Apple’s much heralded iPhone X has been available for a little over two months now. And, as with all Apple product launches, it's been met with equal amounts of hype and naysaying. Was it worth the wait, or was it a stumble?
Depending on who you ask, the iPhone X is either awesome...or terrible. Regardless, the brand has its built-in fan base that's willing to brave the latest updates and changes, even if it requires significant readjustments via new layouts and settings (and bugs).
There are raves about features like the improved camera (including the ability to shoot video in 4K), the lustrous LED screen, better Apple Pay integration, and more.
But there are complaints, too. Not just about its exorbitant price tag of $999 (and that’s just for the cheapest model), but for the lack of a home button, the fragile construction, and more.
But if you’ve bitten the bullet and are trying to navigate all the new changes and features, here are nine essential tips and tricks to help you use your iPhone X to its full potential and simplify the experience.
Virtual Home Button
One of the most controversial changes on the new iPhone is certainly the lack of a home button. It’s been the nexus of every iPhone predecessor, so why mess up a good thing?
You can ponder that question to infinity, but it’s time to get used to it. In lieu of the home button, simply swiping up on your display screen will bring up the grid displaying all your favorite apps.
But, if you’re feeling lost without the beloved home button (R.I.P.), you can still create a virtual version using the “Assistive Touch” feature. By activating it you get a small circular button that displays on your phone screen.
You enable this feature in settings via General > Accessibility > Assistive Touch. Then select “Customize Top Level Menu”, tapping on the minus sign until just one icon remains. From there you can decide if you want it to respond by single, double, long press tap, or 3D touch.
And voila! Your new home button is good to go. Note: make sure to set opacity to “Idle” (at 20 percent) to avoid screen burn-in, as the X’s screen is more sensitive to this issue than past models.
Another potentially irritating change on the new iPhone is that the battery percentage icon no longer displays in the top right-hand corner of the display screen.
So how do you know if your battery is about to croak or not? Well, even though it’s no longer ready at a quick glance, there’s still a way to check out how much juice is left. To access it, you’ll need to swipe down from the top right corner of your iPhone’s display.
This will then open the Control Center, where you can see your battery’s current percentage. We have to wonder how much battery drain could be caused by repeatedly swiping down on your phone to check it though!
And if you’re looking to extend your battery life, Apple recommends always keeping your X updated to the latest software release, turning on auto-brightness, and enabling “Low Power Mode.”
One of the handiest (pun intended) iPhone features in recent years is the Reachability function, which makes it easier for iPhone users to access the content at the top of their screens by pushing the it further down the display.
This can be especially helpful for those who use their phones with one hand (or have small hands in general). While Reachability is also included on the iPhone X, it doesn’t work right out of the box, so it needs to be enabled first.
Mobile phone specialist Tonia Baldwin says that to turn on this feature, “simply go to Settings > General >Accessibility to activate Reachability. Then all you need to do is swipe down at the bottom of the screen to bring what is displayed down for you to reach.”
Another function that requires a readjustment for iPhone users on the X is how to take a screenshot. Whereas in the past all you had to do is hold down the home button and power button simultaneously, the new phone requires a different approach.
To take a screenshot on the new iPhone, hold down the power button and then click the volume up button.
One of the most touted new features on the iPhone X is Face ID, which sounds like something straight out of science fiction but is now a reality.
"I find facial recognition the most interesting new feature in the iPhone X," says mobile developer Kinjal Dua from Clearbridge Mobile. "Many people were expecting this to not work as well as it does. I'm still fascinated by how it can identify my face with or without glasses and other accessories."
That being said, the feature has been buggy for some users, like iPhone user Kevin Dowling, who notes that it occasionally fails to recognize his face, forcing him to use his passcode (some experts say rebooting the phone can help fix this problem).
Dua offers another tip for those looking to streamline the feature: “You can actually open the Face ID faster. Obviously, users can raise it up to your face and then swipe up after the Face ID padlock has opened. Because it's so accurate, users can actually raise it up while swiping. You don't need to wait for the padlock.”
If you’re still having trouble with facial recognition, you may need to adjust your distance from the camera: Make sure the iPhone is at least 25 to 50 centimeters from your face and that your entire face is in view. It’s also worth noting that some users are saying Face ID has trouble operating in bright sunlight, while others have had no issue.
If Face ID is still proving troublesome, you can just disable it altogether. To do so, press both the up and down volume buttons and side button simultaneously.
Switching Quickly Between (And Closing) Apps
One of the biggest concerns with losing the home button was the ability to switch apps quickly. Without it, how can you move from one to the other with ease?
Baldwin says the new process is actually pretty simple: “To switch apps on the iPhone X, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold your finger on the display. You’ll feel a little vibration, and then it’ll throw up a grid view of your apps on-screen, where you can easily click on them.”
And what if you need to quit an app? While the theory that doing this will save your battery life has now been pretty much debunked, it can still be handy if a particular app is freezing or not working correctly.
“To close apps," Mac Consultant Christian Boyce says, "swipe up from bottom of screen and hold your finger for one second until app switcher appears. Then you can swipe up on any app to close it.”
Launching Siri, Control Center, and Notification Center
If you’d prefer a faster way to activate Siri besides the standard “Hey Siri” greeting, simply hold down the power button (upper button on right-hand side) for a few seconds, and it will pull up.
And if you’re looking for the quickest access to the Control Center and Notification Center, finger swipes are the keys to the castle: To get to the Notification Center, swipe down from top of screen on the left side of the display (right where the earpiece notch lies). Doing the same action on the right side will launch the Control Center.
Dua says that the iPhone X offers the best Apple Pay experience to date, but it takes a little getting used to.
For easy access to the feature, she says: “Another cool tip is to double tap the side button for Apple Pay. This makes it extremely convenient for users to pay. People are turning to their mobile phones to make payments as they rarely carry cash anymore. The mobile wallet is the way of the future."
Buy a case!
Given the iPhone X’s priciness, keeping it in pristine condition is paramount.
Because if you break its delicate front screen display or back glass panel, you can wind up spending hundreds of dollars to fix it (at least $279 if you don't have the extended warranty). So go ahead and invest in a sturdy phone case. It’s worth it in the long run.
The iPhone X shows that Apple is no longer content with playing it safe in the smartphone market.
It sees the company firmly trying to keep on the forefront of smartphone technology, something with which they’ve often struggled with in the absence of their visionary founder Steve Jobs.
So while the iPhone X certainly has a learning curve that can be steep for loyal users used to the well-worn and beloved features of past models, there’s no need to be overwhelmed by the changes.
By using our list of tips and tricks, you can save time, stress and effort, and before you know it, you won’t even miss that old home button. Just ask Dowling: “At this point, I actually like not having [the home button]. I like being able to just swipe up” he says. “I thought it was kind of irritating at the beginning, but now I’m used to it.”
With the next iPhone release, just be prepared to relearn everything all over again.