Straits Times gets 4 minutes with iPhone X. Here's the verdict

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The iPhone X in the hands of the writer. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

CUPERTINO, California - Amid the media scrum that follows every iPhone launch I've attended, this one has to be the worst in terms of trying to get my hands on the new iPhone. I guess it was because it was the iPhone X (pronounced as iPhone 10), the 10th anniversary edition of the handset.

There was a long queue for the media to try out the iPhone X after it was unveiled on Tuesday (Sept 12) at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Apple Park - Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

So I decided to try out the Apple Watch Series 3 as well as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus first, as there were hardly any queues for them. After about an hour, I finally spotted a short queue for the iPhone X and slotted myself into it. Thankfully, in about 15 minutes, I got to give the new handset a spin.

The first time I held the iPhone X, it felt like I was holding the very first iPhone that was launched 10 years ago. I think it had something to do with the stainless steel sides that separate the device's curved glass at the front and back.

Apple said it is a highly polished surgical-grade stainless steel band that wraps around and reinforces the iPhone X. Marketing mumbo jumbo aside, it does have a great feel to it.

But with a glass front and back, the iPhone X is a smudge and fingerprint magnet.

Despite its larger 5.8-inch display, the anniversary iPhone feels smaller and lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus that I'm using.

In fact, one-hand operation feels much more natural on the iPhone X than the iPhone 7 or 8 Plus.

The highlight of the iPhone X has to be its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge Super Retina display with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels. It looks super sharp and photos displayed on the screen look fantastic.

While the iPhone X also features a dual-camera system, like many other handsets in the market, its telephoto camera comes with a larger f/2.4 aperture than the one on the iPhone 8 Plus.

I tried using the phone's new Portrait modes that simulate studio lighting, such as Natural Light, Contour Light and Stage Light. While I couldn't get a proper photo of a person who was standing still - everyone was trying to get their hands on the iPhone X and moving about - the results still seemed pretty impressive to me, though not perfect, given the circumstances.

With the screen taking the entire front of the handset, the Home button is gone, and, along with it, the touch ID or fingerprint sensor. Instead, the iPhone X uses a TrueDepth camera system that is made up of a dot projector, infra-red camera, flood illuminator and the front-facing camera, to map and recognise a user's face.

An Apple representative showed me how to register a face on the iPhone X - it was pretty quick. Two scans of the face, and a user's face is registered. Then, all a user needs to do is to lift up the phone to his face and the phone will be unlocked in about a second. After that, it's just a matter of swiping up from the bottom of the display to get to the home screen.

You can register only one face to the iPhone X. So if your spouse or someone wants to unlock your phone, they will need to know your passcode.

Thanks to the TrueDepth camera system, the iPhone X will have animojis, or animated emojis, that mimic your facial expressions and play out a voice message you recorded.

Preparing an animoji was probably the most fun I had with the iPhone X during my hands-on time with the gadget. It entails choosing an emoji, then looking at the phone's camera to record a series of facial expressions which will be mapped to the emoji you've chosen. After recording a message by speaking into the phone's microphone, hit "send" to your friend.

The person who gets your custom animated emoji will be able to see your facial expressions - such as raised eyebrows, smiles and frowns - on the animoji sent. I had some fun making funny faces and using the alien emoji to raise my eyebrows.

I was taking so much time creating animojis with the iPhone X that the woman behind me was also making faces. I think I had spent about three minutes with the gadget by then.

Knowing the feeling the woman likely had, I took my leave shortly after shooting a few "beauty" videos of the iPhone X.

I can't wait to get my hands on a review unit soon, as the new device is really the most exquisite iPhone that I've ever touched.

The iPhone X will accept pre-orders on Oct 27 before it becomes available on Nov 3. And if you want one, you'd better save up.

Prices are $1,648 (without contract) for the 64GB model and $1,888 (without contract) for the 256GB version.

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