4 December

After Ten Days: The Iphone X. A Happy Choice For Me

by Jon Katz
The Iphone X

I’ve had the Iphone X for ten days now, and while I’m not in the business of telling other people what to buy or not to buy, I promised to share my first impressions and experiences, and I’m happy to do that. I hope it helps.

I want to start by cutting  through what I see as the worst hype surrounding this phone.

First: I do believe it is the most interesting and challenging piece of technology that i have seen since the first apple computer. Simply put, it is the future, for better or worse, and I can get on it now, or later. But we will all be on it, one way or another.

Artificial Intelligence is the next big wave, and I want to ride it, or at least understand it.

Second: I don’t believe me or anyone else has to have this phone.

The Iphone 7 and 8 series are excellent phones with fine cameras and powerful processors and very functional phones. For me, this is a choice, not an obligation. I don’t buy every new device just to keep up, there has to be some special meaning for me. And there is much in this new device.

Third. The hysteria about this phone being a radical departure from the others is just silly hype, concocted to challenge and draw the writers and members of the geek culture, who are nearly hysterical after the launch of any new Apple produce. I guess it is their moment in the geek sun.

I am no tech whiz, I was operating the phone in minutes. We are all different, what I need may not be what you need and what works for me may not work for you.

Over the last ten days, I have had to call Apple four times.

The first three  were issues relating to the set-up. Apple doesn’t believe in manuals, and some of the gee-whiz software doesn’t work on set-up. You are supposed to just set the new phone next to the old one, and when they connect, all of your data will be transferred. Nobody told the phones. This is a silly innovation, as the manual process works beautifully and took under three minutes.  Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

The Apple Tech Support adviser said they were getting thousands of calls about it.

This was not a crisis, it occurs to some degree every time I buy a new phone.

The fourth incident involved a zoom box that kept appearing on the home page, and I couldn’t get rid of it.  The phone worked, but this was annoying and distracting.

The solution was simple,I just had to turn the “zoom” feature off in  settings.

Apple’s  tech support is legendary, and the praise is deserving. In each of the four calls – some at peak times – I never had to wait as long as a minute, and the issue was resolved instantly. Apple stands by this phone. When I needed help, I got it, instantly.

I don’t need help any more.

All in all, it took less than a half hour to understand all of the new swipes and motions – there are very few. By the next morning, I was operating the phone quickly and easily and intuitively, and without thinking about it,  despite all the hand wringing about swiping down and sometimes having to use two hands.

Apart from the now standard messages from anonymous invasive souls on social media about ruining the environment, exploiting Chinese workers, being greedy, wasting money and stealing from others to pay for the phone, there was not one serious issue about the phone.

It works perfectly. It is fast, the screen is every bit as gorgeous and watchable as advertised – the hype was generous there, and true. I will say this phone is very different, which is not to say difficult. it it is not like any other phone I have had. It  forces me to think sometimes, and at other times, the phone speaks to me.

The new SIRI is much improved and very helpful to me, close to being a kind of secretary.

None of my bugs related to the hardware or the mechanisms of the phone. The much ballyhooed Face ID works seamlessly and so quickly I sometimes find it hard to believe it is scanning.

But when I hand it to a friend to open, it never does. It does know me.

I thought it was the old farts who are supposed to squawk about change, the young geeks are fragile.

I am having a blast with the  animated AI Emoji’s that capture my eye and facial and lip movement. I sent some dirty Emoji’s to Maria, and mistakenly sent one of them to a friend. I guess it wasn’t especially dirty, my friend didn’t even get the innuendo, she thought my rabbit face was adorable.

These Emoji’s are fun, but more than they, they symbolize what it is coming, the potential uses for this technology are staggering, even frightening at times.

I especially love the AI sensibilities built into the Ten, for me the primary reason to purchase it, and the most striking thing about it. I do have the feeling of a conscious sensibility inside of the phone. A machine that thinks, makes independent decisions, and learns from me and about me. I see that the more I use it, the quicker it responds to me, as if we are adapting to one another in tandem.

And we are.

That is not something I have ever felt from a computer or Ipad or cell phone.

The phone charges wirelessly and quickly on a metal pad – no cords.That is a big change.  In the ten days, the battery has not yet come close to being used up. When I am not using it, I just put it on the pad. It charges very quickly.

As to cost, it is expensive but not, I feel overpriced. It just seems worth it to me. The phone costs $1000. Accessories – paid tech support, the pad, a case, 256 g’s of memory (optional) add several hundreds of dollars more. I also bought insurance for $25 a month for three years to protect against loss or theft. There is no way I am owning a $1000 cell phone without insurance.

There is a tremendous amount of new technology in the phone, and i imagine it was incredibly expensive to produce. I wish it were cheaper but for me, it is definitely worth the price, given it’s use and centrality in my life and creatvity.

Lots of TV’s cost more than the Iphone X and do much less.

I also need to talk about the camera. It is very impressive, of the first quality. It does not have the wide frame and range of my Canon 5 D, and the Canon lenses are incomparable for me. The X does not have anything like them. It does have a first rate portrait lens feature and very powerful and effective camera. From 1 to 10, I give it a 9. It’s a wonderful camera.I have  been using the X camera for shots and in places where I don’t want to carry a heavy camera.

I still want and need my Canon, but I have already taken some great photos with the X, and I am just beginning to learn. It is astounding to me to have a camera of that quality inside a cell phone.

It’s also important to say that the phone is very powerful, it navigates the Net almost instantly and moves very quickly from one application to an other. That is an important evolution.

The Apple engineers have always seen the smart phone as something much bigger and more significant than a phone, and this is true. It is a very personal information and culture manager, I use it for banking, shopping  (Apple Pay uses Face ID), research, photography, sketching,  playing music (the Beats ear phones are wonderful), e-mailing, streaming, communications, reminders and appointments, what news I can stand, texting and e-mail.

And yes, sending suggestive Emoji’s to Maria. She loves to get them.

A new way of communicating, it is almost irresistible. This phone will create 1,000 new uses at least I haven’t even thought about it, that will be fun to watch. It has great range and power. And it can think and make some decisions. I feel I am witnessing something new and important.

The Iphone X is an indispensable tool for  me, and that is different from addiction. I don’t text all night or play games.  At night, and when I am writing, I turn it off.

I have no problem with quiet and giving my head some space to think.

This probably concludes my series on living with this new device. I hope it is helpful, it is clarifying for me to write it.  If I learn more, or things change, I’ll write more. Thanks for reading it.

 

 

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