eXtensions - Wednesday 29 November 2017


eXtensions: The Wednesday File (33) - iPhone X Arrival in Thailand (Hands-on 256GB)

By Graham K. Rogers


Earlier than I expected, the iPhone X arrived this week and I have had a first look. With the steel case and smooth glass it feels good in the hands, although I have also ordered a folio case for some protection. Despite changes in the way this device works, I was up and running quickly: the new swipes and butons were instinctive and easy to understand.

I am writing two versions of this Wednesday File. I ordered the iPhone X on Friday morning while in a taxi. I had checked last week, hoping for a 7-day pre-order page, then again at midnight, at 6am when I had breakfast. The page finally went live when I was on my way to work. A note on the ordering page told me that the device would be delivered in 2-3 business days (better than the US 1-2 weeks, eh?) and I could expect delivery from Wednesday to Friday this week.

An email later in the day told me that the order had been sent and gave a revised delivery of Tuesday: the UPS tracking page showed, "By End of Day". If that does arrive in time, I will have images of my iPhone X here. If not, I still have other photos and Apple PR shots I can use.

iPhone X
iPhone X - Image courtesy of Apple

I was slightly put out by the delay in this part of the ordering process, but Apple made up for it later. While those in the first rank of Apple-favoured countries are able to order the iPhone 7 days before its release, the Apple online store here was firmly shut, although carriers seemed to have some reservation system. I had tried DTAC a few times in past years and never even received a notification from them until weeks after I had bought mine, either from an iStudio or from the online store.

I know that some years PR has had an embargo on publication of information: sometimes 0800, sometimes 0600; but Wu at Digilife was able to put his video (worth looking at - in Thai) online on Thursday, so I was not happy that ordering did not go live until 8am. Being in the taxi was not particularly a handicap and the DTAC 4G worked fine, so once I entered the security code (Apple has my other details already) there was a pause while the payment was verified and all sailed through. I knew there was enough flexibility on the card: I had planned for this, although 46,500 baht in one go is a hit for sure: the 64GB version is too small, but there is no 128GB Goldilocks iPhone X.

iPhone X in iStudio iPhone X in iStudio iPhone X in iStudio

iStudio, Siam Paragon - Saturday Lunchtime

A piece I saw on the Verge, Wednesday morning, caught my eye when Thomas Ricker claimed that his $999 iPhone X actually cost $2,000. That does need some qualifying. There are of course taxes to add on (even in the USA where these are not cited by any company); but then he makes a couple of unnecessary leaps. The first concerns the need for headphones. There are earpods in the box, but that is not good enough because there is no headphone jack. He does not mention that little lightning to headphone jack adapter that came in my box, but instead makes the case for Bluetooth headphones. I have these: the Apple AirPods, the B & O headphones I bought last year, and a Harmon Kardon Bluetooth speaker. I certainly do not include these in the cost of my iPhones: they are additional luxuries.

The only extra that is prudent is the folio case I bought after the initial online purchase; and Apple Care is not available here: all we get is the one-year standard warranty. He added a wireless charger, then another: again extras and not really included in the price, but who's counting when you are after cheap hits?

There were plenty of these iPhones moving when I poked my nose into Siam Paragon on Saturday, and a friend on FaceBook had earlier posted some pictures of the lines on Friday at the Emporium. I also read that the stores in S. Korea were jam-packed, despite the raid on Apple's offices by the authorities there (Patently Apple). They are looking at the way Apple has advertised in Korea, in the hopes that there will be some improper behaviour found. And the Samsung CEO is in prison for corruption. Note that it is not just Apple as Google, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm have all been targeted in recent years. Many Asian company heads do not understand what a level playing field means. As a note, early analysts say that some 6 million were sold on Black Friday. Estimates are as high as 30 million for the quarter.

On Tuesday morning I had a call from the UPS delivery lady who arrived at my office around 1130 am. I opened the box and was impressed with the way the iPhone was secured inside the container: with a base of cardboard, but wrapped in some clear plastic sheeting. This had some springiness so would be able to support some shocks.

I instantly loved the basic feel of the thing, but I was a little worried in case I dropped it (I still am). The rumoured replacement cost and some warnings online pressed me to order the leather folio case which will arrive on Wednesday. With all the stories of those lengthy delivery times, I was pleased that Apple managed to get this new iPhone to me in such a short time.

iPhone X in my office iPhone X in my office iPhone X in my office

In my office I started the process of setting up which had good and less good moments, mainly because of the poor wifi. An initial connection between the two phones (old and new) went smoothly with the appearance of a moving icon like we have when pairing an Apple Watch, then some of the process slowed down as access to iCloud stalled and an update to iOS slowed things down some more. I limped through that and went to lunch with some updating going on using 4G. In the early afternoon I downloaded apps directly from the iTunes Store, which gave me the chance to trim down my collection.

As I installed apps from new, I had to set some up with usernames and passwords which also took a while and despite iCloud some of those passwords never seem to synchronise. Later at home with wifi (that password did sync) everything went much faster, including the download of photos, so by late evening, I was all set. The apps were running, the photos were all there, FaceID worked perfectly and I was beginning to become familiar with the various operations: control centre, screenshots, recent apps. Although these are done in different ways from the iPhone 7, with its Home button, it did not take me more than a couple of tries to get the hang of things including my first try of the Animojis.

iPhone X iPhone X iPhone X

The Apple Watch was added to the list of Bluetooth devices as I set it up, and I also saw that the AirPods were listed; these are added automatically with that special Apple-developed W1 chip. I easily added a Bluetooth speaker and the B & O headphones I have. I will add that Orée wooden Bluetooth keyboard that is in my office on Wednesday when I go in to work.

I am not alone in buying the iPhone X as some of my former students picked up this model - one from Singapore - and a couple of colleagues also made early purchases: one picked one up for his wife and had that by Monday, while the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering had a good meeting with AIS on Tuesday morning and decided to buy one at the shop there.

I certainly like the feel of the device, which is slightly smaller than the iPhone 7, although the edge to edge screen is larger. The steel sides feel nice and smooth - perhaps too smooth - so that is another reason for that case. I don't want that sliding out of my hands. I have been really lucky with the iPhone 7 and with previous models, but glass is crystalline and sooner or later my luck may run out.

iPhone X and iPhone 7

Instead of the iPhone X I could of course have gone with the iPhone 8 Plus which is slightly cheaper (though this is relative), and I would already have had this in my hands. It is better than the iPhone 7 I am currently using. Although they look similar, don't be fooled by all those comments online who tell you these are the same. That is lazy journalism. As I have written many times before, a glance at the technical specifications would show the differences.

Much of what is inside the iPhone X is similar to the iPhone 8: chips, camera, software. What is clearly different is the FaceID and I am excited by this and its potential. From Touch ID came the ability to purchase items easily online and (for me) to log in to the Mac without the need to type in a password each time, although many suggest that the rest of the Touch Bar is wasted. I am not so sure as I do make use of this often, but do still find myself going for keystrokes when there is a touch shortcut.

As an aside, Marco Arment wrote this week suggesting ways in which the MacBook Pro should be improved, especially with the butterfly keyboard (preferring scissor switches), USB (USB-C is still too new for some) and more ports, the Touch Bar (except TouchID), and an improved charger system. I don't agree with all he writes, but it is worth considering and generated a lot of feedback from others.

iPhone X FaceID

I looked at the Face ID technology Apple is using quite closely when it was first announced and ended up teaching science students about its components. There were several howls of criticism from those who had never used it, as there had been with Touch ID, and certain publications embarrassed themselves by their ignorant comments, perhaps basing their views more on what Samsung's face ID technology cannot do, than on what Apple's Face ID does; and many of these have been hard at work finding twins and those with close relatives whose faces have unlocked the device.

You will remember that Craig Federighi had problems unlocking his iPhone X when he demonstrated the technology at an Apple event. Many claimed it had failed, although it had worked exactly as designed. The system only works for one user and when others try to enter the phone by using the face, it locks after a number of attempts. The failure (if any) was in Apple not warning off those who wanted to play with the demo model.

Do not take my word for it, there are several good commentators who write much better than me on Apple products, but if you don't yet, check out The Macalope who entertains me regularly with the way some of these pompous commentators are ridiculed. Also worth reading are the lengthy (and serious) takedowns written by Daniel Eran Dilger who last week (Thanksgiving in the USA) wrote a gushing Editorial in AppleInsider, Thankful for the iPhone X. With all the bias (I am not criticising), there are some good points about the way the iPhone and Tim Cook (Yes, Jobs started it, but he chose Cook for a reason) have pushed Apple forward; and he certainly takes on the "purifying flames of contempt". He makes a good point that the failures from others, and the "clucking henhouse of naysayers in the tech media" have hardened Apple and the iPhone X is one result.

In its annual Top 10 list of gadgets, which is not related to its Man of the Year, Time placed the Nintendo Switch top, and the iPhone X at number 2, with the Apple Watch 3 in ninth place (Jeff Gamet, The MacObserver). Two in the Top Ten is not too shabby.

As part of the update to camera technology, which is an area I usually look at closely, but many miss in their rush to prove it is the same as before, Apple has been working on the low light capabilities of the iPhone X. Writing in Studio Neat, makers of the excellent Glif that I use, Dan Provost looks carefully at the lens switching that the iPhone X is capable of when using zoom. He ran some tests and found that "the iPhone X requires roughly 2 fewer stops of light before switching to the telephoto lens, as compared to the iPhone 7 Plus."

With my early use of the iPhone X, I managed to take a few shots as the sun was going down and was impressed with the sharpness of the images. The screen itself gives a cleaner display of anything viewed, but the photo technology is another step forward and I intend to play with this as soon as I am able.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2017