iPhone X vs iPhone XS: Should you upgrade?

Compare iPhone XS Models

To buy, or not to buy, this is the question.

The reviews for Apple's new lineup of iPhone X models are out, and critics seems to agree that iPhone X owners should skip the iPhone XS and wait for the iPhone XR. I actually don't believe that I've ever seen so many critics agree on the same thing in my 12-years of writing. It seems that iPhone fatigue may have set in and that we're down to splitting hairs over what makes a good device. We've basically hit peak smartphone and deciding what device to buy has now come down to what type features you prefer. Perhaps Apple has figured this out and this year has decided to attempt to offer something for everyone.

This doesn't mean that the iPhone XS and XS Max are not quality devices. Todd Haselton of CNBC called them the "best iPhones Apple has ever made," but besides slightly better sound and some camera improvements, Haselton doesn't think there is much reason to upgrade.

Starting at $749 for the 64GB model, the iPhone XR offers substantial savings compared to the iPhone XS which starts at $999.

But what are the major differences?

The XR does not have a OLED display, dual camera system and only one built-in stereo speaker. However, it does have a larger display, same A12 Bionic chipset, and a TrueDepth camera on the front.

So let's break it down:

  • If you prefer larger devices, like Apple's previous Plus models, then the iPhone XS Max is for you.
  • Upgrading from the 6s, 7 or 8? Go for the iPhone XS. You'll be happy that you made the leap to the dual camera system.
  • If you don't really care about dual cameras, and don't know the difference between LCD and OLED, then be team iPhone XR. You'll not only be saving money, but you'll have more colors to choose from.
  • Can't afford $749? Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 are available at lower cost.

Not all tech sites agree. Some are saying the XS Max is the only way to go.

Tom's Guide thinks the superior OLED display, dual rear cameras and less bezel" makes the XS Max the device to wait for, while The Telegraph says the Max is "the logical conclusion of smartphone gigantism." Although the UK publication does warn that while offering more of everything, the XS Max also offers more damage to your bank account.