So it is finally upon us. Apple has announced its latest series of iPhones for the global audience and to no one’s surprise buying one is going to cost you a kidney and perhaps even a lung. The lowest 64 GB variant of the iPhone XS is priced at Rs 99,900 while the iPhone XS Max 64 GB variant is priced at Rs 1,09,900. The “affordable” iPhone XR, which was supposedly going to be for the masses, has been priced starting at Rs 76,900.
Let’s talk about Apple’s flagship devices: iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. So the devices we can compare with these new iPhones in terms of price are…. Oh that’s right, there is no phone to compare to in that price range. The ‘XS’-sive pricing strategy means that the only devices that can be compared with these two phones are these two phones. However, for the sake of inclusion, I’ll take the iPhone XR, Galaxy Note 9, and the iPhone 8 Plus as phones whose prices come close to the iPhone XS.
I guess I’ll have to throw in the iPhone X as well, which for the record could very well be disbanded as Apple did not mention the device while showing price drops in older iPhone variants. So what exactly is new in the iPhone XS and XS Max? Firstly, apart from the screen size and battery capacity, the two phones are similar. We have the new A12 Bionic SoC, which is based on the 7 nm manufacturing process. This puts it in direct competition with the Kirin 980 SoC and most likely with the upcoming Snapdragon 855 SoC.
The camera doesn’t see a huge bump as its practically the same sensors used in the iPhone X, except that the telephoto lens has a slightly bigger aperture and the wide-angle lens has larger pixels. There’s something called smart HDR and some new improvements to the phone’s portrait mode shots. The iPhones also have dual-SIM support (welcome to 2014 Apple) wherein one SIM is a regular SIM card and the other is an eSIM, which is found in the cellular version of Apple Watch.
Hardware wise, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max come with 4 GB of RAM and variety of storage options such as 64 GB, 256 GB and a mammoth 512 GB. The last variant by the way for the iPhone XS Max is reportedly going to cost Rs 1,39,900. You can buy two MacBook Airs at that price.
The iPhone XR was supposed to be the chosen one. The one that was for everyone. Turns out, and I think we saw it coming as well, that the price tag is slightly below Rs 80,000. Not exactly affordable in my opinion. While it is true that iPhone XR does offer the same internals as the iPhone XS, there are a couple of things that are missing. Most notably the display on the XR is LCD instead of OLED. There’s no 3D touch. There’s a single lens camera on the back instead of dual-lens. Rating on the XR is IP67 as compared to the IP68 on the XS. Lastly, the screen has an HD+ resolution instead of the FHD that is present in the iPhone XS.
Here’s a list of the specs of the iPhone XS and all the competing devices. I haven’t included the iPhone XS Max because its just an iPhone XS with a bigger display.
|Smartphone||iPhone XS||iPhone XR||Galaxy Note 9||iPhone X||iPhone 8 Plus|
|Display Size (inch)||5.8||6.1||6.4||5.8||5.5|
|Resolution (pixels)||1125 x 2436||828 x 1792||1440 x 2960||1125 x 2436||1080 x 1920|
|Pixel Density (PPI)||458||326||516||402||401|
|Display Type||AMOLED||LCD||Super AMOLED||AMOLED||LCD|
|Dimensions(mm)||143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7||150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3||161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8||143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7||158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5|
|SIM Type||Nano-SIM + eSIM||Nano-SIM + eSIM||Nano-SIM||Nano-SIM||Nano-SIM|
|Connectivity Types||GSM / HSPA / LTE/ VoLTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE/ VoLTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE/ VoLTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE/ VoLTE||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE / VoLTE|
|Processor||A12 Bionic||A12 Bionic||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810||A11 Bionic||A11 Bionic|
|CPU Clock Speed (GHz)||TBC||TBC||4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385 Silver / 4×2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55||TBC||TBC|
|GPU||Apple GPU||Apple GPU||Adreno 630, Mali-G72||Apple GPU||Apple GPU|
|RAM||4 GB||4 GB||6,8 GB||3 GB||3 GB|
|On-Board Memory||64, 256, 512 GB||64, 128, 256 GB||128, 512 GB||64 GB, 256 GB||64 GB, 256 GB|
|Expandable Memory||No||No||Yes, up to 512 GB||No||No|
|Sensors||Face ID, Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer||Face ID, Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer||Iris scanner, fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2||Face ID, Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer||Fingerprint (front-mounted), Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer|
|Primary Camera||12MP f/1.8; 12 MP f/2.4||12MP f/1.8||12 MP f/1.5-2.4;12 MP f/2.4,||12 MP, f/1.8, 12 MP f/2.8||12 MP, f/1.8, 12 MP f/2.8|
|Optical Image Stabilisation||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Camera Array||Dual Camera||Single Camera||Dual Camera||Dual Camera||Dual Camera|
|Autofocus System||Phase detection autofocus||Phase detection autofocus||Phase detection autofocus||Phase detection autofocus||Phase detection autofocus|
|Secondary Camera||7 MP f/2.2||7 MP f/2.2||8MP f/1.7||7 MP f/2.2||7 MP f/2.2|
|Video Capture||[email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]||[email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]||[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]||[email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]||[email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]|
|OS Version||iOS 12||iOS 12||Android 8.1 Oreo||iOS 11||iOS 11|
|AI (Smart Assistant)||Siri||Siri||Bixby||Siri||Siri|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual, band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual, band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual, band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Hotspot|
|Bluetooth||v5.0, A2DP||v5.0, A2DP||v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX||v5.0.A2DP||v5.0, A2DP|
|Fingerprint Scanner||No||No||Yes, rear||No||Yes|
|3.5 mm jack||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|USB Type||Lightning Port||Lightning Port||Type-C 1.0 reversible connector||Lightning Port||Lightning Port|
|USB Standard||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 3.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|Colours||Space Gray, Silver, Gold||Black, Red, Yellow, Blue, Coral||Metallic copper, Lavender Purple, Ocean Blue, Midnight Black||Space Gray, Silver||Gold, Space Gray, Silver, Red|
|Prices in India||Starting at Rs 99,990||Starting at Rs 76,900||Starting at Rs 67,900||Starting at Rs 90,000||Starting Rs 70,500|
Looking at the specs the conclusion can drawn out as follows.
In terms of the display, the iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone 8 Plus, all sport FHD displays. The iPhone XR has an HD display (for Rs 80,000) and the Note 9 has a QHD display. I don’t know if you are a fan of the notch or thick clunky bezels on smartphones but I certainly am not. The Note 9’s curved Super AMOLED display and higher resolution wins the crown here going by the specifications on paper. But to be fair, Apple does put in one heck of display in its iPhones (even though the OLED display panel is supplied by Samsung), so our full review will tell you if the display is the best out there.
I do understand that the A12 Bionic chipset has just been announced but Apple claims it is supposedly 15 percent faster than the A11 chipset. The A11 was already the fastest mobile computing platform on the planet as benchmarks showed it absolutely skewering the competing Snapdragon 845 and Kirin 970 chipsets. Based on this information I would have to give the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR the crown in the performance department.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus were among the best camera phones of last year. However, recent scores on camera benchmarking website DxOMark has shown that the Note 9 camera hitting triple digit scores. So how good a picture will the iPhone XS take ? Looking at the specs, I see that the XS has more or less the same camera as the iPhone X last year, save for a slightly wider aperture and more pixels. For the moment we shall be giving the crown to the Note 9 for the variable aperture mechanism and slightly higher Pixel count. However, a full review will reveal if the iPhone XS is the next best camera smartphone. Remember that the Pixel 3 is also on the horizon.
While the iPhone XS does come ahead in certain aspects such as performance, build quality (Apple claims that they have used a Surgical-grade stainless steel for the frame) and the ability to record as well as playback stereo sound, the pricing would be a big factor. Knowing that there are those who invested heavily in the Apple ecosystem, we are quite sure that customers will be buying even the insanely expensive iPhone XS Max 512 GB variant. The Note 9 in the same storage configuration will cost you a third of the iPhone XS Max’s price. The question as always will be, is the ginormous price tag worth it?