We saw the launch of 3 new iPhones on September 12 at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino: the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XR. Most people weren’t really surprised with the launch of these phones seeing as they have been leaked for weeks, but for most people it was still exciting. Seeing new tech from Apple is often quite the event for fans. Apple’s keynote had over half a million views on YouTube as of Wednesday night. So the question on many people’s minds is “Should I upgrade?” Honestly, unless you are at least 4 generations behind, wait to upgrade.
First let’s run through what exactly you’ll be getting with the new iPhones. The iPhone XS and XS Max, while sounding like “tennis” and “tennis match,” are purely iterative upgrades over the iPhone X, starting at $999 and $1099 for the XS and XS Max respectively. The new phones boast a faster processor, slightly improved cameras and a bit better battery life along with the same 5.8” OLED display as the X on the XS and a larger 6.5” display on the XS Max, both with 458 pixels-per-inch and both with 3D Touch. Both phones can get storage sizes up to 512GB, which we saw about a month earlier on Samsung’s newest flagship, the Galaxy Note 9. Oh yeah, and they also come in a new gold color.
The XR is the cheaper of the three starting at $749 and will probably be the phone most customers will buy, seeing as more people bought the cheaper iPhone 8 last year over the fully featured iPhone X, according to appleinsider. It uses an LCD screen rather than an OLED panel without 3D Touch and a lower resolution when compared to its more expensive siblings, with a pixel density of 326 pixels-per-inch. It also uses a single rear camera system rather than the dual camera system that the X, XS and XS Max use. Specs otherwise are basically the same as the XS and the XS Max. It also comes in multiple colors like red, blue, coral, blue and yellow along with the regular white and black.
All these updates are good, but they’re simply a refinement to the X. They do not add any new features specifically, just basic upgrades like a faster processor and slightly improved cameras. In no way is this a bad thing, but slightly disappointing from the company who brings something new to each phone whether it be 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S or a fingerprint reader in the iPhone 5S. They give you very little incentive to upgrade if you already own an iPhone X, or even an iPhone 8 or 7.
Bouncing off that, these days performance on phones have come so far that unless you have a phone under $150, most people won’t notice a difference in speed in basic day-to-day tasks like checking email or sending texts or googling something. In fact, flagship phone specs have made their way all the way down to the budget market with phones such as the Pocophone from Huawei or the Oneplus 6, both with Snapdragon 845 processors, the highest end mobile CPU on the Android side of things. However, for what most people do on their phones, that performance isn’t necessary. Even older iPhones will be getting better since the most recent edition of the iPhone operating system, iOS 12, focuses on bug fixing and performance optimization on older and newer iPhones alike.
Price is also a factor in this. The iPhone X when it first launched with a base price of $999 seemed almost outrageous, which is why most people went with the iPhone 8 at much cheaper $700. The iPhone XS is no different starting at that same price, but now with a bigger brother in the XS Max starting at $1099 and going all the way up to $1450. That’s the most you’ll pay for any mainstream smartphone today, with only the Galaxy Note 9 rivaling it, going up as high as $1250. However, the Galaxy Note 9 can be up at that price because it is a “zero compromises smartphone,” as per tech YouTuber Linus Sebastian, with basically everything the XS Max has and more including a headphone jack and a whole stylus. This is where the iPhone XR comes in at much more reasonable $750, which can do most of what the XS can do, with some compromises.
To some people though, those prices are still too steep. What I would want anyone to consider is switching over to the Android side of things. While yes, you will be giving up the Apple ecosystem, you will be gaining a much wider range of phones that can more cater to what you want in a smartphone. And plenty of these phones do what Apple is doing just as well if not better.
Want to have a phone made specifically for gaming? The Razer Phone has you covered. Want an amazing music listening experience? Get the LG G7 ThinQ (stupid name, I know, but just as stupid as the iPhone XS Max). Want to have the best movie watching experience you will ever have on a phone? Go with one of the Samsung Galaxy S9 phones with their amazing OLED displays, and trust me on this one, I own a Galaxy Note 9 which has the same display. Want the best camera you can get on any smartphone? Go with either the Huawei P20 Pro or the Google Pixel 2, with DxOMark scores of 109 and 98 respectively. And with all of these phones you’ll be getting a layer of customization with Android that you simply cannot get on iOS. Bottom line, there are plenty of Android phones you can get for the price of the iPhone that can do some things better.
As exciting as the launch of these new phones is, they’re simply not worth upgrading to. Don’t get me wrong, these new iPhones are really great smartphones, but as an upgrade they’re not very tempting. The only phone I can reasonably say is truly worth it is the iPhone XR with its much lower price and basically the same features as its more premium siblings. So if you have to upgrade to a newer iPhone if you have an iPhone 6S or older, get the XR. But if you already have a 7, an 8 or a X, just wait another year or switch over to an android phone. And hey, there are a bunch of new phones coming out from LG, Razer and Google in the next few weeks, so you’ll have plenty of choices.