- The iPhone X is a beautiful, deeply flawed device.
- Hollis Johnson
- The iPhone X is beautiful and exciting.
- The phone has one crucial flaw, however – it’s nearly impossible to use with just one-hand.
- The difficulty to use one-handed has changed the way I use my phone for the worse, so I’m selling mine.
I still remember the feeling of excitement I had from peeling back the protective plastic from the my shiny new iPhone X. What a gorgeous piece of technology.
That feeling didn’t last.
I’m now nearly a month into using the iPhone X, and I’ve slowly realized I unreservedly dislike the device. In fact, I hate using it.
I could rattle off a list of complaints, like how FaceID is inconsistent and annoying, the scratch-prone bright chrome for the metal casing, and the astronomical price tag.
There’s a fatal flaw.
But there’s really only one flaw that really matters to me: the phone is impossible for me to use with one hand.
- The top of the red arc marks the natural limit of my thumb’s reach.
- Business Insider/Dennis Green
Though the phone is only a bit bigger than the iPhone 6, 7, and 8, the bezel-less screen makes for an enormous size increase.
The new gestures required by the notch mean there’s no way to look at my notifications with only one hand, or access the control center. Those are pretty essential functions, and it drastically limits the usability of the phone when I’m on the go or when I only have one hand free.
I’ve noticed myself actually changing my behavior trying to use the phone, holding it differently and constantly changing my grip by shimmying my hand up the back of the device trying to reach the top of the screen with my thumb.
I feel like I’m going to drop the device if I continue to hold it vertically, so I instinctively bring the phone down and horizontal, parallel to the floor and near my stomach.
The entire top two rows of apps on the home screen are inaccessible without sliding my phone up the side of the phone and kind of cradling it between my fingers and thumb. That move makes me paranoid I’m going to drop the $1,000 device.
I’ve also noticed a new habit of bringing in my left hand when I’m using the phone nearly all the time. It rests near the top left corner of the device, tapping back arrows or entering the Notification Center
With my previous iPhone, the 6, I was able to use my pinky as a kind of shelf for the phone to sit on as I tapped away, composing text messages, checking email, or changing the songs played on Spotify. Not so on the X.
I’ve enabled reachability, which doesn’t help. It’s difficult to trigger, and the downward swipe on the bottom edge needed to use it also makes me feel like I’m going to drop the phone.
Adding an extra step to essential functions like access to Command Center and Notification Center isn’t something I want in my life, and I’d prefer to avoid the $549 repair bill that comes along with cracking the back glass.
I envied people with the old iPhone.
At first, I thought it was just an adjustment period – not dissimilar to the feeling of melancholy one gets just after getting married. After all, I experienced something similar with my previous phone.
The 6 also represented a dramatic departure in form factor from previous iPhones, similar to the X. When I upgraded to it from my iPhone 4S, I was struck with similar doubts about one-handed use, and it took me a while to get used to.
However, my hand did get used to it in a few weeks, and I ended up falling totally in love with the phone. A month later, that did not happen with the iPhone X.
I had assumed using the iPhone X would be basically identical to using my previous phone – but I didn’t account for how the largest screen size would change how I used it.
A weird thing happened: I saw people with older iPhone devices and actually envied them. How easy they looked to use, how flawless the TouchID was, the size and shape. It looks perfect. When a friend showed me her new iPhone 8, I felt legitimate pangs of jealousy at its ease of use.
Eventually, I realized the phone would never work for me.
Finally, I had a realization on a flight to Thanksgiving as I was struggling to use the phone on the airplane. I was filling in a crossword in the New York Times Crossword app, and it was taking a considerably longer amount of time than it usually does. The phone’s size made my hand considerably less dexterous.
I realized, with an air of sadness, that I needed to get rid of it. The screen and size are just too big to use with one hand. It’s not comfortable. And the form factor isn’t big enough to comfortably use two hands.
- The iPhone X — not for those with small hands.
- Hollis Johnson
The mistake is uncharacteristic of Apple. The company usually takes into account the user experience as it designs products, and I’ve never had an Apple product that refused to bend to my will so stubbornly. I have similar feelings about FaceID, which I would say works the first time about 50% of the time.
I realized during this ordeal I don’t need to be on the cutting edge of technology – I just need a phone that works for me.
A phone shouldn’t be this difficult to use.
A phone should adapt to a user – not the other way around. I have no doubt that the phone would work perfectly for one with larger hands.
As I was using the phone, it struck me that there’s no real reason for every gesture to be triggered by swipes on the edge of the phone. As the design of iOS for the iPhone X screen size matures, I predict we’ll see a lot fewer gestures and design elements based on the edges of the screen, which are by their nature less accessible to fingers.
If the iPhone X is the future of the smartphone, I’d rather be left behind. I’ll be selling my iPhone X, and invest in the tried-and-true form factor of the iPhone 8 instead.