October 2, 2018

Apple iPhone XS and Max review

iPhone Xs

The Apple iPhone Xs is a staged version of the iPhone X that was released in 2017. The iPhone Xs has a better processor, camera, and screen compared to its predecessor. But does the iPhone Xs also make the best smartphone?

iPhone XS And MX 
Price from$1149 (iPhone XS)
$ 1249 (iPhone XS Mx)
ColorsGold, gray, silver
Screen5.8-inch OLED (2436x1125) 6.5-inch OLED (2688x1242)
Processor: hexacore (Apple A12 Bionic)
Storage:64, 256 or 512 GB
Battery:2.658 mAh(Xs)
3.174 mAh(Mx)
Camera: 12-megapixel dual-cam (rear), 7 megapixels (front)
Connectivity:4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5, wifi, GPS
Format:14.4 x 7.1 x 0.8 cm(Xs)
15.8 x 7.7 x 0.8 cm(Mx)
Weight:177 grams (Xs)
208 grams (Ms)
Other:Lightning, no headphone port, esim

With the iPhone X from 2017, Apple celebrated the tenth anniversary of the smartphone, with the best that Apple has to offer. That seemed disappointingly little, innovation was hard to find and in our review, we were therefore not wildly enthusiastic. But that Apple again became the leader in the smartphone market was noticeable to the competition. Who ended up in a match seem to be who can best imitate the iPhone X. Both good choices and bad features are taken over almost slavishly, making 2018. So far the year of smartphones with copied designs, screen cuts, fragile glass cases. Android skins that resemble iOS and the removal of headphones ports without proper arguments.

Take for example the Huawei P20 Pro, Asus Zenfone 5 and the OnePlus 6: I am convinced that these smartphones would have looked very different if the iPhone X had not come out. It does show that the innovation we expect from a new iPhone is not necessary at all. In addition, most innovation is in iOS, which thanks to ARKit bring smart augmented reality functions. For example for games or measuring objects in your environment.

iPhone Xs

It is, therefore, no big surprise that the iPhone Xs (you speak from tens) also has no major innovations. In addition, all S-versions of the iPhone were, in fact, a staged version of their predecessor. Look for example at the iPhone 4S, 5S and 6S, which were almost identical in appearance to their predecessor. With this, we also explained the somewhat clumsy name choice, because you tend to read ‘extra small’. The same applies to the iPhone Xs, in fact: the case of the iPhone X even fits the Xs.

The design has remained the same, with the notch at the top of the impressive 5.8 inch OLED screen. Unfortunately, Apple has retained a glass case, despite the fact that the iPhone X entered the books as the most fragile smartphone ever. Of course, Apple claims that the glass is less fragile and I understand that a metal housing makes wireless charging impossible. But glass is always fragile and iPhone repairs are an Apple dairy cow that you like to avoid. A case is an absolute necessity to protect the iPhone Xs from falls … and uncomfortable fat fingerprints.

The iPhone Xs come in two versions. One version is identical to the iPhone X, but there is also a larger version: the iPhone Xs Max. Here, the name selection is already completely inconvenient. The Max version has a huge 6.5-inch screen. The specifications and camera are also the same as the Xs. But of course, the price is higher, and let’s get rid of that elephant in the room right away: the prices of the iPhone Xs (from 1159 euros) and Xs Max (1259) are in no way justifiable. The Xs Max with 512GB of storage costs even 1659 euros. Maybe you have these prices for it, but it’s definitely not worth the iPhones. For example, Xiaomi even has a marketing stunt: the XS package, where you get a good smartphone, fitness bracelet, smartwatch, laptop and Bluetooth headset for 1100 euros.

Building quality

They can afford these price increases because many iPhone users remain comfortable in the Apple ecosystem. iMessage, iCloud, FaceTime, Apple Music … Apple knows how to keep users with their services like no other. So many iPhone owners do not ask themselves which smartphones to buy the best when orientating for a new smartphone, but which iPhone the best choice. And with the iPhone Xs. You get the best that Apple has to offer. You can see that when you turn on the device, the OLED screen is fantastic: very true to life and bright enough to illuminate an entire room.

Almost the entire front of the iPhone consists of the screen, by keeping the screen edges thin and thanks to the aforementioned screen notch (also called notch). The minimal edge at the bottom of the screen is also worth mentioning. Other manufacturers here have a thicker screen edge, because of the screen connections. Because Apple allows the screen to bend in the housing, the connections can be tucked away and the screen edge is also at the bottom of minimal size. This is not new, the iPhone X already had this, but still, other manufacturers have not been able to copy this. It shows that the build quality is very impressive … and still waterproof. the iPhone X already had it, but other manufacturers have not been able to copy it. It shows that the build quality is very impressive … and still waterproof.

At the bottom of the case, you will find Apple’s Lightning connection from 2012. Unfortunately, Apple does not have the courage to replace this connection with USB-c, as it dared with the Macbooks and possibly eventually forced by the EU to use this universal connection. Apple, the company that has bought billions of Beats Audio and sells Airports, also keeps the headphone port away from the iPhone. Because Apple has now also stopped selling the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, there are no iPhones at all with a 3.5 mm connection. Anyone who connects his headphone is dependent on a dongle, which is no longer in the box.

The sound quality from the speaker of the device itself has improved somewhat and in stereo. But you can not really see any enormous progress.


New is that the iPhone Xs and Xs Max have eSim, a kind of built-in SIM card. In the device itself, you configure with which network you have to connect in. No more hassle with changing tickets.

Unfortunately, this is still future music, because Dutch providers do not support eSim for the time being. But do not worry. The iPhone also still has a slot for your nano sim card.iPhone Xs

Lightning fast

Perhaps the most impressive is how smoothly the iPhone Xs works. IOS 12 and Apple’s own A12 Bionic chipset let the benchmarks shoot through the roof. However, it is the practice that counts and not the benchmark sample. But there is virtually no delay in daily use either. Whether you start a heavy AR-game or switch between different portrait modes in the camera: it’s smooth. I only noticed at the AR-app Measurement that the iPhone needed a little longer to analyze the environment, to recognize surfaces and to calculate their dimensions. Configuring Face ID was also smooth, only here I suddenly noticed that the device was getting hot.

With the battery life of the iPhone Xs, Apple is still lagging behind the competition. Assume the battery lasts for a day, but then it is time to hang it on the charger. Perhaps it is because the battery capacity of the iPhone is still a bit lower than its competitors. The iPhone Xs has a capacity of 2658 mAh, while smartphones with a good battery life have 3500 to 4000 mAh battery capacity. In fact, the iPhone X last year had a higher capacity of 2716 mAh. This also leads to more charging cycles and therefore in the long term also to a battery that wears out faster. It is a pity that Apple still can not get along with this.

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What you are guaranteed with an iPhone is the camera. Although the devices no longer come out on top in our camera tests, the iPhone camera invariably falls on its true-to-life colors. This is, of course, a huge advantage, especially with portrait photographs. Similarly with the dual-cam of the iPhone Xs: photos are impressively good. Especially in daylight, the camera makes beautiful photos, perhaps better than its competitors.

In tricky light situations, the dual-cam of the iPhone Xs seems to make slightly lesser pictures than for example a Galaxy S9 + or Huawei P20 Pro. For example, in the case of strong backlighting, the light “leaks” over the dark areas in the shadow. Which can not be corrected in post-processing? In dark environments, there is hardly any noise or motion blur, which in itself sounds positive. However, the camera simply sees less than the smartphone cameras from Samsung and Huawei. That is not only because the iPhone is more ‘conservative’ in its automatic settings, but also because the aperture is slightly higher than its competitors. As a result, the lens can technically absorb a little less light.iPhone Xs and Xs Max

The dual camera of the iPhone Xs works as you are used to forming the dual cams of the iPhone X and Plus versions of the iPhone. A telephoto lens and wide-angle lens work together, for example by zooming in without loss of quality. You can also make beautiful portrait photos with a depth-of-field effect. You can now also configure the blurring in the background with a slider. Because the iPhone Xs make incredibly lifelike photos, the portraits are very impressive. The stage light portrait modes, which blacken the background, can only be adjusted a bit better. Facial contours and hairs were often brushed away just too quickly.

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The selfie camera is also very true to nature, and although you logically notice a slight difference in quality. With the cameras on the backside, you can also take very nice portrait photos as a do-it-yourselfer.

This selfie camera is also used for Face ID, the iPhone’s face unlocks. This works more smoothly than ever. I also can not manage to lead the garden. In spite of this, I would rather opt for a PIN code or (strong) password for sensitive data and authentication for banking.


The conclusion is probably predictable: despite the fact that there is little innovation in the iPhone Xs (and larger Xs Max) are the best smartphones of the moment.  Apple is the leading example for the other smartphone makers. Therefore you can not recommend the best smartphone again, which is oddly contradictory.

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