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The case for, and against, preordering the iPhone X

What you should consider before ordering a $1,000 phone.

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The iPhone X: The final iPhone of the year.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's iPhone lineup has a different twist this year: the biggest flagship is arriving late, and it's still a device we have lots of questions about. The iPhone X is available for preorder October 27 and will begin shipping on November 3. Should you take the plunge?

Here are this year's arguments for and against.

Why you should wait:

  • The iPhone X has a lot of unknowns. How does Face ID work? Is it easy to use? Is the new, longer display with that cut-out notch annoying? How easy is it to use Face ID to pay for things? We still have questions, and we don't have definitive answers yet. 
  • It's OK to wait. Diving in on day 1 with brand-new tech is exciting, but it's also a rougher road. Having millions of buyers actually using the device might reveal issues Apple never ran across in testing. You could wait it all out and see how things go, and decide later. Really, that's OK.
  • It's really expensive. Starting at $1,000, the iPhone X model you probably really want is the 256GB version at $1,149. Comparably, the still-really-good 256GB iPhone 8 Plus is $949. Which... is also expensive. But at least you'll save a bit of money.
  • Version 1.0 of any new tech is usually a risk. Apple's next-level face-mapping 3D sensors on the TrueDepth camera promise a lot, but odds are that tech will be further refined in a year or so via either software or hardware. Waiting a year for a possible "S" model isn't such a bad way to go, if you're at all uncertain.
  • It's not that long a wait till next September, and maybe a second-gen X model. Does that sound insane? Assuming next year's iPhones arrive in September, this later November launch means a 10-month wait instead of 12 months. And, if your preordered phone is delayed, there's even more of a reason to wait. Put simply, we're already a few months closer than normal.

Why you should just preorder one:

  • There's a 14-day return policy. Consider it a free trial. If you hate it, bring it back.
  • There might not be many iPhone X models later. We don't know how supplies will play out, but suggestions of limited availability could mean a shortage. Would it be like the NES Classic? It's impossible to tell.
  • On paper, the iPhone X is the best iPhone of 2017. The rear camera has added improvements (optical image stabilization for the telephoto lens, Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting for the front-facing camera). The move to an OLED display should mean better picture quality. It's smaller than the Plus (but with a larger screen), and has better battery life than the similarly small iPhone 8. It's the design revamp the iPhone hasn't had in years.
  • You're an early adopter who's OK with experimenting. We don't know how Face ID will work in the wild, but if you're OK with that and with trying new tech, then dive right in.
  • It's the best "showoff phone" status symbol of the year. I've only used one briefly at Apple's iPhone event in September, but it definitely felt nice and looked nice, too. Unlike the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, however, you can definitely tell it's "the new iPhone" from afar. If that's important to you, this is the iPhone you want.
  • You can always cancel. Chances are, your estimated delivery date may be December or later. That gives you plenty of time to change your mind. (Or, you could always sell it on eBay, if supplies really are super-limited.)

If you do want to preorder the X, check out our top tips for a smooth iPhone X checkout process.

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