Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people hit Apple’s online store at the same time to try to be one of the first to get the newest iPhone. But this year is a little bit different because, for the first time, there are two availability dates for two very different models of iPhone. And, though there are sure to be plenty of people who are dead-set on which iPhone model they’re buying, I’m also certain that there are some who have no idea whether to preorder tonight or wait until the iPhone X is available.

Their predicament is understandable — iPhone availability is notoriously strained in the first few months of a new model’s release. If you’re unsure but think you might want to buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, you’d be wise to preorder tonight or you might be standing in line next Friday.

Me, though — I’m going to wait for the iPhone X. I know it’s an obvious choice, price notwithstanding, simply because it’s the new hotness. Even more than that, though, it seems to me that it’s a completely different experience in a still-an-iPhone kind of way.

I have bought a new iPhone every two years since 2011, with the older model given or sold to a family member or friend. My reasoning is the same as why I’m waiting for the X — each new model I upgraded to brought with it a new take on how it works for me:

  • Going from the 4S to the 5S introduced me to the taller display and a better camera, but, more importantly, also came with Touch ID, which made unlocking my passcode-secured phone a billion times nicer.

  • Going from the 5S to the 6S brought with it a faster Touch ID sensor, a still-larger display, and a way nicer camera again. It also included 3D Touch, and I use that all the time.

My reasoning behind waiting is that the iPhone 8 is, more or less, a pretty similar phone to what I have. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a much faster device with a better display, nicer camera, inductive charging, and a way nicer back. But my hunch is that it would be broadly the same in day-to-day use.

The iPhone X, on the other hand, affords me the opportunity for that biennial experience shakeup. There’s the radical new design, of course, and Face ID, but I also love the sound of the stainless steel band — my 6S remains too slippery — and the stabilized “telephoto” camera. That adds up to a much more compelling opportunity for the device I’ll be using for the next two years.

But, to state the obvious, you are not me. If you are still uncertain about which model to get and want to see the iPhone X in person before committing to an order either way, you aren’t alone. Astute readers will recall that Apple stopped announcing first weekend iPhone sales figures last year. That decision makes a lot of sense this year, as I’m sure there will be many people waiting. But if you’re even slightly leaning towards the 8 or 8 Plus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your order in tonight — I bet Apple will still sell as many of them as they can make.