The iPhone XS (pronounced 'ten ess') brings minor tweaks to the already-impressive iPhone X - and that's no bad thing. Apple has introduced new camera modes, a more powerful chip, plus Dual SIM technology, which are all welcome additions.
- Noticeably faster than previous models
- Enhanced camera features
- Sleek, elegant design
- Very similar to the iPhone X
- Hefty price tag
iPhone XS: in more detail
The iPhone XS builds upon the fantastic X rather than going for a complete overhaul. Many reviewers have noted how similar the two models are, which is fair considering they look almost identical. However, there are some impressive upgrades inside the new phone, particularly the new A12 Bionic chipset, to keep the majority of Apple devotees satisfied. Digital Trends says the XS is 'a compelling product for Android owners looking to switch, or for people looking to upgrade anything older than an iPhone 8.'
As is their way in an 'S' year, Apple have made their biggest changes inside the phone rather than outside. That means the iPhone XS and X are almost indistinguishable at first glance. It is just as slim and elegant as its predecessor, with the same thin bezels, almost entirely edge-to-edge display and smooth glass back. The only noticeable difference is that a new gold shade colour scheme has been added to the line-up, which iNews called 'a pretty and premium design befitting of a phone which starts at £999'.
Despite the lack of change, however, the iPhone XS is still one of the most beautiful smartphones around. The X was a huge leap forward for the iPhone series with its home button-less design and that look continues to feel fresh.
It may not be a surprise to hear that Apple has carried forward the beautiful 5.8-inch OLED screen from its iPhone X to the XS, delivering the same gorgeous 2,436 x 1,125 resolution and 458 pixels per inch. The contrast has been improved slightly to 1,000,000:1, with Apple claiming an impressive 60% greater dynamic range on HDR content. This means photos will really pop on your screen, providing true blacks and impressive colour accuracy.
Performance and battery
Arguably the XS' most exciting feature is the all-new A12 Bionic chip, an upgrade on the previous A11 model. The next-generation chip is able to perform five trillion operations per second, a huge upgrade from the 600 billion that the A11 could manage.
The six-core CPU includes two high-performance cores that are up to 15% faster than the A11 while consuming 40% less power. The other four efficiency cores handle your everyday tasks, which are now up to 50% faster than with the A11. Gamers will love the four-core GPU too, which brings great gains in the loading speed and fluidity of graphics.
As if that wasn't enough, there's also a separate eight-core processor (dubbed the 'Neural Engine') dedicated to real-time machine learning. This means you can expect the iPhone XS' performance to be quicker and more efficient as your apps learn your usage habits over time.
Wired sums it up by saying the A12 chip makes 'your phone feel faster, your photos look better, and your AR and AI apps more useful'.
Although not a gargantuan improvement, the lower power usage of the A12 also means that the battery on the iPhone XS will last up to 30 minutes longer per day compared to the X.
The iPhone XS features two rear 12MP cameras: one an f/1.8 wide-angle lens and the other an f/2.4 telephoto lens, plus a front-facing 7MP wide-angle lens camera with f/2.2 aperture.
This model provides two major enhancements over the iPhone X with the all-new Depth Control and Smart HDR features. The sophisticated Depth Control mode brings increased editing power as you can adjust the bokeh (background blur) of the Portrait Mode pictures you've snapped.
Yet the new Smart HDR is where the most exciting developments come. The camera now takes nine photos simultaneously and merges them together to produce photos with improved highlight and shadow detail. CNET raves that 'photos look better in low light and extreme contrast situations, making for better pictures whether shot on a nighttime street, in a dark bar or in bright sunlight'.
The iPhone XS sticks to the now tried-and-tested series of gestures used on the iPhone X. Those not used to a lack of home button will need to familiarise themselves with swiping up from the bottom of the display to get back to the home screen, but TechRadar says that 'within minutes you'll start to understand that this is a very useful gesture'.
The XS comes with the recently released iOS 12, which includes some useful additions such as the Screen Time tool to tell you how much time you spend on your phone.
The iPhone XS, along with the XS Max, are the first iPhones to adopt Dual SIM technology. This allows users to have two phone plans on one device through a nano-SIM and e-SIM. This will be a particularly useful feature for those who would like one number for business and one for personal, or those who wish to add a local data plan when travelling to a foreign country or region.
Apple have said that this feature will be available 'with an update to iOS 12 coming later this year'.
The iPhone XS will be available in the UK from 21 September 2018.