchid in 2022 is sad. I am going to the iPad Pro for that reason. On the Mac too TouchID feels antique but Apple Watch unlock makes it kind of seemless. 
    A lot of people want under screen Touch ID.  I would trade my phone in for a new one just for that alone.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,819member
    Still using my iPhone X. The battery health is at 84% and still supporting peak performance. The phone is unmarked, 'feels' new and hasn't disappointed over the past 5 years. Thinking going to the 14 Pro Max and using the X as my primary bike computer as it talks to my power sensing pedals and heart rate sensor. Unsure though about constant exposure to direct sunlight in the heat of our summers. I have been using it for years in this capacity but hidden away in a pocket out of direct sunlight.
    Alex_VAnilu_777watto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 9 of 17
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,615member
    I had to wait until the 12 to get my faceID since I stretched my 7 plus out for 4 years.  It barely made it.   
    My next will be whatever the 15 ends up being, max pro, of course.   In only do 3 years, now.   
    Alex_Vwatto_cobraBart Ywilliamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 17
    I remember being at an Apple Store to watch the iPhone 8/X launch. When the X was revealed my jaw dropped - not because it was so new but because I’d been using that exact swipe gesture system on my BlackBerry 10 devices since 2013. I was now an Apple user and was stunned and glad to see it available to me again. 
    watto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 11 of 17
    I remember 3 young boys gushing in my apartment complex when they saw that I had the iPhone X. They politely requested if they could hold it and were just blown away by it!

    My personal favourite iPhone design is the iPhone 4, but the iPhone X is a close second. I loved the phone for the leap that it was. I've just lent it to my sister who is enjoying every moment with it!
    watto_cobraBart Yronn
  • Reply 12 of 17
    I'm still using my iPhone X (replaced the battery though)
    it was the last major upgrade to iPhones 
    Since then it's only been about damn camera upgrades
    2 cameras then 3 cameras then 4 cameras
    picture Quality on the iPhone X camera is great
    i'm not a professional photographer so I don't need super amazing pics
    and if I were a professional photographer, I'd use an SLR anyway

  • Reply 13 of 17
    DrBoar2DrBoar2 Posts: 7unconfirmed, member
    Iphone 7 plus and I keep it until critical apps cease to work.
    Just like computers the development of phones has slowed down. And that is a good thing for the end user as it indicates a mature product.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,264member
    FaceID has been a game changer for me, both on the iPhone and iPad Pro. It’s ridiculously reliable and blazingly fast on the newest iPhone and iPad Pros. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like Touch ID, which is the best feature they’ve added to the Magic Keyboard and newer MacBooks in the past decade. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as pressing the Touch ID key on a keyboard and having the Mac come up with you already logged in. Sure, it occasionally makes you type in your pass code, but no big deal. What really takes these features over the top is when they are integrated with third party apps like 1Password.
    Bart YStrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 17
    davendaven Posts: 693member
    I seem to be a once every five year person. First iPhone was a 5, then Xs Max, now maybe a 15 or just replace the battery in the Xs and wait another year or so. But I do a lot of hiking and kayaking in areas that don’t have cell signal and the satellite option would be nice to have.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    thttht Posts: 5,353member
    Wish they still sell a 5.8" device.  :)

    In an alternate timeline, I wonder if Apple would be as successful if they went the Sony Xperia route, where they have 5 mm top and bottom bezels. Those margins, bezels, offer valuable sensor space! The obvious Face ID sensor cluster, but you could have front firing top and bottom speakers, front LED lighting, touch sensitive top and bottom margins, and anything else you can think of, like eye and hand tracking sensors. 
  • Reply 17 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,271moderator
    It's a shame they dropped iOS support for the iPhone X this year:

    It's only 5 years since they stopped selling it. Apps should still get updates for a couple of years but 5 years is quite a short support time.
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