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iPhone XS Review


iPhone XS Review: Overview & Price

In this iPhone XS review we go over both the iPhone XS and XS max, covering everything from price to performance and everything in-between.

We even showcase the best XS deals here in the UK, making it easy for you to find the plan for you.

So the much-anticipated iPhone XS and XS Max are finally here!

Released on September 21st 2018, the XS price is around £1000 SIM-free.

Apple has made some great upgrades to last years iPhone X, such as more powerful speakers, a better camera, much better battery life and they even added an extremely powerful chipset into the phone.

Check out the best XS deals here in the UK…

iPhone XS Review: Design & Display

So right out of the box you will not notice any major differences when compared to the iPhone X, but the real change is in the software.

Now whilst we typically compare devices to their predecessor, Apple has actually pulled the iPhone X from production so comparisons here won’t help you too much on the decision making process.

So the iPhone XS, more commonly known as the ‘iPhone 10S’ comes in 3 colours, Space Grey, Silver or Gold, although the Gold looks a lot more like a Rose Gold so definitely check that out before jumping for this option.

In terms of exterior everything is pretty much identical to last year’s iPhone X, the shape is the same, the frame and the footprint is all exactly the same. So what is different we hear you ask?

Well firstly the exterior speakers have been upgraded and sound extremely crisp and clear, also the ability for the speakers to fire left or right depending on what is playing is rather impressive too.

Apple iPhone XS (64GB) - Silver
  • 5.8 Inch super Retina display (OLED) with HDR
  • IP68 dust and water resistant (maximum depth of 2 m up to 30 minutes)
  • 12MP dual cameras with dual OIS and 7MP True Depth front camera—Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, and Smart HDR
  • Face ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay
  • A12 Bionic with next-generation Neural Engine

The iPhone XS still has no headphone jack so you will need to purchase an adapter to connect your phone up to an AUX, however, the phone is now IP68 water-resistant, unlike the IP67 iPhone X.

Giving you peace of mind if you were to drop it in the tub (we know someone is going to attempt this but please be careful).

Apple has also upgraded the durability of the phone as they have used specially designed glass which is reportedly the strongest ever used in a smartphone, so for all you guys that love dropping your phones this will hopefully stop your screen from smashing as easily.

The actual screen size of the iPhone XS is 5.8” whilst the XS MAX is 6.5”, Apple has built upon last years iPhone X as it has the same resolution however there are some exceptional improvements.

The first being dynamic range, this basically means more colour spectrum to allow an overall better experience when watching movies or taking photos.

Apple also says that the phone has the best colour accuracy in the industry which is a very bold statement for the tech giants, that being said the screen is undoubtedly one of the best we have ever seen.

We noticed that the screen is extremely responsive and feels super smooth, we didn’t notice any lag across the screen, this is mainly down to apple implementing 120Hz-tracking technology in both of the phones.

This essentially means rapid response when it comes to picking up your finger on the screen which is why it feels so quick to navigate around the phone.

iPhone XS Review: Performance

Throughout this XS review this is where we really noticed the upgrades from the iPhone X.

The first thing to note is that there are 64GB, 256Gb and a whopping 512GB options for each phone, both come with 4GB of RAM which is nice too see as most of the time the ‘plus’ models usually come with more RAM, but it means that people who don’t tend to go for the bigger phone are not at a disadvantage.

That been said considering the XS price, we would have liked to have seen around 6-8GB of RAM but with this being an Apple device, we knew the chances were slim.

See Related:

*iPhone 11 Review*
*iPhone XR Review*
*iPhone X Review*
*iPhone 8 Review*
*iPhone 7 Review*

So what is so different from last year’s iPhone X?

Well, the phone is extremely responsive thanks to the A12 Bionic chip! You will not notice any delay whatsoever when flicking through apps or swiping screens.

Both phones have an absolute ton of power and do not struggle whatsoever even when being beasted, this is noticeable in Face ID as it is extremely quick at recognising your face to unlock the phone.

The A12 chip has a 15% CPU performance increase compared to the iPhone X and also brings a 50% boost to graphical performance making the phone hardly break a sweat.

The speakers are also significantly better, they are clear, loud and the stereo option is now great.

A perfect accessory for this device is the Apple Airpods, they are super convenient and allow for a fantastic sound experience.

iphone xs review
Image: Monoar

One slightly annoying thing about these phones though is that Apple has stopped including the 3.5mm headphone jack in the box seeing as though they do not have a headphone jack, so you will need to pay around £7 if you’re looking to connect your phone to an AUX.

IOS 12 recently launched just a couple of days before the release of the XS and XS MAX which makes notifications, calling friends and silencing notifications from a specific app a lot easier.

IOS 12 also allows you to keep track of how much battery life you are using and can produce a report at the end of the weak allowing you to help identify anything that is being excessively draining to your phone.

Our personal favourite of IOS 12 is the stacking notifications, any iPhone user will be able to relate when I say that when looking at your screen after a couple hours and seeing a long list of notifications all in a row is very annoying.

But thanks to this update they now stack behind each other giving a cleaner and more eye-easy approach to checking your messages.

iPhone XS Review: Camera

So without question the camera of both the XS and XS MAX are extremely similar to last year’s X, that being said there have been a few tweaks made.

Both phones have a pair of 12-megapixel sensors both with optical image stabilisation, the primary lens is 26mm and has an aperture of f/1.8 whilst the second lens Is f/2.4 aperture.

Now because of the dual camera lenses, it gives the phones the power to 2x optical zoom, what’s great about the camera is that the phone will actually capture multiple shots as soon as you press the shutter and then will stitch them together to make the best possible image.

Consistency is huge with these phones and every single image captured is simply stunning, it is a definitely up there with the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro when it comes to the camera quality, images are very sharp and clear with great dynamic range.

iphone xs review
(Image taken with iPhone XS camera)

Low light isn’t an issue for the camera either as it performed exceptionally well in all different lighting conditions, this being said low light performance is definitely one of the weaker aspects of the camera and we would rank it slightly behind the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Pixel 3.

Portrait mode on the iPhones has also been improved as they use a depth map and gives an extremely realistic look when blurring out the background, this is because the phones will blur the further away parts of the image and keep what’s closer to the lenses more in focus.

Smart-HDR is the main event here basically allows the phone to make full use of its powerful A12 chip, CPU and GPU giving you flawless photos every time your finger hits the shutter.

The technology behind this is insane and allows a novice photographer to capture amazing shots with little to no effort at all.

Video recording is also the best in any smartphone, giving you 4K whilst at 60fps whilst still being optically stabilised.

Apple has also improved HDR capture which allows the phone to make slight adjustments to the video in order to give you the best all-round experience when taking HD videos.

iPhone XS Review: Battery Life

Battery Life in both the XS and XS MAX is still less than ideal, Apple has never really been one for giving huge amounts of battery life in their phones but seeing as though they pack a ton of performance-enhancing technology they still struggle with this year on year.

Both phones will still only last you around one day and give up to 5 hours of screen on time, very similar to the iPhone X.

This being said the phone is definitely no worse than last years but there is no noticeable changes in this department.

Apple iPhone XS (64GB) - Silver
  • 5.8 Inch super Retina display (OLED) with HDR
  • IP68 dust and water resistant (maximum depth of 2 m up to 30 minutes)
  • 12MP dual cameras with dual OIS and 7MP True Depth front camera—Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, and Smart HDR
  • Face ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay
  • A12 Bionic with next-generation Neural Engine

The main downfall of the battery is how long it takes to charge, we thought we were going to finally see Apple give us a fast charger with this but unfortunately not.

The XS took a whopping 3 HOURS from flat to full and the XS MAX took 3.5 hours, this is almost criminal for such an expensive phone and is a real downfall to the overall package.

We would definitely recommend purchasing a fast charger for these phones as it does speed the process up a lot and can be great for the extra top-ups when out in the car or in a fast-food restaurant as most now have wireless charging docks inside.

iPhone XS Review: Summary

So is the iPhone XS worth your hard-earned cash?

Well, that depends on the individual but certainly, if you’re an Apple fan, the phones do offer some great features such as a stunning HDR-capable OLED screen, wireless charging and a superb camera.

That being said the XS price is around £1000 here in the UK, this is dependant on the phone, it is certainly at the higher end of smartphones today.

Apple iPhone XS (64GB) - Silver 

Android users may find better values in the Google Pixel 3 or Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Both phones certainly do have the hardiness to last a long time and value for money with both phones is at an all-time high.

We hope you have enjoyed our XS review and feel free to leave a comment and check out the best XS deals at the top of this post.

iPhone XS Review: Full Specification

Launch: September 2018

Body:

  • Dimension: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)
  • Weight: 177 g (6.24 ounces)
  • Build: Front/Backglass, stainless steel frame
  • Sim: Nano-SIM and e-SIM
    – IP68 dust/water resistant ( up to 2m for 30 mins)
    – Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX certified)

Display:

  • Type: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
  • Size: 5.8 inches, 84.4 cm² (-82.9% screen-to-body-ratio)
  • Resolution: 1125 x 2436 pixels, 19:5:9 ratio (-458 PPI density)
  • Multitouch: Yes
  • Protection: Scratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
    – Dolby Vision/HDR10 compliant
    – Wide colour gamut display
    – 3D Touch display
    – True-tone display
    – 120 Hz touch-sensing

Platform:

  • OS: iOS 12, upgradable to iOS 12.1
  • Chipset: Apple A12 Bionic (7 nm)
  • CPU: Hexa-core (2×2.5 GHz Vortex + 4×1.6 GHz Tempest)
  • GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)

Memory:

  • Card slot: No
  • Internal: 64/256/512 GB, 4GB RAM

Camera:

  • Single:
    – 12MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), OIS, PDAF
    – 12MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.4″, OIS, PDAF, 2x optical zoom
  • Features: Quad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR (photo/panorama)
  • Video: 2160p@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, stereo sound recording
  • Dual: 7MP, f/2.2, 32mm (standard)
  • Features: HDR
  • Video: 1080p@60fps

Sound:

  • Alert Types: Vibration, proprietary ringtones
  • Loudspeaker: Yes, with stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm Jack: No
    – Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic

Comms:

  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
  • Bluetooth: 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
  • NFC: Yes
  • Radio: No
  • USB: 2.0, proprietary reversible connector

Features:

  • Sensors: Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
  • Messaging: iMessage, SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email
  • Browser: HTML5 (Safari)

Battery:

  • Non-removable Li-Pro 2658 mAh battery

Misc:

  • Colours: Space Grey, Silver, Gold
  • Price: As seen in the above post

Tests:

  • Performance: Basemark OS || 2.0: 6060
  • Display: Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal), 5.171 (sunlight)
  • Camera: Photo / Video
  • Loudspeaker: Voice 71dB / Noise 75dB / Ring 78dB
  • Audio Quality: Noise -93.7dB / Crosstalk -82.8dB
  • Battery life: Endurance rating 72h

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