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Upgrading from a Home button to a Face ID iPhone

Posted in Apple

Going through some older draft blog posts, I found a list I wrote in late 2018 about upgrading from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone XS. The only Home button style iPhone Apple now sell is the SE, so the chances are you’ll have moved to the new Home button-less form factor already, but for posterity, here were my thoughts:

  • The XS feels much sturdier; the extra thickness and weight makes it feel less likely to bend, or be blown out of my hand by a gust of wind
  • It’s fast! iOS 11.3 made my iPhone 6 nice and fast again, but there was often still a noticeable lag; with the XS everything is immediate
  • I use Control Centre a lot less as I hold the phone in my left hand, so I have to use my right hand to swipe down from the top-right of the screen, which is a chore
  • In truth I generally only used Control Centre for the torch, which is easily accessible via the Lock Screen on the XS
  • The sound is great! I can listen to a podcast while doing the washing up without having to get my AirPods out
  • The OLED display is amazing. Perfect blacks and more and more of my favourite apps rolling out ‘true black’ themes
  • I don’t care about the lack of headphone jack as I use AirPods or Beats Solo3
  • The official Apple leather case is much nicer than the equivalent for the iPhone 6: the volume and power buttons are actually buttons
  • Haptic feedback is really nice
  • App shortcuts from the home screen via 3D Touch are really convenient (choose a book in Books, scan a document in Notes, compose a new tweet in Tweetbot)
  • Some interactions are weird, for example Quick Responses (the like/love/dislike/laugh/exclamation/question replies) in iMessage feels like something 3D Touch should activate, but it’s a long press instead. Trips me up every time
  • Raise to wake and tap to wake are really intuitive
  • Notification details on lock screen only showing when Face ID is successful is a great feature
  • I quickly got used to swiping up to close apps
  • I don’t notice the notch
  • The edge-to-edge form factor allows apps’ headers and bottom navigation to become the new ‘forehead’ and ‘chin’
  • The app switcher bar is really convenient compared to double clicking the Home button
  • Reachability is now precariously low down on the handset; not for one-handed use

Only a couple of downsides (Control Centre access and Reachability), both of which have been alleviated by the addition of the Back Tap accessibility shortcut in iOS 14.

One more I’d add from my position here in January 2021 is very much a transitory (I hope…) issue: Face ID doesn’t work when wearing a mask. The new iPad Air has a Touch ID sensor built into the top button, which would be a fantastic addition to the iPhone (though cases would have to be cleverly designed). It would also make unlocking the phone when wearing Sunglasses easier. Although human beings can recognise one another when wearing a mask or sunglasses, so maybe Face ID just needs to get smarter?

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