Unboxing: iPhone XS

First Contact

I have previously mentioned that I have never used an iPhone. This day, that all changes.

It wasn’t to long ago that I was a die-hard Android user. It shames me to admit that I ignorantly looked down on the Apple ecosystem. I thought them to be over-priced, simplified smartphones with little value to a user like myself. Over the last few years my prejudice have shifted though, and I have begun to appreciate that people really like the big Apple for more reasons than just comfort. After the Apple Keynote I commented on my perception of the price and value. I especially focused on the fact that Apple still left the quick-charger out of the initial price.
That perspective haven’t changed, but I figured that if I want to actually comment on an iPhone I' will have to give one an honest chance. My device is the 256 GB version, mainly because I know that the 64 GB offered on the cheaper model will run out eventually.


So let’s dive right in. This is my documented first encounter with the latest iPhone XS.

Disclaimer: I opted for the smaller XS mainly because of the form-factor and usability. I like large phones, but call me old-fashioned: 5.8” is still large. I bought the phone with my own money and every opinion is my own.

Unboxing the iPhone XS there is a pleasant feeling of minimalism and simplicity. I like that the box is covered in plastic and I appreciate that the plastic requires no blade or scissor. There is an adhesive keeping it together and you just wrap it open. Removing the lid we are welcomed by the folder and written words :“Designed by Apple in California”. Putting it aside the phone lies flat and it to is wrapped in plastic cover. This too is simply opened and removed.

Underneath the phone it self we find the lightning-port headphones as well as the charger. The biggest complaints to the iPhone XS box is the lack of a quick-charger and a headphone-adapter and of course they are not here. I will however utilize bluetooth headphones so I don’t mind the lack of an adapter that much. But I would like there to be quick charging for those times when I require a quick top-up. I will make use of wireless charging since the slow cable don’t add much in my eyes.

There are manuals in several languages in the folder which also contains the sim-ejector tool. There is also the famous Apple stickers which, to me, feels more like an ego thing. I find it funny that there is no case in the box as well, seeing as even the cheapest Android phones from China includes one, but I guess Apple wants to strengthen the claim that the glass on the XS is the strongest glass on any iPhone.

I will not risk it.

The first thing I did when purchasing this $1639 phone (yes, that is the Swedish price thanks to “Apple-taxes”, 14690 SEK) was to pick up a case and a screen protector.

The Case is the Sandby case from Krusell (Link) and the Tempered Glass screen protector Invisible Shield from ZAGG (Link).

I mounted these pretty much right away, but not before I got a feel of the phone in hand. You’ll find alternative links in the bottom of this post.

Apple have been known for their design for years, but it is first with the iPhone X that I am truly impressed. The XS is a refinement of the design, but very much similar on the outside. I picked up the silver color option as I really do like the stainless steel frame.

I praised the LG G7 ThinQ for its form-factor but credit will go to were credit is due. The iPhone XS fits great in the hand. I will not defend the price-tag to any extent, but the phone feels premium, the weight is great, and you can tell that this is a design that much thought went into. It is also a fingerprint magnet, both on the back and the frames. It feels sturdy, it actually feels durable, and the logos are actually quite un-obstructive. The screen protector from ZAGG is easy to put on and fits the display. The salesman recommended the one without the black borders based on personal preference so I went with it. The Sandby Sandstone case from Krusell has a great grip to it making me less worried that I will eventually drop the device and I do not think it will slip off most surfaces. It is grippy, but unfortunately it also sacrifices some of the premium feeling.

Setup and Initial Impressions

Most of my life co-workers and acquaintances have come to me for technical help. However, when it comes to iPhone’s I have been reluctant to help since I don’t know how to navigate iOS. I hope to change that experience and I hope that I will get into the rivaling software that promises simplicity.

Setup is simple. I had an Apple ID from testing Apple Music a few years back so all I had to do was reactivate it and change my information to a more updated one. Have you ever compared iOS to Android head-on? Initially I am confused that scrolling feels slower. Not that the phone lags mind you, so far everything is smooth and pleasant. But whenever I scroll through a list or website it feels like the OS itself tries to slow me down. After a little while I have noticed that I need to swipe a little more aggressively to get a quick scroll.

Face-ID registered quickly, and I have been looking forward to trying it without the motorized camera since using the Oppo Find X. First impressions is that it works very well. But no surprise there. This being Apples invention and integrated into iOS I look forward to a system-wide support for the facial recognition.

Seeing as I have used a few quite different Android devices I am getting quite used to the lack of an app-drawer. I actually am getting so used to it that I don’t miss it when it is not there and my setup is starting to become something like the first screen housing more important apps while the second keeps the less frequently used apps. As an old time Android user and having used Cyanogen Mod on several occasions I am no stranger to reaching quick-settings by swiping down on another area of the status-bar. I am however not used to the swipe-able area being so small. This is of course due to the notch, or screen cut-out taking up so much space. Nice try trying to hide it with the wallpaper by the way.

While OnePlus and other manufacturers give you speedy animations to make the phone feel even snappier, Apple lets its animations run its course while remaining smooth as butter. It is actually soothing in a way that I didn’t expect.

I am happily surprised to see that the Shelf feature I liked so much on OnePlus’ Oxygen OS is inspired by Apples Widget-side. On iOS the feature have more app-support though and even Google apps can be displayed on this side-panel.
I have been told time and time again that the iPhone ecosystem allows for better app-support. Even Google updated the Home app with its new interface on iOS before Android so there might be something to it. I will get back to you on that though.

Navigating the iPhone XS with gestures is really great. This shouldn’t surprise me as most Android gestures have taken inspiration from the Apple-introduction. The animations here are great and fluid, but it is the differentiating gestures that interest me the most. I understand that the back-swipe have been a part of iOS for some time, and that some apps don’t support it making it less ideal at first. But when supported I find this gesture really great so far. Swiping back in the browser takes me right back to the previous page without the need to reload which feels incredibly impressive.
Then there is the way to switch between apps. Impossible to show on photos this quick swipe on the bottom to the right or left lets me switch to the previous app and forward instantly. Where have this been all my life?

The Confusing:

Of course, being my first time I am somewhat confused. Most apps hide their setting in the systems setting menu. I guess this isn’t that bad, but even the camera-options for which resolution to record in is found here. So that’ll take some getting used to.

The fact that I need to double press the power button each time I want to install a new app also confuses me. It is far superior to having to enter a password, but since it also uses face ID I would have thought that the system could recognize me and trust that I want to install the app i clicked to install right? a small “non-issue” but still confusing.

Apple Pay is available in Sweden but only to one major bank, and two names I do not know. This is a shame since I would really like to use mobile payments (thanks Fitbit for letting me anyway).

I am still trying to learn where 3D-touch works. On contrary to the popular belief, I do think the idea is brilliant and I am glad that Apple have kept it along though. I just need to find out were and when it is supposed to be used as there is no clear tutorial.

I don’t think the Email App syncs my mail as it should. I just opened it and it notified me of 5 new messages. Might be a setting somewhere, but I have yet to find it. Gmail works without question though.

Signing out:

This have been a brief, not so brief, Unboxing and First Impressions. I am pleasantly surprised and actually looking forward to playing with the iPhone. If there are other long-time Android users out there I would love to hear your thoughts on the iPhone XS.

What is next?

I want to do the iPhone testing like a sort of journal. The Android Users iOS-Files maybe?

Is there something you’d like to know specifically? please let me know in the comments below, or reach out on my email at contact@mobileswede.com.

Do not worry, I haven’t forgotten about the camera. I think that might be a large part in my next post coming within a week!

Additional link to accessories:

Invisible Shield Glass+