Apple iPhone XS and XS Max review: iOS 12, a smarter camera and a stunning OLED display

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max review: iOS 12, a smarter camera and a stunning OLED display

The new X

Text: Janice Sim

We review the legendary iPhone XS, which drops in stores today

It's that time of the year again. Post-Keynote, snaking queues, sensational headlines, breaking IG stories... all because a new iPhone has been released. And while Apple has unveiled some pretty groundbreaking features and upcoming devices in its grand soirée at Apple Park last week, all eyes are fixated on the iPhone XS – for now. After all, this smartphone is officially out in stores today.

The $1,799 dollar question: should you dig deep into your pockets or hold off till the XR launches in October? Here's the lowdown and our verdict.   

iPhone Xs


It's an instant attraction with the XS. For us, it was the gold in particular. A surgical grade stainless steel band binds the entire phone, while the front and back boasts a durable glass — hardy, and evidently heavier. We do appreciate having the option to check out our reflection when flipping the phone on its back. 

Building on the iPhone X's all-screen display, XS comes with a super retina sheen, along with a custom OLED design and what seems to be the best iOS system-wide colour management for colour accuracy in the industry. We recently streamed an episode of Kim's Convenience on the XS Max (which delivers over three million pixels for videos, movies and games), and the colours never looked more pronounced. Everyday spills of coffee, tea and typical fluid mishaps we know too well are also safeguarded with an impressive water-resistant function.

iPhone Xs


Meet the smartest and most powerful chip in a smartphone: the Apple A12 Bionic. Eschewing the techy terms, what you're getting is a phone with faster, industry-leading performance. Another notable perk is the fast storage controller, which serves up storage up to 512 GB. Your game time, especially with iOS 12's AR-driven apps, will be sharper and embellished with top-notch graphics.

iPhone Xs


The X has proven worthy of professional photography. But the XS takes it up a tiny notch with a Smart HDR function, accentuating superb image detail and advanced bokeh quality in Portrait mode photos. Shooting in low-light conditions or situations where it's backlit is now be easier than you think. More detail in obscure spots of the photo will be visibly noticed.

In terms of the bokeh quality, which essentially means the depth of field, you'll be able to easily adjust how blurry you would like the background to look, after snapping a portrait on your XS. The difference is subtle, yet makes all the difference in the world when you're trying to nail a winning shot.

iPhone Xs


Its newest iOS 12 means paving the way for more accessiblity and less fumbling with buttons on our end. It also means your smartphone will be entitled to know more about your digital behaviour — that is if you see it as a trusty aide. There's more augmented reality experiences that come with it — for instance, the Animoji and Memoji (where you can create your own avatar).

Going through a function routine of setting your alarm everyday? You can create a shortcut on Siri for that. A voice command of "Set alarm" and a daily wake-up call at 7am can be set easily, without swiping and tapping your way into the Alarm app.

You'll get bragging rights, that's for sure. If you're coming from any iPhone model besides the X, make it happen pronto. To that, we say invest in the XS Max, which gives you a larger screen for binge-watching in high-definition. But if you're currently holding onto the X, you might just want to hold off till the next enticing upgrade comes along. 

The iPhone XS and XS Max are now available in stores today. 

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