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iPhone XS review: Everything Apple has to offer, but in a smaller package Review

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Reports indicate Apple’s iPhone XS Max is by far the most popular of the iPhone XS line. The Max is the bigger of the two, with a massive 6.5-inch display. The smaller, more familiar-sized iPhone XS looks nearly identical to last year’s iPhone X, in terms of design and size.

With the release of the 6.1-inch iPhone XR just around the corner, the iPhone XS is the smallest iPhone Apple announced this year despite its price tag.

In nearly every aspect, the iPhone XS is identical to the iPhone XS Max. Both devices use the same processor, display tech, and camera setup. The only differences are the screen and battery size.

Also: The 10 best smartphones of 2018

Because the two devices are virtually identical, make sure to read my review of the iPhone XS Max for a more nuanced look at the iPhone XS.

After using an iPhone XS for a week, I found it to be every bit as good as the iPhone XS Max, with one exception.

iPhone XS: Design


Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

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Outside of the new gold color, you’d be hard pressed to tell the iPhone X and iPhone XS apart. The only visually identifiable difference I can find is a single new antenna line on the bottom left corner for the phone.

The iPhone XS measures 5.65 x 2.79 x 0.3-inches, which means cases for the iPhone X should fit the XS without issue. I say should, because there is a slight variation with the camera bump on the back of the XS, meaning iPhone X cases may not fit the iPhone XS.

What makes the iPhone XS so appealing is its size. It fits comfortably in the palm of my hand, and the entire screen is easily reachable when using the phone with one hand.

Also: Best smartphones for 2018 CNET

I’ve adjusted to the sometimes awkwardness that comes with using the Max with one hand, thanks in part to Reachability, and the rest of the time perfecting how to adjust the position of the Max in my hand.

The iPhone XS just feels like the ideal size for a phone to rest comfortably in your hand, without sacrificing a decently sized display.

The right side of the iPhone XS is where the Side button is found. It’s used to lock, wake, or summon Siri. The left side houses the mute switch, along with the volume up and down buttons. A stainless steel band wraps the perimeter of the phone, holding the glass front and back in place.

The headphone jack is still gone, as is the home button, replaced instead with navigation that’s made up entirely of gestures. A minimal design that forces you to focus on what’s on the screen, with minimal buttons and distractions is clearly the future of the iPhone.

iPhone XS: Performance

The iPhone XS uses Apple’s A12 Bionic six-core processor, with updated Neural Engine, Face ID, and 4×4 MIMO wireless tech (thus the added antenna band). According to iFixit’s teardown, the XS has 4GB of memory and a 2,658mAh hour battery. Apple is selling the iPhone XS with storage options of 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

The rear-facing camera features a dual 12-megapixel setup, along with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera used for selfies and Face ID.

For the past two weeks, I’ve used either the iPhone XS or XS Max, and the longer I use either phone, the more impressed I am with the camera. I’ve noticed the improvements, not in Instagram worthy photos, but instead in the everyday mundane photos we’ve come to rely on our phones to capture. For example, during a recent visit to IKEA, I snapped a photo of the location tag for a shelf I wanted to buy. When it came time to find the item in the warehouse, I opened the Photos app and opened the photo. Embarrassing as it is, the clarity in the photo was something that caught me off guard.

Also: iPhone XS: 7 things the pros need TechRepublic

In my review of the XS Max, I went into detail about reported issues with connectivity. I didn’t have a chance to run the same tests on the standard XS, because I no longer have access to an iPhone X, but in my experience with the XS, its reception and throughput have been without issue. I ran a few random speed tests in the same location as I conducted the XS Max testing, and found it to average right around the same speed as I experienced with the XS Max. However, that experience can’t be taken as gospel — there are simply too many variables involved.

In addition to display size, one trade-off users who opt for the XS instead of the XS Max will make is battery life. At the end of each day when using the iPhone XS, I was close to killing the battery. On a couple occasions, with heavier use, I had to top off the battery around 7pm. That’s about in line with my experience on the iPhone X. With the iPhone XS Max, however, I typically didn’t have to charge after a day and a half of use.

iPhone XS: Conclusion

iphone-xs-3.jpgiphone-xs-3.jpg

Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

To be clear, the iPhone XS is every bit as good as the iPhone XS Max, save for battery life. It delivers on Apple’s (now yearly) promise of being the best iPhone ever.

But as was the case with the iPhone XS Max, the biggest hurdle potential customers will have to overcome is the cost. The XS starts at $999 for the 64GB model and tops out at $1,349 for the 512GB model.

With the iPhone XR, that starts at $749, just a couple of weeks away, the iPhone XS is a perhaps the most confusing iPhone of 2018. Its display is top-notch, the camera is impeccable, and performance is as fast as you could hope from a tiny handheld computer. Yet, it’s the smallest iPhone out of the new crop, while simultaneously being the second most expensive model.

Also: iPhone XS: A cheat sheet for professionals TechRepublic

It’s hard not to look at the XS and see it as the middle child, with most of the attention going to less expensive — and more colorful — iPhone XR, all the while the iPhone XS Max is setting the example. Or, I could be looking at this way too deep and it simply boils down to your budget, or maybe what size of screen you want.

Either way, if you’re on the fence of whether or not you should upgrade to the iPhone XS, I’d wait until the iPhone XR is available and then make a decision.

Previous and related coverage:

Apple vs Samsung phones: We compare the Galaxy S series and the iPhone XS

Should you buy the latest Apple or Samsung device? And which size? This guide breaks down the factors that matter most to business buyers and consumers alike.

Six months with Apple Watch 3: I’m sold

I hadn’t worn a watch for 20 years when I bought an Apple Watch Series 3 six months ago. Now I wear it every day. Here’s why — and what I don’t like.

iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: We compare the big phones

Apple and Samsung recently released large flagship smartphones priced at $1,000+. They are close to the same size and have the latest specs, but there are also some significant differences that will lead you to one over the other for your business needs.

Will there be an October Apple event? Signs point to yes

Once again, David Gewirtz puts on his mystical prognostication hat (okay, fine, he launches Excel) to delve into Apple announcement history. Will we see new Macs, iPads, and whatnot in October? There’s a pretty good chance, and we’ll even tell you what dates to write in your calendar.

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Facebook is testing pop-up messages telling people to read a link before they share it – TechCrunch

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Years after popping open a pandora’s box of bad behavior, social media companies are trying to figure out subtle ways to reshape how people use their platforms.

Following Twitter’s lead, Facebook is trying out a new feature designed to encourage users to read a link before sharing it. The test will reach 6 percent of Facebook’s Android users globally in a gradual rollout that aims to encourage “informed sharing” of news stories on the platform.

Users can still easily click through to share a given story, but the idea is that by adding friction to the experience, people might rethink their original impulses to share the kind of inflammatory content that currently dominates on the platform.

Twitter introduced prompts urging users to read a link before retweeting it last June and the company quickly found the test feature to be successful, expanding it to more users.

Facebook began trying out more prompts like this last year. Last June, the company rolled out pop-up messages to warn users before they share any content that’s more than 90 days old in an an effort to cut down on misleading stories taken out of their original context.

At the time, Facebook said it was looking at other pop-up prompts to cut down on some kinds of misinformation. A few months later, Facebook rolled out similar pop-up messages that noted the date and the source of any links they share related to COVID-19.

The strategy demonstrates Facebook’s preference for a passive strategy of nudging people away from misinformation and toward its own verified resources on hot button issues like COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

While the jury is still out on how much of an impact this kind of gentle behavioral shaping can make on the misinformation epidemic, both Twitter and Facebook have also explored prompts that discourage users from posting abusive comments.

Pop-up messages that give users a sense that their bad behavior is being observed might be where more automated moderation is headed on social platforms. While users would probably be far better served by social media companies scrapping their misinformation and abuse-ridden existing platforms and rebuilding them more thoughtfully from the ground up, small behavioral nudges will have to do.

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State AGs tell Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids plans – TechCrunch

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In a new letter, attorneys general representing 44 U.S. states and territories are pressuring Facebook to walk away from new plans to open Instagram to children. The company is working on an age-gated version of Instagram for kids under the age of 13 that would lure in young users who are currently not permitted to use the app, which was designed for adults.

“It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account,” the coalition of attorneys general wrote, warning that an Instagram for kids would be “harmful for myriad reasons.”

The state attorneys general call for Facebook to abandon its plans, citing concerns around developmental health, privacy and Facebook’s track record of prioritizing growth over the well being of children on its platforms. In the letter, embedded below, they delve into specific worries about cyberbullying, online grooming by sexual predators and algorithms that showed dieting ads to users with eating disorders.

Concerns about social media and mental health in kids and teens is a criticism we’ve been hearing more about this year, as some Republicans join Democrats in coalescing around those issues, moving away from the claims of anti-conservative bias that defined politics in tech during the Trump years.

Leaders from both parties have been openly voicing fears over how social platforms are shaping young minds in recent months amidst calls to regulate Facebook and other social media companies. In April, a group of Congressional Democrats wrote Facebook with similar warnings over its new plans for children, pressing the company for details on how it plans to protect the privacy of young users.

In light of all the bad press and attention from lawmakers, it’s possible that the company may walk back its brazen plans to boost business by bringing more underage users into the fold. Facebook is already in the hot seat with state and federal regulators in just about every way imaginable. Deep worries over the company’s future failures to protect yet another vulnerable set of users could be enough to keep these plans on the company’s back burner.

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Spotify adds timestamped podcast sharing and other social features – TechCrunch

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On the heels of its expanded partnership with Facebook, Spotify this morning announced new sharing features that broaden the way Spotify content, including both music and podcasts, can be shared across social media. As part of this, Spotify’s Canvas feature, which adds a looping, visual art experience to songs, is being improved. Spotify will also now allow users to share a timestamped link to a podcast, which allows users to tune into to a particular moment of the podcast episode.

Previously, if you wanted to share a podcast episode, you could only post the link to the entire episode. But many times, people want to comment on or discuss a particular part of an episode. Now, they’ll be able to do so by using the “switch to share” feature at the current playtime, after tapping the “share” button while listening to the show.

This is toggle switch that lets you share from the timestamp where you’ve paused the show. After turning this one, you’re able to choose where you want to share to — like Instagram, Facebook (Stories or Feed), Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, SMS, and more.

The feature could also potentially be used for podcast marketing purposes. Typically, creators post an interesting clip from their latest episode that includes a link to the episode. But Spotify’s new feature could entice someone to tune in at a particular part, then continue listening. They may even choose to follow the podcast after doing so, as they’ll have already found themselves in the Spotify app. While it may not replace other marketing — not everyone uses Spotify, after all — it could serve as a handy supplement to the creator’s existing promotional activity.

The update to Spotify’s Canvas, meanwhile, is a smaller improvement. Now, users are able to preview their social share across Instagram Stories and now Snapchat, to see how it will appear. Before today, Canvas art could only be shared to Instagram Stories.

Spotify notes that social sharing features had become a more important aspect of using its service during the pandemic, as in-person concerts and fan events had been shut down. Artists and creators still want to engage with their fans, but have had to do so remotely and digitally. And fans want to support their favorites by posting their content to social networks where others can discover them, too.

The new sharing features are a part of Spotify’s larger investment in expanded social media distribution, which recently led to its partnership with Facebook on something the social network called “Project Boombox.” Facebook in April introduced a new miniplayer that streams Spotify’s music and podcasts from the Facebook app. That way, users can listen while they scroll, with Spotify playing in the background. But Spotify’s deal with Facebook doesn’t limit it from making it easier to share to other platforms, as well, as these new features indicate.

Spotify says the new features are rolling out now to global users on both iOS and Android.

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