Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch

Alex Kidman 13 September 2017 NEWS


Not everyone will be able to afford the new iPhone, after all.

Here at, we pride ourselves on the fact that we compare everything.

Want comparative information on credit cards? Here you go. How about insurance? We've got you covered, whether you want health insurance, travel insurance, car insurance or even pet insurance. Looking to compare energy providers? Got you covered again.

I think you get the idea. Naturally, we also compare all the latest and best mobile phones and mobile plans, and right now, there's nothing more heavily hyped and anticipated than the Apple iPhone X, announced just this morning.

Apple is busy on its hype train for the Apple iPhone X, but it's a phone well worth comparing. So we've done just that. We've already compared it against the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, against Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 and against the Samsung Galaxy S8, and against a raft of Android competitors including the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, LG V30, OnePlus 5, HTC U11 and Google Pixel. We've even compared whether you should upgrade to the iPhone X from last year's iPhone 7.

But we like to think that we compare everything, and we also like to have fun with it while we're on the job.

Not everyone is going to be able to afford the iPhone X's rather serious asking price, and this got me thinking. How well does an iPhone X compare to a discount store Etch-A-Sketch?

It should be noted at the outset that Etch-A-Sketch is a trademark of Spinmaster, and a properly branded one will typically cost you a bit more than $10. I'm thinking here of your generic knock-off version from a discount store, although the comparison would be equally apt for the real deal as well.

Device Apple iPhone X Bargain Store Etch-A-Sketch
Display size 5.8in Typically 6in
Resolution 2436x1125 Countable with fingers
PPI 458ppi Roughly 12ppi
Processor Apple A11 BIONIC None
RAM TBC None, unless you draw a sheep with it
Storage 64GB/256GB Fragile solid state storage
Operating system iOS 11 None
Front camera 7MP Not yet found
Back camera 12/12MP Not present
Battery TBC Not required
Dimensions 143.6x70.9x7.7mm Typically around 23x22x3cm
Weight 174g Less than 100g
Price $1,579/$1,829 $10-$40 depending on authenticity


Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch: Processor

The Apple iPhone X runs on Apple's latest and most powerful processor, the Apple A11 BIONIC, featuring 6 64-bit cores, built on a 10nm process. We're yet to comprehensively benchmark the iPhone X, but Apple claims impressive performance gains over previous iPhone generations, as well as the added benefits of a dedicated inbuilt GPU for AR and gaming purposes.

As for the Etch-A-Sketch, it doesn't really have a processor to speak of, unless the shaking of your hand counts as clock cycles in some twisted way. That being said, it's a very tried and true processor approach that hasn't changed since the very first Etch-A-Sketch. Clearly, it's a processor that can stand the test of time, whereas it's likely that the iPhone X won't get any iOS upgrades within about 4 or 5 years.


Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch: Storage

Apple will sell the iPhone X in 64GB and 256GB storage varieties, and like iPhones that preceded it, that's a fixed storage quantity with no microSD card expansion. It's still a solid quantity for apps and photos, although if you want a lot of downloaded video on the iPhone X, the 256GB model is advised.

The Etch-A-Sketch also uses solid state storage, which is quite cutting edge when you consider its technology dates from the 1950s. However, the age of the technology does introduce significant limitations, because it features what we can only call "fragile solid state storage". Even the smallest bump can radically change its storage parameters, and consistent shaking will lead to a complete factory reset with no user warning. Etch-A-Sketch provides no backup facility for its products, either.


Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch: Camera

Apple stacks the iPhone X with dual vertically mounted lenses at the rear, as well as a significantly upgraded front facing camera array that enables the new "FaceID" features, as well as the fun Animoji characters. Improved low light sensitivity and Apple's new Portrait Lighting feature should put it in the top tier of smartphone cameras, and that's a tough field in 2017.

Some would argue that the Etch-A-Sketch doesn't actually have a camera to speak of, but we're not so certain. Sure, we haven't actually been able to find the shutter button just yet, but how else do you explain these wonderful pictures?

Clearly, it's best suited for those who like their photography monochromatic, but we're going to keep searching until we find it.

Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch: Battery

Apple is rather cagey around the specifics of the battery in the iPhone X, noting only in its keynote that the iPhone X will manage 2 hours more battery life than the iPhone 7 did. Which on the surface sounds like a fine claim, except that the iPhone 7 had pretty poor battery life for a premium handset. There's the very real prospect that the iPhone X might not outpace the lower cost iPhone 8 Plus in the battery stakes if 2 hours more than the iPhone 7 is all it can manage. We'll have to wait until we can comprehensively test the iPhone X's battery power to get to the bottom of that mystery.

Meanwhile, the Etch-A-Sketch has a battery that can only be described as "magical", presuming Apple hasn't trademarked that term just yet.

Seriously, this thing just keeps going and going and going with no flashing battery alerts or dimmed screen at any time at all. That's probably for the best, because, like the camera shutter button, I can't seem to find where to plug it in.


Apple iPhone X vs a $10 Etch-A-Sketch: Early verdict

As smartphones go, the Apple iPhone X does appear to outperform the Etch-A-Sketch on every metric except battery life, so if you want a 4G-capable iOS device in the premium price range, it's probably going to do more for you. You will pay more, however, because while knock-off Etch-A-Sketch style devices can be had for around $10, the lowest cost iPhone X costs $1,579 for the 64GB variant and the 256GB model sells for $1,829.

That kind of money could, logically speaking, buy you around 182 knock-off Etch-A-Sketches, although what you do with them is up to you.

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