Clarence Fanto | iPhone X: What do the techies say?

LENOX — Are you tired of reading about Apple's new iPhone X, priced at a thousand dollars (plus fees, taxes, etc.)?

I am too, but bear with me. From all the air time, web space and column inches devoted to the company's recent announcement of its new devices, you'd think the proverbial wheel had been reinvented with endless benefits to humankind.

To be fair to Apple, the X (pronounced 10, of course) doesn't cost a thousand dollars. The list price is $999. And lest you think I'm a technophobic Luddite, our home has seven Apple products, including tablets and desktops.

They are superb devices, in my humble opinion. And with two working adults and a teenager in the house, we depend heavily on them, in my case primarily for professional reasons. If I were not a journalist, there would be no need to own a smartphone since I avoid so-called social media like the plague.

But it remains a mystery why so many people, especially younger ones, are constantly staring at their devices, whether walking down the street, dining out with friends or (horrors!) driving. So, out of morbid curiosity and fascination, I sought out widely read techie journalists and experts for their takes on that question and on whether the new iPhones live up to Apple's hype.

Here are the best answers I found:

"Calling it a smartphone doesn't come close to how people use it, view it and embrace it in their lives. It's an extension of themselves, it's their entry into the world, it's their connection to their friends."

That's from Debby Ruth, a senior VP at the Magid consumer research firm, as cited by the Associated Press.

And to answer my amazement at the price tag on the highest-end new iPhone, here's technology analyst Patrick Moorhead: "People now value their phones more than any other device and, in some cases, even more than food and sex."

Exaggeration? I suspect not.

When it comes time to replace one of our devices, should the iPhone X be the obvious choice?

It has a sharper screen display technology with better color accuracy and contrast. The entire screen is edge-to-edge, with no physical home button and no borders around the screen. It downloads faster and has facial recognition through infrared scanning (Face ID), so you don't have to program your thumb (Touch ID) or enter a code to unlock the device. The camera is more sophisticated and you can power the phone up wirelessly on a charging pad, though battery life is no better.

My favorite tech columnist, Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe, greeted the new superphone by calling it a super letdown, poking fun at the animated emojis that mimic the expressions on a user's face. They were billed as a star attraction at the Apple new-product unveiling.

He recommends the iPhone 8 Plus, costing $200 less with most of the same features but without the emojis, or the iPhone 8, $300 less, as excellent, cost-saving alternatives. In fact, Bray committed the ultimate heresy by revealing that if he were to spend a thousand bucks on a phone, he'd choose the competing Samsung Note 8 over the iPhone X.

Since most people pay off their phones on a 24-month installment plan through their wireless carrier, there's bound to be a rush to acquire the X for a monthly device cost of about $43 when it goes on sale seven weeks before Christmas.

But don't laugh as I reveal what's at the top of my holiday gift wish list: A bear-proof bird feeder.

Reach correspondent Clarence Fanto at The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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