Apple iPhone XS Review

The expensive iPhone XS offers no major improvements over the iPhone X it replaces, and it comes with a few design quirks. But it is still arguably the single best smartphone on the market today.

And that’s saying something, given the state of the industry. We’re awash in excellent choices at virtually any price point. And there are, of course, certain phones that do particular things better than the iPhone.

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But Apple’s biggest strength, I think, is its ability to bring it all together into a complete and cohesive package. This is the “finish the job” thing that Microsoft never seems to get right. And it’s nice to see this attention to detail, especially in the hardware.

So let’s start there.


As an “S year” product, the iPhone XS of course brings forward the design from last year’s iPhone X. Which is just fine: As I noted in my review of that product, the design is ageless, and as much a work of art as it is a carefully-crafted tool. It’s gorgeous.

No, Apple wasn’t the first to market with a tall, thin smartphone design. And it wasn’t the first to use a notch. Likewise, some of its competitors ship smartphones with even smaller bezels, and with much-smaller notches.

But there is something magical about Apple’s use of materials, shapes, and colors. The iPhone XS has a quality I’ve noted before in some other Apple products: You find yourself just staring at it. You almost want to caress it. I’m particularly fond of the gold color, which is new to 2018 and is really a bronze or goldish-brown hue. It’s a shame that you’ll want to hide it in a protective cover. But you will.

Less successful are the notch, which remains overly-large, and the lack of a fingerprint reader, which has necessitated some design quirks.

I’m not sure I’ve ever run into an iPhone X (or, now, XS) user who hasn’t claimed that they get used to the notch. And I guess I buy that: One can get used to anything. But there are much better—and, more important, much smaller—designs than the bus-sized notch that Apple uses here. And I think we all collectively understand that the only reason the notch hasn’t gotten smaller in the XS is that whole S year thing.

The lack of a fingerprint reader may not seem like a design issue. But I mention it here because it represents a design compromise that requires the user to do extra work every single time they sign-in. And many other times, too: Not only do you need to learn new system gestures, but you also need to learn new multi-button shortcuts, like Power + Volume Up for powering off the device.

For all that, the iPhone XS is still a stunner. It’s mostly glass, with stainless steel on the edges and rounded corners. And it’s as beautiful to look at as it is to hold it in your hand.

There is one design curiosity I hadn’t noticed until I reviewed my iPhone X photos from last year: Where the iPhone X had symmetrical holes cut into the bottom of the device on either side of the Lightning port, the XS has three holes on the left (for the microphone) and six on the right (for the right speaker). Mon Dieu! (Part of the reason might be to improve cell reception as there is also a new antenna band on the left side of the Lightning port.)


The iPhone XS’s 5.8-inch OLED display is perhaps the best I’ve ever experienced, with inky blacks and bright, contrasty colors. It hits a resolution of 2436 x 1125, or 458 PPI. It supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10, which makes for some immersive movie viewing (if you can ignore the notch, of course). And with Apple’s excellent True Tone technologies automatically adjusting the white level to suit your environment, there’s just nothing to complain about.

Indeed, I see no reason to upgrade to the bigger XS Max, unless you intend to watch a lot of video, I guess. After years of using larger, phablet-type phones—like the Pixel XL and 2 XL, the Nexus 6P, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and S9+, and so on—I feel like Apple has arrived at a size sweet spot of sorts. By which I mean, the iPhone XS is considerably smaller than the Pixel 2 XL that I normally use, but the displays are just about the same size. It’s almost perfect.

And the advantage to this design is obvious, as the iPhone XS is easier to use with one hand and is more easily pocketable (something that will be an even bigger concern for smaller people and women).

Hardware and specs

The iPhone XS is powered by Apple’s new A12 Bionic system on a chip. No, I don’t think the gap between Apple’s A-series chips and the rest of the ARM world is a wide as benchmarks suggest. But it is clear to me after several years of using iPhones and Android handsets side-by-side that some combination of Apple’s hardware and software makes the iPhone the most powerful mobile platform on earth. I never burst into an impromptu complaint about the lack of speed when I try to open apps like Camera, as I do routinely with my Google handsets, for example. That this chipset may or may not be advantageous for AR and other nonsense is of little concern to me. It’s fast.

The iPhone XS can be had with 64 GB, 256 GB, or a ludicrous 512 GB of internal storage and, as always, no expansion is available. That gap—of both size and upgrade cost—between 64 GB and 256 GB is unfortunate, as a 128 GB version, not offered, should rightfully be the sweet spot of this product line. (The upcoming iPhone XR will offer a 128 GB upgrade, fortunately.)

The iPhone XS is the first Apple handset to support dual-SIM capabilities, though your experience will vary by region. Here in the U.S., you don’t actually get a dual-SIM tray. Instead, there is Apple’s internal eSIM and then a normal single SIM tray. It’s a big if belated improvement.

I will always mourn the unnecessary loss of the headphone jack. But the stereo speakers are crisp and loud, and among the best I’ve used on a smartphone. The device is also more water resistant than the iPhone XS, but you won’t be going swimming with it. Instead, it should survive any toilet or sink dunking. It’s OK: We’ve all done it.

I haven’t really figured out a way to accurately measure battery life on phones, but I found the iPhone XS to be an able, all-day performer and roughly on-par with my Pixel 2 XL. I can’t imagine not charging a smartphone overnight, so the iPhone XS delivers in real-world performance at least.


This will be controversial, but I believe that the iPhone XS has the single best smartphone camera system in the market today. It delivers shots that are of consistently high quality, and with accurate color, and it does so with excellent performance.

There is a fairly pronounced camera bump, if that kind of thing bothers you.

First, a few small complaints.

Optical zoom is still locked at 2X, fully two years after this feature debuted on the iPhone 7 Plus. I’m surprised Apple is moving more quickly in this area.

And you still can’t auto-enable HDR all the time, as I’d prefer. At the firm has improved its capabilities in this area with something called Smart HDR, which works to improve detail in contrasty shots.

Saint-Sulpice fountain: iPhone XS
Saint-Sulpice fountain: Pixel 2 XL

But what the iPhone XS doesn’t do is outperform my Pixel 2 XL in low-light conditions, a fact I’ve proven over and over again in repeated side-by-side tests. But I need to qualify that statement because the iPhone XS probably provides the shots that most users would want, and will grow to expect. And in this way, the XS absolutely outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S9+ (and, presumably, the nearly identical Note 9), while handling low-light photos in a similar fashion, technically.

So what does that mean?

Let’s say you’re in a bar or restaurant, or perhaps are outside at dusk or full night. And you want to take a photo—perhaps of a drink, food, the people, you’re with, or whatever scene—without using that annoying flash, blinding everyone nearby.

Whiskey: iPhone XS
Whiskey: Pixel 2 XL

Since the Nexus 5X/6P from three years ago, Google’s handsets have handled these scenes in a way that I find to be quite satisfying, especially when you use your finger to focus on a light source in the otherwise dark scene. The results are often spectacular, with bright colors, inky darks, and an overall quality that is impossible to duplicate on other smartphone flagships.

Food porn: iPhone XS
Food porn: Pixel 2 XL

That said, what most people want is for the camera to produce a photo that illuminates the subject without introducing noise and without triggering that annoying flash. Samsung’s approach, which I noted in my review of the Galaxy S9+, is unsatisfactory … to me. It lights up the scene, robbing it somewhat of the real-life ambiance. But it does provide the user with a viewable photo of the subject they were trying to shoot. Albeit one with some display noise.

The iPhone XS works similarly, but with better results. There’s less noise, for starters. And the colors are very accurate. Looking at side-by-side low-light photos taken with the Pixel 2 XL and the XS, I consistently see the same thing: The colors in the iPhone photos are more accurate. But I personally prefer the HDR-heavy photos taken by the Pixel 2 XL better.

I’ve shown these side-by-side photos to people like Brad on work trips and to my wife and daughter on our recent trip to Paris. And they have universally agreed with this assessment. The iPhone versions are more accurate to the scene … but the Pixel photos have a “wow” factor that Apple can’t match.

The thing is, most people will never see this kind of comparison. And I feel that anyone who does buy an iPhone XS, especially someone who is upgrading from an older iPhone, will be delighted by its low-light performance. It’s not just that they don’t know any better, though there is something to that. It’s that the iPhone XS photos are, in many cases, literally better because they are more accurate. The Pixel 2 XL’s low-light shots are, in some ways, “better” than reality. I think they look great. But others may find them over-produced, like an Instagram filter gone wild.

Put simply, when it comes time for me to capture memories on a trip—like that Paris trip—I will always turn to the Pixel. The night shots, in particular, are amazing. But if you want to optimize for the every day, the overall quality and speed of the iPhone XS’s camera system cannot be denied. Overall, it really is better. Without the air quotes.

Neat action shot

There’s a lot more to the camera system, but I don’t see a huge need to cover every new feature: Portrait mode still has problems with edges despite some alleged improvements, and the ability to dynamically adjust background blur post-shot is a feature other smartphones have had for years. But I do want to address Beautygate, where the iPhone XS appears to smooth out selfies so that you look younger (or at least more plastic-like) than is the case with other iPhones.

The iPhone XS (right) smooths out wrinkles and makes your skin look smoother

It’s real. I asked Brad, a pathological selfie-taker, to take a selfie of himself with his old iPhone 7 and then again with the iPhone XS, and the smoothing on the latter is obvious. I’ve seen all kinds of excuses/explanations for this behavior—Apple’s fan base retains its hyper-bias—but whatever. It’s real. I would prefer for this to be a mode, not the default.


When Apple controversially moved to Face ID with last year’s iPhone X, I complained that it wasn’t as fast or accurate as the Touch ID-based Home button that the firm dropped. This year, I have the same observations: It is slow and awkward and doesn’t work as well as the solution it replaces in most situations.

The awkward bit refers to the additional swipe that is required when you authenticate yourself to the phone: As you bring the iPhone up to your face, Face ID recognizes you—hopefully; reliability is spotty at times—and a locked icon on the screen changes to an unlocked icon. But you’re not logged in yet: You also have to do a full swipe up on the screen first.

This is more tedious than the way I unlock phones like the Google Pixel XL, OnePlus 6, or Samsung Galaxy S9+, where I can simply bring the phone up to my face as my finger rests on the back-mounted fingerprint reader. Voila, there is no extra step.

Some iPhone fans have told me that Face ID is preferable in certain situations as, for example, when you’re wearing gloves. But there is no reason for Apple not to support both sign-in methods as many Android vendors have done. Other than Apple being Apple.

Is this new system “more secure”? Apple claims that it is. But as with Microsoft’s security (and reliability and battery life claims for Windows 10 in S mode), we’ll have to take their word for it.


The iPhone XS ships with iOS 12 and Apple’s stable of productivity and creative apps. What it doesn’t come with is the rampant crapware that we see on many Android devices and in Windows 10.

I like iOS 12 quite a bit. The performance and reliability are rock-solid, as always, and Apple’s new digital well-being features, like the Screen Time dashboard in Settings, are well-designed and can help parents rein in their kids’ budding smartphone addictions. Or their own more established ones.

I don’t use a lot of Apple’s lock-in solutions, from the iLife apps to Siri to Apple Music and the like. But as the platform with the most and best apps, iOS is without peer from a quality perspective. I find that iOS versions of apps I use all the time on Android, from Google’s own apps to things like Duolingo, are consistently better on iOS than they are on Android.

Here’s one example which should be embarrassing to Google: Because iOS provides an accessibility feature that lets you bold fonts on the system, Google Maps is actually much easier to use on iOS than Android because you can actually read the text labels on locations and roads more easily. This is crucial when you’re navigating in a car, when that otherwise big display is further away than usual from your face and you need to quickly scan it and get back to driving quickly.

I’ve complained in the past about the iOS “whack-a-mole” method of app launching. But people understand how iOS works, and users simply move between the apps they need effortlessly. I understand that a nicer, more configurable home screen is on tap for 2019, and that may silence the complainers. But iOS just works. Regardless, iOS’s superior app ecosystem puts the iPhone over the top.

(If you’re coming to iPhone XS from an older iPhone, the gesture-based navigation will be new to you. But this system debuted with iOS 11 and the iPhone X last year. You’ll find it to be obvious and almost intuitive.)

Pricing and availability

The iPhone XS starts at a whopping $999 for a version with an inadequate 64 GB of storage. So the real starting price for a reasonable device—with 256 GB of storage—is $1149. Apple also sells versions with 512 GB, for some reason, for $1349. And you can opt for the bigger display of the iPhone XS Plus for about $100 more per storage tier.

So yes, the iPhone XS is expensive. And while some will argue that you get what you pay for, that’s not entirely fair. Unlike other smartphone vendors, Apple doesn’t include a fast-charging power adapter in the box, and Apple’s many compatible versions are expensive ($50 to $80) and require a separate and unusual USB-C-to-Lightning cable ($20) too. As bad, Apple cheaps-out by not including a Lightning-to-headphone dongle ($9) either. For a handset this expensive, that should all be included in the box.

But there’s more: Buying an iPhone XS but not getting both a protective case ($40 to $100) and Apple Care+ ($200) is about as dumb as driving a motorcycle without a helmet. So factor in another $240 to $300. Oof.

The good news? There’s no wait. After a very short period of post-launch shipping delays, you can snag any iPhone XS model in any of the three available colors—silver (white), space gray (black), or gold—immediately.

Recommendations and conclusions

Yes, smartphone flagships from Samsung and OnePlus, in particular, have their advantages. And Google’s Pixel 2 XL still retains an obvious edge when it comes to camera quality, at least in low-light conditions. Despite all this, I feel that the iPhone XS is the single best smartphone available today. And I have no qualms recommending to anyone, power user and mainstream user alike.

Yes, I have complaints. But that’s true of the competition as well, and the decision one makes will reflect what’s most important to the individual, and what little issues one can deal with. The iPhone XS’s most obvious design issues—that wide notch, the slow Face ID key among them—are very much outweighed by the handset’s many advantages, both big and small.

And while the cost is extravagant, to say the least, it’s fair to point out that most people will pay for the device over two years and perhaps use it for as long as three or four years. Further, when you consider that smartphones are our most personal and most frequently-used devices, it gets easier and easier to justify the expense.

The iPhone XS is highly recommended. You’ll love it.



  • The design is somehow both pretty and professional
  • Stunning display
  • Excellent performance
  • Excellent camera system
  • iOS apps are typically better than those on Android


  • Expensive
  • Overly-large notch
  • Face ID is still slow and not automatic
  • Fast charging not included
  • Headphone dongle not included


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Conversation 60 comments

  • scottib62

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 10:47 am

    <p>smaller people and women. Really? smaller people and women??</p><p>Good review otherwise.</p>

    • Trapp

      10 October, 2018 - 11:08 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351969">In reply to scottib62:</a></em></blockquote><blockquote>on average, yes. what's the problem?</blockquote><p><br></p>

      • maethorechannen

        Premium Member
        10 October, 2018 - 11:33 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#351982">In reply to Trapp:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>The phrasing implies women are not people, but then that interpretation relies on "smaller people" not meaning children. </p>

    • rob4jen

      10 October, 2018 - 11:38 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351969">In reply to scottib62:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p></p&gt;

  • Chris_Kez

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 10:57 am

    <p>You can actually swipe up pretty much as soon as the display turns on (if you have turned on Raise To Wake, which you should) and then it will open once Face ID has done its thing. In other words <em>you don't have to wait </em>for the unlock icon to turn before swiping up.</p><p>You can also turn off Require Attention for Face ID to make the process even faster.</p>

  • dcdevito

    10 October, 2018 - 11:05 am

    <p>Is this bizarro world? How can a device be so expensive, so limiting, so 2nd rate in some cases, be the best overall? Have we gotten to a point in technology where we're just succumbing to what is being offered and not challenging these drunken tech companies from thinking this is acceptable? Is it all because people simply pay monthly installments and don't care about how much they're spending in the long run? </p><p>To be fair, I feel the same about Google too. Those damn devices they unveiled are insanely expensive and not supported for as long as an iOS device is; yet, I still remain in the Google ecosystem. It's exhausting, and I know it's my own fault. I just don't know what to invest in anymore, everything in the smartphone space is getting more expensive and more limiting – this goes against every other technology sector in history. I'm holding onto my Pixel 2 XL for as long as I can, and if/when it needs replacing, I'm hoping (praying!) a 3rd party evolves. It's never been needed more than <strong>NOW</strong>.</p>

    • Elindalyne

      Premium Member
      10 October, 2018 - 12:02 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351976">In reply to dcdevito:</a></em></blockquote><p>And my S9+ seemed to be on the upper bounds of sanity… and even then that was just because I got $360 in bill credits.</p><p><br></p><p>People are upgrading phones on a slower basis so I guess the "investment" lasts longer nowadays? We've definitely fallen down the slippery slope at this point.</p><p><br></p>

      • mrdrwest

        11 October, 2018 - 9:48 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#352003">In reply to Elindalyne:</a></em></blockquote><p>Hey…what da ya' mean, "We"?</p>

    • Daekar

      10 October, 2018 - 4:23 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351976">In reply to dcdevito:</a></em></blockquote><p>You know, I know this sounds like I'm part of the desperate broken record of bitter Windows Phone owners (never owned one), but I agree about the 3rd party and I really wish it had been Microsoft.</p><p><br></p><p>My personal desperate hope is that the EU slaps Google so hard in this anti-trust investigation that they are afraid to charge for anything except ads ever again, and Android becomes much more open.</p><p><br></p><p>I'd really like to smack Terry Meyerson with a brick (OK, maybe a soft one) for shutting down the Android emulation technology they had. At least then somebody would be home-brewing Windows drivers for all the good phone hardware and we'd have another choice, no matter how kludgy.</p><p><br></p><p>I feel your pain about being unsatisfied where you are but not convinced that other options are any better. That feeling drives me batty.</p>

    • mrdrwest

      11 October, 2018 - 9:46 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351976">In reply to dcdevito:</a></em></blockquote><p>I haven't succumbed. $1000+ smartphones are ridiculous…like $300 sneakers or whatever they cost now.</p>

  • Brockman

    10 October, 2018 - 11:05 am

    <p>Paul, you ding Windows Hello for not requiring some kind of "intentional" action, but then you ding the iPhone because it <em>does require</em> an "intentional" action? <span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84);">&nbsp;¯\_(ツ)_/¯</span></p><p><br></p>

    • nbplopes

      10 October, 2018 - 12:51 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351977">In reply to Brockman:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>He seams to prefer the Touch ID, that is all. </p><p><br></p><p>I was hoping for Touch ID below the glass and Face ID, together by now. I think both solutions complement each other in performing the same objective. Sometimes one is faster and more reliable, sometimes its the other.</p><p><br></p><p>Further more in situations requiring both Face ID and Touch ID authentication, would not be a bad idea I guess.</p>

    • Yaggs

      10 October, 2018 - 12:56 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#351977"><em>In reply to Brockman:</em></a><em> Windows Hello makes sense to have no interaction… if your sitting in front of your computer it is likely that you are using it… if you forcefully log off your computer then it requires interaction.</em></blockquote><blockquote><em>I still think holding a phone up to your face to login and then swiping up seems kind of tedious when a rear mounted finger print sensor does the trick just fine almost without thought… </em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • jaredthegeek

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 11:05 am

    <p>I really wish that Google had not joined the notch brigade. The screen on either side of the notch is useless anyway but I suppose that's true for the notification strip across the top on all phones that has the time and signal info.</p>

  • Brockman

    10 October, 2018 - 11:07 am

    <p> Also, a protective case does not have to cost $40-$100. </p>

    • Chris_Kez

      Premium Member
      10 October, 2018 - 11:11 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351980">In reply to Brockman:</a></em></blockquote><p>I bought a clear TPU case from Spigen my for my iPhone X for $11 on Amazon; another $9 for tempered glass screen protector 2-pack. So for $20 I've been covered front and back for almost a year </p>

      • Skolvikings

        10 October, 2018 - 12:18 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#351983">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><p>I also use an inexpensive Spigen case from Amazon. I've already dropped my iPhone XS Max a few times and it's still in one piece. </p>

  • Pbike908

    10 October, 2018 - 11:21 am

    <p>Thanks for the review. I have owned iPhones in the past, but this phone isn't worth the premium over a Galaxy s8 or s9</p>

    • Jeffsters

      13 October, 2018 - 10:27 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#351986">In reply to Pbike908:</a></em></blockquote><p>for some of us iOS, and timely updates, is the reason we have no issues pay the small premium. You may feel differently I guess. </p>

  • madthinus

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 11:51 am

    <p>Are you returning it Paul? And why?</p>

  • RobertJasiek

    10 October, 2018 - 11:58 am

    <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">We’re awash in excellent choices at virtually any price point.": None for me. I want a fully functional local file manager (iOS drops out), privacy and updates (Android drops out).</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">"Display… nothing to complain about": notch, tall ratio, mirroring and flickering + pixel burning OLED are decisive no-gos for me.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The entire smartphone industry ignores my needs.</span></p>

    • jfingas

      10 October, 2018 - 1:40 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352002">In reply to RobertJasiek:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>The notch I can understand to a degree, but those display concerns really aren't problems in my experience. The tall ratio hasn't really hurt reachability, and this is a modern OLED… don't leave it turned on with the exact same screen for 10 minutes and you'll be fine. With that said, if you're really concerned, there's always the iPhone XR.</p>

      • RobertJasiek

        10 October, 2018 - 3:06 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#352049">In reply to jfingas:</a></em></blockquote><p>Tall ratio is about missing readability of documents, of which one might view one page for a very long time and even iPads' much lower reflectance are a pain outdoors. IPS is much better.</p>

    • Geoff

      10 October, 2018 - 9:56 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352002">In reply to RobertJasiek:</a></em></blockquote><p><em>"</em><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">We’re awash in excellent choices at virtually any price point.": None for me. I want a fully functional local file manager (iOS drops out), privacy and updates (Android drops out).</em></p><p><br></p><p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The entire smartphone industry ignores my needs.</em></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I agree completely.</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I was hopeful that GDPR might trigger an Android fork that was 100% Google-free. I could live with that.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">But so far, nothing.</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">At least my wallet is grateful.</span></p>

  • Yaggs

    10 October, 2018 - 12:02 pm

    <p>It's insane that it is becoming *mainstream* for people to spend over $1000 on a phone. The price alone would be enough for me to NEVER recommend someone buy one of these things… wait for the XR if you want an Apple device… get yourself an XR and an Apple Watch Series 3 with the same amount of money. Prices for these things are just crazy, fake, and inflated. I know we are carrying these things around all day every day… but just because we are doesn't justify spending 3 times the amount of money on them. Google is nuts too with the nonsense they announced yesterday… that butt ugly copycat of a Pixel 3XL and a $799 starting price for the smaller pixel? Are you kidding me? It's like were living in a bizzaro world! Thankfully there are some companies out there making some great looking and performing devices for a reasonable price.</p>

    • Daekar

      10 October, 2018 - 4:16 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352004">In reply to Yaggs:</a></em></blockquote><p>If it makes you feel better, it's not mainstream across all the working classes to spend $1000 on a phone. I can't testify for all subcultures across all regions, but in the more rural area where we live, many folks tend to live within their means and avoid loans or other financial instruments when possible. Here, having a flagship phone makes you an exception rather than the rule.</p>

      • mrdrwest

        11 October, 2018 - 9:43 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#352083">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><ol><li>I'll never buy an Apple product as long as there are good alternatives.</li><li>I will not spend $1000+ for a smartphone, even though I can afford it out of pocket.</li></ol><p><br></p><p>Pre-ordered a Nokia 7.1 for $349 and I'm not happy about it.</p>

  • the_real_entheos

    10 October, 2018 - 12:06 pm

    <p>Sorry to nitpick, but $200 for applecare+ is like paying 10% for the price of a car per year for insurance (with a 10% deductable) where any damage can be mitigated by a case. Also, unlike car insurance, it does not cover loss (comprehensive) and injuries to bystanders and sidewalks caused by your falling phone. If you have a family, not buying insurance for phones or other consumer products will have you come out way ahead in the long run.</p><p><br></p><p>P.S. I wholeheartedly agree about motorcyclists not wearing a helmet or wearing any helmet that is not full-face.</p>

  • m_p_w_84

    10 October, 2018 - 12:58 pm

    <p>Would be good if you could update this review when you get your hands on the Pixel 3 which to be fair is what the XS should be compared against.</p>

    • Jeffsters

      13 October, 2018 - 10:23 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352017">In reply to m_p_w_84:</a></em></blockquote><p>And it’s even fatter notch?</p>

  • Davor Radman

    10 October, 2018 - 1:10 pm

    <p>You don't mind asymmetrical back, with the huge protruding camera? :/</p>

    • Brockman

      10 October, 2018 - 2:21 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352020">In reply to Markiz von Schnitzel:</a></em></blockquote><p>No. 1) It is a smartphone not an objet d'art. 2) Put a case on it and the bump goes away. 3) The screen is what you and everyone else sees 99% of the time.</p>

      • Davor Radman

        11 October, 2018 - 11:34 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#352062">In reply to Brockman:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I get it. And basically I am a utilitarian as well, and would not particularly mind it.</p><p>But Paul did give a lot of praise for the design, and I don't see it, after handling the original X and viewing it from all sides.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>There is one pain point though I would like to point out: with the protruding camera (especially as much as the iphone has it), the camera is likely at best flush with the case. This still allows for easy damage to camera cover glass. I broke the glass on my OP3 while it was in a case when I placed the phone on a table that had a tiny pebble on it. If the camera was flush with the phone back, and recessed in case, it would survive. But than again, maybe that would allow less light to the camera and result in poorer photos :/</p><p><br></p><p>So<span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"> I guess it all DOES come down to "you will put it into case".</span></p><p><br></p>

        • Jeffsters

          13 October, 2018 - 10:23 am

          <blockquote><em><a href="#352334">In reply to Markiz von Schnitzel:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes…you put it in a case…big surprise there! No, even with Apple’s own very thin leather case the camera is recessed in the cutout. Broader, we all get you don’t like it, so go ahead and buy a different phone. Problem solved!</p>

    • Martin Sjöholm

      11 October, 2018 - 5:50 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352020">In reply to Markiz von Schnitzel:</a></em></blockquote><p>For me it would be an issue if I did not use a case, so I partly agree. I have this [Ideal of Sweden] excellent thin case which magnetically attaches to a wallet case. This means that the phone with case is still pretty thin when taken out of the wallet (which it is most of the time), but it does even out the protruding camera. So in conclusion for my set-up this is not a concern.</p>

  • bradtipp

    10 October, 2018 - 1:14 pm

    <p>Love the Xs – use a clear Peel case if you want to have protection and still see the lovely Gold colour shine through. </p>

  • slerched

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 1:17 pm

    <p>Broke my old phone late last month. Debated what to buy for all of about 3 seconds. I now own the Pixel 2 XL.</p><p><br></p><p>Love the photos.</p><p><br></p><p>What I despise? Black smear when brightness is turned down and it is especially worse with whatever they call the blue light filter thing.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • prebengh

    10 October, 2018 - 1:24 pm

    <p>I have had the iPhone X for almost a year and now I have upgraded to the Xs Max.</p><p>in all my time with FaceID I have had it fail maybe 5 times in total, always in direct sunlight. If I have worked in the garden using my fingers for pulling plants etc, I often have problems with the fingerprint reader on my IPad.</p><p>Often I see complaints that you have to grab the iPhone to look at it to trigger FaceID whereas with Android phones it is much better with a fingerprint reader. But nowadays almost every Android phone has the fingerprint reader on the bachside so you have to grab that phone anyway.</p>

    • nbplopes

      11 October, 2018 - 2:11 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352036">In reply to Prebengh:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>With me it failed more than that. Every other day it fails here or there much like Touch ID.</p>

  • feedtheshark

    10 October, 2018 - 1:34 pm

    <p>Paul, you've really gone over the edge into Apple fanboyism, it's sad to see. Let's break it down shall we.</p><p><br></p><p>"But there is something magical about Apple’s use of materials, shapes, and colors. The iPhone XS has a quality I’ve noted before in some other Apple products: You find yourself just staring at it. You almost want to caress it."</p><p><br></p><p>Definite signs of delusion here, objectifying and sexualising objects. But back to your review</p><p><br></p><p>"But Apple’s biggest strength, I think, is its ability to bring it all together into a complete and cohesive package. This is the “finish the job” thing that Microsoft never seems to get right. And it’s nice to see this attention to detail, especially in the hardware.</p><p><br></p><p>So let’s start there."</p><p><br></p><p>Yes let's start there with your own words moments later.</p><p><br></p><p>"Less successful are the notch, which remains overly-large, and the lack of a fingerprint reader, which has necessitated some design quirks."</p><p><br></p><p>and </p><p><br></p><p>"When Apple controversially moved to Face ID with last year’s iPhone X, I complained that it wasn’t as fast or accurate as the Touch ID-based Home button that the firm dropped. This year, I have the same observations: It is slow and awkward and doesn’t work as well as the solution it replaces in most situations."</p><p><br></p><p>So much for Apple's biggest strength really…</p><p><br></p><p>Oh and the camera</p><p>"This will be controversial, but I believe that the iPhone XS has the single best smartphone camera system in the market today. It delivers shots that are of consistently high quality, and with accurate color, and it does so with excellent performance."</p><p><br></p><p>It's beyond controversial, it's wrong, the Huawei P20 Pro is still at least a generation ahead of Apple with their 3-camera system.</p><p><br></p><p>And photos of Seaworld, seriously, bad form Paul.</p><p><br></p><p></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • jfingas

    10 October, 2018 - 1:46 pm

    <p>I really think your experience with Face ID is an outlier, or at least a bit exaggerated.</p><p><br></p><p>I have an iPhone XS myself. Unless I'm looking at it from a weird angle, it unlocks so quickly that it's typically ready before my thumb has reached the screen to swipe up. The only gripe I have is that I have to remember not to bring the phone too close to my face… it'd be good if was a bit more independent of distance. Either way, it's to the point where it feels as fast as Touch ID did on my iPhone 7.</p>

  • Skolvikings

    10 October, 2018 - 1:47 pm

    <p>I still disagree that not having Apple Care+ is as dumb as driving a motorcycle without a helmet (btw, that's a completely over-the-top analogy).</p>

  • RonH

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 1:51 pm

    <p>I see too many issues with this phone and it's design. Headphone jack, notch, fingerprint reader, price. </p>

    • dylanhendricks

      10 October, 2018 - 2:08 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352054">In reply to RonH:</a></em></blockquote><p>What other high-end phones have retained their headphone jack, foregone the notch, have a fingerprint reader *nearly* as secure as Face ID, or a dramatically lower price? You're just complaining about the high-end smartphone market, generally, and clearly don't understand how good Face ID is. It's excellent and I would take it over a fingerprint sensor any day. You just look at your phone and it unlocks.</p>

    • Martin Sjöholm

      11 October, 2018 - 5:44 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#352054">In reply to RonH:</a></em></blockquote><p>Have you tried it out? For realz? Do it. This is the best phone I have ever owned, and the swiping is just so natural that I have trouble using a phone with a button these days. Face ID is incredibly good, and I just swipe up to open the phone. As easy as the fingerprint reader and does not care about wet fingers. The notch is not a deal breaker.</p><p><br></p><p>Also: can everybody get over the lack of headphone jack already? Wireless or die.</p>

  • bls

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 1:52 pm

    <p>Went to an XS from a 7+. Don't miss the fingerprint reader at all. The slight additional swipe after FaceID unlock is not annoying at all, except for maybe some subset of old dogs ;). the XS is a tremendous step up in terms of performance and usability for anything older than an 8*/X.</p>

  • lezmaka

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 2:48 pm

    <p>You don't have to wait for the unlock to swipe. If the screen turned on because you raised the phone and in a position that Face ID would work, just swipe up. Don't wait for the lock icon. I also find Face ID much faster and more satisfying than Touch ID when using it to log into apps. After starting the app, I don't have to wait for the Touch ID prompt, then move a finger to the home button. With Face ID, I'm already looking at the screen and Face ID does it's thing right away.</p>

  • behindmyscreen

    10 October, 2018 - 6:12 pm

    <p>I never have problems with Face ID except when I am half in a pillow. I can have sunglasses, hats, a beard (no beard). It works. Dark, light, no issues.</p><p><br></p><p>Frankly, FaceID feels more natural to me when I use it and it nicer when using things like Lastpass.</p>

  • chris.bridgland

    Premium Member
    10 October, 2018 - 6:29 pm

    <p>Great review Paul. I'm still rocking my iPhone X from last year and it is by far the best smartphone I've ever owned. Of course, there are many fine offerings out there, I also use a Galaxy S9 plus which is a fine phone. I agree with you that the X and XS are a great size and for me, they definitely sit in the sweet spot. Great screen size but in a form factor I can easily use with one hand. </p>

  • Truffles

    10 October, 2018 - 10:41 pm

    <p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">something that will be an even bigger concern for smaller people and women</em></p><p><br></p><p>Presumably for women who are not also people. I'd like to see that Venn diagram.</p>

  • Hal9000

    Premium Member
    11 October, 2018 - 1:32 am

    <p>I really, REALLY would LOVE to see Paul's face when he dunks is iPhone into the toilet!</p><p>Btw, nice one on using Brad for the Wrinkle test. Made me laugh.</p>

  • Trapp

    11 October, 2018 - 2:35 am

    <p> God I hate the notch. Can’t deal with it. It’s just wrong. And with android now copying it… The world’s gone mad. </p>

  • Necron

    11 October, 2018 - 5:25 am

    <p>And yet again, when using Face ID, you haven't wait until Lock icon turns into unlock. You can swipe up immediately and your phone will be unlocked much faster.</p>

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    11 October, 2018 - 5:51 am

    <p>It is interesting, the photos of the back of the iPhone make it look almost identical to the Hauwei P20.</p>

  • mrdrwest

    11 October, 2018 - 9:34 pm

    <p>No tiles?!</p><p><br></p><p>$1400+ kitted out?!</p><p><br></p><p>Becoming iCattle?!</p><p><br></p><p>No…</p>

  • pesos

    Premium Member
    11 October, 2018 - 11:32 pm

    <p>Went from X to XS max. Had planned on skipping this year but I do so much work on my phone now I got drawn in by the larger screen. It is a lot of money but resale value has been good for me every year and I do more work on the thing now than I do on my Surface Pro which is about the same price. It is an indispensable tool for my work and my work/life balance (although at times it impedes the latter too but that is an issue of self control!)</p>

  • Joelist

    12 October, 2018 - 7:56 pm

    <p>To be honest Paul left out an advantage of the iPhone XS, namely iOS being WAY more secure than Android. The reason Touch ID on newer iPhones (I have an 8) and the new Face ID are difficult to hack is because their security is not just software based it is hardware based as well. Plus I work in an industry with high security requirements and because of all the Google hooks in it Android has been banned by our IS group. </p>

  • locust infested orchard inc

    13 October, 2018 - 4:54 pm

    <p><br></p><h2>The iNotch eXcess Max.</h2>

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    07 April, 2019 - 11:07 am

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