Apple today unveiled the iPhone X successor: the iPhone XS. While the phone retains the same design language as its predecessor, it features significantly faster internals and enhanced camera. And it is also joined by a bigger sibling: the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max.
True to its name, the iPhone XS is an ‘s’ upgrade over the iPhone X. There are barely any design changes, with Apple focusing primarily on major performance and camera improvements with this release.
Design and Display
Like its predecessor, the iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch notched True Tone OLED display with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and 3D Touch support.
Then there’s the iPhone XS Max featuring a massive 6.5-inch Super Retina display with 2688 x 1242 resolution (458ppi). The iPhone XS Max replaces the iPhone 7/8 Plus in Apple’s lineup. Despite coming with a display that is an inch bigger than what is found on the iPhone 7/8 Plus, the iPhone XS Max is no bigger than it. This is because like the iPhone X, it comes with a bezel-less front and a notched display.
In terms of design, the iPhone XS Max is just a bigger variant of the iPhone X with other relatively minor changes. The IP certification of both handsets have improved and now they are IP68 certified making them water-resistant in up to 2m depth for up to 30 minutes. The bigger size of the iPhone XS Max has also allowed Apple to improve the stereo speakers for a wider soundstage.
Apple will be offering the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max in Silver, Gold, and Space Gray finish.
Faster Face ID
Thanks to faster algorithms and faster secure enclave, Face ID on the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max is faster than ever before. Apple claims it is now the most secure facial recognition technology on a smartphone.
The A12 Bionic is fabricated on the 7nm node and packs a staggering 6.9 billion transistors. It consists of a 6-core CPU which packs 2 high-performance cores and 4 energy efficient processors. The high-performance cores are up to 15 percent faster when compared to A11 Bionic. There’s also a 4-core Apple designed GPU that is up to 50 percent faster.
The Neural engine is getting the biggest upgrade in A12 Bionic. It is now an 8-core chip that is capable of 5 trillion neural operations per second, up from 600 million on the A11 Bionic. Thanks to these improvements, Apple says apps will launch 30 percent faster on the iPhone Xs. Other system features that rely heavily on the Neural engine are also going to be significantly faster than on the iPhone X.
Apple is also opening its Neural Engine to CoreML which will make the latter up to 9x faster while consuming 1/10th the energy. This will allow developers to run complex neural network operations in their app without any serious power or performance penalty. The faster chip allows for real-time motion tracking and projection which in turn allows for more powerful AR apps.
The dual-camera system has the same setup: a primary 12MP wide-angle lens and a secondary 12MP telephoto sensor. Apple has improved the system by using a newer larger sensor which features larger 1.4um pixels. This is paired with a 6-element f/1.8 lens, OIS, and Focus Pixels. The telephoto sensor is also new and continues to feature a f/2.4 aperture with OIS.
The TrueTone flash system has also improved and now comes with an advanced flicker-detect system.
There’s a new Smart HDR mode in iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max as well. There’s a 4-frame buffer for zero shutter lag that helps the new iPhones capture photos with more details and better dynamic range. The new ISP and neural engine on the A12 Bionic also help the iPhone Xs take photos better than ever before.
The ‘bokeh’ effect in Portrait photos on the iPhone Xs can now be tweaked i.e. its intensity can be increased or decreased from within the camera app. The faster ISP and 4 microphones also allow the new iPhones to record stereo sound while recording videos.
The front-facing 7MP TrueDepth camera also uses a new sensor that is faster than ever before. It continues to feature a f/2.2 aperture. It is now capable of recording Full HD videos at 60fps with EIS.
Compared to the iPhone Xs, the iPhone Xs offers 30 minutes more battery life than its predecessor. The iPhone Xs Max comes with the biggest battery ever in an iPhone and lasts 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X.
Apart from faster Gigabit LTE, the new iPhones also have Bluetooth 5.0 support. They also come with Dual-SIM capabilities a.k.a DSDS. However, the new iPhones continue to feature a single SIM slot. The second SIM slot is replaced by eSIM so one has to register on the secondary network from within the phone. This is a feature that also needs to be supported by network operators.
For China, Apple is launching a special edition of the iPhone Xs Max that will feature dual SIM slots.
Pricing and Release Date
The iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max go up for pre-order on September 14, with retail store availability scheduled for September 21. The iPhone Xs starts from $999, with the iPhone Xs Max starting from $1,099. Read more about the pricing and availability of the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max here.