Glowing and glamorous, the Apple iPhone XS ($999) aims to be the candied atom for iPhones this year. But while it’s actually an accomplished phone, I acquisition it to be the atomic acclaimed of Apple’s 2018 lineup. If the XS stood alone, I’d be anticipation it added highly. But it doesn’t. I see area it fits in: The XS has a 2X zoom camera and an OLED screen, and it’s not actually as big as the XS Max. But the Max is a bigger bound advanced from antecedent iPhones in the Additional family, and a added arresting accessory all around. Ultimately, I feel best bodies will appetite to pay an added $100 for the iPhone XS Max, or save $250 on the iPhone XR.
At 5.65 by 2.79 by 0.30 inches (HWD), the iPhone XS is about the exact aforementioned admeasurement as the iPhone X. Like the X, the architecture is basically a bottle sandwich about metal. It has an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch, 19.5:9 OLED awning with the abominable cleft at the top. I’m blessed to see Apple assuredly accepting rid of its gigantic bezels, but at 2.79 inches wide, the XS is 0.14-inch added than the iPhone 6/7/8 and aloof about at the ambiguous of what best bodies accede to be a one-handed phone. The XR is alike wider. (For added on the admeasurement of the new iPhones, analysis out our chance in which we do the math.)
The XS isn’t advised actually like the X, though. In accession to argent and amplitude gray, it additionally comes in gold. The new 4×4 MIMO antennas affected Apple to hardly move the camera bump, which agency abounding X cases and accessories will not fit on the new XS. I approved the Olloclip Mobile Photography Set for the iPhone X, for instance, and begin that it did not acclimatize appropriately with the XS cameras. Speck cases, on the added hand, assignment on both the X and the XS.
The buzz additionally no best ships with a Lightning-to-headphone dongle. This fabricated some of my testing added annoying, but I can’t get too formed up about it because the dongle alone costs $9.
The AMOLED awning is the aforementioned admeasurement as the iPhone X’s, but it’s both brighter and has bigger blush accuracy. We’re currently cat-and-mouse for analysis after-effects from Dr. Ray Soneira at DisplayMate Labs, and we’ll amend this analysis back we get them. But antecedent looks accept the XS in the alive with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for the brightest, best accurate, and atomic cogitating awning available.
Apple says the iPhone XS’s new bottle is tougher than antecedent glass, so it’s beneath acceptable to crack. The buzz is additionally IP68 rated for baptize attrition at up to 6 anxiety in depth. We can affirm that the XS captivated up aloof accomplished afterwards bisected an hour in water. Testing this led to a affable surprise: The awning works bigger than aggressive phones back it’s wet. For best phones, if you’re aggravating to blazon on a wet screen, the keyboard will go a little haywire. The XS performed altogether able-bodied with a wet screen, which Apple accepted is a new affection on this year’s devices.
From left: iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone X, iPhone 8
The phone’s 2,659mAh array is hardly abate than the iPhone X’s 2,716mAh cell, but the XS added than makes up for the gap with a added power-efficient processor and radio. Abnormally on LTE, 4×4 MIMO actually reduces the bulk of adeptness bare to eke out a signal. Unfortunately, my array tests haven’t completed yet, but I got 9 hours, 50 annual of video alive over Wi-Fi with the iPhone XS Max, and Apple says the XS has hardly beneath array life. That puts it in full-day range, but abbreviate of the Galaxy Note 9. I’ll amend this analysis back I accept a array result.
Apple includes the aforementioned slow-charging 5W adeptness adapter it consistently does with its phones, but says that it will allegation faster with iPad or MacBook adapters. We put that to the analysis aftermost year and absitively that the iPad adapter is a must-buy to allegation your buzz with.
There’s a new twist, though—literally. For wireless charging, Apple says it has anchored the coils in the buzz so it wirelessly accuse faster than antecedent models. That requires a 7.5W wireless charger, though. We alone had 5W wireless chargers in out analysis lab, and begin that the buzz answerable wirelessly by 18 percent in 30 minutes.
Apple’s new A12 processor is, CPU-wise, the fastest handheld accessory processor available. It array about 15 percent bigger than the A11 did on Geekbench benchmarks, which admeasurement determined CPU math. It aloof crushes the Snapdragon 845 on Geekbench, although on the added astute Antutu benchmark, which tests UI elements too, it’s alone about 6 percent faster than the Galaxy Note 9.
You actually see aloft improvements on animation benchmarks as well. We averaged 43fps in the GFXBench Car Crash offscreen benchmark, which aloof cranks the GPU afterwards demography awning resolution into account. Compare that with 35fps on the Galaxy Note 9, 25fps on the iPhone 8, and 18fps on the iPhone 6s. Because of the abundant college awning resolution than iPhone 8, admitting (2,436-by-1,125 vs. 1,334-by-750), you actually get college credible anatomy ante in onscreen benchmarks on the 8. The XS is carrying 60 percent bigger GPU power, but it’s blame 2.7 times as abounding pixels as on the iPhone 8’s screen.
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The best absorbing allotment of the new processor is the hardest to test. Apple has massively bigger the Neural Engine, a allotment of the dent committed to AI and apparatus acquirements tasks (basically, cast math), bumping it from two cores to eight. Standard benchmarks don’t tend to analysis NPUs, so we angry to AIMark, a committed criterion for things like article identification in scenes. The after-effects were stunning: The XS got 3,320, amateur the 1,206 account of the Galaxy Note 9. If anyone can bulk out what to use the Neural Engine for, it’ll actually set the XS apart.
You additionally can’t abatement the aftereffect of Apple’s bound hardware-software affiliation on performance. In the browser-based Basemark Web benchmark, iPhones tend to actually smoke Android phones—the XS denticulate 532 to the iPhone 8’s 385, the Galaxy Note 9’s 265, and the OnePlus 6’s 295. Those latest Android phones performed added like the iPhone 6s, which denticulate 244. That has to do with how actually chip and accelerated Safari on iOS is against Chrome on Android.
The A12 additionally increases accessible storage. The iPhone XS comes in 64GB, 256GB, and a new 512GB model, with congenital software demography up about 8GB. There’s no disposable storage, but that’s a lot of space.
Why do you charge so abundant storage? Well, if you’re recording 4K video at 60fps, you’re alive at 400MB per minute, or 24GB per hour. Honestly, I can’t bulk out the algebraic to absolve accepting 512GB in a phone. But if you insist, beating yourself out.
For the aboriginal time in years, there is one iPhone archetypal for North America. That agency any iPhone bought will assignment on any US or Canadian carrier, clashing with antecedent models, area AT&T and T-Mobile phones generally had agitation with Sprint and Verizon. It’s account acquainted that this is the aboriginal iPhone to abutment T-Mobile’s new Band 71, for rural coverage, and the aboriginal iPhone to abutment LAA, for added dispatch in aing burghal settings on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Globally, there are four altered bounded versions of the XS, with hardly altered LTE bands. They’ll all roam globally, but they’re anniversary best for primary use in the countries area they’re sold. (We accept a abounding briefing of the differences here.)
The iPhone XS is a abundant bound advanced from the iPhone 8 and X in LTE capabilities. The key is 4×4 MIMO, which uses four antennas rather than two to advance arresting backbone and speeds. We’ll analysis that added in the weeks to come, but in our acquaintance with added devices, 4×4 has had absolute affecting furnishings on LTE performance. Booty a attending at the archive in our Fastest Mobile Networks chance comparing iPhones with Galaxy phones and apprehension that alike the Galaxy S8 was, on average, faster than the iPhone X: That’s 4×4 MIMO.
The actually aitionist addition actuality isn’t alive on our analysis buzz as of this writing. That’s the iPhone’s new eSIM, dual-SIM capability. Beneath than 5 percent of Americans backpack dual-SIM phones, because carriers haven’t awash them up until now. Back bifold SIM is active, it will acquiesce you to add a second, temporary, or abiding cable on a accurate carrier. Why do this? You may appetite abstracted home and assignment numbers, or add a acting cardinal back traveling abroad.
For now, all iPhones will address with a concrete SIM from their associated carrier. If your buzz isn’t bound (only AT&T still locks phones nowadays), you’ll be able to add a accessory cable application the settings agenda in the future.
You’ll additionally be able to alteration the eSIM into actuality your primary SIM, which agency you can about-face primary carriers for your buzz abundant added calmly than if you had to go to a abundance and get a new SIM card. That could be ambrosial agitative if you’re attractive to about-face carriers to booty advantage of lower rates.
With two subscriptions active, you can use both for buzz calls and SMS. You accept to aces one to use for data, and one to use for iMessage.
Voice alarm affection is excellent, and the top and basal bifold speakers (for calls and added audio) are affluence loud. The iPhone XS, XS Max, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 all delivered about 82dB at a 6-inch ambit back we alleged a recorded chat line. The bifold speakers on the iPhones bear an broadcast complete field, though, with audio appearing like it’s advancing from added abroad about the phone. That’s ambrosial neat, abnormally if you comedy music on the phone’s apostle a lot.
Like the iPhone 8 and X, but clashing antecedent iPhones, the XS supports the EVS articulation encoding arrangement for higher-quality calls. (For added on that, see our affection here.) If you’re advance from an iPhone 7 or below, and you primarily alarm added EVS-capable phones on the aforementioned carrier, you’ll get absolute acutely bigger complete affection than previously.
For Wi-Fi, the XS accepted to be on par with the Galaxy Note 9 and added top smartphones in testing.
It acclimated to be that I advised iPhones in cooperation with Tim Gideon, our audio analyst. The iPhone was a phone, additional a handheld computer, additional an iPod, afterwards all. I don’t anticipate that’s actually the case anymore. The iPhone is now a handheld computer, additional a camera, so I angry it over to our chief camera analyst, Jim Fisher, to analysis it.
The iPhone XS and XS Max use the aforementioned dual-lens rear camera system. Aftermost year, back the 8 Additional and X were announced, Apple fabricated a big accord about a beyond angel sensor. Our testing, forth with iFixit’s X-rays, showed that, if the sensor was actually larger, it was alone minimally so.
Apple fabricated a abate accord about a beyond sensor this time around, but snuck one in there. The XS’s capital camera now sports a 4.25mm f/1.8 lens, a hardly best focal breadth than the 3.99mm f/1.8 we saw in the antecedent bearing of iPhones. If sensor admeasurement was identical, that would beggarly the iPhone XS captures a hardly narrower bend of view. It doesn’t—its lens is a little bit wider. The iPhone X bend of appearance is ambrosial aing to a 28mm full-frame lens, and the XS is added like a 25mm. The new sensor is best acceptable a 1/2.3-inch design, the aforementioned as you get with the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Google Pixel 2 XL, and bargain point-and-shoot cameras.
The catechism on everyone’s apperception is the aforementioned as it is with every phone: Is the iPhone XS bigger in low light? The sensor is, afterwards question. It manages to abduction images with brittle detail and little babble through ISO 100. That’s not a aerial cardinal if you’re talking about a full-frame camera, but for a phone? It’s up there with the best we’ve tested, adverse the one-stop advantage the Galaxy S9 showed over aftermost year’s iPhones in our testing.
The accessory 2x sensor performs a little bit bigger than the aforementioned as the one on the iPhone X. It’s about a half-stop bluff to my eye at lower ISOs, but evens out at settings aloft ISO 400. The lens is hardly wider—it’s now a 6mm architecture instead of a 6.6mm—which makes faculty as the capital lens has a added bend of advantage as well. It’s still an f/2.4, although it is stabilized, clashing the 2x lens on the iPhone 8 Additional and 7 Plus.
You shouldn’t anguish too abundant about its aerial ISO performance, as the iPhone automatically switches to the brighter, added lens and applies agenda zoom in dim light. If you use a third-party camera app you can force the buzz to use the 2x lens in any array of light. We acclimated the Moment app for testing as it supports Raw abduction and chiral ISO control, both of which are missing from Apple’s baked-in Camera app.
Improvements to the angel sensor are acceptable account for iPhone owners, but they don’t acquaint the absoluteness of the camera story. A lot of the new being happens abaft the scenes in software. The A12 Bionic processor (explained in added detail in the aing section) allows the camera to do a lot of air-conditioned computational photography tricks.
There’s bigger HDR acknowledgment to quicker multi-shot abduction and processing. One archetype is the allegory above, area you can see the XS has truer blush to the gray day and does a bigger job preventing abridgement of highlights than the 8 Plus.
Portrait Mode is included, of course, and now you can acclimatize the akin of blur. Oddly enough, Apple has acclimated an f-stop calibration to appearance you the aftereffect in the interface. That’s article which is automatic to photographers, but adeptness be a bit ambagious to association who aloof appetite to breeze a ambrosial picture. Beforehand phones can do the aforementioned thing, but crave a third-party app, Focos, to do so. I’d like to see the Apple Camera app aces up Focos’s added accurate trick, the adeptness to change the focus point with a tap—it’s not included in the iPhone app at this time.
HDR now works in affiliation with Portrait Mode, so the barrio abaft the Buckingham Palace Guard bronze aren’t absolute out like they are on the iPhone 8 Plus. It’s a attenuate difference, but one that can accomplish images added adorable to the eye.
I additionally begin an advance back application Portrait Mode in dim lighting. I was able to breeze a attempt of my cafeteria with the iPhone XS Max, while I artlessly couldn’t get it with the iPhone 8 Plus. The beforehand handset kept cogent me that I was too close, and back I backed up a bit the buzz said I should accumulate my accountable aural 8 anxiety of the lens.
This has been a annoyance point throughout the time I’ve acclimated the iPhone 8 Additional as my circadian driver. I’m animated to see it assignment a bit bigger in dim light, but I do anticipate Apple could go further. The accessible iPhone XR is able to shoot images with accomplishments becloud application its single, wide-angle lens, aloof like the Google Pixel 2. I’d adulation to see this advantage added to the XS family, d Apple is able to abstain the ambit annoyance by abandonment the dual-camera mechanism. We’ll accept to delay and see. In the meantime, if you appetite advanced portraits with blurred-out backgrounds, you’ll charge to nab a Pixel 2, or grab a full-frame camera and a 28mm f/1.4 lens.
On the front, the XS has a aciculate 7-megapixel camera that additionally allows you to acclimatize bokeh afterwards the fact, acknowledgment to the bittersweet abyss sensors acclimated for Face ID.
The iPhone XS, of course, runs iOS 12. We accept a abounding analysis of iOS 12 that’s continued and in depth. In short, some of the big advances over iOS 11 are advantageous agreeable controls and screen-time ecology for parents and to anticipate accessory overuse; in general, faster achievement in about everything; and (perpetually) bigger aggrandized absoluteness capabilities. The bigger disappointment is Siri, which actually avalanche bottomward in capabilities and apperception compared with Google Assistant.
Animoji and memoji are absolute to the X-series phones. Animoji are animation animals that bout your facial expressions, which you can accelerate to people. There was a big fuss over them about the iPhone X launch. Memojiare like animoji, except they’re custom animation bodies that are declared to attending like you. Disappointingly, though, they don’t auto-configure—you accept to architecture your memoji by acrimonious assorted options, which seems like a absent befalling for the face-scanning camera.
Otherwise, there’s absolute little in iOS 12, added than things covered abroad in this review, that needs an iPhone XS/XR. There’s the casual third-party app that uses the front-facing, depth-sensing camera, but there aren’t that many. iOS is a acumen to get an iPhone, absolutely, but it’s not necessarily a acumen to get this iPhone specifically.
That couch isn’t actually in the room—it’s aggrandized reality
As the year rolls on, though, there’s a acceptable adventitious that we’ll alpha seeing aggrandized absoluteness and acute camera apps that use Apple’s CoreML apparatus acquirements belvedere in a way that sets the XS/XS Max/XR bearing afar (all three phones use the aforementioned A12 processor). Apple told me that the A12 improves aggrandized absoluteness apparent detection, which will let apps added bound set up basic surfaces on floors and walls. I had a actually air-conditioned acquaintance with an Alice in Wonderland chance d alpha in my office.
The best affecting app at Apple’s barrage event, HomeCourt, which analyzes basketball shots, is prime area for A12 acceleration. Multiplayer aggrandized absoluteness amateur that use an iOS 12 affection bond several iPhones will additionally apparently assignment bigger on the new phones.
Apple’s 2018 iPhones accept a lot in common, and a lot that’s absorbing about them. They all accept bigger cameras than aftermost year’s models, a faster processor, bigger audio, bigger LTE networking, and dual-SIM capability. None of them accept any absolute accord breakers, unless you accede the abridgement of a headphone jack a accord breaker. The trick, then, becomes allotment amid them.
Apple does not intend for you to get a new iPhone every year. That’s not the way iPhones accept been advised back the alteration from the iPhone 6 to the 6s. If you accept an iPhone X, the iPhone XS has some advantages over the X. But unless you actually charge the dual-SIM capability, which is the one actually confusing affair here, we can’t absolve authoritative you absorb $1,000 again.
From left: iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS
The iPhone XS avalanche in the average of a awash iPhone lineup. It’s declared to be the midrange crowd-pleaser, but I anticipate this year it’s adversity from middle-child syndrome. The XS Max is so striking, and such a jump up from antecedent Plus-sized phones, that it’s a ablaze Editors’ Choice. Bodies who appetite baby phones still accept the iPhone 8 around, and I anticipate the iPhone XR will grab the absorption of added bodies who don’t appetite to absorb $1,000 or who appetite a “modern” attending (the XR comes in lots of cool, ablaze colors). That agency I feel the XS will be the least-chosen phone.
If you’re advancing from an iPhone 7 or earlier, there is abundant adeptness here. The XS has a faster processor, a nicer screen, bigger cameras, clearer alarm quality, faster LTE, bifold SIMs…it’s a lot. It’s a big jump, but you’re additionally activity to get a lot of those advantages (except for the additional capital camera and the OLED screen) from the iPhone XR for $250 less. I can’t acclaim that one yet because I haven’t activated it, but I’d say authority off until the reviews alpha advancing out.
If you appetite a abate iPhone, Apple is befitting the iPhone 7 and 8 on the market. The 8, especially, is a accomplished buzz with affluence of activity larboard in it, and $599 is a solid bulk for it. We recommended the iPhone 7 to a lot of bodies aftermost year because it was able and beneath astronomically priced than the new iPhones. We’re blessed to do the aforementioned with the 8 this year.
We accept a abstracted analysis of the iPhone XS Max, but iPhone Additional owners attractive to advancement should actually go with that phone. The iPhone Additional anatomy agency wastes a huge bulk of absolute acreage on behemothic bezels. The iPhone XS Max reclaims all of that amplitude for absolute use, alms you massively added absolute acreage in the aforementioned admeasurement package—and massive absolute acreage is apparently why you bought the Plus, right?
The iPhone XS is a acceptable phone, but I’m not application it our Editors’ Choice. As I said at the alpha of this review, I anticipate that with the 8, the XR, and the XS Max in Apple’s lineup, the XS is in a beneath ambrosial abode than some of the others. That agency the XS Max is our Editors’ Choice, and I’m absolute abundant attractive advanced to testing the XR back it comes out in October.
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