iPhone XS price in India is Rs. 99,900 for the basic 64GB version. Here’s our review of the new iPhone
iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are Apple’s latest iPhones this year and bring much needed upgrades to the iPhone X from last year. The new iPhones sport almost same design as the iPhone X but pack enough upgrades to compete against the latest Android flagships in the market.
When Apple unveiled the iPhone X last year, well it wasn’t just launching a smartphone with a new display notch addition (and design) but now we can safely say that it did set the tone for majority of Android flagships this year. For Apple, the iPhone X was the company’s vision for future smartphones, and with the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the Cupertino-based giant is definitely extending that vision and how! It’s noteworthy that the smartphone brands that mocked Apple on the launch of iPhone X for sporting display notch are now busy following the lead.
While iPhone X for Apple was just a start or a reboot to the entire designing and branding part, the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are much more than what the feature list or price actually says. For the record, Apple claims that the new iPhone XS (and the iPhone XS Max) are the fastest iPhones ever made and come with amazing set of cameras. But of course, they come with a price.
Compared to current set of premium smartphones, the iPhone XS isn’t a winner in all aspects but it does strike a right balance when it comes to screen size and body which is very important for user experience. Unlike few Android flagships out there, the iPhone XS feels better designed and forward looking.
For all those wondering why Apple is making such a big deal for the new iPhone XS calling it best iPhone ever made again then let’s dig deep and find out what’s so special about the new iPhone. We spent few weeks with the iPhone XS (512GB model) and here’s our in-depth review.
Gorgeous OLED display
Lightning fast Face ID
Design reminds of iPhone X
No fast charging
No headphone adapter in the box
iPhone XS Review: Design
The iPhone X launched last year brought a new design language and was expected to pave way for future iPhones. Now, the iPhone XS (and iPhone XS Max) have seemingly confirmed that the new design will stick around for few years which we noticed with the iPhone 6 that remained around for next few years till iPhone 8 series. This also means that Apple has finally ditched the long form factor, home button, and other design elements that once were tagged as signature iPhone design elements.
However, the changes in design on the iPhone XS aren’t noticeable right away until we talk about attention to details. From a distance, the iPhone XS looks identical to the iPhone X. Apple says that the new iPhones have been built with surgical-grade stainless steel which use a special company-designed alloy that has been precisely machined to create structural bands in three finishes. The iPhone XS feels solid in hands and fits perfectly in your palms. Apple has been able to strike a balance between the right form factor and screen size with the iPhone XS, yet again.
We could use the iPhone XS comfortably with just one hand and at no point we felt that we required to use both our hands. The glass sandwich design on the iPhone XS isn’t something we haven’t seen on smartphones but Apple still manages to master it. The phone feels premium the moment you hold it. Unlike a lot of Android phones out there sporting similar glass designs, the iPhone XS isn’t very slippery. The iPhone XS has been launched in Gold, Space Grey, and Silver colours. We got our hands on the Space Grey model which definitely looks less flashy than the new Gold variant.
At 7.7mm thickness, the iPhone XS manages to yet again set benchmark for rest of the industry in terms of using stainless steel frames and still keeping the width in check. The phone weighs 177 grams and feels right for the size.
Apple during its September keynote said that the new iPhones use “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone.” The company basically wanted to say that the new iPhone XS (and iPhone XS Max) use Corning Gorilla Glass 6 which can be considered as the most durable glass being used on smartphones. The iPhone XS (and iPhone XS Max) use Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides – again something that not a lot of companies would do.
Talking about attention to details, Apple hasn’t just used Gorilla Glass 6 on the new iPhones but has also added a layer which it feels will save the phone from smudges. Well in real world usage, the coating basically helps keeping the fingerprints on the glass in check which means unlike iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, the glass gets smudges as well but it takes time for that to happen but fun thing, it’s easier to clean.
The iPhone XS has also received an upgrade in terms of water and dust resistance. It can withstand water up to a depth of 2 metres for up to 30 minutes and comes with IP68 rated certification. Notably, the iPhone X could withstand water to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes and came with IP67 rating.
Apple is one company that takes upgrades seriously and this is a great example of how the company managed to increase water and dust resistance certification on the iPhone XS.
In fact, the September keynote also excited a lot of iPhone users as Apple claims that iPhone XS can withstand liquid spills including tea, coffee, beer, and more. However, we want to stress on the fact that Apple’s warranty clearly mentions that liquid damage isn’t covered which include all such liquids. For dealing with accidental spills, iPhone XS users can turn off their phones and let the liquid dry for few hours and Apple claims that the device should just be fine. Users, however, should note that Apple won’t cover liquid damaged iPhones under warranty.
Overall, the iPhone XS in terms of design may feel a lookalike of last year’s iPhone X but it does pack some refinements that makes it even better than its predecessor.
iPhone XS Review: Display
The iPhone XS sports the most stunning display we have seen on a smartphone. However, we have to confess that there isn’t any upgrade for those who have used an iPhone X. The iPhone XS yet again sports the same display panel earlier seen on the iPhone X with a notch and unfortunately, hasn’t seen any reduction on the size of the notch as well.
A lot of Android manufacturers seem to now have mastered the art of reducing the size of the display notch with the latest being the waterdrop design or dew drop design. Apple still sticks to the same notch size we saw last year and this one fits perfectly for the overall aesthetics.
In short, Apple hasn’t really given any update to the OLED panel on the iPhone XS which is the same as earlier seen on the iPhone X. The iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch OLED panel with Super Retina HD display. It comes with 1125×2436 pixels screen resolution with 19:9 aspect ratio. Apple has retained the 3D Touch feature on the iPhone XS which was expected. During daily usage, we noticed that Apple has used fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on top of the display which is a fine example of attention to detail by Apple. Unfortunately, several Android manufacturers miss out on adding this minor feature to display panels that turn them to a fingerprint magnet.
With a pixel density of 458ppi (pixels-per-inch), the iPhone XS can beat a lot of Android flagships out there. While a lot of Android makers clearly choose to cut corners to keep the prices at check while designing their phones, Apple is clearly a brand with no compromises. One of the reasons why Apple has chosen to keep the notch size same as last year is to fir six-channel ambient light sensor on top of the display which adjusts white balance automatically. The Samsung shipped screen supports HDR and we can vouch that this is the best display panels you can find on any smartphone in India.
iPhone XS impressed us with its sunlight legibility performance and can easily put a lot of Android makers to shame when compared.
The iPhone XS offers a gorgeous display for watching videos and even stream shows. We had a wonderful time watching videos on the iPhone XS. It offers excellent colour accuracy as well as texts and images are sharp. Apple also gets brownie points from us for keeping the notched display not getting in between our multimedia viewing. If you’re out in the market and looking for a phone that has the best display then look no far than the iPhone XS.
iPhone XS Review: Cameras
The cameras are the biggest and most valuable change on the iPhone XS compared to last year’s iPhone X. During the global launch, Apple talked about how this year it has used bigger and new sensor on the wide-angle lens with deeper pixels which guarantees less noise in pictures and better colour saturation and enhanced dynamic range.
Apple this year has also introduced its new Smart HDR feature to the mix which makes things rather interesting. The new Smart HDR basically ensures that the sensors are able to click more photos at different exposures in a shorter time period.
iPhone XS camera sample
This basically reduces chances of motion blur and results in brighter images to get dynamic range. This also enables iPhone XS to bring out highlights and shadows while keeping the subject look great. Most importantly, this all happens on the device so one can notice the speed at which the iPhone XS delivers perfect shots even when the light is low.
iPhone XS camera sample
We tested out the iPhone XS camera in different situations and we have to confess that the phone can challenge some high-end cameras. In our sample shots, the camera lenses on the iPhone XS managed to click well-lit subjects with accurate details. For selfies, the iPhone XS can capture natural skin tones with good amount of details whether the subject is standing in front of a well-lit background. We tried taking selfies with almost no artificial light around and still we were left stunned with the shots that captured minute details.
iPhone XS camera sample
The Smart HDR takes the iPhone XS camera notches above with shots with excellent results even when clicking a photo into the Sun.
iPhone XS camera sample
Another big leap that the iPhone XS camera takes is on the portrait mode which now allows users to adjust the depth of field. This changes photography on an iPhone forever with ability to change background. We were highly impressed with the results. While we have to confess that a lot of Android handset makers including Samsung offers this ability though Apple has somewhat perfected it.
iPhone XS camera sample
Coming back to quality, colours were well balanced with right amount of sharpness and clarity on sample images. Most of our sample images had vibrant colours and were crisp. There’s no doubt that the iPhone XS can be your camera for all social media uploads as no other smartphone camera is close in terms of accuracy and detailing.
iPhone XS camera sample
Best part about the iPhone XS camera is the ability to churn out perfect shots in extreme light conditions whether it is broad daylight or low-light conditions. For videos, the iPhone XS supports 4K video recording at 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps. We took tons of videos and the iPhone XS was amazing even for videos. Talking about videos, the iPhone XS can now record videos with stereo sound which is something that was not on older iPhone models and even in some premium-end phones.
iPhone XS Review: Face ID
When Apple introduced Face ID on the iPhone X, it was clear that the company had to make some refinements to improve its efficiency. The Face ID being the only biometric authentication on the iPhone X had a lot to prove and it did to certain extent.
But the iPhone XS is the perfect example of what Apple can do on its upgraded models as Face ID is faster than what you earlier saw on the iPhone X. In fact, Face ID on the iPhone XS is good split seconds faster than the iPhone X which may start looking bad for the later.
The fast Face ID performance can be somewhat credited to the second-generation NPU which is part of the A12 Bionic chipset under the hood. Apple introduced Alternate Appearance on iOS 12 for iPhone XS which enhances what Face ID can do. This meant that Face ID will work for people with alternate appearances that could be when the person is wearing glasses, caps, or anything else. The best part is Face ID on the iPhone XS uses machine learning as well which means that it will improve the accuracy of recognition over time. You can also use Face ID to log-in to apps and accounts like banking and health apps to access personal data on a private document.
Compared to the host of Android phones that are offering facial recognition dubbed face unlock, the Face ID feels way quicker and accurate at the same time. In our opinion, the Face ID is the best biometric authentication when it comes to accuracy on any smartphone and even speed putting face unlock on the Android phones to shame.
There are only handful of Android makers that are offering face unlock that can work perfectly in dim light. The iPhone XS has seemingly perfected that art and Face ID was the only way we unlocked our phone while reviewing.
iPhone XS Review: iOS 12 (and iOS 12.1) and A12 Bionic chip
For Apple, the new iPhone hardware is also the first phone shipping with latest software version and iPhone XS (and iPhone XS Max) run on iOS 12 out-of-the-box. Compared to previous iteration, we can safely say that iOS 12 has more refinements and is also faster.
Compared to an old iPhone 8 Plus, we noticed that the iPhone XS running iOS 12 launched camera quicker while other apps launched faster even with multiple apps open in the background.
iOS 12 also brought FaceTime update where now one can have up to 32 people in a call. This was one of the much-needed upgrades. The Group FaceTime can be started directly from a group thread in Messages.
iOS 12 also brings ways to control notifications from specific apps like now you can choose any app to deliver notifications quietly or entirely turn them off. For those who are unable to track how much time they are spending on their phones, Apple has Screen Time which gives better idea of how much time one has spent on different set of apps like productivity, social network, and others.
Screen Time can be considered as Apple’s way of offering Digital Wellbeing options (as called by Google). A feature like Screen Time lately is a need of the hour for a lot of handset makers as people tend to spend a lot of time on their phones without realising the total time spent in a day. Screen Time basically shows you the summary of time spent on different apps.
ou can access this via Settings > Screen Time. Users can also opt for Downtime as well as App Limits. For user convenience, Apple has also added an option to turn this feature off.
With the iPhone X, Apple showed how gesture can entirely replace the need of on-screen navigation keys or even home button. The iPhone XS further brings fine-tuned version. One can left swipe to jump to last opened apps which looks way cooler and works flawlessly.
The Control Centre has been now shifted to the right of the screen and can be seen by swiping from the right top screen corner. For those wondering why no battery details in status bar will have to understand that with display notch there’s a constraint of space. The percentage details of battery can be accessed in Control Centre now.
There are few things in iOS 12 that might give you a sense that Apple still needs to fix this one. For example, the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth quick toggle in Control Centre turns off all connections on one tap but doesn’t turn off these features to keep AirDrop function active. The reasoning is a smart one but then you have to go back to Settings to turn this off.
In Control Centre, you have 3D Touch option for further accessing more features which is a nice way to fit in more Setting options at one place.
iOS 12 also brings improved Do Not Disturb mode with additional control settings for users. You can set criteria for Do Not Disturb by long pressing Do Not Disturb icon in Control Centre. The best part is now you can opt for Bedtime mode to block interruptions while it’s your sleeping time.
3D Touch, as expected, gives you options quick action options for select apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, and more popular apps. Notably, the 3D Touch is also available when reading an article where you can long press to just see the image used in a news story or while shopping a product.
In iOS 12, the battery stats have received enhancements where you can look at specific details of screen on and off time as well as battery usage by apps.
Apple’s Siri has seen some much-needed upgrades over the years and now, you can launch it by simply long pressing the power key. One can take help of Siri for things like knowing weather details etc while can be also used for fun things like pronouncing the same word differently or calling a contact saved in your phone.
Apple’s own set of apps like Stocks, News, Voice Memos and more have received some upgrades over last few months and bring some decent set of refinements. We used Apple’s Measure app which uses AR to measure a flat surface and it didn’t disappoint us. In fact, for most parts it offered almost accurate details.
iOS 12.1 started rolling out to users recently and brings the much-awaited Group FaceTime feature that was showcased during the September keynote. The changelog included addition of over 70 new emojis and also support for dual-SIM with eSIM on the iPhone XS as well as iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.
Talking about small changes, Apple has also introduced change in animation when unlocking the phone via Face ID which now looks neat.
Dual-SIM feature was one of the most awaited one for iPhones and Apple finally made the addition this year. The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR – all three – support dual-SIM via eSIM.
If you’re wondering how to get started with dual-SIM support on your iPhone XS (or iPhone XS Max or iPhone XR) then visit a nearest Jio or Airtel store. Make sure to carry your iPhone and fill the CAF (Customer Acquisition Form).
Once done with documentation and the details are confirmed, the store executives will enter your details on Point of Sale (POS) machine. A QR code will be generated which you can scan on the iPhone XS in order to activate the eSIM. It will take couple of hours for the eSIM to get activated and you’re done.
The iPhone XS (and the iPhone XS Max) is the fastest iPhone you can buy right now in the market and you can thank the new A12 Bionic chip which now packs eight-core neural engine which definitely plays huge role across different functionalities whether gaming, running multiple apps, or even using the camera.
Whether running over 20 apps in the background or playing a high-graphic game, the iPhone XS felt solid throughout our review period. The best part about the iPhone XS is now that you can play AR games and you won’t feel that the device is allowing down. We had a fun time playing Monster Park: AR Dino World, LightSpace, and Fishing Go AR games.
We ran a series of benchmark apps on the iPhone XS to see how fast it is compared to the iPhone X and no doubt, we could see improvements. In AnTuTu, the iPhone XS scored a whopping 321,569 which is far greater than what iPhone X could achieve (239,657). In Basemark OS 2.0, the iPhone XS scored 5890 while iPhone X got 4356.
In GeekBench 4.1, the iPhone XS scored 4834 and 11390 in single and multi-core respectively compared to 4089 and 10,134 on the iPhone X in the same test. In GFX 3.1 Manhattan test, the iPhone XS scored 94 compared to 69 scored by the iPhone X. The benchmark test results just prove the fact that there are improvements under the hood from the previous generation iPhone. Benchmark results aside, the iPhone XS is a massive upgrade for anyone using an iPhone 8 or older generation iPhone.
iPhone XS Review: Battery
Apple is one company that’s not a very big fan of specifications and their keynotes are a good example of this belief. After few iPhone XS teardown videos surfaced on the Internet, it was confirmed that the phone packs a 2658mAh battery which is the same size as the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus. The company has gone with an L-shaped battery for the iPhone XS.
During our review, we noticed that the iPhone XS lasted for more than a day with medium to heavy usage. However, a two-hour gaming session can take a toll on the device which is expected considering there’s an OLED panel on-board. With medium usage, the phone easily lasted for almost 30 hours. While with heavy usage where we had apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Outlook, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Health, Telegram, and more open in the background, the iPhone XS gave around 25 hours of backup.
During our video loop test, the iPhone XS lasted for 11 hours which is impressive considering it uses an OLED panel.
At a time when almost all premium phones come with some sort of fast charging tech, the iPhone XS feels a let-down because of the dated 5V wall charger that ships with the retail box. During our review, the phone took over two hours to fully charge from zero to 100 per cent.
In case you want to try fast charging on the iPhone XS then you can go for Apple certified accessories that offer USB Type-C to Lightning cable with quick charge support. That might cost you around Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,500 but will boost the charging speed.
iPhone XS Review: Scorecard
Design – 9/10
Display – 10/10
Cameras – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Battery – 9/10
Overall – 9/10
iPhone XS Review: Verdict
The iPhone XS is no doubt a modest step up from the iPhone X that launched last year but for anyone who’s currently using an iPhone 8 or older models then this is a major upgrade and you should consider upgrading to the new iPhone. To break it down, the iPhone XS has a better set of cameras, is faster, supports dual-SIM capability, and feels like the perfect smartphone you can own in 2018.
The only problem with the iPhone XS is it feels identical to the iPhone X and chances are if someone has to put extra money then that will be slightly hard thing to be convinced for.
The iPhone XS has been retailing in India at a starting price of Rs. 99,900 for the 64GB version while the 256GB and 512GB versions are priced at Rs. 114,900 and Rs. 134,900 respectively. Comparing it with other iPhones launched this year, the iPhone XS Max comes at a starting price of Rs. 109,900 while the iPhone XR is priced at Rs. 76,900 for the basic version.
If you are looking for a device that’s ideal in size and isn’t a task when you have to carry it around then iPhone XS is the one you should choose. The iPhone XS Max comes with identical innards and software except the larger screen and battery sizes.
Apple’s iPhone XR, the third iPhone unveiled at the company’s September event this year, is being endorsed as the best value for money iPhone launched this year but we cannot reach that conclusion before we get a chance to review it.