Welcome back everyone, I’m ThioJoe, and it is once again iPhone season. You may already know that Apple released 3 models this year, the iPhone XS, the XS Max, and the XR. The one we’re going over today is the XS, which I chose because I didn’t really want a massive screen I couldn’t reach across. Even with the 8 Plus I could barely reach the top, so I think for me the XS Max would have just been unwieldly. But this is NOT a comparison video, we’re going to just focus on the XS, and do a ruthless review. I’ll tell you what I like, what I hate, and everything inbetween.
And if you’re wondering, no I didn’t get this for free, I had to shell out the cash for it, so you know I’m not going to sugar coat anything, especially with the massive thousand dollar price tag this year. Now as usual before we jump in I want to give a quick plug for my instagram account, if you want to check that out it’s just @ThioJoe, and the link is also in the description.
So first of all let’s start out with the visuals of the phone. The design is essentially identical to last year’s iPhone X, with one tiny exception I’ll get to in a second. On the front of the phone you’ll notice that like the iPhone X, and unlike phones before it, there of course is no home button or fingerprint sensor. It’s a nearly edge-to-edge display with the exception of that notch at the top, which has the face-id hardware, the camera, speaker, proximity sensor, and all that. On the sides there’s the usual power button, sim card tray, volume buttons, and silent mode switch. Plus the speaker and microphone grills on the bottom along with the lightning port. No real surprises yet. And on the back it’s mostly the same story. You’ll see the dual camera lenses, one wide angle and one telephoto, with the flash and microphone in the middle.
Also, that tiny difference between the X and XS I mentioned is that this camera bump is slightly larger than the X, so cases for the X may not necessarily fit the XS, you always want to double check that As for the rest of the back, it’s made of glass, not aluminum, which like last year’s generation of iPhones allows wireless charging, something I’m a big fan of. Oh and by the way, this entire thing is water resistant with a rating of IP68, so it can be submerged under 2 meters of water, for up to 30 minutes. Alright, now back to the screen on the front. This thing is a inch OLED panel, just like the iPhone X, and unlike the IPS type panel used in every other iPhone before.
The resolution is 2436 x 1125 at 458 ppi, same as the Max. But keep in mind this is a wider aspect ratio than what is standard, so technically it’s a larger screen, but it’s not as wide as you might be used to. And holding my old 8 plus again feels massive by comparison. That being said though the pixel density is obviously great, and you can’t see individual pixels even looking up close. Being OLED there are a few advantages, one being that the contrast ratio is awesome. Because of the way OLED works, anything that is supposed to be black is actually pure black. And as for brightness, I tested using my light meter, and this OLED screen is actually significantly brighter than my 8 Plus on max settings, having a 700 lux reading vs *450 lux on the 8 plus.
And that was on a pure white image, no true tone or anything, max brightness. So that’s actually surprising because usually OLED isn’t as bright as IPS. Colors are also very vibrant with OLED too, and it’s an HDR display. However, I will point out that the OLED screen is noticeably warmer than on the 8 Plus, especially when TrueTone display is enabled, but you kind of get used to it. Another bad thing is that there is a HUGE blue shift when you tilt the phone off-axis at all. So off-axis viewing is not really accurate. Overall though, I still would say I’m satisfied with the screen, and I mostly like how much brighter it is. Next, let’s go over the internals of the phone, the hardware you can’t see.
The processor of the phone is Apple’s own “A12 Bionic”. Apparently it’s about 15% faster than last year, but the GPU is supposedly 50% faster. And Apple also bragged about how much faster the “neural engine” is, but that’s only going to be for certain uses like Augmented Reality. So it’s faster than the X and 8, but probably not noticeably except for graphics intensive games. For storage, you have the option for either 64, 256, or a whopping 512GB! I personally went with the 256 because 512 was definitely overkill for me at least, but I’m definitely glad they offer it for people who might take a lot of 4K video or something like that.
In any case, 256 GB is still a ton of storage, and I love having this much free space and not having to worry about running out ever. As for RAM, they actually upgraded it to 4GB this year, instead of 3GB like they did last year So THANK you Apple, that’s one of the things I thought they skimped on before. 4 GB puts them right in line with other flag ships, though you might argue that since the price is way more than other flagships, they should have added even more. Typical Apple. But when it comes to battery, this is what pissed me off the most. Apple CLAIMS the iPhone XS has 30 minutes more battery life than the X, which in the grand scheme of things basically just means it’s the same.
BUT, the battery is apparently actually SMALLER than the X. It’s 2659 mAh, vs previously 2716. Apple, just stop it. Put bigger batteries in your phones, this is getting stupid. Seriously, a SMALLER BATTERY? You might be wondering does it really matter, and yes it does. My iPhone 8 Plus I thought had great battery life. Not amazing, but I didn’t really have any complaints. The XS on the other hand, has noticeably shorter battery life, so it’s usually 50/50 on whether I’ll need to recharge it at some point during the day or not.
And I tend to keep my phone on low brightness too. Anyway, let’s move on to some more specs. Inside we also have Bluetooth 5, which isn’t new but still a lot better in terms of range and bandwidth than previous versions if that’s what you’re still using. This phone also has a new modem capable of Gigabit LTE if your carrier offers that, or probably just faster cellular in general. And I definitely saw crazy download speeds, like 150mbps or more, though upload speeds were still nothing special. Alright so next, let’s move on to performance, starting with the camera, my favorite part of almost any phone. The camera seems to be the same thing as last year, but the software is the main upgrade here, with a feature called “Smart HDR”. They’re basically FINALLY trying to catch up with Google’s Pixel camera processing, where it samples multiple frames, then combines them with the picture taken, to reduce blown out parts, and increase dynamic range…
Supposedly. For the most part, I found the camera to look just as good as previous years iPhones. The pictures obviously all turn out really nice, as you’d hope. I found the smart HDR feature works alright, though it’s probably best for things like landscapes and outdoor shots. I don’t think there has been a huge jump in camera quality from the previous year, if at all. Though the sensor pixels are supposedly slightly larger, which always helps. Basically the camera is just as sharp as you’d expect, but I still don’t think it holds up against the pixel cameras. When it comes to video, like the previous generation the XS is capable of 4K 60fps which is pretty crazy, and also slow motion with 1080p at 240fps. Though the bitrate of the video is still only about 55 mbps, so while it uses the much more efficient h.265 codec, for 4K 60fps, that’s still a really low bit rate. Before we move on, we have to mention the front facing camera.
Now iPhones I think usually have the best front facing cameras, and have slightly longer focal lengths so your face looks less distorted. And on the XS it also looks good, with good colors, but for some reason Apple decided to add weird post processing to selfies that have gotten a lot of attention. Basically they add this smoothing effect on your face and adjust your skin tone, and in some cases makes you look super airbrushed. I noticed this a bit myself, and you can see when I compare it to the iPhone 8 Plus camera, it does make my look almost plastic. And you can’t turn it off at all. So hopefully Apple changes that in the future. Ok so now let’s get to battery performance, which I touched on earlier. On my older iPhone 8 Plus, I was really happy with the battery life. But on my iPhone XS, it’s noticeably shorter. Not super short, but noticeably shorter. Now I understand that it’s a smaller body size, so it can fit less of a battery, but still, just make the phone a millimiter thicker Apple, literally no one will care.
If I’ve been using the phone even somewhat heavily, I will definitely have to charge my phone if I want to go do anything in the evening. And usually I find myself limiting how much I use the phone, for fear of using up too much battery. With fast charging that’s not really a big deal, and it can charge VERY fast with quick charge. Like easily at least 50% within 30 minutes. Only problem is, Apple doesn’t include the fast charge power cable or charger with the phone.
You have to spend like $50 more on the 29W USB C wall charger, and a USB-C to Lightning cable Which is an absolute JOKE, and I’m definitely calling Apple out on that BS. Also for some reason, there’s no indication that you’re fast charging or not, you just have to trust it. The XS does support wireless charging, but keep in mind it will typically be slower than a cable. Alright, now let’s get to possibly the most important thing, the user experience. And beginning with how fast is this thing? Well obviously by this point you should know it’s going to be as snappy and responsive as any other flagship, if not moreso. It simply doesn’t lag at all. Most phones these days when you get them new, they’re not going to lag at all. And the processors are fast enough where even after a while, they’re not going to lag And with iOS 12, which is actually a great upgrade, this thing is screaming fast.
When it comes to replacing the home button, I was really worried I’d hate it. Now I’m not talking about the fingerprint sensor for now, literally just the home butotn functionality, which has been replaced with a swipe up gesture. And to my surprise, I actually do like it. It feels really smooth and natural to just swipe up away from the bottom of the screen. The only thing that is slower is app switching, which I found was a lot easier with the home button to just double tap, but now you have to swipe up far, then kind of hold it, then swipe apps away. It’s something you have to actually think about, and make sure you hold it long enough, and swipe far enough, where before you could just double tap and not thing about it at all. Still, it hasn’t been a dealbreaker for me. As for the notch, it really doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.
Because most videos are 16:9, they don’t actually fill up the wider aspect ratio screen, so the notch doesn’t cut into them. But it does for wider videos. One thing I don’t like though is that with the notch, there is no way to show the battery percentage like you could on other iPhones. You have to bring down the control center to show the percentage, which is annoying. I’d rather it just show the percentage instead of the battery symbol to be honest. Now, when it comes to removal of the fingerprint sensor, that really pisses me off.
I think Apple should have just put it on the back, like so many other Android phones. Fingerptint sensors work AWESOME on the back, but instead Apple decided to double down on Face ID. Now FaceID works ok. But IT IS slower than the fingerprint, no doubt about it. And whereas before you could just press the home button, hold you finger there, and automatically unlock the phone to the home screen, now you have to go through so many steps.
Double tap the screen to wake it, let face id unlock you, then swipe up. 3 Steps vs 1. If it had both face id and fingerprint, it would be great, but I don’t like how FaceID is something I have to actually think about when using. I have to look and make sure it unlocked, then swipe up, you have to time it, so annoying. And other problems I’ve had with face ID is it doesn’t work when the phone is too close to your face, like if you’re lying in bed, you have to hold your phone away, make sure the pillow isn’t in your face, and all that. And the BIGGEST annoyance is that it doesn’t work with some of my sunglasses, which blocks my eyes too much I guess, so it refuses to unlock unless I turn off “require attention” feature, which I don’t want to do, because then someone could unlock your phone without you even looking at it. So my take on FaceID is that if it was in addition to the fingerptint sensor it would be awesome, but because it isn’t it frankly sucks and is only barely tolerable enough to keep using.
Though there are other things I do like about the XS that not many people have been talking about. Namely, the Dual sim capability. I think this is actually a KILLER feature. Obviously there is only 1 sim tray, but in an upcoming update, you will be able to use both an esim and physical sim card, so you can have two phone numbers on one phone. And set which contacts will use which numbers. This is awesome if say you have a work phone and personal phone, or you travel and need a foreign sim card and domestic one, or just want one phone number you can give out and don’t care about getting spammed.
Though apparently the second phone number won’t be able to be used with iMessage, which is so stupid, hopefully Apple changes that. Still, if you are someone who uses two phones for any reason, this could EASILY be enough reason to upgrade. Another thing I really like about this phone is just the size. Like I said, coming from the 8 plus, it was hard to reach the entire screen with my thumb. The XS seems to be the best of both worlds, and it is is noticeably less wide, so I can actually comfortably reach my thumb all the way across it, and wrap my fingers around the other side securely, instead of it just kind of resting on my fingers. And obviously with the edge to edge screen, it doesn’t really feel any smaller, even though the screen isn’t as wide, because it’s a lot taller. So I definitely think I prefer this form factor. Of course, there are things I definitely do NOT like about this phone, that could have easily been avoided by Apple. First of all, this is just a disgrace, but Apple did not even include a lightning to 3.5mm headphone dongle in the box anymore.
It’s literally a thousand dollar phone, and they couldn’t throw in a dongle that probably costs them a dollar to make. Seriously Apple, screw you for that, I’m not kidding that’s not cool. Also, I don’t like how they don’t include the faster charger either. Fast charging legitimately works great, and it would literally improve every iphone user’s experience if they included it, because I don’t think many people even know it’s capable of that. And finally, I am STILL waiting for them to add 120 Hz refresh rate to the screen. That’s another thing that would be a KILLER feature, but apparently there are issues with it with OLED, or they’re just keeping that feature in the bag for a future iPhone. So let me try and wrap things up. Some things I’ve mentioned that I especially like about this phone are the huge storage options up to 512 GB, the dual sim capability, the form factor, and the great as always camera quality.
Some things I definitely dislike are the barely satisfying battery life, FaceID as a mediocre replacement to the fingerprint, and of course the thousand dollar plus price tag. So overall, this is what I think. The iPhone XS is definitely a good phone, probably even a great phone, but not an Amazing phone, even though it could have been. If you already have an iPhone X, it’s definitely not worth an upgrade unless you’re paying for Apple’s upgrade program. If you have an older iPhone, the main benefits will be the different formfactor and screen, the dual sim card, and the camera upgrade. I would personally not consider FaceID a benefit or an upgrade. So if none of those things really excite you, I’d definitely wait at least another year.
Maybe if the price wasn’t so ludicrous, you know it could be a different story, but Apple REALLY took prices to the next level, without taking new features along with it. Of course, if you have a really ancient phone, like 3 years older or more, you definitely WILL find this a massive upgrade, and you won’t be disappointed. And that’s about it, hopefully you guys found this video helpful, let me know what you think down in the comments. If you want to keep watching, you can check out some other videos here. So again I’m looking forward to haring from you, thanks for watching, be seeing you. .
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