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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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Fortnite’s mystery ‘superstar’ virtual music tour kicks off next week – TechCrunch

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Epic Games is teasing the biggest in-game event since Travis Scott psychedelically stomped through Fortnite’s virtual meadows.

The mysterious new event, which Fortnite-maker Epic is calling the “Rift Tour,” will kick off on Friday, August 6 and run through Sunday, August 8. In the teaser announcement, Epic invites players to “take a musical journey into magical new realities where Fortnite and a record-breaking superstar collide.”

In-game events building up to the mystery show series will run from July 29 through August 8, so players can hop into Fortnite to check out new Rift Tour-themed quests and rewards now. The cotton-candy-colored event will offer a custom loading screen and a fluffy cloud kitty emoticon, among other digital prizes.

The Rift Tour isn’t a one-and-done event. Like the Travis Scott event, Fortnite will host five different show times across three days to make it easier for players to catch. Epic says they’ll have more details to share on Monday, August 2, so Fortnite players will have to wait for more hints or an official announcement about who’s performing.

So … who’s performing? So far, all signs point to Ariana Grande. Leakers have been saying as much for more than a week, and the documents revealed through Epic’s court battle with Apple also detailed plans for in-game events with both Grande and Lady Gaga.

Image Credits: Epic Games

At Forbes, Paul Tassi also connected the dots on how recent leaks point to Grande, including some visual themes from her music videos and a reference to her pet pig Piggy Smalls.

Since Epic is calling its latest virtual event a tour, that suggests Grande won’t be alone, if she is indeed the mystery superstar. A Lady Gaga appearance could also be in the cards, since Epic apparently had plans for Gaga to appear in a December 2020 concert that never materialized. Kanye West is also releasing his newest album on August 6, but it seems less likely that Epic would be willing to partner with West given his myriad recent controversies. And “Donda,” West’s latest album, was originally scheduled for a different date before being delayed.

Whoever it winds up being, we’ll likely know more on Monday. Even if you’re not a Grande fan or a regular gamer, Fortnite’s in-game concerts are some of the most creative and visually exciting virtual events to date.

Everyone should fall through the metaverse with their friends while a skyscraper-sized virtual rapper shoots neon lightning bolts at least once.

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Why companies and brands need to tune in – TechCrunch

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What comes to mind when you think of livestreaming? In the U.S., most people would name their favorite celebrity leading a Q&A on Instagram or a gamer doing a speedrun on Twitch.

In China, it’s shopping, streamed live.

Livestream e-commerce has taken off in China in the last few years and is expected to yield more than $60 billion this year. In 2019, 37% of online shoppers in China (a cool 265 million people) made purchases on livestreams — and that was well before quarantine. In 2020, it’s estimated to have reached around 560 million people.

During Taobao’s annual Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival in 2020 (China’s Black Friday), livestreams accounted for $6 billion in sales — nearly doubled from a year earlier.

Starting to see a trend? The big U.S. companies have noticed, and they’re jumping on the bandwagon faster than you can say, “Swipe up to buy now!”

Last December, Walmart livestreamed shopping events on TikTok. Amazon released a live platform where influencers promote items and chat with customers. Instagram launched a Shop feature that encourages users to browse and buy within the app. Facebook also kicked off Live Shopping Fridays for the beauty and fashion categories.

“It’s an entertaining way for shops to tell the story behind their products. It brings buyers closer than ever to their favorite creators and allows them to have a voice in the conversation.”

Startups are growing fast to keep up with the heavy hitters — PopShop.Live raised $20 million to let people buy everything from books and toys to jewelry from sellers who livestream their offerings, and Whatnot raised a $50 million Series B, largely to expand its livestream commerce infrastructure. There’s also a burgeoning category of SaaS tools such as Bambuser, which is working with brands like Klarna to test native livestream shopping directly within branded apps.

At this pace, retailers will all welcome livestream commerce teams like they have influencer partnerships in recent years. It’ll just be part of the digital equation to stay competitive and relevant in the future of marketplaces and e-commerce.

From B.C. to 5G: The evolution of shopping

What is old is new again. Your grandparents spent years watching QVC because it balanced the experience of speaking with an associate with the convenience of their retirement community’s TV room. Livestream is today’s version of “shoptainment,” where hosts showcase products dynamically, interact with their audiences and build urgency with short-term offers, giveaways and limited-edition items.

Now, with livestream commerce, hosts can form deeper customer connections and answer questions in real time. It’s a new standard of communication that holds a longstanding truth from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to smartphones: People shop to kill time and are more likely to buy when they feel connected with a salesperson.

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Twitter shuttering NY, SF offices in response to new CDC guidelines – TechCrunch

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Just two weeks after reopening its New York and San Francisco offices, social media giant Twitter said Wednesday that it will be closing those offices “immediately.”

The decision came “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions,” a spokesperson said.

“Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately. We’re continuing to closely monitor local conditions and make necessary changes that prioritize the health and safety of our Tweeps,” the spokesperson added.

The company initially just reopened those offices on July 12. It declined to reveal headcount per office.

The CDC this week recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant.

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater reported that Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work on-site. It was part of a larger letter sent to Google/Alphabet staff that also noted the company will be extending its work-from-home policy through October 18, as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through the global population.

In a message to TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of People, Lori Goler, confirmed a similar policy for the social media behemoth.

Amazon also responded to TechCrunch’s inquiry on the matter, noting, “We strongly encourage Amazon employees and contractors to be vaccinated as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to them.”

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