Test Apple iPhone XS: an update without excess

Presentation

It is a revolution. Apple has not increased the price of its new iPhone Xs compared to the iPhone X. Since the launch of its first iPhone, the firm of Cupertino had always added between 10 and 50 € to the new model. Does "no increase" in 2018 rhyme with "no improvement"? We are not far from it. But as the saying goes: "you don't change a winning team". Because, it must be said right away, the iPhone Xs remains a solid reference in the market.

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An iPhone X ? No, an iPhone Xs.

Ergonomics and design

iPhone Xs almost takes over the lines of the iPhone X. The Xs therefore has a screen with very thin edges that occupies about 82% of the front. A format close to that of the iPhone 8, but with a better optimization of space in sum. Unlike the gigantic iPhone Xs Max, the Xs is easy to operate with one hand. Especially since the new gesture linked to the interface launched at the same time as the iPhone X works very well overall.

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iPhone Xs surrounded by the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X.

L'screen is still amputated with a part at the top for the integration of the notch. It houses the front photo module, a speaker, as well as the various components related to Face ID. This technology will definitely take the place of the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 2018 range. Apple is advancing an improvement of Face ID, but it remains quite discreet when compared with the iPhone X. Unlocking is quick, even if having to systematically slide your finger across the screen to complete the process can become tedious.

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notch still present for Face ID, in particular.

Les cosmetic differences between the iPhone Xs and the iPhone X are very few. The set remains perfectly finished, with a metal rim and a glass back. Apple announces that it has reinforced the latter. No change in the button layout either. The volume keys keep their place on the left edge and the unlock button on the opposite edge.

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An glass back that has been reinforced.

iPhone Xs retains the waterproofness of its predecessor, but improves it slightly. The Xs is thus able to withstand a 30 min soak at a depth of 2m. One of the big announcements at the conference that saw the birth of the iPhone Xs is its dual-SIM compatibility. However, with a nano-SIM port and an eSIM port, it will take some time before it can be enjoyed in France. Indeed, no French operator is able to manage this technology at the time of writing this test.

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An port Lightning, for how much longer?

Apple still doesn't offer a microSD port to increase the amount of available memory. The 3.5 mm mini-jack, which disappeared when the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was launched, is also missing. Great novelty, Apple no longer even provides a Lightning to mini-jack adapter... A piece of cable at 10 € that you'll have to buy separately from now on.

Screen

screen of the iPhone X was one of the best on the market and that of the iPhone Xs takes the same path. It features the 5.8-inch (14.7 cm) diagonal Amoled slab with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 px. The resolution is unchanged at 458 dpi. Perfectly sufficient for all the uses for which the Xs is intended. One of the advantages of the Oled is its ability to offer an almost infinite contrast ratio. In addition, the iPhone Xs enjoys a comfortable maximum brightness of 613 cd/m² and a light reflection rate of 7%. This means that it remains easy to read even in direct sunlight. Under the opposite conditions, the iPhone Xs is kind to our retina and can drop below 1 cd/m².

Apple is clearly at Samsung's level when it comes to color fidelity. On the iPhone Xs, we measured a delta E of 1.2. This puts the California smartphone in the category of model students. The color temperature is at 6,740 K, close to the expected 6,500 K. The True Tone mode, which adapts the color temperature according to the lighting environment, remains as pleasant as ever.

For To complete this good work, the iPhone Xs screen offers excellent responsiveness. We measured its touch delay at 40 ms and its persistence is zero. Thank you Oled.

Performances

In good high-end smartphone that respects itself, the iPhone Xs has very solid performance. The 6 cores of the A12 Bionic chip and the 4GB of RAM that comes with them do a great job. In use, there are no slowdowns, the fluidity is perfect when launching applications and the switch from one to the other is commendable.

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Températures recorded after 10 min of Full HD video recording.

iPhone Xs doesn't get carried away by temperature rises. Faced with heavy tasks or video recording, its external temperature remains very low.

For the video game, the iPhone Xs is also a good ally. The iGPU integrated into the A12 is among the most powerful on the market, alongside Qualcomm's Adreno 630. No matter what games you play, this smartphone does it perfectly.

Audio

We didn't dare to think about it, but Apple did. After removing the 3.5 mm mini-jack plug - as on other competing smartphones - the iPhone Xs abandons its Lightning adapter. From now on, the only option when buying it is on the wireless headset side. Otherwise, you have to go to the cash desk and pay €10 for the adapter. As a result, we take the decision to limit the rating of this part to 2 stars. We had done this for the HTC U12+ and the iPhone Xs Max.

In As we don't have a mini-jack plug and adapter, we are not able to perform our usual battery of tests.

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An design that remains elegant.

Les speakers are pretty good. They are powerful and quite accurate overall. Their positioning, one on the front, the other on the lower edge, allows them to offer stereo and in a nice way too. The slight distortion audible in the high frequencies at full volume may be regrettable, but it is still acceptable.

Photo

Sur the paper, the double photo module of the iPhone Xs looks identical to that of the iPhone X. A main module with a 12 MP sensor and stabilized optics opening at f/1.8 (26 mm equivalent) and a second module, also equipped with a 12 MP sensor, but topped by an optics opening at f/2.4 (52 mm equivalent), also stabilized. However, Apple boasts the merits of its main sensor, larger and with photosites of 1.4 μm against 1.22 µm for the iPhone X. This could potentially boost the iPhone Xs' performance in low light conditions.

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An double photo module that progresses little.

In in daylight, we note a slight improvement on the iPhone Xs, with images that clearly gain in naturalness. The level of detail is very good for a sensor of such a definition and the warm colorimetric rendering, without being shrill, is appreciated. In these conditions, the iPhone Xs holds without any problem the comparison with the best in the discipline. Added to this is an excellent responsiveness, both for focusing and capturing.

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In low brightness, the improvement is not obvious at first glance. You have to look at the EXIF data in the picture to understand what's new. The iPhone X triggered slower and had a lower sensitivity. The iPhone Xs now triggers at 1/15 s and reaches ISO 1000, allowing better freehand results than its predecessor. However, the result is not yet perfect, with a clear tendency to underexposure. At least the electronic noise remains under control and the Xs does not use too much destructive smoothing.

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Comme on theXs Max, the rendering of the second photo module does not show much progress. The quality of the photos remains below that of aGalaxy Note 9 and the level of detail drops significantly compared to that of the main module. In low light, the main sensor takes over and a digital zoom is applied. The pictures are clearly degraded. This is an observation that we make on the vast majority of smartphones equipped with a module of this type.

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Les two photo modules are always used to operate the portrait mode. A function that allows to create a background blur that has not changed much since the previous generation of iPhone. The only real novelty here is the ability to adjust the intensity of the bokeh by playing on a "digital aperture". A feature that has been around for a long time, especially at Huawei.

iPhone Xs allows you to record videos in UHD at 60 fps. A definition that few smartphones manage to handle properly. The Xs is doing very well and offers one of the best experiences we've seen. It's smooth during recording and playback.

For end on this part, the iPhone Xs offers very good results for selfies. Its 7MP sensor delivers detailed and well exposed images. The management of backlighting is satisfactory, but we can regret the low field of view of this front module.

Autonomy

iPhone X had pleasantly surprised us with its endurance. The iPhone Xs is announced with 30 minutes of extra autonomy. In practice, we can see above all that things haven't changed much, despite the switch to a 7 nm chip, which is supposed to be less energy consuming. The Xs is still able to withstand almost 2 days of standard use and will survive a big day of intensive use. We remain far ahead of the average results of the iPhone 8 or 7. We can't perform our SmartViser test on iOS devices and are forced to pull the good old Netflix video player test out of the box. A use in which the iPhone Xs holds for 12h12, a little less than the 12h21 of the iPhone X.

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