The "1-Minute" Review
- No microSD support
- No fast charger included
- No 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter included
- No 3.5mm jack
Apple’s latest release brings their S Series approach to the iPhone X. This means it’s more of a subtle boost than a full-on sequel. But as the iPhone X broke new ground in terms of design for Apple and it’s still one of the most powerful smartphones to date, the iPhone Xs has big shoes to fill.
It features the same stainless steel frame with reinforced glass front and rear panels as the previous release. However, this time the design is IP68 rated -- allowing for submersion in up to 2m of water for up to 30 minutes.
The design is so similar to the iPhone X that many reviewers had trouble telling the difference between the two. There is a new colour available for the Xs and the larger Xs Max -- gold -- and the camera is a few millimetres lower on the back. Otherwise, they’re identical apart from screen size.
There’s still no headphone port or home button, instead requiring a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter for your headphones and touch gestures to access features usually reserved for the home key. Reviewers note the adapter is not included with the phone. Still, the package includes Lighting earbuds -- so you’re not out of listening options if you don’t want to carry around an adapter.
There’s also stereo, front-facing speakers that reviewers loved. They found them well balanced and punchy for mobile speakers with some even calling them the best phone audio to date.
You’ll also find a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display running at 2436-by-1125 pixels. If you were not a fan of the notch design, it’s still present and appears to be the future design for iPhone models. Switching to OLED seems to be a smart move for Apple as reviewers raved about brightness, colour accuracy, and detail. HDR 10 and Dolby vision support are also available to make video and games pop.
Apple chose a six-core Apple A12 Bionic processor with 4GB of RAM to power all those pixels. They claim it offers a 15% increase in performance and 50% increased graphics performance over the iPhone X. Tests from reviewers appear to confirm these claims and benchmarks show it is the most powerful smartphone to date.
The phone runs the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system -- iOS 12. Paired with the new processor, the interface is fluid and reliable. Reviewers had no complaints of slowdown or annoyances.
As with all iPhones, you cannot use a microSD slot to expand storage. However, the phone is available with 64 to 512GB of internal storage -- so planning ahead makes it easy to avoid storage concerns down the road.
The phone offers dual SIM support -- but not in a traditional sense. You can use one standard SIM and an eSim. This new approach makes it possible to download SIM settings from a carrier and switch the virtual SIM in the eSIM when you please.
The Xs sees an upgrade on the camera front -- though it doesn’t look much different. A dual-lens 12MP rear camera with 2x telephoto zoom and 7MP “TrueDepth” front-facing lens are now paired with an image signal processor to provide better results.
The rear camera also features a larger sensor and bigger sensor pixels. Reviewers found this helped to capture much better shots in low-light. SmartHDR also helps to bring out more detail in shots regardless of lighting.
Finally, there’s adjustable blur after shooting and 4k 60 frames-per-second video recording.
Reviewers found the cameras stellar in terms of colour accuracy, detail, and speed. Many reviews felt the Pixel 2 still offered superior camera performance -- but only slightly.
The Xs includes a 2,658mAh battery. Reviewers found this good enough to reach the end of the day -- if only just. While the phone supports fast charging and wireless charging, it includes neither of the required accessories in the box. So expect to wait awhile for charges to finish unless you buy a fast charger. 30 minutes of charging is good for 22% with the included charger, while a fast charger reaches 55% in the same time.
Overall, reviewers love the phone. But many question whether it’s worth it to upgrade from an iPhone X. If you’re using an iPhone 8 or Android device, the upgrade is likely worth the price. GSM Arena says, “It's the fastest, the prettiest, the sturdiest, the most luxurious, the most skilled, the most expensive. And yet, it's the same iPhone.”
Engadget declares, “These aren't just worthy successors; they're fantastic smartphones in their own right. And thanks to Apple's growing focus on machine learning and the A12 Bionic's Neural Engine, both of these phones have been set up for success as our smartphone software continues to become more sophisticated.”