Review: iPhone XS - My First iPhone Experience

Apple of the Year

As I have said before, I have never used an iPhone before this. I have been a smartphone user since around 2010, but never owned an iPhone. Android was the name of the game, and as a nerdy kid I thought that was the right route for me. This year, I have decided to try the other side, to see if the grass is greener, or if I can recommend it. I bought an iPhone XS, and I have been using it for a month.

Introduction

Apple released an incremental update this year. It has been widely bashed for looking just like the iPhone X that came before. But strange roman numerals aside, is that a bad thing? The news lie in internals and the A12 Bionic chip powering the newest iOS flagships is in it self a technical marvel. Do you need a 7nm processor chip or is it just another gimmick?

Recently Apple also released the iPhone XR which is powered by the same chip and larger, but with a less impressive screen and just the one rear camera. It also has 1 GB less RAM if you’re keeping count (the XS comes with 4GB). This is seen as a pretty good deal in the US and in other markets as it is also significantly cheaper. In Sweden however, it is almost priced equally to last years iPhone X and in my eyes there are enough trade-offs to not make me want it. The XS is however priced significantly more than the X of 2017 making us, the Scandinavians, question what is going on.

I have used the iPhone XS (with 256 GB) for a month as my first iPhone ever. Here’s my full, in-depth review.

Index

Design and Build Quality

Apple was known for their smartphone design for many years being ahead of the curve. After several generations of similar designs the iPhone X was a big change. The iPhone XS builds on that design with little difference, that is not necessarily a bad thing however and the XS is both good looking and fits well in the hand.

The back is made of glass and with the white and silver model that I have used I am impressed as to how deep the white color looks. The sides, or frame, is made of stainless steel giving the phone a premium look and feel.
Simply put the phone feels premium and almost like jewelry in this color, and for once I feel like black (or space gray) is less beautiful. A lot of people made fun of the bottom frame for being asymmetrical with the extra antenna band, but what I’d like to comment on is the camera hump. I like the thickness of the iPhone a lot, and since I always use a case on it (there goes the design) it’s not a huge problem. But if you go naked, the phone has an ability to wobble on a table. Thankfully, the flat nature of this design makes it less of a problem than it would have been if Apple used the round back design like so many manufacturers do. I for one prefer my phones to be less curved on the front and back alike.

Like I said in my unboxing I picked the standard sized XS for two reasons:

  1. I like the one-hand experience that it brings.

  2. Apple don’t have a split-screen mode and I don’t feel like the phone version of iOS is made for large displays.

Unfortunately with the frames made of stainless steel it also scratches easily and compared to Steve Jobs I do not like the look of scratches on any phone. In my usage, just using the case scratched the volume buttons and the power button, as well as the corners. And no, I don’t take the phone in and out of the case very often. Take it or leave it, it is hard to retain the XS new shiny look. And even if I did take the phone in and out more than once a week, I think the price should enable this.

Polishing the Stainless Steel

With naked stainless steel however comes the ability to apply polish. Given the opportunity to not use a case and be guaranteed a scratched glass panel, or using a case and minorly scratching the frame I chose the latter. Well at the time I didn’t think this would happen on a device priced over $1000, but it did.

I will post a quick segment on this when my polishing kit arrives from Amazon. It’s almost exciting to see it it lives up to the hype. I really do hope so.

Unfortunately the black and gold color variants use a sort of metal paint, and if that chips there is no fix as of yet. So go with the silver model if you want to be able to “fix it”.

Buttons

The buttons on the iPhone XS are pleasingly positioned. The power button sits on the right side and is longer than usual, this is pretty great for accessibility. The volume rocker is on the opposite side and above it is the mute switch. I love the mute switch. Not that I use it often as I leave my phone on silent and get notifications on my watch, but the fact that it is there lets the volume rocker default to media volume. I am a fan of this implementation.

The buttons are also satisfyingly clicky and also made of stainless steel.
Hence my scratches, again.

Display

The display technology is Amoled, and a very high quality one at that. The resolution is not Quad HD, nor Full HD, but somewhere in between at 2436x1125. While a lot of people look at Apple with content for playing with resolutions you’d be hard crossed to actually say that the display is lacking. On the contrary it is really good.

Viewing-angles are also good, with little to no color shifting and the brightness is great compared to most other phones I have tested. Sunlight readability have never been an issue on this device.

Apple launched the notch, and it remains the same in this generation. I have never minded the notch on Android phones and I do not mind it here. The funny thing is however that while the bezels are uniform and symmetrical in size (except for the notch), they are not the thinnest bezels around. Still, the front design is great in my eyes. With the symmetrical look Apple also managed to bend the bottom bezel, or chin, under itself allowing for the smallest one yet. In other words the iPhone doesn’t have that chin that Android users despise.

Strangely though, Apple still lets the notch cut into video when watching in fullscreen. Firstly, I don’t get why anyone would want to zoom in on a 16:9 video to begin with, but that’s just me. But the fact that We, instead of getting some extra bezels, get a (notch) cut into the content is weird. Android manufacturers seem to have gotten this right by blackening the status bar instead, but of course they have the chin so it makes more sense.

True Tone

While this is really a software feature I still think it fits best here. True Tone is a feature that let’s the display alter the white balance and brightness based on ambient lighting to always present a pleasant experience. Some think it overdoes the effect leading to a warm and unrealistic color and therefor turns it off. I’ve had True Tone on since I first got the phone, which always leads me to perceive the display as too cold whenever I turn it off. So True Tone is always on on my iPhone XS and I like it.

Speakers

HTC was always on top when it came to smartphone speakers, back in 2014. Back then each manufacturers had something they did better than the rest. Like Sony with the water-resistance or Samsung with Amoled panels. Today though, paying $1000 you expect your phone to come with everything - including good speakers. Well I am happy to say that the iPhone XS does not disappoint. The speakers are loud and they have some depth and bass to them.

Apple did like many other have done and implemented a stereo speaker setup utilizing the bottom-firing speaker as well as the earpiece. Unlike on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s, the earpiece delivers a rich sound, and when muffling the bottom one it still does a good job on it’s own.

Now I don’t care as much for smartphone speakers as others seem to do, but when watching Youtube I have appreciated the iPhone XS without headphones.

Software - iOS for Noobs

I tend to focus a lot on software and user interfaces. I mean, really a lot. This is because to me this is what we spend the most time with. This is one of the pillars of a great smartphone for me. Therefor it also needs to be smooth, intuitive to use, and free of bugs. Now software is never free of bugs, but the question is how much they impact the users experience.

I came into iOS without really knowing what to expect. I thought there would be setbacks, things that bothered me, and a learning curve that would take some time.
In my actual usage non of these pre-configured fears actually revealed themselves. Instead, I am walking away with a pleasant experience.

iOS just works. A lot of reviewers that have used both Android and iOS tell stories about iOS playing catch-up with Android for features and lacking in stability because of it. I can’t comment on the past, but in the present the user interface is great and stable.

There, I said it. I can actually imagine stuff that I will miss when I go back to Android. The lack of an app-drawer is the first thing people will compare. I used to love playing around with my home screen in Android, trying third party widgets and organizing pages to be effective, but the truth is that with an app-drawer I tend to just use that. On Android my home screen became less and less exciting until I just had one page with a few apps, the At a Glance widget from Google and nothing else. Aiming for simplicity with the few things I might need to get to where I am going.

In iOS I have done pretty much the same thing. On the first page I put my most frequented apps like banking, Google stuff, and entertainment in folders up top and on the second page I have other apps that are easily accessible when needed and folders to clean it up.

The homescreen pretty much consists of four parts: the Pages, the Widget Center, App shortcuts, and Folders. Every icon or folder allows you to hard press to see see actions or shortcuts. If the app has a widget this will also be visible here which is great. Looking at pictures like this doesn’t quite do the interface justice though as the animations make up a lot of the experience. Like how the folder opens buttery smooth and the [folder’s] name tones in afterwards in a calm speed. The folders are on the larger side, and without reason really. I do not mind them, but I remember how well I thought OnePlus re-designed their folder to be minimalistic. Sometimes, change is good.
There are a lot of features that are alike in iOS and different versions of Android too, like the widget center giving inspiration to OnePlus’ Shelf and the slide down to search feature that several Android manufacturers (like Huawei) also use. But the animations. The search feature blurs the homescreen in the same pace as you slide your finger until reaching the bottom, then the keyboard pops up with no signs of slowing down. The way apps close into their own icon when closed, or when dismissing the recent apps view the one you are currently watching does this instead. With so much feeling well thought out and pleasant, it is strange that some parts feel less planned and more like someone said “let’s just leave it like it is”.

The notification dots work pretty much just like on Android, but if a folder has an icon with a notification you can 3D touch it to see which app the dot is for and quickly open it. I didn’t notice this until I had used it for over two weeks. I guess that is the thing, that in between all the simplicity there are very little help in the way of tutorials. The phone tried to give me tips at first, but I generally found it to be the same tip over and over again. So I discovered new things when using the phone which allows for simplicity in navigation.

Moving along to the Lockscreen/Notifications Center and Control Center this is probably were I had to adapt the most. The lockscreen and Notification Center is as far as I can see the exact same thing. So as I said in my week 1 entry, you slide the lockscreen down from the left side of the notch. This seemed clumsy at first, but actually opens up to being very functional. On the lockscreen you have shortcuts for the flashlight and camera in the form of 3D touch buttons (for camera you can also swipe from the right). Swiping in from the left gives you the same widget center as found on the homescreen which feels very accessible. To view old notifications you swipe up from the middle and to go back to your current app you just swipe up from the bottom.
Some users are bothered by the fact that the lockscreen only shows new notifications at first, but I find this pretty liberating. I never liked a cluttered list of notifications anyway.

With so much working in tandem to feel smooth, I’m surprised that Apple haven’t taken the chance to utilize the Amoled panel for some kind of Ambient display though. I remember the OnePlus 6’s Ambient display fondly, and also the way it quickly displayed icon indicated when the alert-slider was moved (again, using the Amoled panel and taking advantage those turned off pixels).

There are also some design elements that shows ageing, like the volume-indicator when using the buttons. It simply takes up to much space, especially when you look at how Google have been working to minimize it as much as possible. Taking up that much space you’d think they’d give it the ability to do more, like switch output from the iPhone to a pair of connected headphones. But no, it just indicates if the sound is on and at what level. Fun fact, I also noticed that when watching a Youtube video I got both the standard slider and a small one on the top of the display. Like this:

If you haven’t, check out Unbox Therapy for amusing and informational Tech videos and reviews.

Also, I might be stupid, but copying text has a tendency to be annoying. Copying from the url-bar in browsers. I hold to select, which makes the entire url to select, but if I touch it hoping the option to copy will show it instead deselects the text- Hold again and I get to pick select all followed by copy. It’s not hard, but tedious and I don’t understand why it’s the case.

Performance

I have on several occasions said that the phone is smooth. But speaking of performance there’s more to it right? Well, with the A 12 Bionic System on a Chip (SoC) made by Apple was the first 7 nm chip in a released phone. Simply put it’s smaller and more efficient than previous releases. It’s also faster, but we’re getting to the point where every flagship processor is fast.

If you haven’t, check out INSIDE by Playhead Studios.

While the UI is fast, with fluent animations and no signs of slowing down performance is also really good in gaming. I played a game of PUBG with no frame drops or issues what so ever. Also, I don’t think battery suffered a lot from 30 minutes of shooting others.
Speaking of gaming, I don’t play a lot of mobile games. But when I have the notch has been a non-issue.

Simply put, and this should come as no surprise: Performance is great across the board.

Screen Time

I covered my thoughts on this feature quite extensively on my Week 2 Journal entry.

Basically, Screen Time is ment to aid the user in monitoring smartphone usage and help limit it to combat smartphone-addiction. I use my phone a lot, but not because I’m addicted. It’s a tool, a way to communicate, keep up with interests, and a way to entertain when I’m not doing anything. My phone is more useful to me than any computer when it comes to every-day stuff, and it’s always with me.

Screen Time lets the user set time limits for certain apps, so if you play PUBG several hours a day, the phone will remind you to stop. It’s just too easy to turn off the warning.
For parents it’s also a way to keep track of the children’s, or teenagers, usage and also limit this. I don’t have kids so I haven’t been able to try it.

Digital Wellbeing is important, but I do not find this method as able to aid me in putting my phone down. I guess you’d have to believe in it and really want to change. I don’t have a problem.

Downtime is ment to be scheduled for stopping notifications and interruptions, either during work hours or maybe in the evening. During downtime you only have access to app you’ve selected and only favorite contacts can call you.

iMessage - a Quick Mention

Now, a lot of people are talking about iMessage like it’s the holy grail of smartphones. I guess if you have had iPhones for a long time, and your friends all use iPhones, it’s a great thing. Truth is though, I think Googles SMS app have gotten about as good, and I might be biased.

I don’t use the SMS app and most people I know don’t either. I’m pretty much stuck with the Facebook Messenger, and that’s fine by me. But this also means that I won’t say stuff like it’s iMessage that makes me use an iPhone. Because I do not use it. I tried sending one of those Anemojis to my brothers Android phone and he replied with the subtle short “WTF”, as to tell me he received it and that he was chocked by the silliness.

Now, don’t get me wrong it’s a good messaging app, and I can see it’s value. But I think the phone can stand on it’s own, without a certain messaging app holding it up.

Homekit, Siri, and Smart Home Integration

As a long-time Android user I find it in the right place to also mention Homekit and Siri from a user-perspective. This is the same on all iPhones. Opposite to a lot of Android manufacturers that implemented full screen gestures, Apple thought about Siri activation while doing so. While previously using the home button, the company didn’t want to add more buttons while removing another. Instead the long power button doubles as a Siri button when long pressed. Some people are annoyed with this as a long press generally have been used for powering off the phone, or rebooting. To access this screen you now need to hold the power button as well as the volume up/down button. For me, this is a good enough trade-off. I seldom find myself wanting to actually power the phone off.

I have been a fan of the Google Assistant since it was released. Siri is however older, which would imply wiser. Well, as you probably know every single test out there points to the opposite. Siri cannot tell you as much as the power behind Google Search, and possibly never will. While I have been known to question why Apple haven’t done more with Siri since the release, I have also found some advantages over the Assistant. Firstly, and this is something Google is closing in on, is language support. Siri have been able to speak in Scandinavian languages for quite some time. Google just released this on the Assistant but it’s been pretty half-baked so far and keeps loosing the ability to control devices and so forth. Siri is also very quick to reply when asked to turn on or off lights. This is mostly due to Homekit not functioning over the cloud, but primarily over the local Wi-Fi network. It is quick, but it doesn't work when I’m not at home. Pros and Cons.

The Home app is also more potent than The Google Home app when it comes to controlling smart lights. In the app you can change the brightness, color temperature, and color. In Google Home you can only turn on/off lights and set the brightness.
Of course Google supports a long list of third-party devices, Apple is more restrictive in this regard and the need for other solutions such as Homebridge or Home Assistant is larger. But once connected it works very well. For perspective, Apple advertises that over 50 manufacturers have Homekit-enabled devices while Google says it has over 1000 manufacturers on the list.

Both also have their own take on routines or shortcuts. Apple bought the previously third-party Shortcuts app which enables both phone-shortcuts as well as Siri/Homekit-shortcuts. So you can set up actions and events with a pretty long list of functionality.
Google released Routines not to long ago but with limiting functionality, and it is not available in most languages. There is no way to set phone-related shortcuts either and while I applaud Google for finally making the Home app useful for more than setting up Google devices it feels like it is some way yet to go.

As I mentioned Siri is quick to reply, and when changing the status of lights I find him/her to be pretty much instant in both answering and acting on the command. I do however think that it is dull how you get a written answer on the phone when asking about facts, instead of the voice-assistant reading it out-loud. If I wanted to read the result I could have Googled it myself.
Now to be fair, and this is the reason I don’t care to much about the “smarts” in my voice-assistant, I rarely find myself actually asking either Siri or the Assistant about facts. For me, the importance lies in Smart Home Management.

With the Apple ecosystem Homekit is built in to the OS which is great. As I showed you above you can access and change lights from Control Center, something Android haven’t been able to do, and the actual app (Whether it’s from Philips, IKEA, or Home Assistant) is something you rarely need to use thanks to this. When moving back to Android I can see myself missing this.

Face ID

This was a highly controversial subject back in 2017 when Apple removed the fingerprint-reader in favor of facial recognition. After all, this was the biggest excuse of the notch that people still love to hate. I can almost remember back in 2015 when I got my first device with a fingerprint reader, the Samsung Galaxy s6, and how little implementation Android had in place for system wide finger-authentication at the time. Here it is different. Apps that used to utilize the your fingerprint like bank-apps, the app store, or password managers have already been made to work with Face-ID and while it is great for unlocking it is even better here. All you have to do is look at the display. I remember reading that it doesn’t work when doing stuff like brushing your teeth or whatnot. But really, as long as you don’t cover your face with your hand (or scarf) it works.

I have had one occasion when the phone didn’t unlock and that was in direct sunlight which was crazy bright that day. Other than that one time it have worked flawlessly. Don’t get me wrong, I like a fingerprint sensor as much as the next guy, and while I do believe putting it on the back was good for minimizing the chin-bezel I do prefer my sensors on the front. Just not all the way down as that makes for weird thumb gymnastics.

So to conclude, I find facial recognition superior in most use cases and in iOS it is properly integrated. I like that companies like Huawei and Oppo have started making the same kind of biometric sensors, but until Google decides to start supporting it in Android I think it is less useful allround and that is why we still ned fingerprint sensors on Android, so far.

Reception and Call Quality

This is usually an abundant headline in today’s smartphones, but seeing as something called “reception-gate” have been circling I thought I’d just say that during my usage I have had no issues with reception, be it mobile data or Wi-Fi. This applies to the Swedish countryside as well as the city of Malmö.

Call quality have been great both on my end and on the other end, as it should be.
So if this is what’s holding you back, you probably shouldn’t worry about it.

Battery Life

Consistently, Battery life on the iPhone XS has been great. Not only did it start me off with over 4 hours of screen on time, it has also gotten better since. So now, I average in between 5 and 6 hours of screen on time on a full day spent from 6:15 PM until 10 PM.

The only thing I don’t like is the fact that screen on time is showed for the last 24 hours or 7 days (average). I don’t care about the screen on time I might have gotten before charging the device, as I mostly do so over night. Screen Time (for digital wellbeing) does however give a today overview. But still, I would like a view for screen time since last full charge. Today also includes screen time last night, and curiously when the phone lit up for a few seconds if notifications arrived.

Overall though, the iPhone XS is my new battery life champion. But battery life is one of the most personal things when it comes to phones. Different phones obviously have the ability to present better battery life than others, but how the phone is used will also affect the perceived battery life for the user.

I use my phone a lot, watching Youtube, having Youtube on in the background, streaming music, having it always connected to my Fitbit, and I brows the web a lot. So with the iPhone I don’t expect more than a day of battery life, but that is fine.

I did however manage to limit my usage to only 2 hours of screen on time before I left work one day. This was on a work day during a workshop which left me with 75% battery backup at 4 PM (from 6:15 AM the same morning). I went to sleep with around 50% around 11 PM and when I woke up at 6:30 AM I still had 47%. So battery in standby is pretty great if you ask me. As a test I decided to see how far I would get if I didn’t over-use my smartphone, just to get an idea of how “normal” users might be able to use the phone for 2 days between a charge. Here again, I cannot see screen on time since the last charge, giving me a lackluster battery stat.

The thing to note during my two-day battery test is that videos over Youtube and browsing don’t drain the battery in any significant maner. What made it harder was using the camera. Even just snapping just a few pictures during a walk I saw a decline in around 5%.
The Battery saving wasn’t turned on before I reached 20% of battery left at around 1 PM, and without proper stats I have estimated my screen on time to have been around 5 hours since the last charge. Spread over two work-days I’d say that good.

Conclusion: Battery Life on the iPhone XS is good.

Camera

The Apple of your smartphone eye?

Apple are proud to announce the age of computational photography. Well, not that they’re the first out the door with it, but they still have manage to do great things.

Smart HDR:

Smart HDR is the name of the game. Taking 3 images with different exposure points and stitching them together allows the iPhone XS to create a more pleasing dynamic range. It is not always utilized and sometimes it doesn’t manage to do what you want. Apple are nice enough to allow us to save the standard image as well for those occasions. Looking at the image below the sun is hitting the far wall hard. At first I didn’t think the effect really took place, but looking at the picture on a computer it is easy to tell the differens between the blown out wall and the more true to life orange one. It is also easier to tell that there is a tree up in between the trees.

On these sliders, the Smart HDR picture is on the left side with a copy of the original image without the processing on the right.

Take a look at the far right and you can tell that the container (charity clothes container) has more defined shadow-lines lines in Smart HDR than in the standard image. Overall the effect is relatively subtle in the trees, but shadowing is more pleasant to my eyes. So while subtle in some places I really appreciate the feature and it takes away the annoyance of blown out pictures.

Just for a showcase it also works with the selfie camera and in portrait mode. Here’s an example:

On the selfie the sky leaves less of a blown out exposure on the tree and the ground retains some of its color. The same goes for the side of my head were the sun was creating a white spot. I also do not notice any significant signs of face softening.
Getting that out of the way: Let’s look at more photos.

Auto Mode

The phone comes with two cameras, similarly to previous years, being 12 MP each and both with optical image stabilization. Since last year the lenses have grown just a little bit, which should allow for more light to enter. The second camera is of course a 2x telephoto sensor.
In auto mode I let the phone pick if HDR should be used or not.

Now I find images to be satisfying and good in pretty much every regard. But there is an abundant amount of lens-flare present as soon as the sun is opposing the lenses. This is not just occasional but pretty much the norm on the iPhone XS, and compared to the Oppo Find X that I previously reviewed it’s not good.

Now, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. I actually think lens flares can be great and almost artistic. But still, sometimes it is to much on the iPhone xs. If you notice a lot of lens-flare the best option is to try angling the phone so that it centers on the light source. Seeing as I haven’t encountered this as much on other phones my guess is that there’s something about the camera-glass.

Two-times Zoom

Now I don’t really care for these 2x sensors as I rarely have use for them. Still, it is nice that Apple stabilized the second lens as well, and except for lost low-light quality it’s a pretty good camera sensor.

Normal Sensor

2x Zoom Sensor

Now the sensor is good. But for me, I rarely see the need to zoom, and when I do I’d probably need more than two-times. Of course, that would ruin Portraits for life.
So, with the iPhone XR out with only one lens and pretty good software based Portrait mode, where’s the ability to toggle that on on the iPhone XS?

Portrait Mode

So here goes from the category-creators newest attempt. Apple wasn’t first with dual cameras or the shifted Bokeh-effekts. I can recall an old HTC phone with two cameras on the back with the ability to switch the focus point after the fact. Still, Apple did invent the popular digital attempt to create DSLR-like portrait pictures, and I for one like this mode. It might never be perfect, but unless you pixel-peeping it’s more than fine.

The biggest setback in utilizing the telephoto lens in Portrait mode is that the camera cannot decide to not use it in low lit situations. Therefor image quality can take a hit.

Depth Editing

Apple was also proud to announce the added ability to adjust the depth in Portrait mode after the picture is taken. This isn’t necessarily a whole new idea nor feature. But it is a fine addition:

It is a nice addition. But looking at the f 1.4 version the blur takes edge-detection and throws it out the window. Sometimes on better lit pictures it works way better though. Like in the picture below:

Portrait Effects:

Then there are the Portraits effects. The five of them, to be exact: Studio Lighting, Contour Lighting, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono.

These are fun additions when applied correctly. If the edge detection is off though, you get a pretty aggressive cut-out with the Stage light filters. Only thing is, I kind of wish that Apple did some more of these. Maybe one with a mono background for example.

Low Light

There is no cool night mode on the iPhone XS. Instead the camera does what it can automatically.

Low-light and night time pictures come out pretty good, but with some details lacking. Mostly though the pictures are fine, but a bit boring. This is of course all subjective, and your opinion might vary. I also notice a huge amount of blur if I don’t hold the phone steady. With live photos this can be helped, but the phone doesn’t always pick the best shot for dark environments. Seeing Huawei, Google, and OnePlus creating Night modes that utilize what seems like a similar technique to Smart HDR I find it funny that Apple don’t seem to use HDR much in low light.

When it does, however, it looks something like this:

What is mostly obvious in the comparison slider above is the “open” sign as well as the softer light sources. The sky is also presented better, making the dark trees more visible on the Smart HDR picture. In color presentation I also think the picture without Smart HDR has a greener tint to it.

Selfies

The selfie camera is positioned as a 7MP shooter and also uses Smart HDR (as I mentioned above). For Portrait mode the selfie camera uses the depth sensors in Face-ID for more accuracy in edge-detection.

The width of the camera is a bit limiting, and group selfies takes a toll here. Still, when taking the occasional selfie pictures look good. I do appreciate Smart HDR here so much.

At launch there was a lot of comments on the selfie shooter applying a beauty effect. Apple blamed this on Smart HDR and called it softening, not beautifying. I haven’t noticed it from what I can tell and I think it’s been addressed in the latest update (iOS 12.1).
In low light situations however, the camera is pretty disappointing in quality.

Portrait Selfies

The selfie camera takes satisfying Portrait pictures and I haven’t found to much to complain about. Edge detection is mostly fine, but in low-light the camera sensor struggles a bit.
Portrait selfies are treated to the same effects as the rear camera portraits.

Video

Apple is often praised for their video capabilities, and it’s not unjustified. The iPhone XS can shoot in 4K at 60 fps as well as a 1080 slow-motion video at 180 fps which is pleasant. Not only that, but slow-motion also records audio and slows that down, which is way cooler than when OnePlus dumps the audio and lets the user add music after the fact.
Stabilization is good, and if you film a lot the iPhone XS is a good option.

Conclusion

Honestly, I am a little bit torn on what to say next. I did not expect to like the iPhone XS as much as I have. But I guess all I can say is that the phone takes the new price for most comfortable phone I have used (previously being the OnePlus 6) with a battery life to beat, and a lot of software optimization.

The Camera is, as you probably saw, very good. Now this is also subjective as people have different preferences, but I really enjoy the photos taken with this camera. Both when Smart HDR is active and when it is not.

iOS has won me over in a lot of ways. It is actually simple to use. I also think the software design good even though some complain that it haven’t changed much since it launched, and it is smooth. So very smooth, with no lag what so ever. I guess you can say that I’m impressed. Of course, if you like Android for the customization options you won’t find that here. This is an operating system designed around how Apple believes most people want it- While people have complained about stuff like not being able to sort apps alphabetically, Apple still haven’t seen it fit to change that.

The phone it self equally holds a very nice design and the form factor (size) is great. I like the stainless steel frames, but I don’t like that they scratch so easily.

This review have made me realize why people like Apple products, at least when it comes to phones. I find my self thinking that I’ll miss 3D touch when moving to Android. I will probably miss the superior gestures, and I will definitely miss the phone size. Android and iOS have a lot of similarities though, so moving shouldn’t be that hard any more, for most people.

In conclusion I guess you can say that I would definitely recommend the iPhone XS if you want a reliable phone with stellar performance and a feature set you actually take advantage of. This in addition to software support for years to come. If you have enough money. Because the price is high, and even though I like the phone I cannot defend the price-tag at this point.

Something to keep in mind though is the way Apple handles previous devices, with the recent repports of the iPhone X being slowed down for “battery life purposes”. Luckily, Apple kind of listened to feedback and is allowing this to be turned off. That’s right, you get to turn off the feature that slows the phone down.

Where do you stand on the iOS vs. Android question?
What is your favorite thing about the newest iPhones?
Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for checking out the latest and greatest from Apple with me.
This is Andreas @ The Mobile Swede and I’ll be back with more shortly.