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Deals on iPhone X cases, but do they really fit iPhone XS?

Plenty of older iPhone X cases are being discounted. Most should fit the new iPhone XS just fine.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
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Swedish startup 15:21's iPhone X Cork Case on an iPhone XS. The camera isn't dead center in the camera hole, but the case fits fine.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're shopping around for a new case for your iPhone XS, you may have noticed that some legacy cases for the older iPhone X are now discounted online. With the two phones being nearly identical in design, why not buy one of those instead of paying full price for an officially labeled "iPhone XS" case?

Indeed, that's mostly a safe option with a few small caveats.

To be clear, both the iPhone X and iPhone XS have the same height, width and depth, according to Apple's website. However, the camera bump on the back of the XS is a bit different: I can't tell if it's fractionally larger or slightly relocated from the position on the iPhone X. But whatever the change, the difference is a fraction of a millimeter.

Best iPhone XS and XS Max cases

See all photos

As long as the iPhone X case in question leaves a little extra room around its camera hole, the case will fit the iPhone XS just fine -- just maybe not absolutely perfectly. The iPhone XS camera won't be dead center in the middle of the case's camera hole. That might irritate those of us looking for perfection, but it's such a small difference most people won't notice.

When I asked the folks from Otterbox about how compatible their iPhone X cases were with the iPhone XS, they had this to say:

Otterbox's iPhone X cases are compatible with iPhone XS and iPhone XS cases are compatible with iPhone X. We don't recommend using Pursuit Series for iPhone X on iPhone XS because of the new features of the iPhone XS case enhanced the case overall. 

Also, Statement Series and Traction Series are not backwards compatible, the form factor is slightly different and those cases don't fit an iPhone X as seamlessly as an iPhone XS.

On the other hand, the folks from Speck were quick to tell me their iPhone X cases worked just fine with the iPhone XS because its designers always leave a little extra room around the camera hole to account for potential slight differences in the iPhone's camera dimensions and placement. Apple has a history of slightly changing the dimensions and placement of the camera when moving to an "S" model.

The long and short of it: Most standard iPhone X cases will fit the iPhone XS without a problem. We tried a handful we had around the office, and they all fit the XS nicely. But you should probably steer clear of certain "tough" cases that are more rigid and built to fit the iPhone X "seamlessly." That's my two cents anyway.

Here's a look at a few older iPhone X cases that are on sale at Amazon . Some of them say they are compatible with both the iPhone X and iPhone XS, but they were designed for the iPhone X.

And, obviously, if you're getting an iPhone XS Max or the iPhone XR (coming in October), you'll need new cases for each, since they have totally new screen sizes.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a great case for the XS or the XS Max, we have plenty of great suggestions.

Read: Best iPhone XS and XS Max cases

Watch this: Did the iPhone XS survive our drop tests?

Editors' note: This story was originally posted on Sept. 13 and entitled "Will my iPhone XS fit in a iPhone X case? Yes!" We have updated the story and changed the headline to reflect the more nuanced and detailed story, which includes hands-on testing and comments from case manufacturers.