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iPhone X: Absolutely everything you need to know

We've lived with the iPhone X and we've learned a lot. It's all right here.

CNET
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Editors' note: This post was originally published on Sept. 26, and continues to be updated with Apple news and features.  

After spending more than a month with the iPhone X ($999 at Walmart), we're convinced that it represents a bold step into the future. With innovative facial recognition capabilities, a stunning edge-to-edge OLED display and a next-generation user interface, the 10th anniversary iPhone is deserving of the hype -- but it's not for everyone. 

And that's OK, because there currently aren't enough to go around anyway. Most stores remain sold out -- but the delays associated with ordering online have shortened and are now down to about a week in the US. To help you decide whether it's worth the wait (and the money), here are some highlights from our full review:

  • Face ID works pretty well, but it's not perfect.
  • The edge-to-edge OLED screen looks great -- especially in the dark -- but feels different to an 8 Plus ($1,100 at Amazon).
  • The thing is blazing fast, thanks to its next-generation A11 Bionic processor.
  • The notch isn't a nuisance, but most apps aren't yet optimized for it.
  • Living without the home button takes some adjusting, but the new swipe-based user interface is growing on us.
  • Portrait Mode is great; Portrait Lighting isn't fully baked yet. (For more, check out our special feature on the front-facing camera.)
  • Battery life is a bit disappointing -- short of what you'll get from the iPhone 8 Plus or comparable Android models, and just barely enough to make it through a full day.
  • It's fragile, cracking on the first drop during our durability testing.
  • It's the most expensive mainstream phone on the market.

Though the first wave of new phones are now with customers, questions remain about availability. We don't know exactly how many have been sold -- though rumor has it that Apple sold 6 million of them over the Black Friday weekend -- or when Apple stores will consistently have stock on hand. This will likely ramp up demand and help make the iPhone X one of the most sought-after holiday gifts of 2017. In contrast, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus -- high-quality but incremental updates to last year's models -- haven't made the same kind of splash.

Now that we've had a chance to fully size up the iPhone X, we'll be making some detailed comparisons to rivals such as Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 and Google's new Pixel 2 and LG V30, all of which have the potential to draw customers in from Apple's orbit. Especially if the iPhone X proves to be too hard to find for too long. In the meantime, here's everything you need to know about the iPhone X.

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How do I buy an iPhone X?

Apple is selling the new phone on its website, through the Apple Store app and in its retail stores, though supplies are limited and vary by region, state and country.

How long will I have to wait for my iPhone X?

If you missed your chance to scoop one up on Nov. 3, you're now looking at about a one week wait if you order online, though your results will vary based on exactly where you live and the amount of local demand. The iPhone X will likely remain in short supply until after the new year with Apple reportedly making fewer than 10,000 per day.

How much does the iPhone X cost?

Starting at $999, £999 or AU$1,579 for the 64GB model, it's the most expensive iPhone ever. The 256GB iPhone X costs $1,149, £1,149 or AU$1,829. Monthly payment plans from carriers are available. Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program ranges from $49 to $56 per month, which includes AppleCare+ for the 256GB model. It costs from £56 to £64 in the UK and isn't available in Australia.

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Which carriers are offering the best iPhone X deals?

It's not surprising that the big four US carriers aren't giving away the iPhone X -- it's the most expensive iPhone ever, after all. But there are still some deals to be had.

What are the iPhone X's best new features?

Apple has pulled out all the stops. The iPhone X's most compelling new features and technologies include:

Read: The state of the smartphone, iPhone X edition

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Should I buy the iPhone 8 or iPhone X?

It depends. If you're ready to plunge into a dramatically different iPhone experience (and pay for the privilege) -- or you insist on having the best cameras that money can buy -- go for it. If you're looking for a more familiar, less expensive phone, you're better off with the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. That noted, you could also buy one of the older models that Apple still sells: the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and the now even cheaper iPhone SE.

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What can the iPhone X do that the iPhone 8 can't?

Apple packed the iPhone X with new features and capabilities -- including new camera tricks -- that aren't accessible on an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. Here's a rundown of what only the iPhone X can do:

Read: How the iPhone X stacks up with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (and iPhone 7 and 7 Plus)

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I've got an older iPhone. Should I upgrade?

The iPhone X is one of three new-for-2017 iPhones, and it's not going to be the best choice everyone who wants an iPhone. It's an expensive, top-end pick that aggressively moves design forward but leave behind some familiar, proven technology (i.e. Touch ID) for new features that are ahead of the curve (i.e. Face ID). Unless you're ready to shell out and forge headlong into the future, the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus may be the better choice. 

Here's the full rundown of the pros and cons of upgrading to an iPhone 8 from an iPhone 7, 6S, SE or 5S.

How does it stack up against the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL?

pixel-2-vs-iphone-8-1725-002

The Pixel 2 (left) and iPhone 8 (right).

Josh Miller/CNET

We've had a chance to spend time with both the iPhone X and the considerably less-expensive Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. In terms of processor speed, the iPhone X destroyed both in our benchmark tests. Both the PIxels and the iPhone X have excellent cameras that produce fantastic photos; in our head-to-head camera test, we declared the iPhone X best all-rounder while the Pixel 2 XL took the prize for still photos. 

But the iPhone X has the better display -- even before considering the issue of burn-in. Some Pixel 2 XL users reported seeing remnants of earlier images persisting on the screen; and we've seen evidence of this on two of the five units we have. Since then, Google issued a follow-up statement detailing a software fix and extended two-year warranty. And in the meantime, Apple has admitted that burn-in may affect the iPhone X and updated its display support page to make this clear.

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The iPhone X vs. the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

The iPhone X has Apple playing catch up to some Android features. Samsung's lineup has had narrow bezels, edge-to-edge OLED displays and wireless charging for years. And the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 are considerably less expensive than the pricy iPhone X. We've published some impressions of how the iPhone X stacks up against the best Android phones on the market today.

Face ID: Everything you need to know

CNET

The iPhone X is the first phone with Apple's TrueDepth sensor, which features a front-facing camera, microphone, speaker, ambient light and proximity sensors, a new infrared camera, dot projector and flood illuminator.

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Is Face ID secure and safe?

Apple says the chance of fooling Face ID is literally 1 in a million -- compared with 1 in 50,000 that a random person could fool the fingerprint unlock on an older iPhone. Still, you may want to consider a simple password to defend yourself against both hackers and the authorities.

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How big of a deal are the iPhone X's new cameras?

In addition to enabling Face ID, the iPhone X's advanced camera technology features optical image stabilization on the front and back, faster apertures and a host of other features.

How durable is the iPhone X?

Short answer: not very. We broke one of our $1,000 phones on the first drop. Consumer Reports also found the iPhone X to be highly sensitive and, as a result, ranked it lower than not only the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus but also Samsung's Galaxy S8, the S8 Plus and Note 8. Bottom line: Get a case, a screen protector and insurance -- and hold on tight.

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What's up with the iPhone X's notch?

Apple's iPhone X has an all-screen OLED display -- but "all-screen" doesn't mean it's exactly bezel-free. The 10th-anniversary iPhone has a narrow bezel framing the screen with rounded edges as well as a notch flanking the earpiece and camera at the top. It's a huge leap forward in terms of screen-to-bezel ratio but not entirely ideal for watching videos.

How big is the iPhone X compared to other iPhones?

It's got much more screen real estate than any existing iPhone, even the iPhone 8 Plus, but it's only slightly larger than the iPhone 7. In fact, it's about as small as a standard, non-Plus iPhone -- but with a *bigger* screen than a Plus. Here, check out this iPhone X size comparison.

iphone-x-compare-1

We made this size comparison to scale, so you can see just how small the iPhone X is, compared to the screen it holds.

Aaron Robinson/CNET

Does the iPhone X support wireless charging?

All of the new 2017 iPhones support wireless charging, and Apple recently bumped up the wattage from from 5w to 7.5w, reducing charge times by 50 percent. Of course, some of Samsung's phones, including the Galaxy Note 8, support 15-watt fast wireless charging

It's worth noting that you can jury-rig some older iPhone models to work with a charging pad for some magnetic-induction goodness. Here's how to do it.

Does the iPhone X support fast charging?

The iPhone X can charge faster than previous models, sucking in enough power to restore itself to 50 percent battery in about 30 minutes, Apple claims. But taking advantage of this feature will cost you. Apple says that the iPhone X's fast-charging feature supports Apple's 29W61W and 87W USB-C power adapters -- which are not included with the phone -- and which cost $49 to $79 (or £49 to £79, or AU$69 to AU$109). And then you must shell out another $25 (£25/AU$35) for the USB-C to Lightning cable.

Read: iPhone X and 8 will fast-charge with third-party cables (but you'll still need one Apple cord to make it all work)

What should I do with my old iPhone?

See alsoFour tips for buying a used iPhone

Don't forget: iOS 11 was designed for the iPhone X

iOS 11 has arrived. And it was clearly designed to shine on the iPhone X (and, sure, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus). But it will work on a bunch of older devices, too: If you have an iPhone 5S or later, a fifth-generation iPad or iPad Mini 2 or later or a sixth-generation iPod Touch, you, too, can upgrade.

Some of iOS 11's new features include:

Once you've upgraded, here's what you need to know:

Troubleshooting common iPhone X issues:

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What comes next: how Apple will follow the iPhone X

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