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Apple iPhone XS Review: Redefining Legacy

Should Apple iPhone X users really need to worry about upgrading? Has Apple really pulled something extraordinary this year or is it just the prices which are soaring higher? We have used iPhone XS for more than a month and here’s what we think about it.

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Since 2007, Apple has revolutionized the way mobile phones are made today after Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. After the launch of iPhone X last year, we witnessed phenomenal upgrade in the iPhone design line up and since then, the majority of other smartphone brands are blatantly copying iPhone design and features.

This year Apple launched three new handsets at different price points - iPhone XS (starting Rs 99,900), iPhone XS Max (starting Rs 1,09,900) and the cheaper iPhone XR (starting Rs 76,900). All handsets feature the same design, processor, and same camera sensors.

The difference among all three phones lies between is that the cheaper iPhone XR has a single rear camera and an LCD display while iPhone XS, XS Max have OLED displays with dual rear cameras and stainless steel body.

On the other hand, the difference between iPhone XS and the bigger XS Max are display size and battery capacity.  Similar to its predecessor, iPhone XS’ comes with 64GB and 256GB storage options and the latest addition with 512GB variant. This year, Apple is offering the iPhone X's successor in Silver, Space Grey and the new Gold colour variant.

 Model  Price
 64GB 99,900
 256GB 1,14,900
 512GB 1,34,900


Should Apple iPhone X users really need to worry about upgrading? Has Apple really pulled something extraordinary this year or is it just the prices which are soaring higher? We have used iPhone XS for more than a month and here’s what we think about it.

Design and Display

When it comes to design, iPhone XS looks exactly the same as its predecessor that is actually gorgeous in my opinion. The newly launched is a combination of glass and metal where glass is sandwiched between the stainless steel frame. Apple claims that the glass used in new iPhones are ‘most durable’ ever in a smartphone, however, a protective cover for this handset is highly recommended from our side.

The front side of the phone is all-screen with a notch at the top (display cutout that houses the camera and other sensors) and minimal bezels.

iPhone XS  is amazingly comfortable to use with one hand (measures 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm and weighs 177 g), it is neither very big nor it feels like a phone with a tiny display; all thanks to the notch design.

The device is IP68 rated water, splash and dust resistant, which means you can submerge your phone up to 2 meters deep in the water level for 30 minutes.

iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch (2436x1125) OLED display with 458 ppi pixel density and 19.5:9 aspect ratio.

The display quality is undoubtedly one of the best you can get on any smartphone out there.

The screen is vibrant, has great viewing angles, and displays crisp and clear content. Be it gaming or binge-watching your favorite show, this display will not disappoint you in any way.

Apple’s True Tone technology uses a light sensor, which adjusts display’s white balance to match the colour temperature of the light according to the surroundings for a better viewing experience. The Night Shift feature automatically makes display colour warmer after it gets dark.

Also Read: Google Pixel 3 XL Review: The Best Camera Phone

Performance

This year’s iPhones are powered by Apple’s 7nm A12 Bionic processor, which has two performance cores up to 15 percent faster than iPhone X’s A11 and four efficiency cores which are up to 50 percent energy efficient than the A11.

Apple is also touting the Neural Engine for tasks related to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The company claims that the Neural Engine is so fast that it can perform up to 5 trillion operations per second. According to Apple, iPhone XS can recognize patterns, make predictions and learn from experience, similar to the way people do.

The combination of iOS with A12 Bionic will be a boon to every user. Multitasking, switching between apps or playing games, everything works smoothly without lagging. On performance benchmarking platform AnTuTu, iPhone XS scored 2,81,557 which is actually a better score. 

 Handset AnTuTu Score
 Apple iPhone XS 2,81,557
 Google Pixel 3 XL 2,23,283
 OnePlus 6T 2,98,107
 Samsung Galaxy Note 9 2,38,575
 Huawei Mate 20 Pro 2,75,558

iPhone XS runs on Apple’s latest iOS 12, which brings new updates like Screen Time (similar to Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing) - that tells users the amount of time they spend using their phones and let users assign a time limit to specific apps; Memoji is also here which is basically an Animoji of the user itself that Apple creates by mapping face data; Apple has also included a few other updates like Siri shortcuts and AR experience.

Last year, Apple introduced Face ID for unlocking the iPhone that has raised a lot of eyebrows over security concerns. The notch at iPhone XS’ front has a Dot projector which projects more than 30,000 invisible dots onto user’s face to build a facial map.

After this, an infrared camera reads the dot pattern, captures an image then sends the data to the Secure Enclave in the A12 Bionic chip to confirm a match. Face ID works perfectly in the dark too, all thanks to the Flood illuminator.

Face ID was nearly perfect last year and with the iPhone XS, this feature is now faster and more accurate. To unlock the phone by using this technology, a certain distance has to be maintained between the handset and user’s face or else you’ll end up typing six-digit passcode for unlocking. I have myself witnessed numerous use cases where I missed the fingerprint scanner for faster unlocking.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Nearly The Best Android Smartphone

The new wide stereo speakers on this year’s iPhone have improved a lot; the sound quality is much louder and clearer than the previous iterations.

Apple claims that the iPhone XS battery can deliver up to 30 minutes of an extra backup than the iPhone X, which during comparison showed the negligible difference. The handset is capable of wireless and fast charging but unfortunately, Apple doesn’t ship the fast charger inside the box; you have to buy that separately.

The traditional 3.5mm headphone jack was removed from iPhone lineup long ago and it isn’t here on the 2018 iPhones either. Even most of the affordable handsets are shipped with fast chargers these days, however, Apple not providing this simple thing with this expensive iPhone which doesn’t make sense at all.

With the normal 5W charger (shipped with iPhone XS), the handset reached 50 percent in 1 hr 15 minutes, to reach 50 to 100 percent the phone takes 1 hr 45 minutes; that’s a total of three hours from zero to hundred percent, which is on an average one hour extra than any other handset. As mentioned earlier, if you need faster charging, you have to pay more bucks.

When it comes to battery life, this phone’s performance was satisfactory and you can easily squeeze a day out with normal usage. However, this iPhone’s prowess definitely isn’t battery life, heavy users are advised to carry their chargers along with them.

Camera

iPhone XS sports 12-MP (wide-angle with f/1.8 aperture)+12-MP (telephoto with f/2.4 aperture) dual camera set up at the rear with OIS, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom and Portrait Mode. For selfies, there is a 7-MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture, Portrait mode and Cinematic video stabilization.

On paper, these camera specs appear very similar to previous year’s iPhone X but Apple has tweaked a lot of stuff to make cameras even better.

Click on the images above for enlarged view

This year, Apple has also improved the image signal processor, which combined with Neural Engine has enabled Smart HDR feature for its users. Smart HDR is something similar to the Google Pixel handset’s HDR+ feature- there will be a greater dynamic range in the clicked photos; in other words, it captures amazing detail in every photograph.

Another feature that is being touted this year in iPhone’s camera is Adjustable depth of Portrait images, a feature which has been present in Samsung phone’s since a while. With this feature, you can increase/decrease blur effect in the images clicked with Portrait mode.

It was Apple which made Portrait images mainstream and made every other smartphone brand to include this feature in their handsets. With Portrait mode in iPhone XS, you’ll get amazing images but edge detection hasn’t reached to the perfect level yet and I personally prefer Pixel 3's pictures clicked with Portrait mode.

Also Read: Apple India: Leading By Example

Apple has used larger sensors this time, which allows the camera to capture more light which results in sharper details and better low light performance. However, Pixel 3 with its Night Sight update is capable of clicking far better images in low lighting conditions. 

Verdict

iPhone XS is a powerful smartphone which stands strong on every aspect a user looks up to in a phone. It performs smooth and you’ll forget what stutter or lagging means, it clicks amazing pictures, it is one of the most gorgeous and comfortably usable phone available out there. However, there are some downsides with the iPhone XS too: its battery performance isn’t as capable as other premium handsets, no traditional headphone jack, fast charger needs to be bought separately and most important of all, this handset’s price is on an expensive side. 

iPhone X users should definitely avoid upgrading to iPhone XS because the upgrades aren’t that incremental but if you use an older iPhone model, you’ll be impressed with iPhone XS.  

Also Read: OnePlus 6T Review: Impressive Phone With Reasonable Pricing


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