Whether you’re an Apple fanboy or a hater, you probably know all there is to know about this year’s iPhones; all three of them. Two of them – the XS and the XS Max are available for pre-order and will debut at stores across India on September 28. The XS Max is for those who don’t mind the extra heft and sacrificing one-handed navigation for the pleasures of a larger screen. For me, the iPhone XS (That’s ‘Ten S’ for the uninitiated) that looks identical to last year’s iPhone X, is the iPhone that is the epitome of all things Apple. It’s why we put it under the scanner. More importantly, should you give up your iPhone X for this 2018 Apple flagship?
Let’s get that right off the bat. If you already own an iPhone X, you probably don’t need to trade that for an XS. Of course, if you’re itching for a new iPhone and don’t mind the larger form factor, you could consider the XS Max that offers a whole new user experience with its larger 6.5-inch screen. 2018 is an ‘S’ year and it should come as no surprise that Apple hasn’t rejigged the design language for the XS. It’s the same all-glass slab embellished with a stainless steel frame that we loved about the X. The new gold colour, reminiscent of the iPhone 8, is a welcome addition to last year’s silver and space grey duo. The display is similar too – the same OLED display (1125 x 2436 pixels / 19.5:9 aspect ratio / 458 PPI) with deep blacks and gorgeous colours. The ‘Notch’ that the iPhone X pioneered is a key element in the mix and a feature that multiple brands have now replicated.
The biggest changes are all under the hood. The headline feature in this year’s iPhone line up is Apple’s all-new A12 Bionic chip. It’s 2018, the age of AR and AI, processors are not just about boosting speed but also about how they aid the device a.k.a. machine learning. These are things that you may not notice but this new processor impacts everything from photography to AR experiences that are gradually getting more engaging and sophisticated. You might notice the speed impact – from faster app load times to a slightly more responsive Face ID.
The other discernible changes are the camera and the speakers. Let’s talk about the camera first. The XS is replete with Smart HDR that creates images with more highlights and then larger and deeper pixels. This has a visible impact on lowlight photography over the iPhone X. And then there’s portrait mode, that we love our iPhone cameras for; the XS refines portrait mode with advanced depth segmentation professional quality bokeh images. You will dig the new speakers that produce louder and higher quality sound. Of course, don’t choose a flight or a commute in the Metro to test this feature. There are enough people inflicting their music and videos on hapless commuters and fliers.
Battery life hasn’t changed since last year. Apple claims a 30-minute improvement over the X, but in our tests, the XS delivered a similar performance as its predecessor. Apple has made one other major hardware upgrade. The XS and XS Max become the first iPhones with 512GB of internal storage. That’s a lot more than most of us have on our MacBook Air laptops and should satisfy power users.
The iPhone XS is a brilliant smartphone, another iPhone that finds that balance between aesthetics, hardware prowess and user experience. Battery life hasn’t improved since last year but the camera shoots much sharper images and videos while the new processor enhances things further. If you’re graduating from an iPhone 8 or earlier iPhone, you will enjoy the leap.
The iPhone XS costs Rs 99,900 (64GB), Rs 114,900 (256GB) or Rs 134,900 (512GB). The iPhone XS Max costs Rs 109,900 (64GB), Rs 124,900 (256GB) or Rs 144,900 (512GB).