Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are officially on sale in India. Both of them sport OLED displays, improved dual-rear cameras and are powered by the powerful A12 Bionic chip coupled with an 8-core neural engine for AI and machine learning related tasks. Apple’s latest iPhone packs a lot of new features, but as always there’s a high cost for the most premium smartphone.
The question though is: Should you upgrade and is it worth that Rs 1 lakh price? I’ve been using iPhone XS as a my primary device for a close over a week and here’s what I thought
Apple iPhone XS specifications: 5.8-inch OLED display with 2436 X 1125 pixel resolution at 458 ppi | A12 Bionic chipset | 64GB/256GB/512GB storage | 12MP+12MP rear camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture on wide-angle and ƒ/2.4 aperture on telephoto + TrueDepth Front camera with 7MP Photos | iOS 12
Apple iPhone XS Price in India: Rs 99,900 for the 64GB version
Apple iPhone XS: Design, Display
If you were to put the new iPhone XS next to the older iPhone X, it might not seem so original or new. Plus, we have seen countless other phones launch since the iPhone X, which have copied that design with the notched display, and vertically stacked dual-rear camera. However, none of that makes the iPhone XS any less good-looking.
And what Apple has done once again is gone for a colour, that rivals do not offer. That gold, especially the dark gold, stainless steel frame on the side, Apple just does it so well. They did popularise the gold colour starting with iPhone 5s, to the point that it is now commonplace, even on the cheapest Android phones.
With the iPhone XS, this gold really stood out for me. It is dark on the side, has a hint of pink on the back and stands out from competition. Yes, some will find it too blingy, but this is a colour like no other. Sadly, the glass back of the iPhone XS is prone to smudges and you will need a case to protect this device, which hides those colours and that’s a shame.
Apple iPhone XS continues with the full-screen 5.8-inch display we saw on the iPhone X, and this is a fantastic one. This OLED screen has the deepest blacks, excellent colour reproduction and will make any video watching experience great. It is right up there with the Samsung displays, and sets the standards high.
The display works equally well in bright sunlight and I had no trouble reading on this screen when out and about. The bigger 5.8-inch display I feel is just the right size. People who prefer smaller phones might lean towards this, as the size is more manageable, especially with one-hand use. However, some of you might find that iPhone XS does fit so easily into jeans pockets.
For me, the iPhone XS came with another big design change: the notch. In some apps it does make for a jarring experience. For instance in Youtube, when you do the pinch to zoom, the content gets wrapped around the notch. There’s no denying the notch does ruin some experiences, but if you are planning to upgrade to a iPhone XS, you will have to live with it.
Apple iPhone XS: Performance, Face ID, Memoji
Performance on iPhone has never been an issue for me. In benchmarks like GeekBench and Antutu, the iPhone XS scores are higher than what most Android flagships and it shows the kind of standards that Apple has set in this area.
Given this has been primary device, I have had a smooth sailing so far. I am usually switching between multiple apps on this and I have not faced any stuttering or lag when running apps. Be it gaming or social media or even just endlessly scrolling on apps like Reddit, the iPhone XS can handle it all.
The iPhone XS also comes with the A12 chipset, which has a dedicated neural engine. Apple has also launched its own AR app like Measure, and while the concept might not be unique, on the iPhone XS, the app works smoothly when it comes to detecting the object and measuring it out for you.
With iPhone XS, Face ID is another major feature that one gets to experience, unless you have tried out the iPhone X. It is one of the more convenient ways of unlocking your iPhone. It works perfectly in the dark. It works 99 per cent of the time for me, with or without makeup or my glasses, which makes this far less frustrating than face unlock on other phones.
Another feature of the new iPhone XS is the Memoji. Honestly, I don’t care for this as much, but I would say the Memoji is still the most acceptable Emoji version of myself I have seen compared to all the other variants of this. Both Animoji and Memoji rely on the Face ID camera to copy your expressions, and so far they have been fairly accurate based on my usage.
With iPhone XS, sound quality is another major bump that I experienced. The stereo sound impact is clear, especially when you are watching videos. This is good enough to play music, when I’m too lazy to find or charge the bluetooth speaker.
Apple iPhone XS: Camera
Till about two years back, the best cameras were all on iPhones. Then the Pixel showed up, and Google pretty much knocked it out of the park with Pixel 2 series. When it comes to Portrait shots and low-light, this past year Pixel 2 XL has been my pick.
So what about the iPhone XS camera? Yes, this is a definite improvement over older devices like the iPhone 8 unit that I was previously using. The Smart HDR does make a difference to the kind of photos you will get, and it is there to see. The low-light performance has also improved, and Portraits look great as well.
The photos are brighter and there are more details, even those taken in what is not the best lightning. And, yes, the camera is fast, which is what matters for most users.
However, I would not say the iPhone XS is beating Pixel 2 XL just yet. In Portrait I feel the latter has a serious edge, and remember that the Google phone is doing this on the basis of software alone and does not have a dual-camera at the back. Even in low-light, my vote goes to the Pixel 2 XL, which makes the picture brighter, but without loss of detail.
Apple’s iPhone XS is still more muted in some situations. In the Portrait mode, there is still scope for improvement. For instance, in some photos, I can see the hair is very clearly blurred. Again, this might not be the most pressing issue for iPhone users.
Right now, though in the smartphone camera department, the top tier devices are quite evenly matched and for many users it will come down to personal preference over which smartphone camera they pick.
Apple iPhone XS: Battery life
This remains a weak point on iPhones given where the competition has moved. I can just about get a day’s worth of battery life with my heavy duty usage. There’s no escaping this: I have to charge my iPhone XS at the end of the day. I have extensive usage with my iPhone, which is also connected to my Apple Watch, AirPods where I’m streaming music for at least an hour or more on a daily basis. Then there’s navigation back home, messages, social media, and several other uses.
For an iPhone X user, the iPhone XS might not actually offer such a drastic battery jump.
Apple iPhone XS: Verdict
For those with an older iPhone 6s or 7 this is a good upgrade to consider. But the price is not an easy one to accept with or without EMI. In India, it is hitting that Rs 1 lakh price bracket. So it will make more sense to wait till iPhone XR is out, and then take your pick. After all, the XR comparatively cheaper, though it is not ‘affordable’ by any standards either. But it comes with compromises like an outdated screen resolution and single rear camera.
However, if you have been waiting to buy an iPhone and want an affordable device from Apple, then that will be a futile wait. iPhones are high value devices which will easily last two to three years and come with regular software updates. My iPhone 6s has worked fine till all of 2017 and I just upgraded to iOS 12. This constant software update is an advantage over many Android phones, no matter what you feel about the iPhone’s price.
Also, Apple has been able to convince many that its products are truly premium. It pushed the $1000 price mark with iPhone X in 2017 and has not looked back since then. Where a truly premium phone goes, the iPhone XS is still the top pick to beat.