iPhone XS launch prob­lems

Ev­ery new iPhone ex­pe­ri­ences a few lim­ited prob­lems at launch, and the iPhone XS is no ex­cep­tion, writes Ja­son Cross

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

We’re en­joy­ing our new iPhone XS de­vices, but that’s not nec­es­sar­ily true for ev­ery­one else who has one. As is the case with ev­ery new iPhone launch, there are a few tech­ni­cal is­sues crop­ping up for at least a small per­cent­age of users. The three is­sues most broadly cor­rob­o­rated by users on­line are the ‘beau­ty­gate’ selfie cam­era prob­lems, ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties with charg­ing, and wire­less per­for­mance prob­lems.

‘Beau­ty­gate’ selfie-smooth­ing

The most wide­spread com­plaint by far is that the front-fac­ing cam­era on the iPhone XS is ap­ply­ing a sort of beau­ti­fi­ca­tion fil­ter to selfies. Users com­plain that selfies taken with the front cam­era smooths out their skin, giv­ing it a ‘plas­tic’ look, and that the XS al­ters the colour tone in or­der to give their skin a bit of a glow. Ap­par­ently, this hap­pens any time the front-fac­ing cam­era de­tects a face.

While some users have sug­gested it is re­lated to the new Smart HDR fea­ture, oth­ers have con­firmed that dis­abling the fea­ture doesn’t re­ally fix things. We did a lit­tle test­ing our­selves, and there’s def­i­nitely some­thing fishy go­ing on. Con­sider the op­po­site im­ages.

The left­most photo was taken with the iPhone X’s front cam­era, while the cen­tre one was taken im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward with the XS Max – same light­ing, time of day, po­si­tion, ev­ery­thing. There’s some ob­vi­ous smooth­ing on my face. What’s more, if I cover my face (as I did in the third im­age), the colour tem­per­a­ture shifts. Look how much the back wall changes from a yel­low­ish hue to a purer white.

The smooth­ing ef­fect can be seen even more clearly if we zoom in to the side of my face. The changes in my skin tone are more ap­par­ent, too.

It has been pointed out that ‘beauty’ fil­ters for selfies are ex­tremely pop­u­lar in some of the Asian mar­kets where Ap­ple is try­ing to grow mar­ket share. The the­ory is that, when the iPhone XS de­tects a face, it ap­plies some sub­tle changes to the fi­nal im­age that would make users in those mar­kets hap­pier with the way their selfies look. There’s prob­a­bly never go­ing to be a way

to prove that the­ory, but this sort of in­ten­tional im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion should al­ways be op­tional, even if that op­tion is en­abled by de­fault. If it’s merely a tech­ni­cal er­ror in­stead, Ap­ple should is­sue an of­fi­cial state­ment and ad­dress the prob­lem with an iOS up­date.

Charg­ing prob­lems

Some users have been re­port­ing prob­lems with charg­ing their new iPhones. Specif­i­cally, some phones seem not to re­spond when the Light­ning cable is plugged in.

Typ­i­cally, an iPhone’s dis­play lights up to show that it’s charg­ing, ac­com­pa­nied by a charg­ing sound. Some users have re­ported that their iPhone XS or XS Max de­vices sim­ply do noth­ing at all when they plug in the Light­ning cable, no mat­ter which power adap­tor they use. In some cases, tap­ping on the screen to wake it will cause the phone to start charg­ing; in oth­ers, the cable has to be un­plugged and re-plugged. Pop­u­lar YouTube chan­nel Un­box Ther­apy ( fave.

co/2DX22OQ) re­cently posted a video demon­strat­ing the prob­lem. In com­ments on other sites and fo­rums, some users com­plain that the prob­lem has even started af­fect­ing their older iPhones or iPads af­ter up­dat­ing to iOS 12, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion that this is a prob­lem with the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, per­haps with the new USB Re­stricted Mode. How­ever, that new fea­ture was added in iOS 11.4.1, and no­body com­plained about this is­sue af­ter that iOS up­date.

We haven’t seen the is­sue at all on any of our iPhone XS or XS Max mod­els or on any ear­lier iPhone or iPad. It’s clearly af­fect­ing a non-triv­ial per­cent­age of users, as they have clearly doc­u­mented their prob­lems with videos posted to so­cial me­dia.

Wire­less per­for­mance prob­lems

A small per­cent­age of users have com­plained in fo­rums and on Red­dit about less re­li­able Wi-Fi and cel­lu­lar

con­nec­tiv­ity from their iPhone XS, when com­pared to ear­lier mod­els. This is con­trary to our own early net­work tests, which showed al­most uni­ver­sally bet­ter per­for­mance – both on Wi-Fi or cel­lu­lar – par­tic­u­larly in bad con­di­tions. How­ever, we mea­sured up­load and down­load speed, which is dif­fer­ent from con­nec­tion strength. A de­vice with en­hanced fea­tures like 4x4 MIMO and LAA could give have a weaker sig­nal strength and still de­liver faster speeds.

The site WiWave­length ex­am­ined the FCC fil­ings for RF sig­nal strength on the iPhone XS and XS Max and con­cluded that their trans­mis­sion and re­cep­tion strength just aren’t as strong as ear­lier iPhone mod­els. This likely wouldn’t be the fault of the In­tel mo­dem Ap­ple chose this year, but rather other de­sign con­sid­er­a­tions of the phone. It’s pos­si­ble Ap­ple could im­prove this with a soft­ware up­date, but it’s also pos­si­ble it might not be able to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion with­out a hard­ware re­vi­sion.

With­out more de­tail re­gard­ing ex­actly what is caus­ing lower RF sig­nal strength, it’s not re­ally pos­si­ble to know.

Net­work­ing is noth­ing if not finicky, and can fluc­tu­ate from mo­ment to mo­ment and place to place. Com­par­ing speed tests or sig­nal bars are not al­ways a good way of know­ing if your con­nec­tion will be re­li­able.

If you think your iPhone XS isn’t con­nect­ing well to your cel­lu­lar or Wi-Fi net­work, there are three things you can try:

1. Turn on Air­plane Mode, wait a few sec­onds, then turn it off. When you re­con­nect to the net­work, you may lock on to a bet­ter sig­nal. 2. Re­set your net­work set­tings. Open the Set­tings app and go to Gen­eral > Re­set > Re­set Net­work Set­tings You’ll have to re-en­ter your Wi-Fi pass­words, as this re­sets all net­work set­tings. 3. Re­set your iPhone and set it up as a ‘new’ iPhone in­stead of restor­ing from a backup. Go to Set­tings > Gen­eral > Re­set > Erase All Con­tent and Set­tings. When the phone restarts, choose to set it up as a new phone in­stead of restor­ing a backup. (Just sign in with your ex­ist­ing Ap­ple ID.) Con­sider this the nu­clear op­tion – it’s a real pain to re-down­load and log into all your apps again.

Par for the course

Con­trary to what Ap­ple fans and tech en­thu­si­asts on­line will tell you, these sorts of prob­lems with new iPhones are noth­ing new. Ev­ery sin­gle iPhone has re­leased with a hand­ful of prob­lems that af­fect some small per­cent­age of users. Some­times, as with the iPhone

4 ‘an­ten­na­gate’ prob­lem, they af­fect nearly ev­ery­one. From the iPhone 6’s ‘bendgate’ and the iPhone 4s’s yel­low screen tint to the un­re­spon­sive home but­ton on the iPhone 5s, early iPhone prob­lems are the rule, not the ex­cep­tion.

Cer­tainly, one can­not limit post-launch iPhone prob­lems to Tim Cook’s time as Ap­ple’s chief. Af­ter all, Ap­ple had to give iPhone 4 users free cases to mit­i­gate an­tenna is­sues dur­ing Steve Jobs’ ten­ure. Some iPhone 3GS users had sound prob­lems, while oth­ers re­ported that their phones got hot enough to dis­colour the white plas­tic on the back.

It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to tell ex­actly how wide­spread some of these new is­sues are. When you sell over 50

mil­lion phones per quar­ter, even a frac­tion of a per­cent of af­fected users means tens of thou­sands of an­gry cus­tomers, all post­ing about their ex­pe­ri­ences on­line.

Cer­tainly, the selfie smooth­ing and colour prob­lems seem wide­spread, even uni­ver­sal, and Ap­ple would be well-ad­vised to re­lease an of­fi­cial state­ment about it as soon as pos­si­ble. The charg­ing prob­lems are less com­mon, but still well doc­u­mented. Con­nec­tiv­ity prob­lems are far more neb­u­lous and dif­fi­cult to pin down.

None of these things make the iPhone XS a ‘dud’ any more than the early prob­lems of prior iPhones did. It’s just a list of is­sues to keep an eye on as Ap­ple re­leases soft­ware up­dates in the com­ing weeks.

You can clearly see a shift in colour tone when I cover my face with my hand

I don’t mind look­ing younger, I just want it to be an op­tional fea­ture

Some users have com­plained about less than re­li­able Wi-Fi and cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity

The launch of the iPhone 4 has marred by ‘an­ten­na­gate’

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