iPhone XS Space Grey 256GB Review

October 26, 2018
By Jason Stettner

The iPhone XS is the latest product from Apple's yearly phone releases being the middle tier choice. This is not due to any dip in quality, just the size as the XS Max is a larger version of the same product. It is also the first phone from the group that has a massive jump in cost and I continue to search for the reasoning behind this tech wise. I wanted to get that out right away, as while this is an amazing phone I still don't quite see what justifies the substantial cost increase aside from branding.

To start, this is one sleek and beautiful device that I've been using for a few weeks at the time of writing. It has a battery that just keeps on kicking, beautiful game graphics and very high resolution capturing quality. The general design looks great and it feels like a truly premium device.

The Screen
I do find the screen notch for the front camera to be a bit annoying, but most apps work around it so you don't notice it most of the time. With this iteration you get a flawless 5.8' screen that is basically the entirety of the front. It features a 2436×1125 resolution with 458 pixels per inch. You sometimes just get lost in the quality of the visuals, its unreal honestly. This is possible through their Super Retina with a OLED screening that delivers true HDR10 lighting support.

That grants high color quality, true blacks and a well balanced contrast. There's also support for Dolby Vision through this offering. The screen handles liquids well with tiny puddles of raindrops causing no problems and while in the hot tub water doesn't cause issues with handling it. There's also water resistance to protect your device in case it does take a dip in some small amounts of water which is apparently two meters for about thirty minutes. The rating is IP68 for water. Outside of being wet, I did find the case rather slippery.
iPhone XS Space Grey 256GB Review Screenshot

Hardware Continued
The Face ID tech is rather flawless with this device, I haven't really had any problems whether it's dark indoors or out. It obviously works perfect throughout the day at multiple angles. The camera brings a smart HDR that looks stunning and a number of options for adjusting perspective that can produce lovely photos. This is presented through the 12mp back camera and the 7mp front camera. There's improved low light, but it could be far better. If the light is even slightly limited you really can't see anything even in the light darkness. I was disappointed by this aspect.

To contrast that you get a stunning 4k 60fps with the back camera that truly delivers on picture quality. It's an unreal size with gorgeous fluidity with that high fps. The front camera is locked to 1080p 60fps as a max, not bad though still I'd like to see the cameras be closer in quality. The low rendering setup they're using for photos and video is slightly problematic in terms of being rendered on video editors and for recognition by general computers as it's basically a locked Apple only codec. You notice this in videos of about ten minutes or longer in length. The audio quality for capture is really good, stereo in setup and existing really high frame rate options are supported at 1080p if you'd like including 120fps or 240 fps (slow motion speeds). General photo quality is fine, it could be sharper however as any zoom in drops the quality considerably. Useless Animoji and Memoji options return for the front camera.

I find the performance to be excellent on this device running all high features for the games I tested it with. It's great for Fortnite, PUBG or any of the other basically time notch PC games running on it. It's incredibly impressive in terms of visual quality for games. I can't wait to see the better games that get developed for it over time as the graphics push continues there. The battery life is phenomenal, lasts all day and more. Playing games, watching video or just general internet usage really doesn't faze it and it's so refreshing to see this long term usage.

You can use wireless Qi chargers or plug it in via traditional Lightning to USB. The loss of the 3.5mm audio is still shocking and a bit of a nuisance, it's not a huge deal yet a problem that continues to show up every now and then. Dual SIM is a nice touch, I'm sure many will like that. I'm shocked that for the cost the advanced AirPods aren't included, or that the Lightning to 3.5mm isn't included as that feels really cheap by Apple. The included EarPods sound great, but they're useless aside from phone usage. Audio in general is incredibly loud and clear without headphones plugged in, impressive for sure.

The Conclusion

The iPhone XS is a marvelous piece of technology with a large vibrant screen, but it certainly isn't perfect lacking in some areas. I really love the 4k 60fps video recording option and for the most part pictures are great. They still need to push the quality further there for better images and video. The screen really is lovely here, the HDR support is appreciated as is support for Dolby Vision. The Face ID is excellent in this version.

The performance is great with everything running smoothly and the gesture based setup works fine, I don't miss the home button at all. It handles well and the games look fantastic on it. There's also hardly any battery loss as this device just keeps going so I don't feel scared playing games while I'm on the go. It's certainly not a perfect phone and I'm still looking for that feature that justifies the steep price increase, but I definitely love it. It'll be a great device for the next few years and while I was worried about the larger screen size, I've adapted to it quickly.

Read our Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand Review
View our iPhone XS Hub

Rating Overall: 8.2

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner