If you have an iPhone X, should you upgrade to the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max?

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 17
Preorders for the iPhone XS and XS Max have just commenced, and some may be wondering if it's worth ordering one if they already own an iPhone X. It's a question AppleInsider has been asked a lot, so let's talk about it.





In my case, I've got an iPhone 8 Plus, and I'm upgrading. My cohort Max has an iPhone X and he is also moving to the new models by ordering the iPhone XS Max.

While there are many differences between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone XS, there are fewer when you compare the iPhone X with the latest releases. It's worth going through everything that is different between the iPhone X and iPhone XS, to see if there's enough value to make the migration worth it.

Polls and opinion

Whether they like to admit it or not, a lot of people want to make sure that others can tell if they have the latest iPhone, and on the outside, the iPhone XS looks practically identical to the iPhone X, except for a new gold finish, which seems to be the most popular model based on a poll AppleInsider ran on its YouTube channel.

It's also probable that most people upgrading from an iPhone X will go with the XS Max, just because it is larger. The poll, posted to YouTube right as preorders started, revealed most were opting for the XS Max, while interestingly the iPhone XS was the least sought-after model, probably because it's physically identical to the iPhone X.




"Honestly just gonna stick with my iPhone X," one commented declared. "Can't justify spending $2000 Canadian for a bigger golden duplicate."

Of course, that's just one opinion, so let's look at the actual differences between the iPhone X and the iPhone XS.

The big picture

The biggest perk of the iPhone XS is probably the new dual-camera system. It has new sensors with deeper pixels that'll make for better low-light photography, along with a new True Tone flash. Optical image stabilization is in play on both lenses, but the iPhone X already had that, along with the fast lens apertures.

The image signal processor now works together with the neural engine to refine the software side of the cameras, making things like portrait blur more accurate. However, the iPhone X saw massive improvements in portrait blur just by running the iOS 12 beta.




Nevertheless, the software improvement should be noticeable.

The biggest new feature is Bokeh and Depth Control, which allows you to adjust the background blur and depth after taking photos. This feature alone is going to convince a lot of people to upgrade, simply because it makes photos look noticeably better.




There's also the addition of Smart HDR which, along with the new sensor, is going to increase the dynamic range by 60 percent and reduce motion blur thanks to zero shutter lag. On the video side, there is better dynamic range and software improvements, as well as finally being able to record audio in stereo.

The improvements are certainly welcomed, but the iPhone X already takes amazing photos that are good enough for almost everybody.

Not massive leaps

Apple boasted about the Super Retina display and its wide-color gamut, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, but the iPhone X already supports all that. The displays are literally identical.

There's also some Face ID performance improvements on the iPhone XS, but something that a lot of people might not know is that Face ID's speed is enhanced on the iPhone X with iOS 12, which will be released on September 17th. There isn't enough of an improvement to make it big enough of a deal for upgrading.

Of course, there's the new A12 processor. To be honest, the iPhone X is already one of the fastest phones out there, and it can easily run anything on the App Store, so even if there is any performance improvement on the XS, the iPhone X won't hold you back in any way.




In terms of battery life, the iPhone XS only lasts 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X, which isn't much to shout about. The iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, lasts an hour and a half longer, so that could definitely spark someone's interest.

Water resistance was also increased to IP68, but many might not know that it just increases the underwater depth it's rated for to 2 meters. The iPhone X can last the same 30 minutes, but at a meter deep, which is just over 3 feet below water.

In short, this means the iPhone XS will be protected if it's dropped closer to the deep end of a swimming pool, in a similar way as the iPhone X would be fine in the shallow end. Either case is a pretty rare situation for most people.

The iPhone XS does get more durable and scratch resistant, but we hear the same thing almost every year, and iPhone glass is still able to crack. It's glass!

Apple also mentioned that the speakers have a wider stereo feel, but that's all due to changes in software, and I feel the iPhone X speakers are already some of the best in any smartphone.

The iPhone XS does gain faster wireless charging, but Apple doesn't specify by how much, so it doesn't seem like it's a major improvement or else they would have mentioned it. The iPhone X supports 7.5W wireless charging, and people are guessing the iPhone XS supports up to around 10W, but no-one will know until Apple actually ships it.




There's also Dual SIM, which is nice for a smaller market of people, but by itself, it's definitely not enough to make it worth it upgrading.

There's also LTE speed improvements, but in the real world, most people probably won't notice much of a difference. The new models all do support T-Mobile's 600Mhz spectrum, also called band 71, for the first time, which could . This could give users of the iPhone XS in cities better signal strength versus the iPhone X.

So a lot of these improvements may not be worth it on their own, but packed together, it could catch someone's eye.

Debatable upgrade

In my personal opinion, if you already own an iPhone X it's not worth upgrading, unless you really want that gold color. Financially it's not worth it, just because the iPhone X is already good enough in practically every area.

If money isn't a concern for you, the decision to upgrade is much easier.

Now if you love having a massive screen, it's definitely worth moving to the XS Max, but you're mostly paying for the display and getting all of the other small improvements on the side.

There is also little tangible benefit to upgrading to an iPhone XS from a similarly-colored iPhone X, as they will feel and look identical. Generally, people want to perceive a difference when they're spending money, and going from the iPhone X to the iPhone XS is precisely the sort of situation that may feel like a letdown.

You can definitely feel the difference with the XS Max, justifying the purchase for a lot of people.

If you're just looking at internal improvements alone and nothing externally, then no, the iPhone XS and XS Max are not worth the upgrade if you've already got an iPhone X.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    People , you don’t have to upgrade every year. 
    Even if you upgrade don’t let the old device rot. Sell it on EBay, Letgo etc or give it to a family member.
    StrangeDayssebnolan11neo-techjbdragonnetmagemagman1979hagarcornchippscooter63Deelron
  • Reply 2 of 76
    I think many people will upgrade from iPhone X to iPhone XS Max. I think Apple thought about this last year. They introduced iPhone X with one size screen and two color options only, their plan was this all along. It is a brilliant marketing strategy I think. Speedwise there is not much of a difference. Also technology wise there seems not much of a difference either. Apple just intentionally keep the price bar high, it is just too expensive but it is business, they will (they should) sell tons of iPhones. iPhone 7 is still a great phone, refurbished one is less than 400 dollars, if people have budget problem they can go with iPhone 7 and 7 plus. Brilliant marketing Apple.
    hagarcornchipclaire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 76
    If you don't care about stainless steel then sell it and buy the amazing XR.
    supadav03
  • Reply 4 of 76
    It always has been so: if you own an iPhone from the last year, and this year comes an “S” model, it is not that much of a difference. 
    Lets wait the 2019 iPhone. 
    edited September 15 Deelronols
  • Reply 5 of 76
    If you don't care about stainless steel then sell it and buy the amazing XR.
    But the XR is the size of a Plus, so besides materials size is a consideration.
    bb-15netmagecornchipclaire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 76
    urahara said:
    It always has been so: if you own an iPhone from the last year, and this year comes an “S” model, it is not that much of a difference. 
    Not so. Most of the S years have had considerable improvements, featurewise and specs.
    netmagepscooter63dewmeclaire1redgeminipaaylkMetriacanthosauruswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 76
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,902member
    Of course not. X and  XS are virtually the same for normal users. I’m a iPhone Plus guy so XS Max for me from 7+ here.
    edited September 15 netroxnetmagechasmwilliamlondonredgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 76
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,902member
    urahara said:
    It always has been so: if you own an iPhone from the last year, and this year comes an “S” model, it is not that much of a difference. 
    Lets wait the 2019 iPhone. 
    True. However, from experience, I’d rather wait to get S version for the performance and bug fixes!
    claire1
  • Reply 9 of 76
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,902member
    I think many people will upgrade from iPhone X to iPhone XS Max. I think Apple thought about this last year. They introduced iPhone X with one size screen and two color options only, their plan was this all along. It is a brilliant marketing strategy I think. Speedwise there is not much of a difference. Also technology wise there seems not much of a difference either. Apple just intentionally keep the price bar high, it is just too expensive but it is business, they will (they should) sell tons of iPhones. iPhone 7 is still a great phone, refurbished one is less than 400 dollars, if people have budget problem they can go with iPhone 7 and 7 plus. Brilliant marketing Apple.
    No they won’t. X owners are those who used to own regular iPhones, not Plus version. 
  • Reply 10 of 76
    urahara said:
    It always has been so: if you own an iPhone from the last year, and this year comes an “S” model, it is not that much of a difference. 
    Not so. Most of the S years have had considerable improvements, featurewise and specs.

    The 6S was the biggest upgrade ever.

    - They doubled RAM to 2GB (which makes a huge difference).
    - The A9 had a much bigger jump in performance from the A8 than the A8 did from the A7.
    - They introduced Retina Flash.
    - They introduced NVMe storage.
    - They introduced 3D Touch.

    It’s one of the most future-proof iPhones ever released. 
    edited September 15 netroxjbishop1039PickUrPoisonStrangeDaysclaire1chasmaylkmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 76
    Of course XS Max, even if you’d never used a Plus before. 

    The trend is towards the Plus size, which makes sense because thanks to Siri and accessories like the Watch and Airpods (even the cabled EarPods), single-handed phone use is no longer required. Between computer function and phone function, the computer function prevails increasingly since many years (maybe since the beginning), making the maximum display size a must.
    edited September 15 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 76
    I upgraded from an X in Space Grey to and XS in Silver, but I'm on the iPhone Upgrade program, so I get a new phone every year. A lot of people like the MAX due to the larger size, but I actually DON'T want a bigger phone. The X is plenty big for me, and I could go even smaller if they made such a thing (bye-bye SE!). I want something that fits easily in my pocket and my hand. I hate having to go two-handed to do something on my phone. I also picked up a matching AW Series 4, which I think I'm more excited about than anything. Can't wait for next Friday!
    kitatitaylkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 76
    Bokeh was available in iPhone X. Apple never called it Bokeh before, but it’s Bokeh. 

    This year iPhones introduce a variable field of depth, not Bokeh per se. For some reason, Apple is now throwing around the term Bokeh, but it’s been available for a year now. 
  • Reply 14 of 76
    BebeBebe Posts: 107member
    I am on the X for the size and I still use my Plus occasionally for videos. I would love to go back to the big screen and Xs Max for me. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 76
    No way someone having an iPhone X will upgrade to another iPhone. The X is just perfect. One year from now. Give the planet a break. I'm a huge Apple fan and i understand a customer upgrading iPhone 6 to iPhone Xs, Xs Max or R. One more point : the 5.8 X holds in my hand just ok but give me a Xs Max 6,5 and it will be too much...
    ClarityToSee
  • Reply 16 of 76
    Yep, I ordered an iPhone XS Max from my current iPhone X. The screen size is the main selling point for me!

    And just as Vadim mentioned in the video, I want to feel like I have something different so I am also going from the space gray color on the X to the silver color on the XS Max. :smiley: 
    edited September 15 claire1aimbddwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 76
    If you don't care about stainless steel then sell it and buy the amazing XR.
    But the XR is the size of a Plus, so besides materials size is a consideration.
    XR is smaller than the Plus but still has Plus's split-view in landscape and is 2x retina rather than blurry 3x on the Plus. Also being slightly larger than the 8 gives incredible battery life.
    edited September 15
  • Reply 18 of 76
    Love my X, but I miss the big screen. Looking forward to my XS Max.
    davidf18appleismymiddlenameJFC_PAredgeminipaMetriacanthosauruswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 76
    fallenjt said:
    Of course not. X and  XS are virtually the same for normal users. I’m a iPhone Plus guy so XS Max for me from 7+ here.
    That's a bold statement given that you have never used an XS (and apparently haven't used an X either).
    claire1Metriacanthosauruswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 76
    Please read anandtech.com before writing articles about differing characteristics between the X and the Xs/Xs Max.

    I'm a current Verizon yearly upgrade owner upgrading to the Xs Max.  Yearly upgrades provide constant warranty protection.

    But the Xs/Xs Max phone (as anantech has pointed out) has 4x4 MIMO, with 4 antennas instead of 2, which is very important for people who work in office towers and are in other places without good signal penetration.

    I also strongly recommend the official Apple iPhone leather case for best protection.
    avon b7pscooter63redgeminipawatto_cobra
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