Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price

Full, in-depth, Australian review

Apple iPhone XS
  • Apple iPhone XS
  • Apple iPhone XS
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5


  • Incredible design
  • Snappy performance


  • Battery life still lags
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, this is Apple’s best and most-expensive iPhone yet. Take it or leave it.

Would you buy this?

Performance - Specs, Software and Battery Life

The iPhone XS runs on the new A12 Bionic Processor and iOS 12. The first half of that equation picks up where last year’s A11 Bionic left off. Apple say its X more powerful than the A11.

And when it came to benchmarks, that increase left even some of the most powerful Android devices out there looking shortchanged.

Aside from graphics (one area where we found the XS middling), the iPhone XS easily trumped several Snapdragon-powered heavyweights like the Oppo Find X and Samsung’s Exynos-backed Galaxy Note 9.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

As for the software side of things, iOS 12 brings a few new tricks to the game. This includes things like Screentime. Similar to the Digital Wellbeing app baked into Android Pie, Screentime aims to inform you about just how much time you're spending staring at your phone. It's a noble inclusion, but your mileage will vary when it comes to its actual effectiveness.

iOS 12 also introduces new MeMojis, which combine the customizable avatars of Samsung’s AR Emojis with the emotive animation found in last year’s Animojis. It should go without saying but this isn't going to be a feature for everyone. Some users will dig MeMojis. Others will never touch them. Still, I did find them a little less disturbing as Samsung's AR Emojis are sometimes known to be.

Credit: Apple

As for battery life, we can’t say we weren’t a little disappointed.

Sure, the iPhone XS may offer better returns than the previous iPhone X. However, the gulf between the hours of usage you’ll get out of this and some of the Android flagships out there continues to grow. I’d usually get nine or ten hours away from my charger before the device dropped dead, even on days when I wasn’t really relying on my device as much as I usually would.

The iPhone XS supports wireless charging via the Qi standard.

The Bottom Line

This year’s iPhones are Apple’s most expensive ever. And while expensive flagship smartphones are nothing new, the high pricing inevitably casts a bit of a shadow over things.

If you thought that spending over a thousand bucks on last year’s iPhone X was outrageous, expect to lose your shit all over again once you see the asking price for the larger-sized XS Max.

However, if you’re an iPhone 7 or 8 owner looking for a worthy reason to upgrade, there’s definitely an argument to be made here - even if there isn’t a headphone jack.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that iPhone XS is the iPhone that’s going to pull Android users back into the Apple ecosystem but if you’re considering doing just that and are willing to part with the money, it’s hard to think of a better option here.

At the end of the day, this is Apple’s best iPhone yet. Take it or leave it.

Credit: Apple

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