A12 Bionic Chip

What changes from iPhone X to iPhone XS and XS Max?

Initial reactions to new XS and XS Max iPhones they can be classified, at least for the time being, as controversial – especially due to the prices of the two devices, which turned out to be superior to those predicted by Ming-Chi Kuo and other normally reliable sources.

Neither did it please the fact that Apple killed the iPhone X without mercy or mercy after just one year of existence – although, analyzing it coldly, there is no reason to maintain the existence of the device considering its proximity to the brothers younger. Next, let’s take a look at exactly what has changed between the previous and current generation of the most expensive iPhones to find out exactly what we are dealing with.

First of all, it is good to make it clear once and for all: the iPhones XS and XS Max are basically identical in features and components, changing between them only the size of the screen (consequently, the behavior of iOS in landscape mode, that is, when in horizontal) and battery; perhaps, for this reason, Apple opted for a nomenclature different from the traditional “Plus”, which has always symbolized some extra benefits, such as the dual camera (present here in both versions).

The iPhone XS is physically almost identical to its brother from last year, even allowing the iPhone X cases to be used in the new model (Update: as we explained in this post, there is a millimeter difference in the iPhone XS camera module that makes some iPhone X cases not fit the new device). The type and technology of the screen, resolution and extra features, such as 3D Touch, True Tone and a broad spectrum of colors, are also the same between the two devices. Almost nothing in this area changes – the difference is due to the recording of ringtones at 120Hz, which promises even greater responsiveness (and, mind you, it is not the screen itself that has this refresh rate, but the touch screen – no ProMotion on iPhones, for now).

The biggest difference between the iPhone X and the XS / XS Max is in the processor: the A11 Bionic comes out and the A12 Bionic, the first SoC (system-on-a-chip) mass-manufactured with 7 nanometer architecture. Apple classifies its new chip as “the most powerful” ever placed on a smartphone, being 15% faster than its predecessor and with an energy use 50% slower; the integrated GPU is 50% more powerful and the machine-learning Core ML platform runs 9x faster on the new chip!

A12 Bionic Chip

They are just numbers, of course, and we will have to prove everything in practice – the demonstrations carried out so far, however, are very encouraging.

In terms of camera, the components themselves remain almost unchanged, with the dual rear system of two 12MP lenses each – the ƒ / 2.4 telephoto lens, which allows 2x optical zoom, and the wide-angle ƒ / 1.8 aperture. This second one is slightly different, with a sensor that captures larger pixels than the iPhone X – now, they are 1.22µm (as in the highly praised Google Pixel 2) and, therefore, can receive more light. The True Tone flash has also been improved, with more natural colors.

The rest of the difference is all in the software: due to improvements, the new iPhones bring a new, more advanced Portrait Mode, with later depth of field control (that is, you adjust how blurry the background of the photo is to any time); this works, even, on the front camera, which also hasn’t changed physically and continues with the same 7MP module. We also have a new Smart HDR mode, which uses the device’s artificial intelligence skills to take even more accurate photos with more vibrant colors.

The capture of video also improved, with HDR support extended to 30 frames per second and stereo audio capture, across all four microphones. Plus, it’s all the same – you can still shoot 4K movies at 24, 30 or 60fps and support for slow-motion videos remains the same, with movies at 120 or 240fps in 1080p.

THE drums of the new iPhones is a little better, although the exact numbers (mAh) have not yet been discovered – this is a task for iFixit. According to Apple, the iPhone XS lasts 30 minutes longer than its predecessor under similar conditions of use; the iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, lasts 1h30 longer – its larger size, of course, allows the installation of a significantly larger battery.

Another change between the devices is liquid resistance: while the iPhone X is IP67 certified, the new XS and XS Max are certified IP68, resisting dives of up to 2 meters deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. Despite this, Apple continues to offer no guarantee of liquid damage on new devices – so there is nothing to do very extreme tests on pets.

We also have occasional changes in established resources: stereo speakers, for example, now receive the technology called “Wide Stereo” – that nobody really knows what it means, but the components are capable of reproducing sounds with greater fidelity and height (for a cell phone speaker, of course). Face ID, in turn, remains essentially the same, but slightly faster due to updates in Secure Enclave, the system inside the A12 chip responsible for the biometric security of the devices.

Finally, it is important to highlight technology support Dual SIM on new devices, something unprecedented in the history of Apple. Basically worldwide, this will happen by including an eSIM (electronic chip), next to the “common”, physical chip; only in China will a special tray be offered with support for two physical chips, since the country does not allow the use of electronic SIMs. Still, good news for those who need to use more than one number – as long as our operators embrace the technology, that is.

We also have the option of 512GB of storage, doubling the maximum capacity of the iPhone X.

Bottom of iPhone XS on the left;  iPhone X on the rightBottom of iPhone XS on the left; iPhone X on the right

An aesthetic detail, but one that cannot go unnoticed in the eyes of the most attentive is the bottom of the iPhone, which, according to rumors, has an asymmetry: there are three holes on one side and six on the other on the XS and XS Max iPhones ( due to a new antenna positioned there at the bottom), while on iPhone X we have a much more interesting visual coherence.

For the rest, nothing changes. The iPhone XS costs exactly the same as its predecessor, with prices starting at $ 1,000; the XS Max, for its part, is $ 100 more expensive – and the most expensive model of all, at $ 1,450 (XS Max 512GB), is the most expensive iPhone in Apple’s history.

In general, there are not so many news and certainly the recipe will not be very seductive for those who already have the iPhone X or even an iPhone 8 Plus, especially at these prices. What do you think?

Update Sep 18, 2018 at 19:00

We added some extra information that was left out of the post originally, like the new technology of the stereo speakers and the slight difference in the main lens of the rear camera.