A Wandering iPhone Xs Review
Touching on a few other Apple updates
This blog was intended at a straight-up iPhone Xs review, along with its supersized partner the Xs Max. But, a new player, the iPhone Xr, is just hitting the market and may change your purchasing decision.
Also, Apple hosted its second fall hardware event on Oct. 30 in New York—just in time to get people jazzed for holiday shopping. Included is a lighter, faster and smaller MacBook Air, with a 13.3-inch Retina display, Touch ID and few other updates. The Mac Mini also got its first update in four years. The reimagined iPad Pro is lighter and smaller and has several improvements, such as a seven-core GPU and fresh A12X Bionic chip, Apple claims the new iPad Pros are faster than 92 percent of all portable PCs on the market. Been missing having a red-haired emoji? The new iOS 12.1 update includes a ginger, plus 69 other emojis and the ability to Facetime with 32 people at once.
Whew, that’s a lot of product, Apple (not to mention the AppleWatch 4 release that was announced with the iPhone Xs and Xr). You can watch the keynote from the Oct. 30 announcement here.
Reviewing the Xs
There are two size choices: the iPhone Xs, with a 5.8-inch display, and the Xs Max with a 6.5-inch display.
Tech reviewers concur that the iPhone Xs is the best phone by Apple so far. The phone has leaped ahead in terms of powerful, fast processing, it has a beautiful OLED display and the sound system has been reconfigured for a wider, more dynamic listening experience. Much of the rest are tweaks from previous models. Smart HDR has improved the camera and battery management has improved.
Apple calls the new A12 chipset “the smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone,” and tests on the processor through Geekbench CPU back up that claim. Processing power and speed have made a huge advancement over the iPhone X. The A12 provides for more transistors attached to its hexa-core CPU. There are two power cores and four to optimize efficiency, making the power structure more closely aligned to a gaming smart phone. You may not need the extra boost in every day web surfing, but for exploring augmented reality, these extra transistors make for an enhanced experience.
A new ‘Neural Engine’ is part of the configuration too, enabling your phone to learn as you use it, and become more intelligent. For example, it could work out how to improve a photograph as you take it.
Improved iOS 12 software (the new 12.1 update is available for download now) combined with the new chipset translates to a fast device in your hand.
The Not So Good
While the insides got an overhaul, the design hasn’t changed in more than a year. Battery life still could use improvement. The Xs camera is good, but can’t hold a candle to the Google Pixel 3 or even the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Durability has not improved much, according to testing done by phone insurer SquareTrade. The iPhone Xs tested poorly for screen cracks when dropped from 6 feet and the larger Max did not fare much better. The Xr has a similar level of durability, meaning it also cracked when dropped on its face, but has one distinct advantage—it is much cheaper to repair. You will want to put either phone in a protective case.
Personally, I hate that the headset input has still not reappeared, forcing iPhone X’ers to use Apple’s proprietary Lightning adapter to use wired headphones.
Comparing the iPhone Xs and Xr
While there are few minor differences, both the iPhone Xs and Xr have the same fast and smart A12 Bionic processor. The biggest difference you may notice is in the screen tech. The vibrant OLED display of the iPhone Xs is much more dynamic than the XR’s LCD display when compared side by side.
The iPhone Xs price is in line with last year’s X model, but it still is an expensive phone, starting at $999 for the 64GB model. In comparison, the iPhone Xr is $250 cheaper, starting at $749 for the 64GB model.
Either the iPhone Xs or Xr will be a solid choice. It mainly comes down to if you want the enhanced visual environment of the OLED display and enhanced camera and sound features and are willing to pay a premium. If you are not married to Apple products, you might want to check out other high-end phones with OLED in the same price range (or less) before making a purchase. If you are happy with the traditional LCD type display, typical camera and sound, but still want a fast, powerful phone and want to save a few bucks on the purchase and future repairs, the iPhone Xr may be for you.