The recent reveal of the next iterations of Apple’s popular iPhone lineup of smartphones has fans of the Cupertino company salivating and the rest of us wondering what the big deal is. Indeed, the only guarantee you have with a new iPhone release is that it will be expensive and confusingly named, as is the case with the moderately upgraded iPhone X which showed up in the form of the new XR, XS, and XS Max. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your iPhone 8 or lower and were thinking about the new XR, XS, or the XS Max, you might want to think again because not only will the latter two break your bank but they may offer only a marginal upgrade over your current headset. In this article we’re going to give you a brief teardown of the new Apple lineup and compare it with the iPhone X primarily but also give brief reference to older models like the iPhone 8.


Our goal here is to show you that the new XR, XS, and XS Max might not really be all that meaning you might save a lot of money and get as much performance out of something that isn’t as up-to-date as the new models. Don’t worry – we’re not here to convert you to Android, we just want to point out that the upgrades to the new XR, XS, and XS Max are marginal at best and you, as a consumer, may be better served getting a last gen model instead.

Let’s start with the design because, let’s be real, this is where most people expect an upgrade and the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max fail to impress here outside of the addition of some new colors and the expanded size of the XS Max, an option not offered with the X. If you wanted people to know you have the latest and greatest thing on sight then the XR, XS, and XS Max will disappoint you. Most confusingly positioned of the three is the new XR, itself not a high-end headset but coming in at a big enough price to have you asking “why not just get an X instead?” All of the models are large phones as Apple has eliminated smaller iPhones from its lineup entirely. One thing that is apparent when you look at the new iPhones is that they are made to consume media content.

Of course, Apple touts the new processor, camera, and other tech upgrades but the overall vibe of the new models is to promote consumption of media. In this regard consumers will be just as well served buying an iPhone X. Not only is it comparable in many ways to the XS but it is superior to the XR. Consumers considering an upgrade might want to pass over the latest and instead go for what was the best instead. On top of this, for those of us out there who don’t care about aesthetics, the iPhone 8 really represents a value play. Purchased new or used you are guaranteed to save considerable money over the XR, XS, or XS Max and you will have all of the performance you need.

A lot of the allure of the newest models is that they offer an altered design but outside of that it is really hard to justify the performance upgrades. Keep in mind the highest priced iPhones are now starting to get into iMac territory and, from a value proposition standpoint, increased scrutiny of the totality of the product is warranted.

In terms of form factor you’re looking at minimal differences between the iPhone X and XS. The  iPhone XS does add a 512GB option for its hard drive (likely to accommodate higher-res video and pictures) and one more gig of RAM over the X. Of course, it does make use of the new A12 Bionic processor. If you’re a hardcore mobile gamer this may be relevant to you but even then the iPhone X will be able to handle the same games as it isn’t like devs make bespoke titles for specific iPhone models. The real area where the XS shines is in capturing video and photos but the iPhone X does an excellent job of this as well.

Though we imagine there are some pretty serious iPhone photographers out there we also imagine that there are many photographers who would rather have traditional optical equipment and not spend that on smartphone. For someone who wants to take excellent pictures and video the iPhone X is tough to beat. If this doesn’t matter to you at all then consider the even older iPhone 8.

The best thing about Apple products is that they do tend to be out of higher quality materials so even used models should hold up for the long haul. The one model, again, that is awkwardly positioned is the XR. It’s tough to recommend for almost any user – at least for now. We imagine in the future that the XR will be justified in some way but, given the impressive units out on the market already, the XR just doesn’t hold up. We would recommend that someone who wants the look of the latest phones but actual performance turn to the X model.

So who exactly should buy an iPhone XS? We think the iPhone XS is perfect for consumers that demand the latest and greatest product from Apple and who are concerned with marginal performance upgrades. Make no doubt, the iPhone XS is an improvement in almost category aside from screen type over the X but that doesn’t mean it’s a huge leap over that model. Consumers tend to think of products in terms of revolutionary change rather than evolutionary changes and that really factors into a lot of peoples’ disappointment with some of Apple’s latest products. The new iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max are very much evolutionary rather than revolutionary and people in the market for something truly different are probably looking at the RED Hydrogen One and not Apple’s latest work.

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