iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max: My thoughts on Apple’s new Flagship iPhones
iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max: Thoughts
Apple’s New Flagship iPhones
Apple made big announcements on September 12, 2018, at Steve Job theatre at Apple Park campus located in Cupertino, California. In an event called “Gather Around”, Apple Introduced three new iPhones (iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone Xr) and an Apple Watch Series 4. This post is focused on iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. My thoughts on other products will be discussed in separate posts.
Did Apple do enough to convince Apple user base to upgrade to its latest offerings?
Let’s discuss what is changed or addressed in the event during iPhone Announcement:
1. A12 Bionic Processor: Apple has proved in the past that it is way ahead of the curve when it comes to raw processing power for the phone SoC. A12 Bionic is the first 7nm chipset introduced by Apple, and it is a first in any smartphone. It is a hexa-core chipset where two cores are performance cores for the heavy computational task, and four cores are efficiency cores for less intensive work. The A12 processor contains a newer dynamic performance controller that is used for task allocation for achieving maximum performance while using less power. Compared to A11 Bionic, A12’s performance cores are 15% faster, and efficiency cores consume 50% lower power.
Second-generation Neural Engine accompanies A12 Bionic. Mainly used for real-time machine learning, it can run core ML 9 times faster than A11 from last year. It is an octa-core chipset which can perform up to 5 trillion operations per second.
A12 has Enhanced ISP for Smart HDR and depth detection for portrait capture.
Historically, “S” Iteration of iPhone cycle brought serious performance improvement without a design change. This year is little different where Apple did not boast about a performance upgrade over the last year, 15% is a good jump, but I have seen Apple done better in the past. In my experience, the iPhone’s performance dip is not as apparent; it will be harder to notice performance improvement in the newer phones.
2. Display: iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max both have Super Retina OLED display with 458 PPI density. It is the same display from last year’s iPhone X. It is an HDR display with P3 wide color gamut support. It has true tone and 3D touch support. iPhone Xs is measured 5.8 inches diagonally while iPhone Xs Max is measured at 6.5 inches. iPhone Xs is the largest panel in any of the iPhone. Last year iPhone’s panel was one of best OLED displays available in any smartphone. It was manufactured by Samsung, but it was calibrated to near perfection by Apple.
The display stays the same as iPhone X, but It is still one of the best displays available on any smartphone.
3. Face ID:
Last year’s Face ID was one of most appealing feature for iPhone X. With the help of series of sensors, housed in “Notch”, Face ID was further step in biometric of the phone. iPhone Xs line up brings second generation neural engine and secure enclave. Apple announced to be faster but did not mention how much faster.
I have been pretty happy with Face ID. Speed was a minor issue for me but the biggest complaint I had was not able to use Face ID when the phone is not held vertically. With iPhone Xs, I expected significantly faster performance or authentication at a horizontal orientation. Apple failed to improve on last year.
Both iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have 12 MP dual camera system that consists of one wide angle and one telephoto lenses. Apple announced that Camera specs are same as the last year, but there is a sensor change. Rear cameras have dual OIS. It is using a sensor with larger pixels. Improving on 2017 iPhone X’s Auto HDR, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max are capable of Smart HDR. Following the footstep of Google, Apple finally realizes the importance of image processing prowess. Smart HDR will bring better shadow and more highlights by using newer Image Signal Processor, faster Sensor, and algorithms. With large Pixels, Apple has claimed to have less noise and better low-light photos. Post capture Depth Control and Advance bokeh capability are coming to newer iPhones. It is supported in the front facing camera as well. Front facing camera has a 7 MP sensor with f/2.2 wide angle lens.
iPhone X was already ahead of the curve which was able to shoot 4K video at 60 fps, but the most significant improvement from Camera was the ability to shoot extended dynamic range video at 30 fps. iPhone Xs is now capable of stereo recording as well as stereo playback with better sound separation. The front camera has also seen improvement in video capability with video stabilization. It is capable of shooting full HD video at 60 fps.
iPhone X camera is one of the top-rated smartphone cameras from the last year. However, it fell behind with a significant margin to Google Pixel. Apple is trying to catch Google in image processing. There isn’t much considerable change on camera on newer iPhones; it will be interesting to compare the results to last year’s iPhone X.
5. Battery and Storage:
Apple never reveals the battery capacity on iPhones. When compared to iPhone X, iPhone Xs has either similar or a little worse. Talk time hours in a newer phone is less than last year, which is strange. However, it is a non-issue. iPhone Xs Max contains higher battery capacity, which has 20% improvement over the 2017’s iPhone X. iPhone has a three storage variants that go up to 512GB, which is more than last year’s 256 GB.
I was not happy with iPhone X (2017 model). While traveling, my iPhone is not capable of running a full day on a single charge. I expected battery improvement, but it is not enough.
6. Smaller Improvements over last year’s iPhone X:
· gigabit-class LTE modem
· IP68 Rating
· Faster wireless charging
· Dual Sim Support (nano sim and eSim)
· Newer Gold Color
iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max is an iterative update on last year’s iPhone X. Unless user wants a larger screen, newer iPhone does not offer any compelling upgrades over the last year’s already excellent iPhone X. First time in previous six years, I recommended skipping the latest flagship iPhone Xs if you have iPhone X.
Note: All images are obtained from https://www.apple.com/iphone-xs/