The iPhone XS is Worth the Price of Admission
Published Sept. 21st, 2018
As you’re reading this, legions of loyal Apple fans are making their annual pilgrimage to Apple stores around the nation in the the hopes of getting their hands on the latest iPhone. With their sights set on the new iPhone XS and XS Max, there’s naturally speculation around whether last year’s model, the groundbreaking and now discontinued iPhone X, still makes the cut. In light of this, I decided to revisit the old model and see how it measures up.
There’s no question that owning the latest model carries a certain amount of status. The new iPhone XS is listed at $999 before tax on Apple’s website. A quick look at EBay reveals that the 2017 iPhone X is around $200 cheaper, listed at $805. So, is it really worth the investment? Geoffrey Fowler’s arguments in the Washington Post that “you can buy an iPhone X, which is 95 percent as good as the new XS”, are certainly valid.
From a design standpoint, as Fowler suggests, it’s virtually identical to the original. Both the X and XS feature front and rear-facing cameras with dual iOS portrait mode, TrueDepth lighting and depth control for optimal selfies in high or low lighting. Like the iPhone X, the XS screen eliminates the home button in favor of facial recognition software, a move that cleans up the screen for an all-around more fluid user experience.
In addition to this, it’s all-glass water-resistant and dust-proof case remains consistent with the latest model. Improved stereo speakers, overall durability and the option for dual SIM card support are all welcome improvements for the iPhone XS and — hopefully — ensure its future viability.
Looking under the hood, we find the biggest difference between the iPhone X and XS in its hardware. The iPhone XS is equipped with the latest A12 Bionic chip and its next-generation neural engine. As Chris Velazco, senior mobile editor for engadget points out, “Apple’s neural engine is specifically designed to help power apps and features that rely on machine-learning models.” Velazco continues:
Last year’s Neural Engine was designed with two cores and could handle up to 600 billion operations a second. This year, Apple went with an eight-core design, allowing the co-processor to manage up to 5 trillion operations a second.
In short, the new chip offers a faster, more efficient experience with its quad core GPU. Add a powerful Image Signal Processor (ISP) and video encoder, and this is the closest we’ve come to having a powerful computer in the palm of our hand.
Last year’s iPhone X featured a dual core processor, and it’s rumored that this year’s iPhone XS quad core graphics processor exhibits speeds of up to 50% faster than it’s predecessor.
This is a major difference from the iPhone X and is sure to be big news for gamers, artists and augmented reality fans that use labor-intensive apps on the go.
To combat concerns over battery life, Apple states that the A12 chip’s efficiency takes the burden off of its battery, adding 30 minutes of life for the XS and 90 minutes for the XS Max. In a fast-paced, information-based world, the iPhone XS carries the burden so its users don’t have to.
From a software vantage point, iOS 12 is clearly designed with the latest iPhone XS for optimal functionality. With this in mind, speed is of the essence, and Apple makes significant improvements in its software’s functionality and usability across older generation iPhones. Apple tested its new iOS 12 on an iPhone 6 Plus and found that, for those on-the-fly photographic moments, it’s now easier and quicker to launch into camera mode. In addition to this, apps launch up to 40% faster.
Looking forward, with the XS’s advanced A12 chip, juggling multiple projects at the same time becomes more manageable. If used effectively, the iPhone XS becomes a valuable tool for artists and on-the-go professionals. In a fast-paced working world, it’s here where the additional $200 investment is priceless.
Peace of Mind
The big difference is in the technology. The iPhone X is practically a prototype of the next-generation iPhone. Over the past year, Apple has had time to refine all of the bells and whistles that originally made the X stand out. This is where the extra investment pays off. You have the peace of mind that you’re getting a device that has had time to gestate. For an extra $200, this seems like small change to be on the cutting edge of iPhone technology and have a device that hopefully won’t go out of style anytime soon.
Andrew is a freelance writer and journalist based in London, UK. When he’s not reading and writing about culture, he’s writing and recording music.