Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
ExpertiseContent strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Our full review of the iPhone XR is here. How does it compare to the iPhone XS and Pixel 3? We answer that and much more in our exhaustive review.
You want the best new iPhone for your lifestyle, but which one should you buy? Great question. The
lineup is a tight race, mostly because the three new models are so closely matched, with the price, screen size and a few odd specs to tell one from the other.
We've reviewed the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch XS Max. While both are excellent, with almost identical hardware, the 6.1-inch iPhone XR is different enough to throw a monkey wrench into your buying plans. If you can afford to wait for it.
Here's why. The iPhone XR has a single rear camera instead of two (no 2x optical zoom here) and a lower resolution LCD screen compared to the XS' OLED display. The iPhone XR also lacks the 512GB storage option of the XS models. But before you cross it off the list, note its many comparative advantages: A 6.1-inch screen that's bigger than the standard iPhone XS (and last year's
), and a battery life that
says will outlive the XS and XS Max.
You'll get the same speedy processor in the XR as the other two iPhones, and although there's only one rear camera, you won't sacrifice portrait mode. That's because the XR's single rear camera has new software to make your shots artful (yes, this is the fancy SLR-style "bokeh" camera effect that blurs the backgrounds of headshots). Fun, exclusive color choices like coral and blue cap off the iPhone XR's unique iPhone personality.
Best of all, the iPhone XR starts $250 less than the iPhone XS, making it the most affordable new iPhone of 2018. But here's the rub: While the XS models are available now, the iPhone XR won't arrive until Oct. 26. That's why we strongly advise iPhone shoppers wait until we've reviewed that model before making a final decision-- we want to make sure it's as great a value in real world tests as it sounds like it is on paper.
That said, we know many of you JUST CAN'T WAIT, so we've answered some of the "which should I buy" questions below.
Watch this: iPhone XS: Why it's harder than ever to pick the best iPhone this year
If you want...
The absolute biggest screen: iPhone XS Max
2x optical zoom and no-compromise camera: iPhone XS or XS Max
Most affordable new iPhone: iPhone XR
iPhone with home button and Touch ID :
and iPhone 8 phones are still around, with price cuts
If you feel tempted to save money on the now-discounted iPhone 8 Plus...
...and having a home button on your iPhone isn't important to you, resist! Spend $50 more for iPhone XR, at the very least. You'll get a much faster processor, better photography, longer battery life and fast Face ID.
Watch this: iPhone XS Max: Should you go bigger?
If you have a really old iPhone and want the best budget iPhone option
A factory refurbished iPhone 7 will save you hundreds. Its software is just as secure and up-to-date as the iPhone XS, and this 2016 flagship is still an above-average phone. (Pro tip: Spend up for the 128GB version. You'll thank us later.)
You could also get an iPhone SE, which is downright dainty compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max. Keep in mind that you'll have to buy it through carriers and other retailers. Apple has pulled it -- and the iPhone X -- from the Apple store. It's also got a comparatively restrained price, selling for $350, £249 and AU$699.
If you're not sold on the iPhone and want alternatives
For the budget-minded, the
G6 and Moto E5 families deliver outstanding value for price. And if you want a small phone, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is really the only diminutive way you can go.
We have no fewer than four major global phone launches in October alone. These are all premium handsets with the latest and greatest specs, likely in the camera department. The
especially has the opportunity to make some striking gains over last year's impressive
. It's worth waiting to see if Google's able to repeat its photo magic, especially compared to Apple's iPhone XS camera gains.