September 2017. Just like any Apple fan, I watch Apple’s keynote waiting for Tim Cook to showcase the new iPhone that will mark the 10th anniversary of the one and only smartphone device I have ever used. They unveil the iPhone X, the one supposed to be the phone of the future.
November 2017. I receive my “long” awaited smartphone. I’m ecstatic.
December 2017. I already hate it and think about going back to my iPhone 7 plus…
Yes that is totally a first world issue, but I think it needs to be addressed. So let me tell you why I think the iPhone X is the evolution in the iPhone family that should have never existed :
1. Face ID is just bad user experience
On paper, that is super cool to feel like in a Sci-Fi movie and unlock your screen with your face. I was feeling like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
In real life, this is just a bad user experience. Even worse, what was supposed to be an evolution of the Fingerprint ID is actually a de-evolution.
Let’s just compare the two features in real life settings:
A) You are stuck in a boring meeting and want to discretly check your emails.
- Fingerprint ID: keep your phone hidden, unlock it with your thumb and read discretly.
- Face ID: lift your phone in front of your face, wait for the phone to unlock, swipe up, see everyone in the meeting staring at you because you’re not listening, put your phone back into your pocket…
B) You are sleeping and your alarm rings, telling you it’s time to wake up.
- Fingerprint ID: grab your phone, unlock it with your finger and touch the snooze button with half an eye open. Sleep 10 more minutes
- Face ID: grab your phone, lift it in front of your face, try to open it with half an eye open. Try again. Try again. Open your two eyes fully, get the full blue light in your face, snooze the alarm and start your day in a stressed mood already.
C) It is -40°c outside, it’s snowing and you are wearing a heavy coat with a nice and warm hood to protect your face from the icy wind. You want to call an Uber.
- Fingerprint ID: grab your phone, take one glove off (yeah you want to use the fingerprint thing because it’s faster than trying to type the passcode with heavy gloves), put your thumb on the fingerprint button and order an Uber.
- Face ID: grab your phone, take one glove off, try to unlock it with your face. Does not work because of the hood. Hesitate between taking off the hood or typing the passcode. Type the passcode. Order an Uber. Enjoy your frozen fingers.
I can already hear Tim Cook telling me that I forgot one thing: Face ID is way more secure than Fingerprint ID! Oh really? Let’s talk about it.
2. Face ID is just as BAD as Fingerprint ID in terms of security
There is a basic rule in terms of security (and life in general): you cannot reason based on the strongest link; you got to reason based on the weakest link. (no, not the stupid TV show).
Let’s say I build the strongest house in the world; let’s say it is made of adamantium (the fictional allow of Wolverine’s claws). But my kitchen window is made of glass. No matter how solid my house is, if a thief breaks the window, then he can get into my house and steal whatever he wants.
So let’s go back to the iPhone X security. Imagine someone steals my phone. What’s gonna happen?
The thief will try to use Face ID. It won’t work. The phone will then ask him to input my passcode instead. Yep, you got it.
Whether you use Face ID or Fingerprint ID, it does not change the problem. The weakest link is the passcode. So if you know my passcode (no, it’s not 12345), you can unlock my phone. That’s it. Face ID is not more secure than Fingerprint ID. It was not necessary to make an ultra expensive phone just for this stupid feature, especially since it affects the design of the phone itself.
That segways to our third problem.
3. WTF is that black thing in the middle of my screen?!
I am sorry dear Apple, but I am pretty sure that the late Steve Jobs would have NEVER accepted to feature a screen that is not a full “rectangle”.
It just looks bad. Nobody has ever done that (and for good reasons). And you did that just for that stupid Face ID thing?!
Not only it looks bad, but it also creates all sorts of problems for the app makers since this is a new weird screen resolution to support. And so what all the lazy developers do (which I cannot really blame) is to add some ugly padding on the sides of their apps to avoid getting an even uglier letterboxing display.
Really. Apple. You were the masters of carefullly crafted design. What did you think when you designed that screen?
“Yeah but there is no home button at the bottom! it’s full screen!”. So, no, it’s not full screen since there is this ugly camera thing that cuts the top of the screen. And, talking about it, honestly, I DO miss the home button!
4. The new “button-less” user experience is bad
I know I know, users always complain when they have to learn new stuff to use a somewhat similar phone. That’s “normal”.
But hey, that’s normal only if it improves the user experience. And I am sorry, but removing the home button actually made the experience worse than before. Look:
A) You want to kill an app.
Apple claims that you don’t need to kill apps anymore, but that’s just wishful thinking. For instance, the fastest way to stop your GPS once you are close to your final destination is just to kill the app.
- iPhone 7: double click on the home button, swipe the app up to kill it. Done.
- iPhone X: perform some kind of long weird half swipe up from the bottom of the screen; then touch one of the multitasked app for a couple of seconds; then click on the red “no entry” icon to kill it. JUST-PLAIN-TEDIOUS-AND-SLOW
B) You want to open Control Center.
- iPhone 7: Swipe up from anywhere at the bottom of the screen
- iPhone X: Swipe down from the top right corner, where the carrier signal is located.
That means you know ask the users to do something completely opposite to what they were doing before (swipe up VS swipe down); and you ask them to click on some icons that are not really related with the menu it opens. Yes Android phones do that too, and I don’t think this is something that should have been copied for the iPhone.
And one last thing: haptic feedback (or a reall button) felt good. We live in a world where everything is digital. So adding a little bit of “physicality” to the user experience was actually nice. It felt like you guys at Apple were still crafting real objects. It gave some kind of nice warm and human touch to the phone.
Now with the iPhone X we are just in the full digital world. There is no button. There is no love. It’s just cold. I miss my home button.
5. BONUS COMPLAINT: please fire the marketing guy that came up with the iPhone X name
There is a very simple rule in branding and marketing in general: if you have to explain how to pronounce your product, then you just failed at naming your product. (excellent podcast on the topic here)
- The online sharing community Imgur: I am pretty sure you read it as “Im-goor”. But it’s actually “Im-ager”. As in “somewhere where you post pics”. Bad naming.
- The GIF format: is it “Geef” or “Gheef”?(it can be both apparently). Bad naming.
- The new iPhone X: well, it is iPhone Ex right? Like “X-Factor”, “X-treme”, “X-stasy” right? Nope. It is iPhone TEN.
Sorry Apple but I know NO ONE that calls your product “iPhone 10”. Everybody sees the X after iPhone, and so it reads iPhone EX.
It could have made sense if your previous phones had been named iPhone VII for instance. People would not think this is the iPhone Vee. And so it would have been obvious that iPhone X was iPhone Ten.
But guys, seriously, when did you think people would understand instinctively that you used roman numbers for your latest phone?
So that’s it, now you know why I hate my iPhone X. I was not surprised when Apple announced they would slash its production in half. It is not the iPhone of the future. It is just, I hope, a draft for the real future iPhone. A bit like when Da Vinci made multiple drafts that eventually led to the Mona Lisa. So let’s wait for Apple’s Mona Lisa.
Hey! Thanks so much for reading me! I’m so lucky to have you! If you can leave a comment or even just like the post, that would mean the world to me :) Thanks!