Here’s an update after using the phone for almost a month constantly with a focus on tips that have improved the experience.
Face ID: partial resolution
Face ID is the defining feature of the iPhone X. So it’s got to be easy to use.
Original quibble: must keep picking up the phone to ID my face. Would prefer to keep it flat on the desk.
Resolution: this isn’t a “satisfaction-guaranteed” solution but it helps. Set up Face ID (in “Settings” –> “Face ID & Passcode”) so it sees your face from below. In other words, hold the phone below your face — not straight on — when setting up. Then toggle off “Require Attention for Face ID”* in the Face ID settings. The upshot is, you can leave the phone flat on a desk and it will ID your face. It it works for me and has been getting better over time (see “Boost Face ID accuracy” below).
Problem is, Touch ID is better in this case, i.e., it’s easier to just reach over and tap the Touch ID button on phones like the iPhone 8 (imo).
If this is a deal killer (as it is apparently for some), get the iPhone 8. It’s not a deal-killer for me but would prefer that Apple update the next-gen iPhone X with a Touch ID button integrated into the glass or a good software-based ID button.
And note that some PCs, like the HP EliteBook X360 that I’m using, have both facial and fingerprint recognition. Having both helps a lot.
Boost Face ID accuracy: resolved
Original quibble: Face ID can be slower than Touch ID.
Resolution: Because Face ID is so important, it’s worth using every trick available to make it as fast as possible (without compromising security of course). When Face ID fails to recognize your face, it prompts for a passcode. Every time it fails and forces you to enter your passcode, Apple’s “mathematical representation” of your face improves.
I wasn’t aware of this at first. So, I now make sure to type in my passcode when, for example, the iPhone X is flat on the desk and Face ID tries to recognize my face from an angle but fails. And, yes, it improves over time.
Home button: partial resolution
Original quibble: there is no home button on the X.
Resolution: virtual home button. Go into Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> AssistiveTouch. Turn on AssistiveTouch and, voila, a virtual home button appears with access to Notifications, Control Center etc.
You can drag the virtual home button down so it sits at the bottom of the screen like a real home button. Problem, it’s (obviously) not a full-fledged home button.
App switching: resolved
Original quibble: initiating app switching was slow.
Solution: don’t just swipe up (what I was doing before) but swipe up and to the right or left. That launches the app switcher (app cards) immediately.
Also, if you’re in an app and want to switch to another, just swipe up (maybe better described as “drag up”) to the middle of the screen and that launches the app switcher.
Quit apps: resolved
Original quibble: not fast enough.
Solution: once you see the app cards just tap on any app and a red circle (with a white line through the middle) appears at the top left of the card. Then just swipe up on the app you want to quit.
Extra tips — side button/power switch: the big side button (on right) is pretty versatile. Push volume-up button (left) and side button (right) simultaneously and it takes a screen shot. Hold both buttons, and it brings up the “slide to power off” screen.
Another tip: hold the button to launch Siri. Note that many users figure this out right away because they mistakenly hold it thinking that it will power down the X. It doesn’t, as pointed out in the paragraph above.
The button is also used for authenticating Apple Pay. You’re prompted to double tap on the button when using Apple Pay.
*Toggling off “Require Attention for Face ID” turns off an additional level of security so some may prefer to leave this on.