What’s new: Apple iPhone XS Max & XR review


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Erin Lawrence

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review

The new iPhones are out and many Apple lovers might be wondering if they’re worth the upgrade. With three new phones to choose from, the iPhone XS and XS Max, and the iPhone XR, you might also be wondering which to choose. Let’s dig in on what’s new.

What’s new: Apple iPhone XS Max & XR review

For starters, let’s look at the hardware:

The iPhone XS is a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD OLED True Tone display, with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 82.9% screen-to-body ratio, and IP68 water resistance

The iPhone XS Max is a slightly larger handset than the XS. The screen size is 6.5-inch and it’s also got that Super Retina HD OLED True Tone display.

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review

The iPhone XR is a 6.1-inch LCD/Liquid Retina HD True Tone display, with a 1,400:1 contrast ratio, 79.0% screen-to-body ratio. The XR is slightly heavier and thicker than the XS.  It’s got IP67 water resistance. It’s also significantly lower in price.

More colours are available in the XR too: White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral, (PRODUCT)RED compared to the iPhone XS which is limited to Silver, Space Grey and Gold.

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review

iPhone XS and XR camera differences?

When it comes to the cameras, the XS and XS max have a dual 12 MP rear camera and all the new bells and whistles like portrait mode. The XR doesn’t have the Dual rear camera.  But you can still get most of the features of the other phones’ cameras; all you won’t get is the 2X optical zoom.

iPhone screen technology: how different do XS and XR look?

Between the XS and XR phones, the main difference is screen technology. iPhone XS has the OLED display that Apple says is more vibrant when compared to the iPhone XR, which has an LCD display.

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review

iPhone XS Max on left, iPhone XR on right

“OLEDs are capable of deeper blacks and a higher pixels per inch count that make them appear less grainy on close inspection than an LCD.”

So do they look very different to the naked eye? With each running the same screen imagery, side by side I can’t see a noticeable difference in screens. Neither one seems brighter or more vibrant or colourful than the other, despite their differing tech specs.

iPhone XS Max: Can I use it one handed?

Readers wanted to know if it’s easy to use the iPhone XS Max one-handed. for me, the answer is, not really. I’ve got freakishly long fingers, but the Max is so big in my hand, I can’t reliably reach the top. With that said, I do like the bigger screen size, because it’s easier to read. Maybe I’m just getting old.

iOS 12 is new

The other big upgrade is to the phones’ operating system. With the arrival of iOS 12, there are several new or improved features that is available on the new phones (or if you upgrade the OS on older phones).

Performance is faster and more responsive, and you should notice things like smoother animations, according to Apple. That I didn’t really notice, but what I did feel was more noticeable is some of the other speed improvements:  a 40% faster app launch, and 50% Faster keyboard display, plus 70% faster swipe to camera.

Memoji Maker

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review, memoji

It’s now possible to customize your animoji; no longer are you limited to animating yourself as an animal. Now you can make you.. look like, you!

New Facetime features

There are some new Facetime features that are actually fun and useful.  Haven’t done your hair? Use the live, personalized Memoji character you’ve created and take part in a Facetime call as a cartoon.

You can also do a Group Facetime. While you’re in a Facetime call, just tap the three dots to add a participant. You can have up to 32 people on a call, plus you can use something called Focus View in Group FaceTime.

During Group FaceTime, the speaker will automatically be front and centre. Or with Focus View, you can double-tap the person you’d like to see.

Battery & Battery Reserve for Apple Pay

A handy feature for those folks who love to go wallet-less and rely on Apple Pay: It’s possible to keep using Apple Pay even if your phone has died. A micro power reserve makes it so that NFC transactions can be made with your phone even if it’s out of battery.

Wireless Qi charging on new iPhones

apple iphone xs, iphone xs max, iphone xr, whats the difference, review

Speaking of battery, each of the three new phones have wireless Qi charging, but of course you’ll need to purchase that charger separately. You can also get a speed charger, but that too is extra, though it will buy you a 50-percent capacity charge in just 30 minutes.

Overall these new phones are an improvement. If you’re the type, however who complains about the hoverboard not being ready yet, you’ll probably find these improvements merely incremental, but if you’re due to upgrade your phone, you’re definitely gong to like what you find in the new iPhones.

What’s the price difference between new Apple iPhones?

Here’s the price list:

  • iPhone XS: From $999CAD
  • iPhone XS Max: From $1099 CAD
  • iPhone XR: From $749 CAD

The phones are available from Apple or most cell carriers.

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