The new iPhone XS and iPhone XR review

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iPhone XS

This is the iPhone XS – pronounced ‘10-S’, not ‘excess’ as you might think. It looks identical to last year’s iPhone X, and you might think that not a lot has changed – but it’s inside where the differences lie. There’s also the looming specter of the iPhone XR – it’s a more affordable version in many ways compared to the iPhone XS.

The iPhone XS is now available to pre-order in most countries around the world, with the handset going on sale globally from September 21st. In terms of the price, the good (ish) news is that it hasn’t risen over last year’s incredibly expensive iPhone X, with the 64GB iPhone XS price coming in at Ksh 99,000. The 256GB iPhone XS price is Ksh 114,900 the 512GB iPhone XS price is tagged at Ksh 1,349,000. However, these are store prices in the US and may increase by Ksh 20,000-30,000 on arrival here.

There aren’t many new features in the new generation of iPhones. Rather, Apple is resolutely sticking to the strategy of launching an ‘S’ phone with little changed other than speed improvements and a few other performance bumps.

One of the key features is the A12 Bionic chipset. Apple is proudly talking up its new chipset, and with good reason: it’s one of the most powerful on a smartphone, created as it was using a 7nm process.

That may not mean much to most people, but essentially it means that more transistors can be chucked onto this hexacore CPU, which has two ‘power’ cores and four more that are optimized for efficiency.

However, even those slower cores are still more powerful than any of those found in the iPhone 6, a handset that’s only four years old, showing just how rapidly smartphone technology is progressing in terms of power and efficiency.

One might question whether this much power is really needed – and sure, if you’re just browsing the web and sending messages it’s utterly wasted. However, if you want to explore the world of augmented reality, then these extra transistors are on hand to help out.

There’s also a new ‘Neural Engine’ in the mix, enabling your phone to become more intelligent, learning as you use it. It adds a ‘smart layer’ to proceedings, allowing the handset to recognize things on the screen, whether that’s appending an Animoji to your head in real time during a FaceTime call, or working out what’s needed to improve the quality of a photo as you’re taking it.

That speed improvement is easy to feel on the phone, as the iPhone XS is one of the snappiest handsets. It’s tricky to say how much of this is down to the hardware and how much to the improved iOS 12 software – but either way, the phone is blazing fast.

The A12 chipset also brings a step up in graphical performance as mobile gaming gets ever closer to console-level graphics.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Melissa Daniels
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