Monday, November 18, 2019
Mobile

iPhone XS Review 6 Months Later: Still On Top

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Back in September when Apple first announced their new additions to the iPhone lineup, many were skeptical that a lack of new features and high price point would lead the XS to inevitable failure. Six months later, it is safe to say that the iPhone XS is still one of the top devices on the market and does justify its $999 price tag.

Design

Starting with the design of the phone, the XS carriers over a nearly identical look from what we saw with the original X. The 5.8-inch OLED panel stretches across the entire frame leaving only the notch and minimal bezels wrapping around the phone. 

The side is built out of stainless steel and the back is made of glass allowing for wireless charging on the phone. All of these design elements make the phone look and feel undeniably premium but also attract a large number of fingerprints and dust. After using the phone for the past six months, I have noticed that minor seams running along the side of the device connecting the display to the frame have 

Although the design is nearly the same from the previous generation, it still does justice to the steep price and is built to last for many years to come.

Screen

Continuing the trend of similarity, the iPhone XS sports the same OLED screen as we saw with the previous device. The “Super Retina HD Display” looks gorgeous allowing for deep inky blacks and stunning color accuracy. The 1125 x 2436 pixel display at 458 pixels per inch in a large jump from the cheaper XR allowing for improved viewing angles and overall quality.

The front-facing hardware has again been packed into the relatively large notch on the top of the device containing the front facing AR camera which allows for face ID, Memoji, Animoji swell as a wide array of face tracking applications. The notch is also home to the depth sensors, the stereo speakers and a microphone. 

Overall the notch seems much less intrusive from when it was first introduced back on the X as it is currently the standard considering many other devices have adopted the idea.

A couple other screen technologies are also still here including Apple’s True Tone technology which automatically adjusts the screen brightness to the surrounding environment, Night Shift which allows you to reduce the blue light radiating from your phone in darker conditions and 3D Touch which allows you to use different pressure when tapping certain areas to allow for expanded features. It is important to note that Apple has removed this feature on the iPhone XR and may be phasing it out down the road as it is not used very often and is a relatively undeveloped feature.

Overall the iPhone XS brings some of the best display technologies in the business and tops it all off with impressive specs.

Software

Of course when it comes to a mobile handset these days the hardware is only half the story. Thankfully Apple is one of the best when it comes to integrating software to function perfectly on their devices. 

iOS 12 is the operating system currently running on the device and after six months it is still safe to say that it runs perfectly on the device. The new operating system introduced last June and released in September brought a wide array of new features. The first major introduction was screen time, a new menu in settings allowing you to view and manage the amount of time you use your phone throughout a certain period of time to hopefully improve your habits and your relationship with your phone. 

Group notifications was another exciting feature as finally the days of swiping away hundreds of notifications were gone. Memoji and Animoji were also introduced allowing you to use the power of the front-facing camera to send video clips of yourself as an animated character and Siri Shortcuts was also a new app giving you the ability to automate your life using your phone.

iOS 12 also brought a ton of improvements to device speed and gesture controls including a faster Face ID system, faster app opening times and a more customizable control center.

Hopefully, Apple will introduce many more features for the upcoming iOS 13 operating system as the current software feels relatively similar to what we have seen throughout the past couple of years.

If you are coming from an iPhone X you the experience will be much the same but users upgrading from iPhone 8 and older will need to pass a small learning curve as the home button is gone in exchange for a virtual home bar. Notification center and control center can be accessed with a swipe down from the top, and of course, the notch will be an eyesore for a few weeks.

All in all, Apple has again done an excellent job in making sure that apps and features work well with the notch and has made sure that commonly used apps update to allow for them to work with the new display.

Performance

Of course to power all of this software Apple was tasked to develop a brand new chip to handle the task. The A12 processor was what they came up with and it is an absolute beast.

Calling the chip great is an understatement as it was the best chip of all phones in September and continues even to rival current get devices like the all-new Galaxy S10 and LG G8.

Apple has claimed that the new processor offers 15% better performance than the previous A11 chip and a 50% better graphics boost. These upgrades will improve augmented reality apps on the phone swell as speeding up web searching, streaming, and navigation on the phone.

In the end, though, you may not see too many direct improvements as the chip is quite overkill and most mobile tasks like checking email and taking photos do not require such power.

Another upgrade with the XS is the stereo speakers. Previously we saw Apple bring stereo speakers to their device by blending the bottom speaker audio with the earpiece audio. Although this did create a nice effect, many users didn’t think the quality was that great and when they turned the volume up the quality would decrease considerably. 

Thankfully with the iPhone XS Apple has fixed these issues and assured that both speakers work in tandem to create the highest quality audio. I have noticed that when racing the volume the audio stays crisp and the overall quality seems slightly better than the previous device.

Some other minor improvements to the device include an upgraded quad flash, improved portrait mode, dual sim support and three new colors with silver, space grey, and gold.

Conclusion

After using the iPhone XS for the past 6 months I can say for certain that it is an excellent phone. The performance has remained nearly identical to the day I picked it up and the $999 price tag is justified with the many new upgrades and features. The XS is still a good purchase today as we most likely won’t be seeing a new version until September and rumors for that device do not seem very exciting so far. The iPhone XS is an excellent phone and will remain excellent for years to come.

Review overview

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Performance
  • OLED display

Cons

  • Price
  • Glass material damages easily
8

Summary

All in all the iPhone XS is an excellent device if you can afford the premium price Apple is now charging for their mobile devices. The build quality is great and an excellent A12 chip makes the phone run smoothly on the gorgeous OLED display. Some of the cons include the glass back that damages easily and of course that $999 price.