The iPhone X changed everything. With it, Apple AAPL + 2.58% reinvented design, security and (more controversially) the price we can expect to pay for a flagship smartphone. A year later, the iPhone XS has further increased prices, but are there enough differences to justify an update?
Here is everything you need to know …
iPhone XS (left) Vs iPhone X (right)APPLE
Displays – The same but better
The iPhone X marked Apple’s first foray into OLED displays, and immediately set the standard for all others. As expected, the iPhone XS makes additional improvements, although you will not notice any difference in the main specifications:
- iPhone XS, iPhone X – Aspect ratio of 5.8 inches 19.5: 9 True Tone OLED, 2436 x 1125 pixels (458 ppi), contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1, 82.9% aspect ratio,
Yes, Apple has installed an OLED panel of identical size and resolution in the iPhone XS and, however, claims that it will offer 60% more dynamic range with HDR content. This is backed by compatibility with Dolby Vision / HDR10 so you will have ample opportunities to see the improvement in images and video.
The other major change is what Apple calls “120Hz touch detection.” This should not be confused with a refresh rate of 120Hz, which is used by the Razor phone for a gloriously smooth effect. The 120Hz touch detection is the speed at which the phone will search for touch input. The refresh rate of the 60Hz panel remains, but by reacting twice as fast as the touch input, the iPhone XS should feel more responsive than the iPhone X at the moment it touches it.
iPhone XS support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 makes them ideal for watching video content
In addition, although the notch remains (and is not minor) in the iPhone XS, Apple claims that the Face ID facial recognition system housed in it is “faster.”
No concrete figure was established on the difference, and it is believed that the improvements are based on software, unlike new hardware. But since Face ID on the iPhone X was slower than the Touch ID fingerprint recognition system that replaced and unlocked our phones dozens of times a day, all improvements here are welcome.
Read more – iPhone XS Vs iPhone XS Max: What is the difference?
Design – Identical twins
If you look closely at the screen of the iPhone XS, its updates on the iPhone X will be revealed, the same can not be said for its designs:
iPhone XS: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 in) and 177 g (6.24 ounces)
iPhone X – 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 in) and 174 g (6.14 oz)
Yes, there is a difference in weight of 3 g (0.1 oz). That said, Apple has made improvements in the design, it simply will not detect them with the naked eye.
The first of these is the increased IP68 water and dust resistance over IP67 certification on the iPhone X. You can read about the technicalities here, but it essentially means that you can now immerse your iPhone in up to three meters of water instead of one .
The next step, and equally subtle, is a 25% increase in speaker volume and stereo support, the latest of which Apple promises to offer clear audible channels to the left and right. The iPhone X has amazingly speakers (more than the front, stereo compatible with Pixel 2), so this should be a welcome boost for anyone who wants to listen to podcasts at the kitchen counter.
iPhone XS build quality remains first class, though identical to the iPhone X
The most tangible, and least easy to detect, is Apple’s addition of dual sim support, the first for the iPhone range. The second SIM card is not physical, it is an eSIM, but both can work simultaneously, allowing you to share work / home or home / roaming numbers in a single device. ESim support is currently limited, but it is expected to change rapidly now that iPhones have it.
Elsewhere, the stainless steel frame presented with the iPhone X remains, as does the more polarizing glass back required for wireless charging (another enhanced feature that I will discuss below).
You can also buy the iPhone XS in an additional color: gold, which is transferred from the range of iPhone 8. The Silver and Space Gray finishes remain.
Performance – beating yourself
The Apple A11 chip set (iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus) delivered the fastest performance of any phone last year, and the new A12 chipset in the iPhone XS (also iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR) will retain that crown :
iPhone XS – Apple A12 ‘Bionic’ chip set: Six-core CPU, quad-core GPU, M12 motion coprocessor, 4 GB of RAM
iPhone X – Apple ‘A11’ Bionic chipset: Six-core CPU, three-core GPU, M11 motion coprocessor, 3 GB of RAM
So how is all this reduced? In terms of graphics, Apple promises a 50% jump and another 50% energy efficiency while idle. A 15% increase in maximum performance is less impressive, but the iPhone X already has power to burn.
Apple's A12 bionic chipset
In terms of intelligence, Apple says that the A12 will also offer improvements in the processing of images (more in the section “Cameras”), while it is behind the speed improvements of the iPhone XS with Face ID. A boost to 3GB of RAM should also help in multitasking, the area where Apple has battled its rivals.
What does ‘Bionic’ mean? It’s marketing nonsense.
In addition, the iPhone XS has “faster” wireless charging (another improvement that Apple did not want to define), as well as a much faster 4G network with a jump from Cat 12 to Cat 16 LTE and support for the 600MHz band.
The Cat 16 jump is significant, since it will reach potential 4G speeds of one gigabit, while Cat 12 was limited to 600 Mbit. While it is unlikely that both speeds will be achieved in real-world scenarios, it helps ensure the future of the iPhone XS. Useful at a time when Apple is unlikely to support 5G soon.
As for 600 MHz support, this is a great addition. 600 MHz is a slower network band, but it covers large distances and is being used by networks to deliver coverage to areas that previously had no signal. The iPhone XS is the first iPhone that supports 600 MHz, so it will be a big problem for people living in exclusive areas of 600 MHz.
iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max share the same optics, including the dual rear camera
Cameras – New hardware, better software
Apple will never admit it, but the range of iPhone has fallen far behind its rivals, especially the Pixel 2. But with the iPhone XS, Apple is playing a strategy ‘if you can not beat them, join them’ imitating the image processing of Google pixels.
What Google called ‘HDR +’, Apple has called ‘Smart HDR’ and combines the best parts of several photos taken with different exposures in a single image. This should significantly improve the dynamic range, a particular weakness of the iPhone, while improvements in its vertical mode offer a Samsung-style party trick where the iPhone XS can adjust the background blur of an image after it is taken.
Apple's new Smart HDR image processing combines multiple photos, taking the best parts from each
As for the hardware, in addition to the new six-piece lenses, there is an important update in the iPhone XS that should take into account:
Primary rear camera: 12MP, aperture f / 1.8, pixel size of 1.4 μm, optical image stabilization (OIS), True-Tone Quad-LED flash, vertical illumination
Secondary telephoto – 12MP, aperture f / 2.4, pixel size 1.0μm, OIS, 2x optical zoom
‘TrueDepth’ front camera – 7MP, aperture f / 2.2
If you need a clue, it is the size of the pixel. 1.4μm matches the Pixel 2 and larger pixels can receive more light, so the iPhone XS should offer much better performance than the 1.22μm pixels on the iPhone X.
Just like last year, the iPhone XS can also take photos of Portrait with its front camera. This is another area in which Apple has lagged behind Google so, hopefully, Smart HDR also runs to the rescue here. Certainly, the next Pixel 3 seems ready for a much tougher test this year.
Battery life and charge – Incremental improvements
The iPhone X did not have a long battery life, so you’ll be happy to know that the iPhone XS has more resistance. You will be less impressed to hear that it is only “30 minutes more”, according to Apple. This is surprising given the 50% increase of the A12 in efficiency while idle and Apple should really have equipped a larger battery:
iPhone XS – 2,658 mAh
iPhone X – 2716 mAh
In fact, battery life is the area where I have the most complaints with the iPhone XS. The “faster” wireless load mentioned above is vague and does not suggest much improvement over the 7.5W achieved by the iPhone X. Something that is not even close to the 15W supported by the Qi standard it uses.
iPhone XS (left) is arguably less interesting than the new iPhone XS Max (middle) and iPhone XR (right)
Second, while the iPhone XS has the same fast wiring load as the iPhone X (a 50% load in 30 minutes from the floor), Apple has still included a slow charger with the new phone. This is remarkable when a) all rivals have done this for years, and b) Apple charges $ 75 for a single quick charger and a compatible cable. That is outrageous.
In short: when it comes to battery life and charge, rivals are doing much better.
Storage and price: bigger but higher
As for prices, you will find that the iPhone XS matches the iPhone X, since it has a new higher level that can pay even more:
iPhone XS – 64GB ($ 999), 256GB ($ 1,149), 512GB ($ 1,349)
iPhone X – 64 GB ($ 999), 256 GB ($ 1,149)
I remain convinced that 128GB is the ideal point for most iPhone owners, which is undoubtedly the reason why Apple is left with 64 GB as entry point. But Americans should not complain too much because Apple is charging Europeans up to $ 2,000.
iPhone XS (left) is arguably less interesting than the new iPhone XS Max (middle) and iPhone XR (right)
While the denomination may be new, the iPhone XS is the very definition of a typical iPhone ‘S year’. So, while there are many intelligent improvements internally, from the outside, the only way to tell you that you have an iPhone XS is if you get the gold one.
Consequently, my advice to the owners of iPhone X would be to keep me tight one more year: you are not the target audience. As for those that are updated from older iPhones, I suggest you take a long hard look at the more colorful iPhone XR. It matches the most important (though not all) specifications of the iPhone XS and starts at $ 750.
What happens if you have money to spend? Then, the iPhone XS Max is the model for you. It has a screen to lower the jaws and a much better battery life.
In short, this is the big problem with the iPhone XS. While it is undoubtedly an excellent phone, Apple has flanked it with two better options and it would be smart to check it first …