Apple recently announced its new flagship phones the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR. As of September 21, the iPhone Xs and Xs Max are available for purchase (the iPhone XR will be available October 26). However, you might be wondering if any of these new phones are worth the upgrade or not. We can’t make that decision for you, of course, but we’ll do our best to help you decide with this quick breakdown.
iPhone Xs | Xs Max
iPhone Xs Starting $999
iPhone Xs Max Starting $1,099
Per Apple tradition, this year’s new iPhones are primarily a performance upgrade. Therefore, design and appearance wise, they’re identical to the iPhone X. Both the iPhone Xs and Xs Max come in a new gold color, which is admittedly gorgeous. The display for the iPhone Xs is identical to the X, a 5.8-inch super retina OLED with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 and a pixel density of 458 ppi.
The only difference you will find between the iPhone Xs and Xs Max is the screen size, with the iPhone Xs Max having a 6.5-inch display, a resolution of 2,688 x 1,242, and the same pixel density of 458 ppi. Other than that difference, the Xs and Xs Max are identical. Therefore, you’ll have to decide if that screen size difference is worth the $100 price difference.
The cameras saw a bit of an upgrade this year. Both the Xs and Xs Max are still using a dual-camera setup, but with a new ƒ1.8 sensor for the 12MP wide-angle camera. The 12MP telephoto camera has remained unchanged. The IP ratings also saw an upgrade, with both Xs and Xs Max having an IP rating of IP68, up from the X’s IP67. This means the Xs and Xs Max should be okay with water submersion up to 2m deep for up to 30 minutes. Face ID also saw a slight improvement, with faster algorithms and a safer enclave. Both phones also have improved stereo speakers, which sound great. Both phones will still feature wireless charging and fast charging capabilities.
As stated earlier, this year’s upgrade is a performance upgrade, and Apple did not disappoint with their new A12 Bionic chip. This is the first 7 nanometer chip in a smartphone. The A12 Bionic features a 4-core GPU and a 6-core CPU. The two CPU performance cores are now 15% faster and the four efficiency cores consume up to 50% less power. This power saving will prove crucial since the iPhone Xs has a slightly smaller battery capacity than the iPhone X, but it is advertised to have a longer lasting battery life. The new GPU is up to 50% faster than the A11 GPU. A new 8-core neural engine dedicated to machine learning will help power many of Apple’s new machine learning and augmented reality functions, such as improved photo processing, new Animoji features, Siri shortcuts, ARKit 2, and more. The A12 Bionic chip also boasts a whopping 5 trillion operations per second, compared to the A11 chip’s 600 billion per second. All this comes together with the new iOS 12 to offer some seriously powerful and quick smartphones.
Both the Xs and Xs Max come in three capacity variants: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB.
Here’s where things start to get a little interesting. The iPhone XR is Apple’s less expensive alternative, although it still has a hefty price tag. However, smartphone prices have only been rising over the years, so this is somewhat expected at this point. It’s clear to see where Apple cut corners with the XR though. For example, the XR is made from aluminum, compared to the Xs and Xs Max, which are stainless-steel. The XR features an edge-to-edge display, although the display’s bezels are noticeably larger than the Xs, Xs Max, and even the X. This is largely because the display is an LCD display, rather than OLED. The XR display resolution is noticeably lower as well, with a resolution of 1792 x 828 and a pixel density of 326 ppi. Yup, you read that right. The XR doesn’t even have a 1080p display, so don’t expect to watch 1080p videos on it. Having to write that statement in 2018 is shocking. However, according to Apple, you won’t notice a difference. But with a 6.1-inch display, we’re not so sure about that.
The edge-to-edge display also means the iPhone 8 has become the last iPhone to feature a home button. The XR is capable of wireless charging and fast charging, just like the Xs and Xs Max. The XR will use the same front facing camera and Face ID setup as the Xs and Xs Max. The IP rating is also lower than its counterparts, with an IP67 rating, not IP68. The camera system for the iPhone XR is a single lens but uses the same improved sensor as the Xs. However, that single lens means no telephoto lens. The one place Apple didn’t cut corners is with the brains of the smartphone. The XR uses the same A12 Bionic chip as the Xs and Xs Max. Therefore, you can still expect the XR to perform excellent.
The biggest appeal to the XR, besides its lower price tag, are the colors. The XR is available in white, black, blue, coral, yellow, and (Product)Red. However, with the comprises and still a decent price tag, the XR can be a hard sell when compared to many Android competitors at the same price point.
The XR comes in three capacity variants: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
The XR will be available October 26.
Everyone will have different features that they value in their smartphone; whether it’s the camera, the display, or the operating system. However, with the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, it’s safe to say they check most of the boxes. Are they lacking some things? Of course. There’s no headphone jack (probably never coming back either), Siri is still a bit limited in what she can do (especially when compared to Google Assistant), and these $999+ smartphones capable of fast charging, don’t come with a fast charging wall adapter in the box. So, there’s still room for improvement. However, when compared to some of Apple’s competitors in the premium smartphone market, such as Samsung, the iPhone Xs and Xs Max will still be up there with the best of the best. But should you upgrade to the Xs and Xs Max right now? It depends. If you have an iPhone X, upgrading this year is probably not worth it. However, if you skipped upgrading last year to the X or 8, and are in the market now, the Xs and Xs Max are surely worth considering.
The XR is a bit of a different story. If you’re in the market for a smartphone upgrade, but don’t want to pay $999+, you might be looking at the XR. However, the market of $700 to $800 smartphones is even more competitive, with some truly great Android smartphones being in that price range. In our opinion, the XR is just a bit too pricey for what you’re getting. However, if you’re already living in the Apple product ecosystem and want to pay less for a new phone, then the XR is probably your best bet.