iPhone Xs and Xs Max Review

Very expensive

The iPhone Xs is the small pro version of the current generation of iPhones. The price is not that small: the starting price is the same as the iPhone X (£999 / $999 for 64GB), but increases all the way to £1349 / $1349 for 512GB!

The following graph shows the cost increase of iPhones in $ over time. Data source: Wikipedia.


The trend is clear, and the iPhone Xs Max is the most expensive phone in Apple history, going from £1099 / $1099 for the 64GB version to £1449 / $1449 for 512GB.

No headphone jack

With the iPhone X debut, Apple was the frontrunner in the race to remove the headphone jacks. Back then, Apple probably felt bad about it and added an adapter in the box 😇. Not so lucky this time. Just like with the iPhone Xr, for the privilege of plugging a 3.5mm jack on your already expensive phone, Apple will charge you £9 / $9. Apple store’s ratings of this adapter seem to reflect users‘ feelings 😡: 1 out of 5 in the UK and 1.5 out of 5 in the US. 🙄

No expandable memory

Apple started the trend of not allowing you to expand the memory with memory cards since the early days of smartphones. They certainly didn’t change their mind this time. While this seems just a cheap move to charge (a lot 💸) more for storage, allowing only built-in memory definitively increase the iPhone performances and avoid hardware problems that poor quality memory card could cause.

Xs: poor battery life

The higher resolution OLED screen and small size factor is a bad combination for battery 🔋 life. The iPhone Xs has a shorter battery life than the iPhone Xr and Xs Max, with the average user reporting just enough to make it through the day. Or as Apple puts it “up to 30 minutes longer than iPhone X”.

Large notch

Whether you like it or not, in the current generation of phones the notch is a status quo, ever since Apple released the iPhone X 🙅‍♂️. While on the OnePlus 6t you’ll find a very minimal notch, Apple couldn’t quite get there with this iPhone generation and the Xr notch takes up about half of the screen width. Why does it matter? That’s where notifications appear in portrait 🙎‍♂️ and the content becomes cropped in landscape 🖼!

[Fixed] #ChargeGate – charging bugs

Note: this problem has been addressed in the iOS 12.1 version

Some Xs and Xs Max used to not charge until the screen is turned on, or only as long as the screen is on! Some didn’t seem to charge at all.

The #ChargeGate drama seems to have started on this Apple forum thread and developed in hashtag headquarter: Twitter.

This problem seems to have been exaggerated as with any Apple drama, as better explained in this video by Marques Brownlee about iPhone “gates”, and Apple solved this bug in iOS 12.1, release in October 2018.

No fast charger in the box

Apple fan rejoiced 🎊 as fast charging ⚡️ was introduced on this generation of iPhones. 50% of battery charge in 30 minutes! 💯 but while most Android manufacturers include the fast charger in the box you’ll find a very slim 5W standard charger in the iPhone box. 😕

The reason? Apple decided to safeguard your battery since fast charging increases the operating temperature of the phone, lowering the battery lifespan. Nah, just kidding 😂, it was probably to make money selling dongles: to fast charge your iPhone you’ll have to spend £49 / $49 on the 30W charger, and £19 / 19$ for a mere 1m USB-C to lightning cable (£35 / $35 for 2m).

#BeautyGate – Selfie camera skin features smoothing

The iPhone cameras have always stood out for their accurate colour rendition and realism, and people love them for this. This time around Apple has decided to automatically soften skin features when shooting with the front-facing camera. As with anything Apple-related, this had to be labelled as a something-gate, hence the name #BeautyGate.

One of the most noticeable examples is this side-by-side comparison

Prefer the Xs Max or Xr version?

Head over to the iPhone Xr review or check out its price straight away: