iPhone XS Review

A photo of my gold iPhone XS, in my glittery Kate Spade case with an ever trusty PopSocket stuck to it.

About a month ago, I decided to trade in my iPhone 7 Plus for a shiny new iPhone XS. There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with my 7 Plus, I just got a case of “shiny object syndrome” and the only real way to solve it was to upgrade my phone.

I loved a lot about my 7 Plus. The bigger screen was great, and I loved the dual cameras – portrait mode took my Instagram to another level. But, there were also a few downsides. The biggest one was size; I couldn’t comfortably hold it in one hand and relied on my PopSocket to keep it secure in my hand. It also didn’t fit well in purses or pockets. (It got dropped a lot.)

So when I found out that the iPhone XS had a bigger screen than the 7 Plus, and better cameras, but was hand-sized, I was smitten. (I know it’s the same size as the X but it wasn’t upgrade time when the X came out. Shhhh.) So I kissed my Home button and rose gold goodbye, and got an XS. 

Bad News First

The iPhone XS requires you to double click a side button AND look at your phone to make a purchase. Way more hassle than Touch ID ever was.

Having used the iPhone XS for over a month now, I have to admit there is one really big con for me about the device: the missing Home button.

Not because it’s hard to swipe between apps or to close apps (the gestures are GREAT), but because no Home button means no Touch ID. And I didn’t realize how much I actually used/loved Touch ID until it was already gone.

You see, Face ID is… okay. It works really well 85% of the time. But things like unlocking my phone while driving (to change songs, never to text 😇) or paying with Apple Pay require me to have my phone IN FRONT OF MY FACE. No more just holding my finger on a button while I focus elsewhere. Like the road.

I also find I feel really rude when I’m trying to do something innocuous (like add money to my Starbucks card while carrying on a conversation ) and I have to hold my phone up in my face. It’s just kind of… awkward.

It also makes it a little weird when moving/deleting apps. Instead of just pressing Home to quit, you have to tap “Done” up at the top of the screen. While not horrible, it’s not intuitive, either.

The Good News, Tho…

The camera on the iPhone XS is bomb as fuck. I loved portrait mode on the 7 Plus, but the improved cameras and ability to edit the depth of field/bokeh have really made the photos from the XS incredible.

Two iPhone XS portrait mode photos of my dogs, Harry and Blu. They look INCREDIBLE.
Look at my boys. They are literally angels.

Non Portrait-Mode photos look great, too. The camera seems much more crisp than my 7 Plus, delivering stunning shots 90% of the time.

A photo of Garden's Aglow, a Christmas light show in Boothbay, Maine. The lights are all sharp and bright, contrasted with the night sky.

The screen on the iPhone XS is also bomb af. It’s bright, big, beautiful, and incredibly crisp. And the overall size of the phone is perfect. It’s thicker than the 7 Plus, but smaller width and height wise, which makes it much easier to grip. And it fits in my small purse and pants pockets with ease!

My "memoji" - essentially a big, animated version of my head pasted on my real-life body. It's cute, but silly.

Getting a new phone also means taking advantage of some of the new iOS features. Some are a little gimmicky. Memoji for example, are cute, but really silly.

The gesture-based navigation took some getting used to, too, but once you’ve got it down it’s great. And I did notice a small boost in battery life over my 7 Plus. Nothing to write home about, but it’s nice all the same.

Final Thoughts on the iPhone XS

Overall, I feel like upgrading to the iPhone XS from the 7 Plus was a great choice for me – it’s an upgrade in everything I loved about the 7 Plus, while a downgrade in size (which is perfect for what I need). If you’re on the fence about upgrading, I’d definitely say the XS is a great choice!

Kyrie T-O

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