Apple's "middle" iPhone anchors a trio of premium devices for 2018.
The iPhone X is so last year. Apple's all about the iPhone XS now. The 5.8-inch phone sits right in the middle of a trio of new iPhones that includes the relatively cheaper iPhone XR on one side and the massive, pricier iPhone XS Max on the other.
This is the direct descendant of last year's iPhone X, with a notched OLED screen, Face ID instead of a fingerprint reader to unlock the phone and wireless charging. An every-other-year "S" update, the XS is an iterative bump over the iPhone X. This isn't about excitement, it's about everyday excellence.
The iPhone XS gets a faster, more powerful A12 Bionic processor, a larger battery (Apple says it lasts 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X) and better water resistance: IP68, which means you can dunk it in up to 2 meters of water, or 6.5 feet, for up to 30 minutes. There's support for wireless charging, of course, and a newfound ability to support two phones numbers (dual SIM) through an electronic SIM or e-SIM. That'll be available later this fall, and it's possible not every carrier will accept it.
New photo enhancements come to the dual 12-megapixel cameras, including two new portrait lighting effects and the ability to adjust the amount of blur on a Bokeh photo you take with portrait mode. Apple welcomes a new storage option for the XS and XS Max: You get your choice of 64GB, 256GB or 512GB models.
Read: iPhone X specs vs. iPhone XS, XS Max, XR: What's new and better
Like the iPhone X of 2017, the XS starts at $999. Preorders start on Friday, and the phone ships on Sept. 21.
Since Apple pulled the plug on the iPhone X on its online store, the iPhone XS (which is pronounce ten-S) is in a unique position. The 5.8-inch phone is pricey, but not as expensive as the iPhone XS Max, nor as large. It's also got one or two more features than the iPhone XR, a colorful new phone that promises to breathe some life -- and a lower starting price -- into the iPhone franchise. That phone won't arrive until Oct. 26, so if you can wait until we've reviewed them all, you'll have more options to choose from.
The iPhone XS has some tough competition. There's the Galaxy Note 9 in stores, which also sells for $1,000 a pop, has a 512GB option and includes a stylus with some powerful writing skills. Google's Pixel 3 phones are also around the bend on Oct. 9, while Huawei will announce its Mate 20 on Oct. 16. Meanwhile, OnePlus' 6T is also destined for store shelves in October, CNET was the first to report, and should come in at about half the price of the iPhone XS.
Buyers will also weigh the cost of the iPhone XS against the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well as the iPhone 7, both of which will also upgrade to iOS 12 software on Sept 17. For savvy shoppers, holiday bundles and discounts with retailers and carriers may help make up your mind for you.
|iPhone XS||iPhone XS Max||iPhone XR|
|Display size, resolution||5.8-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,436x1,125 pixels||6.5-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,688x1,242 pixels||6.1-inch LCD Retina Display; 1,792x828 pixels|
|Pixel density||458 ppi||458 ppi||326ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.7x2.8x0.3 in||6.2x3.0x.3 in||5.9x3.0x0.33 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||143.6x70.9x7.7 mm||157.5x77.4x7.7 mm||150.9x75.7x8.3 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.24 oz; 177g||7.3oz; 208g||6.8oz; 194g|
|Mobile software||iOS 12||iOS 12||iOS 12|
|Camera||Dual 12-megapixel||Dual 12-megapixel||Single 12-megapixel|
|Front-facing camera||7-megapixel with Face ID||7-megapixel with Face ID||7-megapixel with Face ID|
|Processor||Apple A12 Bionic||Apple A12 Bionic||Apple A12 Bionic|
|Storage||64GB, 256GB, 512GB||64GB, 256GB, 512GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB|
|Battery||N/A, but Apple claims it will last 30 min longer than iPhone X||N/A, but Apple claims it will last 90 min longer than iPhone X||N/A, but Apple claims it will last 90 min longer than iPhone 8 Plus|
|Fingerprint sensor||None (Face ID)||None (Face ID)||None (Face ID)|
|Special features||Water-resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging; Face ID, Animoji||Water-resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging; Face ID, Animoji||Water-resistant: IP67, dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging; Face ID, Animoji|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB)||$1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB)||$749 (64GB), $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB)|
|Price (GBP)||£999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB), £1,349 (512GB)||$1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB)||£749 (64GB), £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB)|
|Price (AUD)||AU$1,629 (64GB), AU$1,879 (256GB), AU$2,199 (512GB)||AU$1,799 (64GB), AU$2,049 (256GB), AU$2,369 (512GB)||AU$1,229 (64GB), AU$1,299 (128GB), AU$1,479 (256GB)|