When design wunderkind Jony Ive first conceived of a mobile phone devoid of buttons, where user and product become one – iPhone X was that dream.
At the time, around the mid nineties, despite the technology still being just whisper in the world of mobile phones, Ive knew multi-touch screen displays held the key to his vision of the ultimate smartphone - a device that responds intuitively to natural gestures and becomes a fluid part of the user's life.
Decades later, with 13 iterations of iPhone technology having been released unto the world, the smartphone of his dreams is now a reality.
There's no place like Home
Ive's vision was truly grand: to create a device that transcended the limitations of the modern paradigm; that was more than a slab of metal and glass; where the hardware disappears and all that remains is interaction with the software. Desire expressed through form and function, if you will. His vision verged on the science-fiction.
Since Apple introduced the world to the first multi-touch screen smartphone, it has been our lot to endure the cumbersome Home button - either physical or literally stamped onto the glass - forcing us to clumsily stab to perform the most basic navigation functions.
Now, using a combination of facial scanning, called Face ID, and advanced OLED display technology, iPhone X allows you to live the life of freedom Ive always promised; one without a Home button.
Through the looking glass
And, boy, is that display ever pretty. Dubbed 'Super Retina Display' by the Apple hive mind, it will remind you of the first jump you made from an iPhone HD screen to a Retina screen. In fact, any memories you have of your old iPhone display will be lost, like tears in the rain. That's how beautiful is this new screen.
Again, this is Ive's vision: a display so vivid, with colours, light and shadows so natural and lifelike, that the eyes entice the mind to suspend disbelief while you soak in this re-creation of the real world.
You'll find this especially so when watching film or TV, or anything that achieves high-production value execution of visuals. You won't notice it, of course. A magician is not worth their weight in rabbits if you're aware you're being deceived. Instead, you'll simply enjoy the experience for what it is: an escape.
The meaning of gesture
With the removal of the Home button and the adoption of a visual ID system, what remains is a more fluid (that word again) user experience; where natural gestures replace prods and taps.
Rather than press your digit onto the Home button-cum-Touch ID fingerprint scanner to unlock your iPhone, simply glance at the screen of iPhone X; Face ID then scans your face and unlocks the handset. It's swift and effortless.
Once unlocked, navigation is now a more intuitive affair, with swipes up, down and across feeling more natural than ever. A quick flick up, from the bottom of the screen - from an app or the unlock screen - reveals your home screen. Swipe down from the top right to reveal the Control Centre. Swipe up from the bottom and pause to bring up the App Switcher.
Without the navigation cornerstone of constantly returning back to the Home button that has dominated the last decade, your initial few days with iPhone X may be a discovery of sorts. It's familiar, yet somehow more natural than every iPhone before it. Above all, the experience diminishes the veil between user and hardware, and brings one closer to purity of interaction.
What's in a name?
If you listen closely to an Apple executive talk about their hardware during any Apple Keynote address, you'll notice they usually speak about hardware on a first-name basis. That is, it's always 'iPhone' not 'the iPhone'.
This subtle, psychological trick is a way of, again, bringing the user closer to the hardware; of enhancing that experience of interaction - you refer to it as you would a friend. If there were ever an Apple device that embodies that sense of intimacy, it's iPhone X.
From the innovative use of Face ID and gesture control, to the subtle beauty of the OLED display, the user experience of this iPhone is one of natural fluidity - an extension of wants and needs.
It may seem far-fetched, maybe even creepy to some, but designers the world over spend countless hours, some even spend their entire lives, in search of this design experience. Now, this unique piece of technology can be all yours.
Have you tried the iPhone X? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.