Which of Apple’s new iPhones should you get?
How does the iPhone XR stack up to the XS and XS Max? You may be surprised, writes Michael Simon
Just like last year, Apple announced three new iPhone models, but it’s not so easy to tell them apart anymore. Gone is the old-school design with the home button and the giant bezels, and in its place are three new models with iPhone X styling. (But don’t worry, if you really like the old look, you can still buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.)
If you’re having trouble deciding which model to buy, we feel your indecision. That’s why we created this handy guide to help you sort it all out.
All three new models of iPhone have Apple’s new ‘allscreen’ design that dispenses of the superfluous space above and below the screen and pushes the display all the way to the edges. It also means you’ll have to deal with a notch at the top for the camera and other sensors, which cuts down on the physical size.
iPhone XS: 143.6x70.9x7.7mm
iPhone XS Max: 157.5x77.4x7.7mm
iPhone XR: 150.9x75.7x8.3mm
For comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus measures 158.4x78.1x7.5mm, so even the largest 6.5in iPhone isn’t any bigger than the previous generation, despite having an inch more of screen space.
Here’s where things start to get weird. The iPhone XS has the same 5.8in display as the iPhone X, but now there’s a new model, the 6.5in iPhone XS Max. Both of those screens use Apple’s new OLED display tech for “the most accurate colour in the industry, HDR, and true blacks”. At the low end, Apple has made an entirely new phone, the iPhone XR, which brings a 6.1in LCD screen that Apple is calling Liquid Retina, so its actually bigger than the 5.8in iPhone XS. Here’s how the three models shake out.
iPhone XS: 5.8in OLED, 2,436x1,125, 458ppi
iPhone XS Max: 6.5in OLED, 2,688x1,242, 458ppi
iPhone XR: 6.1in LCD, 1,792x828, 326ppi
The resolution of the iPhone XR is clearly lower than the XS, but it might not be as terrible as it looks. For comparison, the 4.8in iPhone 8 has a resolution of 1,334x750 at 326ppi, so the screen will likely pale in comparison to the iPhone XS and XS Max. Still, Apple defines Retina quality as anything with a pixel density above 300dpi, so you still shouldn’t see any jagged edges. All three displays feature Apple’s True Tone technology and have a 625cd/m2 maximum brightness.
Like last year, Apple isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to performance. All three phones are powered by the new A12 Bionic processor, which Apple describes as “the smartest, most powerful chip in a
smartphone”. It includes a new neural engine able to perform five trillion operations per second for AR and camera advancements, as well as a faster and more efficient CPU and GPU. So, performance should be the same across the board, though the XS models likely have extra RAM.
Apple doesn’t like to disclose the exact capacity of its battery (not until iFixit gets its hands not the new phones anyway), but here’s what Apple has to say about the new models.
iPhone XS: Lasts up to 30 minutes longer than iPhone X iPhone XS Max: Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone X
iPhone XR: Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone 8 Plus
Since that’s kind of meaningless, here are some actual battery estimates.
iPhone XS: Up to 12 hours of Internet use and 14 hours of video playback iPhone XS Max: Up to 13 hours of Internet use and 15 hours of video playback iPhone XR: Up to 15 hours of Internet use and 16 hours of video playback
Based on those estimates, the iPhone XR is the clear leader, but all three should get you through a full day of use. As always, however, it will depend on your needs.
The iPhone XS and XS Max both have the exact same dual camera setup, while the iPhone XR has a single camera like the iPhone 8.
iPhone XS/XS Max: Dual 12Mp wideangle (f/1.8) and telephoto cameras (f/2.4), dual optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom
iPhone XR: 12Mp (f/1.8), Optical image stabilization
As you can see, the camera array on the iPhone XS and XS Max is vastly superior to the iPhone XR, but the main lens is actually the same on all three models. We’ll have to wait to see how that translates to realworld shooting. Even without the second camera, how£v£rI you will still g£t Portr~it jod£ with ~dv~nc£d bokeh and Depth Control, Portrait Lighting, and Smart HDR, as well as 4K video recording and slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120- or 240fps.
The front camera is the same on all three devices: 7Mp TrueDepth camera with f/2.2 aperture. They all include Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, and Smart HDR.
Since the home button has been removed, all three phones include Face ID for unlocking. Apple says the system has been tuned to be faster, and with iOS 12, you’ll be able to add a second face as well.
Apple has added a third storage options to the iPhone line-up, but you have different options on the iPhone XR compared to the two XS models.
iPhone XS: 64-/256-/512GB
iPhone XS Max: 64-/256-/512GB
iPhone XR: 64-/128-/256GB
The iPhone XS models both max out at 512GB, the most storage Apple has ever offered in a phone. The iPhone XR has the same 256GB that the iPhone 8 offered at the high end, but adds a new 128GB tier in the middle. Half-a-terabyte is nice and all, but most people won’t have any reason for that much internal storage.
All three iPhones feature wireless charging, but you’ll need to buy a third-party pad, since Apple’s AirPower is still missing in action.
Where last year’s iPhone X only came in Black and Silver, Apple has greatly expanded its palette this year.
iPhone XS: Black, Silver, Gold iPhone XS Max: Black, Silver, Gold iPhone XR: White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral, Gold, (Product) RED
Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: What do these things cost? While none of the new iPhones start as low as the £699 iPhone 8, there should be a new iPhone for every budget, assuming you have lots of money to spend on a new phone.
iPhone XS: £999/£1,149/£1,349
iPhone XS Max: £1,099/£1,249/£1,449
iPhone XR: £749/£799/£899
The iPhone XS and XS Max are available to buy now. The iPhone XR is slightly delayed, with pre-orders beginning Friday, 19 October and shipping a week later, on 26 October.
The iPhone XS comes with Apple’s best ever display
The iPhone XR has a 12Mp rear camera
All three new iPhones use Face ID for unlocking
The iPhone XR will be available to preorder on 19 October