With the new Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max announced for India and other markets, many are asking the question if this is an upgrade with their money. When there is an ‘S’ in the iPhone name there are always doubts. Like with other S phones, the iPhone XS will be seen as an incremental upgrade over the iPhone X.
For a lot of users with an older iPhone variant like the 6s or the 7, that’s a pertinent question. Especially when you consider the iPhone XR, which only launches in October, is much more affordable; though at Rs 76,900, that’s not a price everyone will be too happy paying either.
The last iPhone I bought was the iPhone 6s, which still works fine. I have been using an iPhone 8 review unit for sometime now, and have loved it. Yes, despite the bezels, the lack of dual-rear cameras, the iPhone 8 for me was the perfect device.
It easily fits into my pockets, performance was never an issue, the camera is great in most situations, and when it comes to recording video, which my line of work requires often, iPhone still sets the standard. While I love the Pixel 2 XL for taking stills, especially low-light shots, iPhones are my preferred devices for recording video.
The big negative with an iPhone is the battery, which lasts just about a day. With heavy-duty usage, I had to charge it once a day at least, and or worse twice a day. Battery paranoia is very real with an iPhone, especially in India where poor networks play havoc on this.
So what about the iPhone XS and is there a drastic difference that it brings? Here are some of my thoughts.
Apple iPhone XS: Display, and the gold colour
If there’s one thing about the iPhone XS that makes it a tempting buy for me is that gold colour option. It might seem blingy to some, but it is stunning dark gold, and one that will likely be copied by others. But like all things pretty, the iPhone XS needs a cover, unless you want to cover it in smudges or worse crack that glass at the back.
With iPhone XS, what I’m getting is a bigger, brighter and better display, than the iPhone 8, and there’s no reason to complain. Watching videos on YouTube is certainly much more enjoyable. When it comes to displays, both Apple and Samsung devices always have excellent displays, and iPhone XS continues this. Yes, the 5.8-inch iPhone XS will not fit in my jeans pockets anymore, but thankfully I have pants with bigger pockets, where this does fit right in.
Apple iPhone XS: Camera
This will be the biggest change, especially if you are switching from an older iPhone like the iPhone 6s or 6. With the iPhone XS, I now have access to Apple’s Portrait mode feature, 2X zoom, etc. The newer camera also comes with Smart HDR, dual-OIS and new ‘computational photography’ where the device is patching together a number of images to ensure the best photo for the user.
This last bit is something we have seen Google Pixel 2 do very well, and Apple will have to match up to this. So far I would say the iPhone XS’s camera is a big improvement over previous iPhones I have used in the past. 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.
I’m yet to try out Portrait mode on the rear camera a lot, but in the selfie camera and few shots I have taken, I would say it is still struggling with edges. 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, but I find Portrait mode far from perfect.
I am yet to try out the low-light performance, and how it performs in brighter sunlight, but so far the camera upgrade is worth it.
Apple iPhone XS: Battery
When it comes to battery, while this is an improvement over my iPhone 8, I feel there is scope for more. I have to charge my iPhone XS at the end of the day, and on days when my usage is higher, the battery levels dip quickly. But I do some 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.
Then there are a lot of notifications coming in, updates taking place, voice recordings, emails being sent back and forth, as well as social media consumption happening on this device. While my iPhone 8 had to be charged twice on some days, with iPhone XS, I can get by with charging this later at night when I’m back home. I would say the iPhone XS will just about last me a day.
Apple iPhone XS: FaceID, Animoji, Memoji
Face ID is definitely one of the more convenient ways of unlocking your iPhone. It works in perfectly in the dark, though at times I have got an error when trying to unlock the iPhone. Still 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.
I have tested out the Animoji and Memoji feature as well. Honestly, I don’t think I can send these to too many people, other than my husband. I also do not know who else will send me Animojis in return, other than my boss, and both of us can do without the Animoji exchange.
Apple iPhone XS and iOS 12
This is one part of the experience, you can get without splurging on a new iPhone XS, but I am enjoying some of the features of Apple’s latest software. The time-out from Instagram and Facebook when I’m back home is really useful, though I usually end up approving WhatsApp for the whole day since it is actually being used for work. Twitter is another app where I usually cheat with time limits.
But it is good to see the way I spend time on the iPhone, which is my primary consumption screen. The OTP copy feature (finally on iOS) is useful especially when I had to set up this device and login to my Gmail, WhatsApp, and others all over again where two-factor authentication is turned on. I’m yet to figure out Shortcuts. I will probably have to do that over the weekend.
Of course, another big change is that my user interface experience has changed completely from what I was used to on the iPhone 8. Still getting a hang of the swipes and gestures is easy, though the first couple of days, one can find it confusing.
Apple iPhone XS: Worthy upgrade?
For those with an older iPhone 6s or 7 or even the iPhone 8, this is a good upgrade to consider. Keep in mind that this iPhone, despite its higher pricing will last two to three years easily, if you take good care, and this is including software upgrades. That’s an advantage Apple products continue to have over Android, the overall value, even two, three years after launch.
Still there’s no denying that the price will make it impossible for many to consider it. 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, it is comparatively cheaper with most of the features as the iPhone XS.
Right now though, iPhone XS seems quite a jump for me, and one that I am enjoying, despite the okay battery life. I need to test out the camera more though, to see where I stand on the whole Pixel 2 vs iPhone XS debate.