With high capacity storage and lightning-fast speeds, SanDisk’s Extreme PRO Portable SSD and Extreme PRO® SDXC™ UHS-I Cards are the perfect companions for performance conscious photographers. Enter today for your chance to win.
Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Incredible design
- Snappy performance
- Battery life still lags
At the end of the day, this is Apple’s best and most-expensive iPhone yet. Take it or leave it.
Price$ 1,629.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
It might be pronounced “Ten-Ess”, but it's hard not to talk about - or even think about - the new iPhone XS and not think excess.
Whether you’re holding it in your hand or looking at the price-tag at your nearest Apple store, the iPhone XS screams technological gluttony. In the world of high-end consumer gadgets, that's far from a crime - but it is what it is. And whether or not that lavishness is going to work for you comes down to the usual caveats.
Like many previous iPhones, the sell for the iPhone XS isn’t a purely technical one. Sure, there's a lot to like about the camera, processor and display here. But the appeal of this device is so much more than what’s on the spec-sheet. Apple has a rich track record for making - and selling - technology that's as fashionable as it is cutting edge.
Are you happy with your current Android phone? The iPhone XS probably isn’t going to lure you into Apple’s walled garden. And if you’re happy with your iPhone X? The iPhone XS is definitely better but it’s hard to say it's better enough to be worth the costly upgrade.
At times, it feels the only thing you need to know before deciding whether you should buy the iPhone XS is that it’s this year’s new iPhone. After so many iterations, you can probably infer the rest.
The specs for the Apple iPhone XS review unit we were sent to review is as follows:
Display size: 5.8-inches
Display type: Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
Processor: A12 Bionic
Operating System: iOS 12
Fingerprint Sensor: No
RAM: 4GB of RAM
MicroSD slot: No
SIM: Single SIM
Battery: 2658 mAh
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, CAT 11 LTE, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), NFC
Rear Camera: 12-megapixel (f/1.8) wide angle with OIS and PDAF + 12-megapixel (f/2,4) telephoto with OIS and PDAF
Front-Facing Camera: 7-megapixel (f/2.2)
Colors: Gold, Silver, Space Grey
Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
Price: Starts at $1629
Availability: Apple stores, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey-Norman
Design - Looks, Feel and Features
Even if it is a narrow revision on last year’s iPhone X, the iPhone XS still inherits a lot of the wow-factor of its predecessor. The unboxing experience is everything you expect, then the feel-factor ups the ante.
Like the iPhone X, stainless steel edges frame the device's OLED Super Retina display. It’s all-glass and it feels as premium to hold as it does to gaze upon. You get the deeper blacks, brighter colors and sharper contrast you’d expect. At times, it's livid in its luminescence.
I can’t say that you will feel like that same initial - and lasting - feel-factor, nor whether that "vibe" is really worth the every dollar of the lofty price involved. However, once I had it in my hands, the iPhone XS immediately felt like one of the most expensive phones you can buy. Which is good because it is. Even in the smallest size, the iPhone XS will cost you more than even the beefiest Android flagship.
[Related Content: Smartphone Notches Explained]
That said, the iPhone XS does come saddled with all the usual flagship frills and perks. Wireless charging. An IP68-rating against water resistance. Dual front-firing stereo speakers. Face ID login. Very little of this is new, but it is all appreciated and arguably entirely-necessary to justify the higher price that Apple are charging.
[Related Content: 3D Face Unlock vs 2D Face Unlock: Which is more secure?]
Again, the iPhone XS feels drop-dead gorgeous to hold and to behold. But I did encounter a fair bit of heat build-up with the device during my time with it. Even when I was doing fairly basic things like web browsing or reading emails, the body of the device would often contract a fever. I wouldn’t say these are the worst thermal issues I’ve ever had with a smartphone but it definitely felt like one of the worst in a good while.
Camera - How Does It Compare To The Competition
Of course, no iPhone would be complete without its cameras. And the iPhone XS features three in total: one on the front, two on the back.
Like Google’s Pixel range, Apple have offered feature and camera parity across both sizes of this year’s iPhone. In contrast to years past - where you’d have to opt for the larger or plus-sized device to get the better camera - both the XS and XS Max feature the same dual-lens setup.
Still, for what it’s worth, both landscape photography and portrait shots both carried a desirable level of fidelity.
Unfortunately, we sometimes found the color balance a little off.
Apple make a damn fine smartphone camera - and the iPhone XS lives up to that expectation. However, like Samsung and others, they fall short of the new paradigm set by Huawei's recent photography powerhouses.
This year has seen the bar for smartphone photography rise in ways that matter and if you’re expecting the iPhone XS to raise that bar further still, you’ll probably be disappointed. However, if you're just looking for a phone that'll up your 'Gram game, the iPhone XS remains a good enough option.
Next Page: Performance and The Bottom Line
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HyperX x Ducky One 2 Mini keyboard review: The most ambitious crossover in gaming keyboard history
- 2 ROG Zephryus G14 review: Powerful Payoff
- 3 RealMe 6 review: It's about time Oppo got some Real competition
- 4 RealMe C3 review: Fumbled fundamentals
- 5 Logitech StreamCam review: The pricey pandemic webcam you’re looking for
Latest News Articles
- Macworld's June digital magazine: iPhone SE review; exclusive guide to Apple TV+
- The macOS Catatina 10.15.5 update is now available with Battery Health Management, FaceTime updates and more
- Fitbit is exploring an algorithm to detect coronavirus infection before symptoms show up
- The iPhone 12 might not include EarPods in the box and that’s OK
- Report: Apple to beef up Apple TV+ catalog with licensed content
PCW Evaluation Team
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review
- Dell XPS 13 (2020) review:
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G review: Speaking the language of overkill
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?