Recapping Apple's lackluster iPhone XS & XR reveal

The tech giant's latest smartphone unveiling leaves much to be desired

The iPhone XS unveiling.
Credit: 
Screenshot from Apple
This month, Apple announced a line of new products, including the iPhone XS, XS Max, and a more affordable alternative, the iPhone XR. If the tech giant’s release of new phone models is news to you, you’re not alone—the launch flew largely under the radar, and for good reason.
 
Although Apple’s latest iPhones boast various improvements, they lack standout features. You’d be hard pressed to spot the differences between the new phone models, and even more so with their predecessor, the iPhone X, released in Nov. 2017. 
 
If you’re deciding which model to choose, or debating upgrading at all, the following breakdown might help cure your indecision. 
 

The new and exciting

The new iPhone models may look like they’re straight out of 2017—with the iPhone X’s trademark edge-to-edge display and missing home button—but all three products are smarter, faster, and louder than any iPhone released to date.
 
According to Apple, the new smartphone models’ A12 Bionic processor and superior 
face-scanning algorithms will make using your phone and securely unlocking it more efficient. The changes will speed up app performance and officially improve the once-finicky Face ID. 
 
Immersive listening experiences are also in store for the new iPhones, with four built-in microphones per phone and a wider stereo sound. That means purchased, recorded, and shared audio and video will be louder and richer than ever. 
 
Of course, you can’t have enhanced sound quality without an improved camera. The three phones share a brand-new camera sensor capable of Smart HDR, which combines various frames to create one great photo—selfie Sundays will be forever changed. 
 

The underwhelming

While Apple has made some clear technological advancements in the past year, it’s fair to say the new phones are far from revolutionary. Improved performance, audio, and visuals are things to applaud, but maybe not break the bank for.
 
The phones’ prices range from $800 to $2,000. If the hefty price tag doesn’t scare you off, the poor Wi-Fi connectivity and cell reception new iPhone owners are already complaining about might.
 

The difference between iPhone XS and XR 

Since the XS Max is merely a larger version of the iPhone XS, the real consumer decision is between the XS and XR.
 
Whether you splurge on the XS or settle for the XR, the core hardware is the same in each phone. The real difference is in the display, camera, and battery life. 
 
Naturally, the pricier—and thinner—XS has a better screen, higher resolution, and more innovative cameras. 
While the XS has two cameras in the back—a wide-angle and telephoto—the XR only has one, albeit with the same quality as the XS’s wide-angle. But the cheaper XR has both a longer battery life and comes in a variety of colours including blue, yellow, and coral. 
 
Keep in mind you’ll have to wait at least another month before you can get your hands on the XR. If you think the cheaper iPhone is worth the wait, it might be the one for you.   
 

iOS 12

For those not willing to upgrade to a new hardware, Apple’s latest iPhone software update, iOS 12, might be enough to last you through the year. 
 
Not only is the free update compatible with any device dating back to the iPhone 5S, its features include better notification management, a built-in tape measure feature, and a tool in the Settings app to help you manage and limit your screen time. 
 
Sadly, in order to take advantage of the viral Memoji feature, you’ll need to have a phone no older than the iPhone X.
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