Apple’s New iPhone Xs: Unboxing, Comparison & First Impression

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Two weeks ago Apple has announced and released the new iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR. Right after the presentation, I was determined to finally upgrade my phone this year. I preordered the iPhone Xs on September 14th and got it in my mail last Friday.

Here is a quick unboxing video.

Before switching to iPhone Xs, I have been using iPhone 7 Plus. I got it as a present and having a bigger screen with lots of GB-s sounded perfect for me. Unfortunately, the phone was too big for my purses or even my palms: it was extremely easy for me to drop this phone. This is why this time I decided to choose Xs for myself.

iPhone Xs vs iPhone Xs Max

There isn’t a huge difference between Xs and Xs Max. iPhone Xs Max has a higher display resolution, bigger size and obviously weight and slightly better usage hours, including longer battery life, wireless talk time, internet use, wireless video, and audio playback compared to Xs.

Knowing my old phone pretty well ( I had it for 2 years), I decided to make a quick comparison and overview of the key features.

Set Up

First of all, it was extremely easy to set up the new phone. After I filmed the unboxing video, I noticed a pop-up notification on my old one requesting for setting up my new iPhone. I clicked on the screen, and a new window with a round camera scanner popped on my old phone asking to scan the round code on my new phone. It was done so fast that I didn’t have a chance to film everything. After that, all I had to do is to choose if I want to restore my data from iTunes or iCloud backups or to start using it as a new one.

User experience

My new phone does no longer have touch ID which I thought I’d be missing, big time. To my surprise, I really enjoy the solid screen without any home button and the face ID feature, which is said to be more advanced compared to iPhone X. As you may know, I didn’t have a face ID feature in my 7 Plus and it’s really amazing how fast and easy it works.

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The home button functions are split between “swipe ups” and the side button on the right. Volume buttons and silent mode switch button remain the same. In general, there are a lot of similarities with iPhone X. Nevertheless, speakers and microphone in iPhone Xs are built-in differently. When you look at the bottom edge of the phone, the microphone is located on the left from the lightning connector (in the center) and only has 3 holes. The speakers on the right have twice as many ports. In iPhone X the numbers of ports both for the mic and the speakers are equal. Interestingly, but this difference in ports doesn’t deteriorate the quality of the sound. On the contrary, on iPhone Xs, the sound is much clearer for me.

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As always, new iPhones have an upgraded bionic chip  – this year it’s A12. In comparison to all previous models, iPhone Xs and Xs Max have an improved water resistance to a depth of 2 meters for 30 min compared to 1m. The overall performance of my new iPhone Xs is amazing – it literally flies with a single touch or a glance.

Dual Sim Support

Besides, iPhone finally has a dual sim card support which means you’ll have a chance to use two lines at the same time.  While most of the countries, including the US, will have eSIM service available, customers in China will have a different double-sided plate for two separate sim cards. Nevertheless, the dual-sim support is not available to the general public at the moment with the current software update (iOS 12.0).

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Storage

As for the storage, for iPhone Xs, you can choose between 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. I was thinking to get either 64 GB or 256GB but then decided for a smaller storage for few reasons. While an additional $150 is not a big deal for $1000 phone, I still can invest this difference in a something else. However, the main reason is that I kept so much junk in my 7 plus with 128 GB, that I didn’t have a need and later time to clean it up.

Having less storage will work as if I was using a film camera with 36 frames. I either need to think before downloading something and I’ll keep my pictures and videos more organized and will definitely back up my phone more often. Before we pre-ordered the new phone, the last time I backed up my phone was a year ago! I hope 64 GB will be just enough to operate my phone and to keep it organized and clean inside.  

Display & Resolution

Starting with iPhone X, the new generation of iPhones (except for iPhone XR) come with Super Retina HD display. Super Retina features High Dynamic Range (HDR), True Tone, and improved resolution and contrasts ratios. Because of these features, images and videos look more vivid with a higher contrast, better colors and more details in highlights and shadows.

Despite being smaller in size compared to Plus models, both X and Xs have an increased resolution 2436-by-1125-pixel at 458 ppi with the typical contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1,  while iPhone Xs Max has an even higher 2688-by-1242-pixel resolution at 458 ppi. For comparison purposes, the typical contrast ration at iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus is only 1300:1 with 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi.

Camera

Different from iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus, but similar to iPhone X,  Xs has a True Depth front camera with the same 7 megapixels. This is what makes the Portrait Mode available for selfies. Nevertheless, the front camera is even more advanced compared to X, as along with back camera it also features advanced bokeh and Depth Control, Smart HDR for photos (there is no separate HDR “switch” in Camera mode anymore), an Extended dynamic range for video at 30 fps, Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p) and 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps and stereo. For me, the difference in quality is obvious.

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Same as in the latest models, iPhone Xs has 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps.

Useful tip: The high-quality video and images take a lot of space so that Apple is using High-Efficiency format for the best compression without the loss of quality (.HEIC). If you want your pictures to be compatible across all devices and software (including Adobe Photoshop), make sure you go to Settings>Camera>Formats and choose Most Compatible mode instead of High Efficiency. For 4K videos, you’d need to switch back to High Efficiency.

By the way, If you want to turn off the Smart HDR you can also do it in Settings>Camera.

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Taken with iPhone Xs. You can clearly see the table patterns in shadows, while the fruits are not overexposed.

Compared to 7 Plus, my new phone has a slightly wider aperture for a telephoto lens (F/2.4). Besides, it features Dual optical image stabilization, Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync ( for a better low-light performance) and Portrait Lighting with five effects. All these features are available in iPhone 8 Plus (back camera) and X.

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Depth Control

Another amazing new feature is the Depth Control. As a photographer, I can say, that this is a long-awaited feature for photographers. In my understanding, it’s not only the hardware but also the software that makes it possible to alternate between F/1.4 to F/16 by just sliding the depth meter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always look “naturally blurred” compared to the bokeh that you get from the high-end full-frame camera on low aperture numbers. Nevertheless, it is still an innovation for me, and the technology is definitely going in the right direction.

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Other Considerations

As always, the iPhone arrives with a cable (lightning to USB cable), a USB power adapter and headphones (earPods with lightning connector).

It’s interesting to mention, that there is a lot of dispute about the battery performance in iPhone Xs. It is slightly less powerful than iPhone X because of the way it is designed. Nevertheless, it works perfectly fine for me and I haven’t experienced any problem with that so far.

Speaking of the battery, iPhone Xs also supports wireless charging.

As for the size, iPhone Xs is the same as iPhone X in size and shape, so that the cases for X will match Xs perfectly. Unfortunately, Xs Max is not exactly the same size as iPhone 8 Plus, so I’d recommend checking the model compatibility before you purchase a new fancy case.

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My Advice

The main takeaway from this post will be probably my personal advice to you. Whatever model you decide to buy, make sure you put a screen protector on top. And while you can do it yourself, there is a service at the Apple Store to put a customized screen protector!

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The best part – it won’t cost you more than the price of the screen protector and it’s done right in front of you! They put a Belkin InvisiGlass Ultra Screen Protector using a special Belkin machine that aligns the screen protector perfectly to the screen. This will cost you $39.95 + tax – same as if you would purchase glass protector in a box. And if something goes wrong or a dust particle is left between the protector and the screen they will put a new one without any comments! Most likely they will check it themselves and do it over again without waiting for your decision. As I already said, no extra fees for a perfectly aligned screen protector. Perfectionists, rejoice!

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Final Words

Overall, I’m loving this phone a lot. I love this beautiful reflective gold color and the whole experience of the way you unlock your phone or switch between apps is just amazing. Everything that I thought will be hard to get used to, is definitely there for a reason, and the whole user experience is indeed improved. The camera is great as well, and I definitely see the difference in image and video quality. Size-wise, the phone sits perfectly in my hands and fits all of my purses. And it looks so pretty in this beautiful transparent case from Sonix!

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Are you planning to get the new iPhone? Let me know in the comments down below!

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