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The 9 biggest iPhone X annoyances and how to fix them

New iPhone, new problems. Here are solutions to some of the worst ones.

So, how are you liking that new iPhone X ($1,599 at Mobileciti Online)? If you're anything like me, you're digging the big screen and fancy camera -- and not digging certain other things.

Indeed, after a couple weeks with Apple's latest, I'm finding myself irritated at times -- in part due to Face ID issues, but also because of other hassles.

Let's take a look at the iPhone X's biggest annoyances and how you can work around them.

Face ID seems to be delayed

Actually, you might just be waiting a little longer than necessary. When you tap or raise the iPhone, or press the wake button on the side, you see a little padlock near the top of the screen. After your face is recognized, the lock opens -- which takes a second or two -- allowing you to swipe up and get to work.

But guess what? You don't have to wait until you see the padlock perform its little animated opening. In my experience, Face ID actually works faster than that, meaning you can swipe up almost immediately after the screen turns on. There may be a split-second delay while Face ID finishes, er, ID-ing, but it definitely eliminates that "padlock pause."

Face ID doesn't work when my phone is on a table

coofun-folding-qi-stand

Instead of putting your iPhone X flat on a table, set it on this folding charge pad -- which will make Face ID recognition a little easier (and charge your phone).

Coofun

Arguably the biggest Face ID-fail of all: You can't unlock your iPhone X when it's lying flat on a table -- not without swiping up and then waiting a few seconds for the passcode keypad to appear.

Otherwise, it leads to the inevitable "Face ID frown," which is where you lean awkwardly over the screen and frown at having to do so, thereby reducing the chance Face ID will accurately recognize your face.

If you spend most of your time at a desk, there's a pretty good fix for this problem, one that kills two birds with one stone: Get a Qi charging stand. Not a charging pad, mind you, which keeps your phone sitting flat, but a stand. That way you can position the phone so it's facing your face, and therefore much easier to unlock.

I also recommend a stand that folds, which is better for travel and gives you more flexibility in choosing an angle. For example, this Coofun folding Qi stand -- currently $17.29 from Amazon -- has a foldable design, three charging coils (meaning you can set your iPhone sideways if you prefer) and a 4.1-star average rating.

Notifications are hidden by default

Part and parcel of the Face ID issue is that you can't see notifications at a glance -- not until your face is recognized.

This is a security feature, enabled by default, and some would say it's a smart one. But it can also be incredibly annoying.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to toggle off. Just tap Settings > Notifications > Show Previews, then choose Always. Remember that after doing so, your notifications will appear with previews even when your phone is locked. 

I miss the Home button!

Could I interest you in a virtual substitute? iOS has long offered this option in the form of AssistiveTouch, but iPhone X users are really embracing it.

The feature adds an omnipresent "soft" button to your screen, one you can drag and drop just about anywhere you like: off to the side, into a corner or right near the bottom where the old Home button used to be.

Even better, it can perform different functions depending on whether you single-tap, double-tap, long-press or 3D Touch. One of those functions is a pop-up menu that can be used to quickly access even more functions (like Control Center, SOS and screenshot).

To enable it, tap Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch, then toggle it on. To customize the aforementioned pop-up menu, tap Customize Top Level Menu.

I miss my headphone jack!

wicked-audio-reach

The Wicked Audio Reach is a $25 gadget that adds Bluetooth capabilities to your favorite wired headphones.

Wicked Audio

OK, so this isn't an iPhone X-specific problem; it's also an iPhone 7 ($749 at Apple) and iPhone 8 ($1,229 at Apple) problem. But if you skipped those two models and came from, say, an iPhone 6 ($229 at OzMobiles), the lack of jack can be jarring.

Fortunately, you don't have to give up your favorite headphones; Apple supplies a dongle that lets you plug them into the Lightning port. And because the iPhone X can charge wirelessly, using that dongle doesn't have to be at the expense of charging.

Need a place to keep that little adapter so it's always available? Check out this dongle keychain accessory. Normally I'd also recommend picking up some extra dongles in case yours goes missing, but there are few MFi-certified adapters in the current crop of clones -- most of which have very poor ratings.

There are, of course, other options, including Bluetooth audio adapters, Lightning-compatible headphones and so on. Check them out in this roundup of headphone-jack alternatives (which focuses on the iPhone 7, but definitely applies here as well).

The old ways of doing things don't work anymore!

Want to take a screenshot? Reset your phone? Close an app? Invoke Siri? Uh, yeah, good luck doing any of that on an iPhone X. You can, of course, just not in the ways you're accustomed to.

To quote everyone's favorite Jedi master, you must unlearn what you have learned. Because there's no longer a Home button, certain functions have been rejiggered and/or relocated. Here's a quick primer:

  • Turn off the phone: Press and hold either volume button and the sleep/wake button for about two seconds. You'll feel the phone vibrate and then see an onscreen menu that includes the old "Slide to power off" slider. (This is also where you access Medical ID and Emergency SOS.)
  • Reset the phone: Press volume-up, then volume-down, then press and hold the wake button until the Apple logo appears. (Then release that button.) You have to do all this in fairly rapid succession: press-press-hold.
  • Take a screenshot: Simultaneously press and release the volume-up and wake buttons.
  • Invoke Siri: Press and hold the wake button for about two seconds.
  • Close apps: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, but keep your finger in place for about two seconds. Now you'll see all your open apps represented on a carousel of "cards." Scroll left or right till you find the one you want to close, then press and hold on it for a second or two. You'll see a red icon with a white stripe; tap it to close that app. (Repeat with any other apps you might want to close.)

My thumb can't reach the far reaches of the screen

ninja-loop-red.jpg

The Ninja Loop makes it easier to operate an iPhone X one-handed.

Phone Loops

This has actually been an issue since the iPhone got Plus-sized, which is why Apple added the Reachability feature: a double-tap of the Home button would bring the top of the screen down near the bottom, thus making it more thumb-accessible.

Of course, the iPhone X has no Home button, so the feature is now gesture-controlled: You swipe down at the very bottom edge of the screen. If this feature isn't enabled on your phone, tap Settings > General > Accessibility, then toggle Reachability on.

I'm also a big fan of Ninja Loops, which make it much easier to operate a big phone one-handed. They work with just about any case, and they let your phone sit flat (important for the aforementioned wireless charging), unlike most grippers. They're all of five bucks each. (See them in action in this Ninja Loop video.)

I can't use my magnetic car mount

Ho, boy, this is a big one. I'm a huge fan of magnetic car mounts, which are without question the easiest and least obtrusive solution for plunking your phone on or above your dashboard. (They're cheap, too: I paid about $7 for my WizGear mount.)

Just one problem: The magnetic plate that makes it possible can interfere with one of the iPhone X's best features -- wireless charging.

I tried this Doca magnetic car mount designed especially for the X, which can actually charge it while holding it securely in place. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting it to work properly. The "plate" (a large paper thing with metal discs in the corners) that slips between the phone and your case creates too much of a bulge in some cases, and the magnet wasn't strong enough to hold the phone when used with a thicker case.

The Scosche MagicMount Charge promises to do better, though I haven't had the chance to test it yet. Plus, it's $70, far pricier than typical mounts.

The thing is, I don't need my car mount to double as a charger, nice though that would be. I can plug in the ol' Lightning cable if necessary. So is there any way to use the old magnet with my iPhone X and still enjoy wireless charging at home? Yes: you just need to move the metal plate downward, so it's no longer blocking the center-rear of the phone. That's where wireless-charging goodness happens.

Watch for more on this in a future post covering iPhone X car-mounts.

Nighttime charging is keeping me awake

zipkord-qi-charging-stand

This Qi charging stand won't prove to be nuisance on your nightstand.

ZipKord

The beauty of wireless charging happens at night: Before bed, you just lay on your iPhone X on a pad -- no dealing with cables.

However, don't make the same mistake I did: choosing a Qi pad that's lousy with LEDs. I have a Seneo pad, for example, that looks nice, but its ring of bright blue LEDs pulses continuously as the phone charges -- probably not the kind of thing you want to see in your bedroom at night, especially if you're a light sleeper.

My advice: Choose a charging pad (or stand) that has no LEDs or just one small one. (Some have LEDs that turn off after a few seconds, which is fine as well.) I like this stand from ZipKord, for example, which has one very dim LED that doesn't flash or pulse. But there are countless others; just check the product description and/or user reviews for details regarding the LEDs.

Okay, that's my list of iPhone X annoyances. Now let's hear yours. Hit the comments and let us know what bugs you about Apple's flagship phone -- and what fixes you've found.

Editors' note: This post was originally published on Dec. 20, 2017, and has since been updated with additional information.