Living with the iPhone X- Face ID Tests and Battery Life

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I’ve gotten some questions about how well Face ID works in different conditions, so I decided to go beyond the observations that I’ve had from normal use. I did have one failure in darkness while I was in bed this morning that I mentioned in a reply, but I didn’t have any other usage to compare it against.

Based on all this, I decided to test Face ID in some different challenging conditions and see how it fared. In my regular job, I spend a lot of time testing, troubleshooting, and performing service on controls, so this is right up my alley. I don’t claim that these test are scientific in any way, or that they are more than anecdotal evidence of my experience. However, they are controlled and repeated, and I used Facebook Live, so there can’t be any claims that I have doctored the results in any way. Let’s get to it.

Face ID Test 1- Dark Closet at 24 Inches

In this test, I confirmed that Face ID does actually work very well in the dark. There was a little bot of light due to the other iPhone I used to video the test. However, this video was actually a duplication of a test that I conducted previously in complete darkness in the same closet. Based on the results here, I think my failed Face ID attempt in bed this morning was an outlier due more to the angle than the darkness or distance.

Face ID Test 2- Room with Natural Light at 24 Inches

In this instance, Face ID performed even better than in the closet. In dim natural light (it was overcast outside here today) with no overhead lighting, Face ID worked as far away as I could possibly stretch my phone. I started at 24 inches and kept going as far as I could possibly stretch. I didn’t have any issues.

Face ID Test 3- Flat Surfaces with Indoor Lighting

In this test, I finally broke Face ID. It was conducted in my kitchen, the same as Test 2. In this case, I turned the lights on to put Face ID in more optimal conditions to see how well it could deal wth angles with the iPhone X on a flat surface. It worked perfectly with me looking straight down at the X. At a slight angle, Face ID was 5 out of 6. However, it started failing at a steeper angle over 45 degrees. So, the TrueDepth camera and sensors do have limitations.

(If you can’t see the videos above, you can link to our Facebook page and view them here.)

Considering that Face ID worked with 100% reliability at an arms length in both dim indoor light and in darkness, I have to say that in my personal testing, it works extremely well. The fact that it works at an acceptable level on a flat surface at a bit of an angle is kind of a bonus in my book. This will benefit people using their Xs at a desk, but if you tend to sit back, you will either have to prop it or pick it up for Face ID to get a good scan.

Just be aware of the limits of the technology. All biometric security methods have them. As good as TouchID was, it routinely failed if my thumbs got wet. I also had issues whenever I would work wiring controlers or control panels in Winter, as the copper wire will leave small abrasions and my skin would get dry due to the lower outdoor humidity. However, when the limitiations don’t get in the way any more than that, you have a technology that is both relaible and convenient enough to be worth using.

Battery Life is So-So…So Far

I haven’t done any methodical testing regarding battery life so far, but I can say one thing for certain- the X is not the same as a Plus-sized iPhone. The thing is, it isn’t supposed to be. While it may have a similarly-sized screen, the iPhone X is a continuation of the smaller iPhone 6/6S/7/8 line, and the battery life is going to be more in line with them. This is going to be fine for the majority of the iPhone users, but if you are coming from a Plus like me, you will need to adjust. As you can see in the photo above, I have adjusted by picking up a Fast Charge-capable battery pack form Amazon.

I will report back about the battery life as time goes on. I know that you can’t take the performance the first two or three days as gospel, so I am going to give this a little more time. As many of you may know, there are several processes that go on after a restore or device upgrade, such as loading music, photos and videos, and file indexing. Also, I between testing for articles, general “playing with my new toy,” and actual work, I am hammering it pretty hard at the moment, too. This is not the time to form a definitive opinion on whether or not the battery life is as good as advertised.

That’s it for today. I went to a local lake today with my daughter and took several pictures to try out the iPhone X’s camera. I am going to post some of the best of the bunch unedited tomorrow evening, with some overall impressions of the camera’s capabilities. Until then, if you have any questions or comments about the iPhone X, feel free to reach out in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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