iPhone XS Review | Should you buy one?

This is our review of Apple’s new flagship, the iPhone XS.

First impressions are, predictibly very good when it comes to how good this phone looks and feels in the hand. It’s pretty much identical to the iPhone X that came before it. And that in itself is no bad thing. We’re used to the S models from Apple being more focused on internal improvements, rather than design changes. And this is exactly what we’re dealing with here with the iPhone XS.

There be gold in them thar phones

It’s worth pointing out that this colour you see here in our review is new. Apple calls it gold although isn’t the traditional ‘blingy’ type of gold.  It’s more subtle and classy than that, and I really like it. Still, if this gold colour isn’t your thing, the two previous colour options from the iPhone X have been carried over, namely space grey and silver.

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Storage-wise, there are three options to choose from 64GB, 256GB or 512GB, don’t forget whichever one you choose, there’s no way to expand this. So make sure you have a model that’s got enough storage for your needs.

Push the button

So if you’re using an iPhone already and contemplating buying a XS, the chances are that you’re coming from an iPhone 6, 7 or 8. In which case the first thing you’ll notice is the lack of the home button. As you probably know by now that’s because there’s a new way of unlocking the phone, by using your face only, and it works amazingly well, using the hidden tech that’s inside the notch at the top of the display. I just don’t miss the home button at all and I haven’t done since I started using the iPhone X. In fact the iPhone XS is even faster at unlocking and I just love it.

Similarly, navigating using iOS 12 swipe gestures has become second nature in no time at all and I think you’ll love it. The benefit of losing the home button is that we’re now treated to an amazingly large screen, given the somewhat compact overall dimensions of the device. So the display the you’re getting here with the XS is virtually the same display that’s on the iPhone X.


It’s a 5.8 inch OLED panel with a pixel density of 468ppi. Viewing angles are superb blacks are very deep indeed, and overall the colours look really vibrant, but still natural. For those that use 3D Touch, it’s still available here and it works as well as ever.

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Over on the back, you’ll notice the beautiful glass, which of course means that the XS can be charged wirelessly. In fact, it will charge faster than the iPhone X and that’s always welcome.


Up at the top we have the dual 12 megapixel lenses. One len is a telephoto for two times optical zoom, which has an F 2.4 aperture and the other is excellent F 1.8 wide-angle lens. This setup works beautifully. Smart HDR has helped with levels of finesse across the board. Portrait mode works really well, and it’s fun to adjust the levels of background blur after the image has been taken.

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Colours are beautifully natural, detail is precise and low light shots are more impressive than ever, an improvement even over the iPhone X. Both lenses have optical image stabilisation, which helps out not just with photograhpy, but with video capture too, which is absolutely fantastic on this phone. The 4k video footage I’ve captured has been excellent and look superb at 60 frames per second.

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Shot on iPhone XS

Over on the front you’ll be able to take excellent selfies with the seven megapixel lens which has an aperture of F 2.2. There is a bit of beautification going on here, but it’s not too intrusive.

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Living with the iPhone XS has been great and watching back content on the XS has been fantastic. Especially now that Apple is improved the audio quality and stereo separation. There is a lot to like here with the XS. Overall, the device is astonishingly rapid thanks to it’s super-impressive new A12 bionic chip, it’s noticeably quicker than the iPhone X and that was one of the fastest phones I’ve ever tested.


Speed-wise, this is is one of the quickest phones of all time. I also really like the fact that we finally have IP68 water and dust resistance for this phone. All in all, this is a great device, but no phone is perfect. So what are the downsides and things to be aware of? Well, battery life is okay, but definitely not class leading. There’s a 2658mAh battery under the hood, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but chances are, unless you’re a very heavy user, you’ll get through the day with no worries at all. Thanks in part to A12 bionic chip with it’s seven nanometer architecture which consumes less power.

There’s no 3.5m  headphone jack and there’s no free adaptor in the box as there was with the iPhone X. Also, there’s no fast charger in the box so you’ll have to buy that separately too, and it’s quite expensive which might put some people off.

So what’s the Direct Mobiles verdict?

Well, I’d say double check that the cheaper iPhone XR doesn’t meet most of your needs before you decide to go ahead, because if it does, it’ll save you a fair few of your hard earned cash each and every month. Also, have a think about phones out there Mate 20 Pro from Huawei, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the S9 Plus and not to mention the Note 9. The Samsungs are one of the only flagships left that still include the headphone jack, which I know many of you out there still like to have.

If you think the iPhone XS is for you and you’re coming from an older iPhone, then I’d say it’s definitely a sensible choice. Once you factor in the excellent iOS 12 software experience and the fact that Apple looks after its iPhone users as well. Let’s not forget that you’re likely to get up to four or even five years worth of security and operating system updates. Then you realise that this is actually a really compelling phone, that as we know, is much more than just a phone these days.

Compare the best iPhone XS deals.

Worth the upgrade? Let us know what you think of the iPhone XS in the Comments.

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