Yesterday marked the official launch date for iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, an upgrade of last year's groundbreaking iPhone X edition. Although the iPhone XS is an "S" model year upgrade, which generally means more improvements than radical new changes, there is still much to digest from a functional perspective.
Most of this is the release this year with the biggest iPhone screen that was developed – 6.5 inch iPhone XS Max. See our practical video as we review some of my favorite iPhone XS features.
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Unlike Plus model phones lately, which featured better cameras, apart from number of pixels (same 458 PPI) and body / battery size, both iPhone XS models are virtually identical. It's a nice thing for those who want to have the smaller 5.8-inch iPhone XS, but do not want to sacrifice the camera's performance.
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This year's iPhone XS Max marks the debut to the biggest screen in the iPhone story. Thanks to the edge-to-edge design, the iPhone XS Max can handle a massive 6.5-inch display on a phone that is slightly less than an iPhone 8 Plus in width and length.
 iPhone XS and XS Max get access to three new Live wallpapers that help highlight the device's Super Retina HD display.
Last year, iPhone X has given us space Gray and Silver Stainless Steel Ribbon around the outer edge of the phone. With this year's iPhone XS models, Apple has cast a new gold finish in the mix and it really stands out.
The gold band on the iPhone XS is not pink gold, and it's not exactly smooth gold, but it's somewhere in between.
I've never been a fan of gold colors on technical devices because they tend to look ridiculous, but the stainless steel gold ribbon is in contrast to the black bezel on the iPhone XS just works.
The back of the phone is an enhanced version of the milky gold color that we saw on the iPhone 8 Plus, which does a great job of supplementing stainless steel strips.
Like last year's iPhone X, the iPhone XS and XS Max have glass on both the front and back of the phone. This means that there is a greater chance of broken glass if the unit is lost. To help with this problem, Apple has employed the use of glass as it claims is the strongest glass anyhow appears in a smartphone.
The iPhone XS f / 1.8 wide-angle camera has a 32% larger sensor. Because it retains the same amount of megapixels (12) as its predecessor, this results in pixels that are physically larger, making them considerably more light-friendly. More light corresponds to better low slides and better general images that require less processing.
The enhanced True Tone Flash on iPhone XS comes with a new advanced flicker detection system. Pictures taken with the flash appeared look more natural to me.
The front-facing TrueDepth camera also gets an upgrade and now has a 7-megapixel sensor twice as fast as its predecessor. For the first time on an iPhone, the camera in front of the camera can shoot 60 frames per second of 1080p video.
The updated TrueDepth camera will work hand in hand with other technologies to produce better selfies, faster FaceID authentication and better animoji performance.
Thanks to the improved image signal processor in the iPhone XS, Apple says it can take the concept of HDR photography to the next level. Branded Smart HDR, this computing technology uses a 4-frame buffer to capture images with zero camera layers. It is also catching secondary interframes shot at different exposure levels to highlight highlight details and shadow details.
All these frames are analyzed by plane and the best parts of each frame are merged together to create a single composite image. All of this is thanks to the enhanced image signal processor that works with the upgraded A12 engine, allowing iPhone XS to perform up to 1 trillion per image.
When editing portrait mode photos in the Photos app on iPhone XS, you'll see a new depth slider at the bottom of the interface.
This slider lets you dynamically adjust the depth from f / 1.4 to f / 16 so you can control background sharpness, or bokeh, in the mail. This is not the first time we have seen such a feature on the iPhone, as some third party camera applications already have similar features built-in. However, it's the first time we've seen such a feature appear naturally in Apple's own Photos app.
Thanks to the four microphones embedded in iPhone XS, users can now record videos with stereo audio. This means that the stereo speakers on your device can now play stereo movies shot on the iPhone XS itself.
When shooting video at 30fps, the iPhone XS can provide extended dynamic range to help in low light conditions. If you dare settings → Camera → Record Video, find a new A uto Low Light FPS setting. This setting will drop the frame rate to 24 FPS in the air when the camera faces low light conditions.
I was skeptical when it was revealed that Face ID would replace Touch ID on iPhone. Nevertheless, after using Face ID over the past year, I would not go back.
Face ID has not been perfect, though. It is still slower than Touch ID in many cases, and it still has problems with authentication in certain situations (for example, when you go to bed). With iPhone XS, Apple has improved Face ID authentication with what's called Advanced FaceID. The new A12 system on a chip is the industry's first 7 nanometer chip, and as its predecessor, the CPU has six cores – two performance cores and four low power cores. Apple claims that performance cores are up to 15 percent faster, while efficiency cores are up to 50 percent lower in power.
Apple-designed GPU has four kernels and is up to 50% faster than the GPU found on the A11.
These specifications are good, but do not destroy the previous SoC as it is usually the trend. The real difference with the A12 has to do with more than just raw speed, such as the improved neural engine.
A11 contained a 2-core Neural Engine, while the A12 has a huge 8-core design dedicated to machine learning. The A12 Bionic can thus handle 5 trillion operations per second.
Other remarkable features are the improved Image Signal Processor (ISP) processor that works with the iPhone XS cameras. There is also an improved storage device that can record twice as much internal storage as before.
iPhone XS marks the first time we've seen 4 GB of RAM in an iPhone. The previous generation iPhone, iPhone X, comes with 3GB of memory.
iPhone XS is also the first iPhone available with 512GB of internal storage. This is thanks to the previously mentioned improved storage device found on the A12 SoC.
iPhone XS is the first iPhone to get an IP68 rating that not only provides improved dust resistance, but also means that the phone can be immersed in liquid up to the maximum depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes .
Another first for iPhone is the inclusion of an eSIM, a feature that appeared in iPads for some time now, but makes its debut on phone hardware with iPhone XS. ESIM, or electronic SIM, allows users to connect to wireless networks without physical SIM.
On iPhone XS, in addition to standard physical nano SIM, eSIM will allow users to authenticate with two mobile connections simultaneously. For users with separate business and personal phone lines, it means you can have both without having to carry two phones.
The eSIM functionality will require future iOS update and carrier support after it is launched. Once done, we'll be back with a follow-up to discuss how to configure multiple lines on iPhone XS.
One of the radar features of the iPhone XS and XS Max is enhanced mobile support. New Gigabit Class LTE with 4 × 4 MIMO is given iPhone for the first time. It is also the first iPhone with support for Band 71, the range that will help users in rural areas with the T-Mobile LTE.
According to Daring Fireballs John Gruber, the iPhone XS and XS Max support faster wireless charging thanks to a new tighter coil design. This construction ensures better contact with the wireless charger used, resulting in slightly better charging speeds. In other words, there is no true technological improvement found with wireless charging in Apple's latest devices. It's more of an improvement than previous hardware.
iPhone XS gives 30 minutes more battery life than iPhone X. The iPhone XS Max, with the largest battery ever shown in an iPhone, gives up to one and a half hours of battery life.
Although the iPhone XS may seem like an incremental upgrade on paper, it's a major update than it can appear on the surface. In particular, the camera gets a significant upgrade for both pictures and video. Smart HDR combined with the wider wide-angle sensor gives immediate noticeable improvements in images and videos.
Progressively, the upgrade is not so drastic from a purely reference point, but enlarged reality and machine learning enthusiasts will be pleased with the new neural capability of the iPhone XS. Other areas, such as camera, storage and battery life.
However, the biggest upgrade is also the most obvious upgrade. The IPhone XS Max screen is simply big and anyone who prefers big phones will love how the 6.5 inch screen is packed in such a tight space.
What's your favorite new feature to grace iPhone XS? Sounds in the comments below.