I once saw a long queue of people waiting to enter the Louis Vuitton store in the Emporio mall in Delhi. It wasn’t a sight I expected to see, at least not in India. But it was actually happening. This scene stuck in my head for a long time, and I started to wonder how Louis Vuitton transformed a “mainstream” luxury handbag without losing the “exclusivity” appeal.
Five years ago, Apple tried to make smartphones in the same league as an LV bag or a Gucci loafer. He turned a $1,000 iPhone X — a luxury item as the press and trade pundits then called it — into a pop culture phenomenon. Not only did the iPhone X trigger a cultural reset, but it also established the “premium” smartphone market at that time, long after Vertu left the scene.
As someone who follows Apple and the smartphone market closely, I’m sometimes taken aback by how Cupertino managed to make the iPhone X a bestseller when many thought it was a niche product. With the original iPhone having recently turned 15, I thought of revisiting the iPhone X, one of my favorite iPhone models of all time.
Thanks to the folks at ControlZ for sharing a unit with me, I was able to use the “renewed” iPhone X for over a month. Here’s how it felt to use the iPhone X in 2022 and why it remains the “it” smartphone that changed the game for Apple and the entire tech industry.
How the iPhone X created the “premium” smartphone market
The main draw of the iPhone X was a 5.8-inch display that eliminated the home button and stretched across the entire front of the device. The home button has been replaced with swipe gestures. This meant users couldn’t use the fingerprint scanner that was previously on the home button and Apple introduced FaceID as a replacement for the older TouchID.
Although many criticized Apple for charging $1,000 for the 10th anniversary iPhone, the market reacted in a totally different way than analysts had originally expected. The phone was incredibly fashionable and would instantly turn heads wherever you went.
The iPhone X, or “iPhone Ex” as young, affluent social media influencers called it, was suddenly everywhere. There wasn’t a celebrity who hadn’t been photographed wearing the iPhone X. The iPhone X was like a Christian Dior tote bag or Chanel’s classic little flap bag… the most fashionable accessories popular of the season.
Elegant and classy design
In the cycle of technology, five years can seem like a lifetime. Unless, of course, it’s an iPhone X. Among the finest products Apple has ever produced, the phone remains a star in the vintage collectibles market. Its timeless design, far from being dated, resembles a Chanel tweed jacket. The physical size is a bit larger than the iPhone 13 mini and yet it still fits in my jeans pocket.
The back of the phone is made of glass which looks premium even in 2022. The stainless steel strap shows the excellent craftsmanship involved. I use Apple cases to protect the iPhone from normal wear and tear. However, in the case of the iPhone X, I decided not to use the case. It feels so good in your hand that you don’t want to use the case.
No home button
The iPhone X does not have a home button, unlike the iPhone 6s or iPhone SE. I had thought it would be a shock to lose the home button, which I was so used to on the previous generation iPhone. In fact, the transition from the home button to the buttonless interface was smooth. Instead of pressing the button once to return to your home screen, you do a small swipe from the bottom of the screen. In many ways, new gestures have made iPhone X easier to use. Every new iPhone to date uses the same basic design as the iPhone X – no home button and new gestures for moving around.
Switching from TouchID to FaceID… and the notch
Perhaps the biggest change brought about by the iPhone X was the switch from TouchID to FaceID. TouchID was a brilliant innovation – and continues to impress. After all, it made iPhones more secure. FaceID is a better solution. All you have to do is look at the phone and the device will be unlocked. It works in the dark or without glasses. For me, FaceID is a technological pinnacle that combines the best of hardware, software and silicon.
Above the display is a notch, which houses the FaceID cameras and sensors. When Apple introduced the notch on the iPhone X in 2017, the company received a lot of flak. But I think Apple did well to have the notch. Of course, it wasn’t the most elegant solution to have a small black rectangular cutout at the top of the screen. The notch has remained an integral design element in all iPhone models since then. I don’t know about the others but I barely noticed the notch after using the phone for a few days. In everyday use, the notch seems to disappear unless you consciously see it on the screen.
Another revolutionary feature of the iPhone X was its display. The iPhone X was the first iPhone to ship with an OLED display. Prior to the iPhone X, Samsung had an edge over Apple and its iPhone in the display department. Not only did the iPhone X turn the game upside down, it also brought OLED mainstream. What also worked in Apple’s favor was that the iPhone X used a flat screen and this avoided accidental touches and inputs that were a bigger problem on the exposed edge of the Galaxy S8.
I still find the iPhone X screen beautiful. In fact, the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch OLED display is much richer and more colorful than many high-end smartphones I’ve used this year. Colors pop and images are crisp. It’s a damn good screen, as you’d expect from a premium iPhone.
The iPhone X will remain “more” than its luxury price
Smartphones come and go and are easily overlooked. Five years later, the iPhone X is still relevant. The iPhone X helped form a new standard of what a “premium” smartphone could be. The iPhone X wasn’t about the camera, screen, or performance. On the contrary, it promised a new way to use your smartphone with the help of an elegant design, its new screen technology and its software. High-end phones have always appealed to affluent consumers. The iPhone X, however, turned the phone into a fashion accessory. Countless iterations and knockoffs have followed since, but no other smartphone has been able to match the understated appeal of the iPhone X.
I don’t know how many of you want to buy a renewed or refurbished iPhone X in 2022, but for me, revisiting the classic iPhone was a lot of fun. iPhone X may be half a decade old now, but it still has a desirable factor and classic appeal, which is why Apple products are both popular and expensive. There are many reasons why the iPhone X will continue to impress collectors like me who appreciate antique and vintage Apple products. The price of an iPhone X, even if it’s in “renewed” condition, is the price of a legacy that only Apple enjoys in the tech world.