The new iPhone models for 2018 are finally here, after a long wait with series of speculations and enthusiasm on what Apple has in store. It’s no difference from the feeling before Apple unveiled the iPhone X, which is the base for all the three new iPhone models: the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR. I’m not really sure what the “R” stands for, and I’d like to know if you have any idea.

There’s an interesting development this time! Of course, there have been lots of speculations that we would be getting a cheaper iPhone and a dual SIM iPhone model. That must be where all the curiosity came from despite knowing it’s only an “S” year for the iPhone 10 range.

Tim Cook really emphasized on the cheaper iPhone model: the iPhone XR, which he described as the phone for everyone but then, it might actually not be for everyone. Despite Apple’s ambitious price move, not all fans already in the iOS ecosystem can afford to buy iPhone XR. The price starts at $749 and that’s not exactly cheap compared to other smartphones out there in the Android space. Though the iPhone XR price is quite cheap compared to the iPhone XS price, which starts at $999 and the iPhone XS Max price, which starts at $1,099, without getting an iPhone XR discount deal through rebates or some sort coupon, it’s actually not easy to lay hands on mostly in other parts of the world.

That notwithstanding, did Apple meet our expectations with the new iPhone models? We can only take that question after reviewing the new iPhones. The iPhone XS review is a lot similar to the review for iPhone XS Max since they share almost the same phone factor. However, we will still find some differences, just like we’d have on the iPhone XR review.

Design

All the new iPhone models are a lot similar in design. The biggest difference between iPhone XR and iPhone XS models is the display. The XR uses an LCD display while the XS and XS Max are both using the OLED. Also, the XR will be available in a lot more colors: blue, white, black, yellow, coral, and product red. This is definitely Apple’s way of making the entry-level iPhone model a phone for everyone. The XS and XS Max (premium) models are available in only three colors: silver, space gray and gold.

The phones have a steel frame around the edges, which mimics the thin bezels, and no home button. A top notch that traditionally encroaches into the screen slightly houses all the components for Face ID facial recognition and more; proximity sensor, infrared camera, dot projector, front camera, a speaker, ambient light sensor, microphone, and flood illuminator.

Things haven’t changed on both sides of the iPhones: the silencer rocker switch and the volume buttons remain on the left, while on the right of the phones is the larger lock or Siri button. There are also dual speakers at the bottom and top of the phones.

The water resistance on the entry level: iPhone XR is rated IP67; it can handle a depth of 1m in water for up to 30 minutes, while the premium models are sealed a bit better and are rated IP68; they can handle a depth of 2m for up to 30 minutes.

Specifications for the new iPhone models

Model iPhone XS Specs iPhone XS Max Specs iPhone XR Specs
Available Colors Silver, Space Gray, Gold Silver, Space Gray, Gold Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, Red
Display 5.8 inches OLED 6.5 inches OLED 6.1 inches LCD
Chipset A12 Bionic chip A12 Bionic chip A12 Bionic chip
Storage Capacity 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB 64 GB, 128 GB and256 GB
IP Rating IP68 (up to 30 minutes in a depth of 2m) IP68 (up to 30 minutes in a depth of 2m) IP67 (up to 30 minutes in a depth of 1m)
Weight 6.24 ounces 7.34 ounces 6.84 ounces
3D Touch Yes Yes -
HDR Display Yes Yes -
Video Recording 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
Digital Zoom Up to 6x Up to 6x Up to 3x
Optical Zoom 2x 2x -
Video formats supported HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG
Battery life Lasts up to 30 minutes longer than iPhone X Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone X Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone 8 Plus
Dual SIM support nano-SIM and eSIM nano-SIM and eSIM nano-SIM and eSIM

Display

The smallest new iPhone model is the iPhone XS, which shares the same phone factor here with the iPhone X model; coming with a 5.8-inch screen. The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch display while the biggest – the XR Max has a 6.5-inch. The XR Max has a larger screen but shares the same phone factor with the iPhone 8 plus. The thinner bezel, smaller notch and the absence of home button gave room for a larger screen. Also, there is no more fingerprint home button on the new iPhone models. Upgrading to any of the new iPhone models means you’ll stick with either the face ID realm or use the old school passcode to unlock your device.

As mentioned earlier, the OLED display, which Apple dubbed the Super Retina HD is only on the iPhone XS models. The iPhone XR is built with an LCD display referred to as the Liquid Retina HD display. This may not be a problem for most people; some actually prefer an LCD screen for a number of reasons like color accuracy, etc. However, OLED offers amazing and vibrant viewing angles.

The screen resolutions for the new iPhone models are considerably not too wonderful. The XR has a 1792x828-pixel resolution at 326 PPI, the XS has a 2436x1125-pixel resolution at 458 PPI and the XS Max has a 2688x1242-pixel resolution at 458 PPI. This is considerably not enough compared to pixels standard available now. Well, we may have to take a real look at this to determine if the pixels are enough or not.

Camera

The new iPhone models have some minor refinements to the cameras, though that might not be as much as we have expected. The photos Apple showed off on stage are quite incredible but we can only be sure of how impressive they are testing them in more changing environments. We also have another notable difference between iPhone XR and iPhone XS models: the number of back cameras. The iPhone XR has a single 12 MP wide-angle camera while the iPhone XS models have a dual setup; 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras. Front facing camera is the same for all the units, a 7MP TrueDepth camera.

Video mode is similar in all three models, a 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, which is impressive. The premium models have 2x optical zoom, which is not available on the cheaper iPhone model that has a digital zoom up to 3x against 6x available on the premium models.

Hardware

All three new iPhones are powered by the same chipset – A12 Bionic chip, which significantly improved the speed and display in all the new models while also delivering an enhanced camera performance. A12 Bionic is actually 15% faster and up to 50% lower power usage than A11 Bionic. This may actually mean we are getting the same battery capacity with the older iPhone model.

When it comes to the local storage capacity, the iPhone XR will max out at 256 GB whereas the premium models went up to 512 GB storage capacity. The XR is also not coming with a 3D touch, this can only be a big deal to people that use it frequently. Apple may have satisfied our dual SIM iPhone speculations, though not exactly as we have thought. All the new iPhone models have support for dual SIM; they have provisions for a nano-SIM and an eSIM. This feature is particularly considering many parts of the world already familiar with a dual SIM setup in the Android market such as China, where Apple is reportedly losing grip in the smartphone market, India and other parts of the world.

The electronic SIM technology does not support the use of a physical SIM. It’s the same technology Apple uses in iPads and iWatches. A carrier will have to program the electronic SIM before it can work.

Apple did not switch to USB-type C as speculated, though you can unlock the fast charging with different chargers. Unfortunately, we don’t have it yet regardless of how much we wanted it.

Battery

Apple is not telling us the battery statistics when it comes to mAh rating. While this makes it look like we are not getting any massive unit in terms of battery, the iPhone XS battery which is the smallest among all the new flagships will definitely be better than the base has. Apple alleged that the iPhone XS battery lasts up to 30 minutes longer than iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Max will last 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X. Apple rated the iPhone XR battery as the best for internet use; up to 15 hours, probably because of the LCD screen setup. The phone’s battery is said to last 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 plus.

Early Verdict

There’s no doubt: the new iPhone models are amazing and Apple is pushing for more competition with its entry-level model XR. Of course, that’s very clear considering what we have on the iPhone XR review. Before now, Apple will tell you to get its older phone models if you can’t afford the new one. But from the iPhone XS review, it feels like Apple’s price strategy is not enough to raise the much-needed competition or lure people enough to buy iPhone XR. $749 is honestly not an entry level compared to the smartphone marketplace after all the compromise; an LCD display, a different water resistant rating, single camera setup and no 3D touch. This could be a lot to lose for just $250, except you really need to save the money.

It could be wiser to buy iPhone XS or XS Max and have all the features. But then, Apple deployed additional strategy by making the XR available in more colors. If you don’t care so much about having dual camera setup or OLED, then you should buy iPhone XR, but for anyone already using iPhone X, do you really want to spend a thousand bucks for another phone with slight improvement after just a year? Well, the iPhone XS Max is quite massive with its large screen. It has the same size as the massive iPhone 8 plus and even a larger screen as we can see from the iPhone XS Max review. This further complicates the choice anyone could make looking at the price differences. An iPhone XS Max discount deal is also a wise choice to make for anyone that wants to buy iPhone XS Max.

You may choose to spend less on any of the models by getting a lower storage variant if you are certain about upgrading to iPhone 11 by next year. Exhausting the storage within 11 months is very unlikely. Well, that’s just an option.

We are expecting to use the phones by next week for all the details and a full review for iPhone XS Max, XS, and XR.