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iPhone XS vs iPhone X: is Apple’s latest flagship that much of a difference?

Apple refreshes its iPhone line up every year, and the latest flagship model is the iPhone XS, which replaces 2017’s iPhone X

The newer smartphone is an upgrade in many ways, but isn’t quite a complete overhaul, as it retains many features and functions as the older device. In fact, at first glance you might not be able to tell the two handsets apart.

With Amazon Prime Day 2019 coming up, both phones might see great deals and reductions, so it’s worth figuring out which one you’d want to buy.

So what exactly is new and improved here? Do these two smartphones sit at the top of our list of best iPhones? And how do they compare overall?

We’re expecting the iPhone 11 to launch soon, and we’ve heard that’s a small step up from the iPhone XS too.

Read on for a comparison of the design, specs, and features of the iPhone XS and iPhone X, so you can get all the answers you need. 

iPhone XS vs iPhone X design

The iPhone XS looks more or less identical to the iPhone X, which is no surprise given that this is an ‘S’ model.

Both phones have a metal frame and a glass back, while around the front there’s a notch above the screen but otherwise virtually no bezel.

Even the dimensions are the same, with both coming in at 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm, though they weigh ever so slightly different amounts, as the iPhone XS is 177g and the iPhone X is 174g.

But the iPhone XS should be more hardy, as Apple claims the back glass is the most durable ever in a smartphone. Plus, the phone is IP68 certified, meaning it can be submerged up to 2 meters deep in water for up to 30 minutes, while the IP67-rated iPhone X can only be submerged 1 meter deep.

The iPhone XS also comes in a new gold shade, along with silver and space grey, while the iPhone X is available just in silver and space grey.

iPhone XS vs iPhone X display

Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone X have 5.8-inch OLED screens and as noted above they both have a notch and minimal bezel. They also both have a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1125 x 2436. That amounts to a pixel density of 458 pixels per inch.

So there’s really not much to choose here, but some improvements have been made behind the scenes. For example, the iPhone XS apparently has 60% greater dynamic range than the iPhone X.

iPhone XS vs iPhone X OS and power

The iPhone XS is powered by Apple’s new A12 Bionic chipset, which is an upgrade on the A11 Bionic one in the iPhone X.

Both chipsets have six cores, but the A12 Bionic is smaller at 7 nanometers – an industry first, and its performance cores are up to 15% faster than the A11 Bionic’s as well as being up to 40% lower power, while its efficiency cores are up to 50% lower power. It also has a 50% faster GPU and a vastly faster neural engine.

Of course, the iPhone X is still one of the fastest phones around, so it’s unlikely that you’ll notice much difference in their performance in real terms.

You can also get more storage in the iPhone XS, with the phone topping out at 512GB, compared to 256GB for the iPhone X.

Software is much the same though, as while the iPhone XS ships with iOS 12, you’ll soon be able to update the iPhone X to that. Though note that the iPhone XS will probably be supported with updates for longer.

iPhone XS vs iPhone X camera and battery

Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone X have a 12MP dual-lens rear camera, comprising a telephoto f/2.4 lens and a wide-angle f/1.8 lens. Both phones also have optical image stabilization on both lenses.

But the camera is improved for the iPhone XS, thanks to things like a better True Tone flash and the ability to adjust the depth of field after you take a photo.

Of course, both phones also have TrueDepth front-facing cameras, which power Face ID – the main means of unlocking the handsets.

Apple hasn’t revealed the size of the battery in the iPhone XS, but has said that it can last up to 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X. The iPhone X meanwhile has a 2,716mAh battery which in our tests lasts for around a day.

iPhone XS vs iPhone X price and availability

The iPhone XS was released at a starting price of $999 (£999, AU$1,579).

When the XS was released, Apple stopped selling the iPhone X from its stores, although you can pick it up from other outlets. It launched at the same price, but various retailers have given it price cuts to compete with the iPhone XS.

Either way, there are always plenty of iPhone deals to keep the price as low as possible.


The iPhone XS looks on paper to be a modest upgrade to the iPhone X, packing in a newer, faster chipset, more storage and other minor upgrades, but keeping the design much the same.

Like most ‘S’ models from Apple it looks to be more a refinement than an overhaul and as such it’s probably not worth upgrading to from the X – at least based on the specs.

If you’re choosing between the two though and can stomach the price it’s almost certainly the better phone, though you might want to wait for our full review in case it has any hidden issues.

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