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The iPhone X will give your Android-loving friends a lot less reason to brag

  • Apple's iPhone X perfects much of what smartphone users have been trying to build for years.
  • Face ID works well and is secure, the screen is the best out there and it will get software updates.
  • The iPhone X still has a ways to go in terms of full-screen display and wireless charging, though.

For years, Android lovers have had one great argument against the Apple iPhone: hardware specs. Many Android phones contained hardware that wowed, where the iPhone sometimes felt a little blah.

The iPhone X changes the game.

It takes all of those pieces reviewers and consumers have loved about Android phones and perfects them. Here's a look at how.

Displays

The iPhone X is displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on Sept. 12, 2017 in Cupertino, Calif.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
The iPhone X is displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on Sept. 12, 2017 in Cupertino, Calif.

Samsung has been using better displays than Apple for years, particularly its Super AMOLED Plus screens.

This year, with the iPhone X, Apple used Samsung's screens and engineered them to perform even better. Monday, DisplayMate, the most well-known display testing outlet, dubbed the iPhone X screen the "most innovative and high performance smartphone display" that it has ever tested. DisplayMate congratulated Samsung on developing the screen, but gives Apple the credit for calibration.

Face ID

Face ID is super easy to set up
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Face ID is super easy to set up

The iPhone X can detect a user's face to unlock the phone, interact with animated characters called Animoji and more.

This isn't new — LG, Samsung and others have face unlock features — but the iPhone X nearly perfects it (although I wish Face ID worked better in sunlight), while the competition is mostly for fun. In my own tests, I was able to trick the face scanner on a Galaxy S8 with a photo. In fact, Samsung recommends its customers use the built-in retina scanner, which is a more secure option than Samsung's face scanner but slower than Apple Face ID.

Software

Look at that screen!
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Look at that screen!

Apple continues to nail its software updates by making them available to a vast majority of its users, allowing everyone to be running on the same platform with the same security updates at once. Google still hasn't figured this out with its Android partners, some of which are even starting to slip on delivering promised monthly security updates, let alone major new Android releases.

Cameras

This is a pretty decent portrait using the front-facing camera
Todd Haselton | CNBC
This is a pretty decent portrait using the front-facing camera

You'll find great cameras in other smartphones, particularly Google's Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8/Galaxy S8 smartphones. But now, I think the best experience is in Apple's iPhone X. The secondary telephoto lens now has optical image stabilization so you can zoom and still get clear pictures.

DxOMark, which tests camera quality, is regularly cited by Android makers when their phones launch with the new "highest DxOMark score." Now the iPhone X is at the top of the list for still photos, with a score of 97 as of Nov. 6.

Some caveats

The iPhone X still has some progress to make. The notch on the display shows that Apple hasn't been able to cram sensors under the display, like Face ID or a camera. Android makers might beat Apple to the punch ahead of next year.

Also, while Apple added wireless charging, it only added the Qi standard (now likely to become the go-to option given Apple's support). Samsung's smartphones support Qi and PMA, in addition to faster wireless charging. Apple is expected to deliver faster wireless charging in a future software update, which means it's well on its way to catching up.

This is why Apple sells millions of smartphones

Apple says this is the strongest glass used on a smartphone
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Apple says this is the strongest glass used on a smartphone

These advances, paired with Apple's sprawling ecosystem, are why people continue to buy Apple smartphones. While Android makers excel at introducing new and compelling features, they're often a fraction as good as what Apple ultimately delivers to the market.

Video review: The Apple iPhone X is the best phone you can buy