Apple to Invest $390 Million in Finisar, US Maker of iPhone X TrueDepth Camera Lasers

Apple announced on Wednesday its plans to invest $390 billion in Finisar Corp, which supplies components for the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL) found in the iPhone X True Depth camera.

The investment will be used to build a plant in Texas to make more of the chips, and will be financed by Apple's $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing fund, which the company created in 2017 to foster innovation and create jobs in the U.S.

"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed and we're thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. "Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it's a part of. We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse."
According to Apple's statement, the award will enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs, which power some of the iPhone's X flagship features, such Face ID®, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods.

"We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential," said Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar. "When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we're confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features. Finisar has always been keenly aware it takes great people to power our work and that's why we're thrilled to be adding Sherman to our family."


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iPhone X Clones Begin Surfacing in China With Notch-Inspired Designs

Apple's iPhone X has been out for over a month, and this week a few companies based in China have unveiled new smartphones that are clearly taking design inspiration from Apple's tenth-anniversary device. The first was created by LEAGOO, which is based in Shenzhen, and in an email the company called it the "LEAGOO S9."

The company sent MacRumors images of the LEAGOO S9 today, showcasing the front of the smartphone and a piece of hardware that dips into the screen at the top, providing the same visual design of the iPhone X's "notch." The device also has very trim bezels, rounded edges, and a vertically orientated rear camera system that slightly protrudes from the back.

The LEAGOO S9

Key differences between the LEAGOO S9 and the iPhone X include the S9's physical buttons, which all appear to be located on the right of the device, and a rear-facing fingerprint sensor. The iPhone X was long rumored to potentially include such a sensor, but after the launch of the new smartphone Apple's hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio said the reports were never true. The bottom bezel on the front of the S9 appears to be larger, but it's unclear if this is software-related or not.

The internal specs and other aspects of the software -- besides the lock screen -- are not currently known. It appears that the LEAGOO S9 will also copy some of Apple's "ear" software bar layout, although the Shenzhen company has slightly reordered the Wi-Fi, cellular, and battery indicators.


The second iPhone X clone was made by Boway, based in Hangzhou, China, and marks the company's first foray into consumer electronics after building printers and cutting machines for over 20 years. Boway's smartphone series is actually called "The Notch," and like the LEAGOO S9 it looks very similar to the iPhone X, as seen in images surfacing on Chinese social network Weibo (via Forbes).

The Notch includes trim bezels on the left and right sides of the smartphone, although in some images it appears to pack in thicker bezels on the top and bottom than both the S9 and real iPhone X, which could again be software related. Otherwise, The Notch has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, vertically orientated camera system, and also comes in other colors like red.

Boway's "Notch Series" smartphones via Forbes

It's unclear which type of components are included in the cloned smartphones' notches, but since both of the devices clearly use a form of biometric security that recognizes fingerprints and are believed to lack facial recognition, their copying of the iPhone X's notch is most likely for aesthetic reasons. Apple's notch packs in an infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, speaker, microphone, front camera, and dot projector -- all of these components work to provide users with features like Face ID and Animoji.

Specific prices of the smartphones have not been confirmed, but these types of devices are traditionally sold at fairly low price ranges to compete with the many other low-cost smartphones on the Chinese market. Hardware imitators have long been around copying Apple's design styles, and sometimes even include laptops that are visually similar to MacBook, like Xiaomi's Mi Notebook Pro. Earlier in December, Apple won a trademark case based in Europe against Xiaomi, preventing the latter company from registering its "Mi Pad" tablet device as an EU trademark because the name was deemed too similar to Apple's iPad.

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You Can Now Get an iPhone X Delivered in Just a Few Days

iPhone X shipping estimates continue to improve on Apple's online store amid the busy holiday shopping season.


Apple's flagship smartphone is now available for delivery within two to four business days on average in the United States, meaning that online orders placed today will arrive at your doorstep by Wednesday to Friday.

The improved timeframe applies to most AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and SIM-free iPhone X models, while T-Mobile variants are estimated for delivery by December 19, or roughly six business days from today.

The same two to four day delivery estimate is quoted in several other countries where the iPhone X is sold, including Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Elsewhere, December 19 is a common estimate.

iPhone X inventory continues to improve at Apple retail stores around the world as well, with pickup available today in many locations.


Shortly after iPhone X pre-orders began on October 27, shipping estimates for the device extended to 5-6 weeks around the world, but Apple has been able to improve supply earlier than some anticipated.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the improved iPhone X shipping estimates are due to better-than-expected improvements in production, rather than a lack of demand for the new device.

All in all, if you are looking to purchase an iPhone X in time for Christmas, there is still some time on your side. If you're debating between buying an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus, read our comparison guide.

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Face ID in iPhone X vs. ‘Face Unlock’ Facial Recognition in OnePlus 5T

The iPhone X has been available for a little over a month now, which has given consumers time to adjust to the new biometric authentication method, Face ID. Face ID replaces Touch ID, unlocking the iPhone X via a face scan rather than a fingerprint.

In the video below, we decided to take a second look at Face ID after having spent some time with it to see how it measures up to Touch ID and how it compares to similar facial recognition options in devices like the OnePlus 5T.

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For the most part, Face ID works well and is at least as quick as Touch ID, but there are some undeniable pain points. When the iPhone X is held in landscape mode, like when you're in bed, Face ID often doesn't work. It can also have trouble when it's flat on a surface and can't get a good read on your face, and when you have sunglasses, a hat, or a scarf covering your face, it can be hit or miss at times.

These points of failure don't apply to some of the other smartphones that use facial recognition techniques. The OnePlus 5T, like devices with facial recognition from Samsung, uses multiple biometric systems with facial recognition paired with a fingerprint sensor.

Face ID is, however, in most ways superior to the facial recognition options used by competing devices, simply because it offers more security. Face ID is using 3D depth sensing with an infrared camera and a dot projector, while companies like OnePlus and Samsung are using 2D methods that rely solely on the front-facing device camera.

Without 3D depth mapping, the OnePlus 5T's Face Unlock feature can be faster than Face ID, but it doesn't work in low light, unlike Face ID, which can work in almost all lighting conditions. It's also more of a convenience feature than a security feature and it's not used for authenticating passwords or mobile payments.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said Face ID is years ahead of similar facial recognition techniques from Android smartphone makers, and that's evident in the functionality divide between the OnePlus 5T and the iPhone X.

Still, some people are having trouble adjusting to Face ID and miss the convenience of certain Touch ID features, like being able to unlock the iPhone regardless of its position.

Love it or hate it, Face ID is here to stay. Rumors already suggest Face ID will roll out to the 2018 iPhones, and we're also hearing that Face ID will expand to additional devices like the iPad Pro in the future.

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Skype, Tidal, VLC, Feedly and Other Apps Optimized for iPhone X

A handful of popular apps have been optimized for the iPhone X over the past few days. We've rounded up some of the notable ones below.


Each of these apps now support the iPhone X's new screen size, rather than having a letterboxed design with black bars at the top and bottom.
  • Skype
  • VLC
  • Tidal
  • Feedly
  • LINE
  • Viber
  • PlayStation Vue
  • Bank of America
If you have an iPhone X and use any of these apps, check the App Store's Updates tab to ensure you have the latest version installed.

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Component Demand for iPhone X Said to Be Weakening as Production Yield Rates Improve

The surge in component orders for the iPhone X over the last couple of months appears to be coming to an end, based on information coming out of the upstream supply chain. Component shipments for the iPhone X weakened in November, according to sources on Friday, following strong demand in September and October.

With demand for key component not growing as strong as expected, the sources are concerned that Apple may reduce its iPhone X shipment target for the first quarter of 2018. The sources pointed out that Apple's component orders for the iPhone X in November were around 30% lower than its earlier forecast.

The weakened component demand reflects improved yield rates for iPhone X production, which has saw Apple's global shipping estimates continue to improve in November, dropping from between 3 and 4 weeks, to 1 and 2 weeks. In the United States and in Europe, iPhone X models ordered today arrive in around a week.

Apple suppliers such as Largan Precision and Catcher Technology have seen revenues slow or begin to decline month on month, respectively. Touch panel supplier General Interface Solution (GIS), which originally expected its sales momentum to continue into 2018, also suffered a sequential decline in November revenues.

Sources expect iPhone X shipments in January and February to be similar as that seen in November 2017, before declining sharply in March. Overall, shipments are expected to be down by around 30 percent sequentially in the first quarter of 2018 because of seasonality and fewer working days caused by the Lunar New Year holidays.

At the same time, DigiTimes' sources believe Apple's iPhone shipments in the first quarter of 2018 may still be better than those recorded in the same period of 2017.

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Apple’s Rumored 2018 6.1-Inch Lower-Cost iPhone With LCD Display Could Feature Metal Back

Apple will release three iPhones in 2018, including two OLED models and one LCD model that could feature a metal back like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, reports Nikkei.

Citing a source "privy to the company's product designs," Nikkei says the LCD model will feature a 6.1-inch display, while the two OLED models will measure in at 5.8 inches and either 6.2 or 6.3 inches.


The LCD model with a metal back will "come in several colors," much like existing aluminum iPhones, and the body for the device could be manufactured by Casetek, a Pegatron subsidiary.

Nikkei's information is in line with previous details shared by KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has accurate insight into Apple's plans, though there is some variance in size predictions for the three devices.

Kuo believes Apple will introduce three iPhones in 2018: an OLED model that measures in at 5.8 inches like the current iPhone X, an OLED model that measures in at 6.5 inches that will serve as a sort of "iPhone X Plus," and a 6.1-inch model that features an LCD display.

Kuo's 2018 iPhone predictions

Kuo has said that all three models will feature a full-screen edge-to-edge design and a TrueDepth camera system like the current iPhone X, but he made no mention of a different casing material. The current iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus all feature glass backs to support wireless charging.

A 6.1-inch LCD model with a metal body presumably made of aluminum would not be able to work with wireless charging, and it is not clear if Apple is willing to take a step back and remove a new key feature from future iPhones.

The 6.1-inch LCD model has thus far been described by Kuo as a lower-resolution model that will be more affordable than the two OLED models, with the aim of targeting the low-end and midrange markets.

Since earlier this year, we've been hearing hints of a two device lineup next year, with Apple planning to introduce a larger-screened OLED iPhone to sell alongside a new 5.8-inch model, which seems like the next logical iteration of the iPhone X. The first rumor of a third device with an LCD display came from Kuo in November.

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Apple’s Greg Joswiak Talks iPhone X Face ID, Display and A11 Chip

Tom's Guide today shared its list of "2017 Innovation Award Winners," which of course includes the iPhone X, among other products like the Nintendo Switch, the DJI Spark, and the Amazon Echo.

Apple's iPhone X took the Tom's Guide "Best Overall" award for its Super Retina Display, Face ID, and A11 Bionic chip, and the site's iPhone X writeup includes some interesting commentary from Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing.

For the iPhone X's Super Retina Display, which incorporates the first-ever OLED panel in an iOS device, Joswiak says Apple had to "do a lot of engineering" to come up with "panels that were better" to address traditional OLED issues like oversaturated colors.


The iPhone X is using its own color management system, a folding panel design that stacks circuits for minimal bezel, and other technology improvements to outshine competing smartphone displays.

Reiterating previous comments from Apple executives on Face ID, Joswiak says Touch ID was never planned for the iPhone X. Prior to the launch of the device, there were rumors suggesting Apple had tried and failed to embed Touch ID both under the display. Apple execs say Face ID was planned for the iPhone X from the beginning. "We had a line of sight on how to do real facial recognition, in a way never done before," said Joswiak.


The "notch" on the iPhone X, which some believe is a questionable design decision, houses what Joswiak says is "one of the most densely packed technology areas" Apple has done. The notch includes a 7-megapixel camera, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a speaker, a microphone, and a dot projector, all of which powers the TrueDepth system that enables Face ID and other features like Animoji.

At the heart of the iPhone X, there's an A11 Bionic chip with two performance cores and four high-efficiency cores that work together to make the iPhone X incredibly fast. An included neural engine powers Face ID and other machine learning tasks, while an embedded M11 Motion coprocessor captures motion-based data.

Apple's chip team "worked hand in glove" with the rest of Apple's hardware and software teams to design chips that are "perfectly suited" for the iPhone X's feature set. "That's huge," said Joswiak. "No one else can match that," he added.

Josiwak's full commentary on the iPhone X, which includes additional details about each feature, can be read over at Tom's Guide. The Innovation Award list also highlights multiple other products across categories like Augmented Reality, TV, Graphics, Design, Game, Entertainment, CPU, Tablet, Peripheral, and more.

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iPhone X Charging Speeds Compared: The Fastest and Easiest Ways to Charge Your iPhone

With the addition of both fast charging and wireless charging to Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup, there are more ways than ever to charge your iPhone. Every method is different -- some are faster and more expensive, while others are slower but more convenient.

We tested several charging accessories from both Apple and third-party manufacturers with the iPhone X to see how charging speeds compare across different charging methods. These tests also apply to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which share many of the same features available in the iPhone X.


Accessories Tested


- Apple's default 5W iPhone charger (Free with iPhone, $19 alone)
- 5W wireless charger from Choetech ($16)
- 7.5W Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad from Apple ($59.95) (Tested at 5W and 7.5W)
- Apple's default 12W iPad charger (Free with iPad, $19 alone)
- 18W USB-C power adapter from Choetech ($17.99)
- 29W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 12-inch MacBook, $49 alone)
- 30W USB-C power adapter from Anker ($30)
- 87W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 15-inch MacBook, $79 alone)

The 5W and 12W chargers from Apple were paired with a standard Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $19. All USB-C charging accessories were paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $25.

Methodology


We used the same iPhone X for all tests, plugged into the same outlet. Between tests, the battery was drained to one percent, and then battery percent was checked at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 60 minutes while charging.

For all tests, the iPhone X was placed into Airplane mode with no apps running. The display was deactivated except for the four time checks. Tests were conducted without a case on the iPhone X.

Results


The absolute fastest way to charge an iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone 8 Plus is with a USB-C power adapter and an accompanying USB-C to Lightning cable. Charging with USB-C activates a "fast-charge" feature that's designed to charge the iPhone to around 50% in 30 minutes, and I saw about that level of charge in all of my USB-C tests.

5W wireless charging and 5W wired charging with the standard iPhone adapter were the slowest methods that I tested. 7.5W wireless testing was faster than 5W wireless charging, but not by much.

Click to enlarge

Charging at 12W with the iPad adapter wasn't ultimately too far off of the fast charging results at the end of an hour, making this one of the better compromises between cost and speed.

USB-C


I tested both Apple's 29W and 87W USB-C chargers that come with the 12-inch MacBook and the 15-inch MacBook Pro, respectively, along with much cheaper 18W and 30W chargers from Choetech and Anker. I saw little difference in charging speeds between 18W and 87W.

Click to enlarge

At the 30 minute mark in all tests, my phone was charged to between 45 and 49%, and at 60 minutes, I reached 77 to 79% battery life. The slowest charger was the Anker 30W, but the overall difference was so small that I think it can be chalked up to random variance. My charts are using 1 charging result, but I did test many of these chargers multiple times with the same general results.

Apple's 29W MacBook charger costs $49 and the USB-C to Lightning cable costs $25, so you're looking at about $75 for this charging method, but luckily, third party USB-C power adapters work the same way and are more affordable. That 18W Choetech charger I tested, for example, is just $18, while the one from Anker is $30.

Apple's 29W USB-C power adapter and USB-C to Lightning cable

There are cheaper non-official USB-C to Lightning cables on Amazon, but given the problems we've seen with some third-party USB-C cables, it may be best to stick with verified Apple hardware as far as the cable goes. I didn't test third-party Lightning to USB-C cables, but I wouldn't expect to see major speed differences.

Choetech's 18W USB-C power adapter and Anker's 30W USB-C power adapter

If you go with Apple's cable and something like the 18W Choetech charger, you can get a fast charge setup for just over $40. If you want to try your luck with a non-official cable, you can get fast charging for under $30.

Standard iPad and iPhone Chargers


All of Apple's iPhones ship with a standard 5W power adapter and USB-A to Lightning cable, and charging with the standard setup is excruciatingly slow comparative to other charging methods. It's not faster than 7.5W wireless charging and it can't compare to charging with power adapters that put out more juice. At 30 minutes, for example, it had only charged my iPhone to 21 percent, and I only made it to 39 percent after 60 minutes.

Apple's 5W iPhone charger and 12W iPad charger

Apple's 12W iPad charger is much quicker, though, and it's affordable at $19. With the 12W iPad charger and a standard Lightning cable, I saw charging speeds that weren't too far off of what I got when charging with a USB-C power adapter. At the 30 minute mark, my iPhone charged to 39 percent, and at the 60 minute mark, I hit 72 percent.

That's not too bad for a setup that's one of the most affordable I found, and there are a lot of 12W equivalent third-party charging options on the market, including several with multiple ports and other conveniences.

Wireless Chargers


In general, wireless charging is slower than wired charging, but it's undeniably convenient, and if you're charging for a lengthy period of time, say at your desk at work or overnight on the night stand, the slower charging doesn't matter.

That said, 7.5W wireless charging, which was activated in iOS 11.2, was faster than the standard 5W wired charging method in my testing. There's also a noticeable but slight speed difference between 5W wireless charging and 7.5W wireless charging.

Click to enlarge

I tested this difference using the 7.5W wireless charger from Belkin, which Apple sells, on both iOS 11.2 and iOS 11.1.2, which limited iPhone charging to 5W. The Belkin 5W charging result on iOS 11.1.2 is the result included in my graph.

I also tested a Choetech 5W charger that was much slower than the Belkin at 5W, so much so that I wasn't sure it was an accurate representation of 5W charging. From 1%:

- 15 minutes: 9%
- 30 minutes: 19%
- 45 minutes: 27%
- 60 minutes: 35%

There wasn't a huge difference between 5W and 7.5W charging in my experience, but 7.5W is faster. If you're buying a wireless charger, it's worthwhile to get a 7.5W+ charger that offers faster charging for the iPhone, but which chargers are compatible with 7.5W wireless charging remains something of a mystery.

The Mophie and Belkin wireless charging docks

We know the Belkin and Mophie chargers that Apple sells offer the faster wireless charging option, but it's not entirely clear if other higher-watt chargers from third-party manufacturers are able to charge the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus at higher speeds.

For a separate post on wireless charging options, we've been investigating third-party wireless chargers, and it's looking like there may be a restriction put in place by Apple to limit 7.5W charging to approved manufacturers. As an example, on the Amazon page for this charger from Choetech, which says it is 7.5W, there is this message:
We get notice from Apple engineer that current IOS only support 5w qi wireless charging currently, 7.5w wireless charging is encrypted and never released to 3rd party manufacturer.
We've heard similar information from other manufacturers, but it's all very nebulous and not something Apple has clearly outlined at this point. For that reason, if you want confirmed 7.5W wireless charging, go with the Belkin, the Mophie, or another charger that specifically states that it's compatible with Apple's 7.5W charging.

Choetech's 5W wireless charger

Just because a wireless charger offers more than 5W, it's not necessarily going to offer 7.5W charging speeds when used with an iPhone. If you're using wireless charging on the night stand or when sitting at a desk for long periods of time, 5W is perfectly adequate, and the third-party chargers are much more affordable than the Belkin and Mophie chargers.

On the subject of wireless charging, I also tested to see if case thickness impacts charging speed. I tested with a naked iPhone X, an iPhone X in Apple's Silicone case, and an iPhone X with one of the thickest backs I could find, the glitter-filled iPhone X case from Casetify. Charging speeds were almost identical in all three tests, and while the Casetify case was maybe about 2 percent slower, that can perhaps be chalked up to margin of error. There was zero difference with the thinner Apple case.

If your case works with wireless charging at all (and most do, with the exception of those that have rear magnets or are made from aluminum), it's going to charge at the same speed or nearly the same speed as a naked iPhone.

Conclusion


To get fast charging on iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, you don't need anything over 18W, and you don't need a USB-C power adapter that's from Apple. The third-party options work just as well, but you will probably want to pick up Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable over the alternatives.

Fast charging is going to get you the best charging times, but for less money, you can get the 12W iPad charger and use it with a standard Lightning cable to charge your iPhone almost as fast as you can charge it with fast charging. There's only about a 10 percent difference between the 12W iPad charger and USB-C charging.


It's not really worth it using the 5W charger that the iPhone ships with if you can help it, because it's incredibly slow.

Wireless charging is also a comparatively slow charging method, but it's convenient to be able to set your iPhone right next to you on a wireless charger and pick it up when necessary without the need to hassle with a cord.

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Consumer Reports Ranks iPhone X Below iPhone 8 Because of Durability and Battery Life

Consumer Reports today shared its final iPhone X testing results, and while the site has given the iPhone X a recommendation, Apple's new flagship smartphone has been ranked below the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus in the Consumer Reports recommended list.

The iPhone X did make the Consumer Reports list of top 10 smartphones in the number 9 slot, but the site says it did not beat out the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus because of its poor performance on a durability test. Both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus better survived a tumble test for emulating real-world drops and fumbles of about 2.5 feet that can result in device damage, despite the fact that all three devices have glass bodies.


After 50-100 tumbles, one iPhone X model suffered serious body damage, while two others had screen defects. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus ended up with just a few scrapes after the test. Front displays for the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus all came away unscathed, and the iPhone X did well on scratch tests and water resistance tests.

"If not for the damage in that durability test, the iPhone X would have come in ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus," says Richard Fisco, head of smartphone testing at CR.
Consumer Reports also had some complaints about the iPhone X battery life, which does not last as long as the battery in Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8. The iPhone X lasted 19.5 hours in the Consumer Reports battery test, compared to 26 hours for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and 21 hours for the iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone X didn't fare well on durability or battery tests, but it did earn the highest camera score out of all the smartphones tested by Consumer Reports. The site also listed the OLED display and the Face ID facial recognition system as iPhone X strengths.
The rear camera on the iPhone X is among the best we've ever seen. In fact, if you combine the performance scores for stills and video, this is the highest-rated smartphone camera Consumer Reports has tested.
Overall, Consumer Reports continues to rank the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ as its top two recommended smartphones, mainly due to superior battery life, followed by the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 8 in spots number three and four. At number nine, the iPhone X is at the bottom of the list, but only a few points separate all of the devices tested.

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