We do not write a lot of technology or gadget review but since the iPhone is one of the most important travel kits we have. It deserves a page of its own. At 3pm, 27 October, I managed to grab the iPhone X, Silver, 256GB in Singapore. I was one of the lucky ones being able to pre-ordered the iPhone X before it got sold out in minutes!
The iPhone X took a big leap this year 2017 and it is no doubt the best iPhone ever. I simply love most of the new features. I know that opinion is always subjective and so this is a review from a travel photographer’s point of view.
This is the primary reason why I am sticking around with iPhone. I owned the iPhone 3G since a long time ago and I have been holding back since iPhone 7 released last year. The dual cameras, one wide-angle and one 2x optical zoom, both have optical image stabilisation and low light performance is better than before.
With a larger and faster 12 megapixel sensor, there is a little bit sharper, less noise and generally, image quality is great. With the slow-sync flash, the images taken during low light environment are quite usable as compared to the older generations. HDR is enabled by default and hence, this shows that Apple is very confident with its HDR photos with the new Apple-designed image signal processor. A11 Bionic processor. The highlights look a lot less fake, the overall HDR photo looks a lot more natural and the background blur, bokeh, looks really convincing too. Apple, great job there!
This is not exclusive to iPhone X. In iOS 11, the Live Photos are added with Live Photo effects. Personally, I love the long exposure with Live Photos and the iPhone will intelligently detect which part of photos should be blurred automatically.
There is a bunch of frame rate options which is really great! You can choose up to 60 frames per second 4k video and 240 frames per second 1080p. Those options are not available in most of the expensive cameras we owned!
Studio lighting feature
There is no need to setup complex studio lightings and with the Portrait mode, you can take images with “professional-like” bokeh – the background blur. The portrait mode is available in front facing camera on the iPhone X too. After using it for some time, the lighting effects and features are good during the daytime and so, I do not recommend to use this feature when lighting condition is poor.
The iPhone X has a front-facing TrueDepth camera that allows the camera to see the depth and is capable of building a 3D map of the scene. Without this technology and the combination of the depth info, the iPhone X can then do some crazy special effects, especially the new Portrait lighting.
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With all the front-facing technologies, Apple is showing off what they can do with the facial recognition and expression. The TrueDepth camera now analyses more than 50 different muscle movements to mirror your expression in 12 Animoji. This is especially fun when I am using it with Little Girl. More into that, I cannot imagine what the future looks like when this technology is open for developers. I’m excited to find out, especially with Augmented Reality.
The display is so bright and captivating that it almost doesn’t look real. Different from LCD which requires a separate backlight, OLED emits its own light, allowing for thinner panels and more power efficient as compared to LCD. As LED only lights up the pixels it needs to light up, the black can look deep, inky black which means the OLED screens now paint a much more vivid and realistic picture. Apple also increases the brightness of the screen from 500 nits to 625 nits and that means you can see the screen a little better under the bright sun.
Apple put the TrueTone display into all 3 new iPhones (iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, iPhone X) this time. The TrueTone display is a technology that made its first appearance in iPad Pro. It works a lot like the auto white balance compensation system found in the camera flash, allowing iPhone and iPad screen to determine the right percentage, intensity and temperature of white light you see. It helps me to see the colour a lot more accurately when I am reviewing all the photos on my iPhone.
I always love to be wireless. Especially with my wireless headphone, mouse and keyboard, I finally can wirelessly charge my phone. With the glass back, iPhone X works with Qi wireless chargers commonly found in hotels, cafés, airports and cars. What I also found out is that IKEA also starts selling furniture with wireless Qi charging capability. Maybe I should grab one to review? Let me know in the comments below.
Portrait Lighting and the existing Portrait mode are the amazing features that attract me to get iPhone X. The 3D maps could have an even crazier impact on our travel photography and augment our iPhone photographs. Being an early faithful iPhone X adopter, I will be spending more time with this new baby and hopefully, I can share more in details in the next write-up.
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