IntroductionAnother year, another flagship by Apple! This years leading device, the iPhone XS came to us a few days ago, so stay with us to find out everything we have to say about it.
The iPhone XS that we have for our test came in Space Gray color. Apart from this somewhat boring black color, also available are Silver and Gold. In the last several years, Apple has been quite unimaginative in terms of color options, and it’s partially true this year as well since the XR has many more options – sadly, the XS doesn’t have them.
The body of this phone is made of glass which is very hard and capable of withstanding several drops without shattering. The frame is made of metal, and all around, the build quality is on par. The phone looks and feels sturdy and durable. The back panel is sadly a fingerprint magnet, and we really recommend using a case to protect it. It’s not exactly a cheap phone, and you’ll probably be sorry should you break it.
Inside the factory box there is the usual – the phone, user manuals, USB-A to lightning cable, lightning headphones, charging brick, and Apple stickers. By this time, Apple assumes that all their users have swapped to either their Earpods or some other sort of wireless headphones, and because of this they chose not to include a dongle in the factory box.
That said, let’s jump into a little bit more details about it.
DisplayRight at the beginning, we must say that we loved the OLED display on this phone! It’s truly stunning, colors are amazing, viewing angles as well, everything is as you’d expect from a top notch display. Speaking of notches, we have one at the top of the display. We’re not too fond of it, but it seems as if it’s there to stay for some time, and we have to learn how to deal with it. However, it’s purpose is not to just sit there and be ugly. It houses many sensors including the dot projector, front facing camera, a loud speaker, and all other sensors.
Yes, it’s only, but since the rest of the phone is so nice, you soon get to terms with it and just embrace it. It’s a matter of getting used to, and once you are, you don’t even notice it.
It’s also worth to mention that the iPhone XS still supports 3D Touch, while the cheaper XR doesn’t anymore. Whether you still, 3 years after its introduction, still consider it a gimmickor not, we must say that we like this feature and that we’d be sad to see it go.
Hardware and OSThe iPhone XS is powered by the next generation Apple A12 Bionic chipset. This chipset is an absolute beast, and hands down the fastest smartphone chipset at the moment. The XS series are the first commercially available devices that had a 7nm chipset inside, which only adds up to the speed of this chipset. Paired with the minimum of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of non-expandable storage, this phone does everything almost instantly.
The XS is a waterproof device as it’s IP68 certified. This means the usual, the phone will survive accidental drops in water, and it will be fine even after a short swim. It also uses a cool way to expel water out of it by using the speakers and their bass to move the water out. Speaking of speakers, we have stereo sound here, and it’s very nice, rich, plenty loud, bassy and overall pleasant to hear.
The new version of Apple’s iOS only even further supplements the speed of this phone. All new iPhones come with iOS 12 preinstalled, and using these devices is an experience as smooth as it gets. We’ve never seen it stutter, lag, or have any difficulties whatsoever doing anything we put onto it. Playing high demanding games on max settings on this phone was something we really enjoyed. Speaking of gaming, another reason it’s so smooth is that this phone has water cooling capabilities, so even after prolonged gaming sessions, the phone didn’t heat up enough to start throttling – it’s just not an issue here. When it comes to the OS itself, it’s the same old iOS with several new features. It’s as different as possible from Android, but love it or hate it, it’s a phenomenal OS that offers great user experience. It has its quirks (like inability to change camera resolution directly from the camera interface, or the inability to communicate with PCs without iTunes), but it’s just one more thing that you’ll have to simply accept if you choose to use this phone – there’s no reason to complain about it because it won’t change, and once again, once you get used to it, it’s quite intuitive.
CameraThe iPhone XS has a double camera setup on the back, and the cameras are simply phenomenal. It’s right out these with other top notch smartphones, such as the Note 9, Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro. Once again, the camera has its quirks, which are annoying even for seasoned iPhone users, but it’s just the way Apple envisions things. Photos made by the main camera are gorgeous, there’s no noise and they are plenty sharp. The portrait mode is also here, and it works great, since it segments the depth in different sections in terms of how far away from the subject the background objects are – the further away the more they are blurred. This way we have very nice an natural bokeh photos. Videos captured by the main camera are excellent, with plenty of details and a stable framerate. Videos are captured in the maximum 4K resolution at 60fps, and they simply look stunning.
When it comes to the front facing camera, once again it produces great photos. However, here we have an issue with the portrait mode. It doesn’t do that good of a job separating the subject from the background, especially when using Studio, Contour and Stage Light modes. Edges are blurred, and the photos simply don’t look as nice as when taken with the main camera. We have to say that we’ve seen better results made by some far cheaper Android phones. Videos taken by the front facing camera are very smooth. The camera is well capable of producing crisp image and FaceTime is a real pleasure to use, assuming a stable connection.
We must say that, despite their shortcomings, both of these cameras are truly amazing. They will not only do the job, but they will do it really well. As we’ve already said, the issues mostly lay in the getting used to.
ConnectivityWhen it comes to the connectivity, this phone has plenty of options, all but the infamous one that shall not be named. Since Apple’s general philosophy is going all wireless, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that all connections are wireless, or at least have a wireless alternative. Something we don’t understand though is why Apple chose to stick with the lightning port in the new iPhone. MacBook and iPad, just as the majority of Android world, both use the reversible USB Type-C port for wired communications, and at this point it doesn’t seem logical to stick to the lightning port. Apple is famous for their seamless ecosystem, but because of the port, the seams are visible here. In order to connect your iPhone to you MacBook you’ll have to use a dongle (albeit wireless connections are possible and flawless). We can only hope that the next generation iPhone will come with the Type-C port which will finally unite the whole smartphone market under one standard.
BatteryThe battery of the iPhone XS has the capacity of 2658, a nice round number of mAh. Jokes aside, this is a small battery. In 2018, when devices are well capable of lasing 2 days easy, the iPhone struggles to deliver a single day of heavy use. Our opinion is that the majority of its buyers are heavy users (why else would anyone spend that much money on a phone if they’re not going to use its full potential), which is why we believe that the battery is just unsatisfactory. On the other hand, fast charging is available, but to access it, in a true Apple fashion you’ll have to pay extra for a fast charging brick. You don’t get it by default in the box, which is just a shame, but on the other hand, Apple didn’t become a trillion dollar company by giving peripherals for free. Another thing that is not free is the wireless charger. The iPhone supports Qi charging, but once again, more money’s needed to use it.
Final wordsThe iPhone XS didn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table. Just as every S upgrade by Apple, this phone is simply just – better – compared to the predecessor. More speed, more stability and all around more –everything. That’s what this device is good for. Honestly, no matter what you put onto it, it will deliver. Whatever you choose to do, it will perform, and it will do it fast.
All this comes with a price however. Apple retails this phone in Europe for around €1150, and to be honest, this is its only real flaw. It’s just too expensive. It is true that this is a beast that will not let you down, but we’re not sure it’s worth the price. If you want to get a very capable iPhone, we recommend choosing last year’s iPhone X (if you can find it sealed since Apple discontinued selling it).
Apple iPhone XS Full Specifications
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Advantages and disadvantages
Reasons for and against it
Best possible performance
Excellent 120 Hz display
Photos are amazing
Overall experience is fantastic
Poor selfie portrait mode
Just a slight upgrade from the X