The verdict is in from the first round of reviews of the new Apple iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, and the overall consensus is that consumers should wait for the iPhone XR.
While the new iPhones are set to hit shelves on Sept. 21, the Xs and Xs Max are almost visually the same as the iPhone X, except for the larger screen of the Max. The iPhone Xs is a direct replacement for the 2017 iPhone X with a 5.8-inch screen, starting at $999. The iPhone Xs Max, the largest iPhone yet, is a more expensive phone, starting at $1,099 and has a 6.5-inch screen.
Despite the design upgrade, reviewers say the extra pixels may not be worth the hefty price tag, especially since the iPhone XR starts at $749, has a 6.1-inch screen and is available in stores on Oct. 26.
Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal told current iPhone owners to “sit tight for the XR.”
“Unless you are in an iPhone upgrade program or absolutely dying for that Max screen, don’t jump from the X to the Xs," Stern wrote. "Going back to last year’s model, I missed the speed boost a bit, but not enough to drop another grand or more.”
She added that her Xs Max screen cracked after it fell onto wood, completely weakening Apple’s claim the new phones have “the most durable glass in the world.”
Raymond Wong of Mashable concurred, writing that holding off for the iPhone XR makes sense as it has almost the same features as the Xs and Xs Max.
“If the prices are still a turn-off, consider holding off until the iPhone XR launches in late October; it starts at $749 and has virtually all of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max features minus the superior OLED screens and secondary rear camera," Wong wrote. "Plus it comes in colors like blue, red, yellow, and coral.”
Wired journalist Lauren Goode was also seemingly unimpressed, calling the iPhone XS and XS Max’s upgrades an “evolution rather than a revolution.”
“Aside from one of the phones having a giant display, the iPhone XS and the larger iPhone XS Max don’t feel much different from last year’s iPhone X. This year’s phones don’t spark strong feelings – except maybe chagrin that they cost so much,” Goode wrote.
“Its impressive incrementalism: There’s a noticeably faster chip, and a camera that captures a greater level of detail that you can actually see," Goode continued. "Apple has nudged innovation in smartphones forward again, even if some of the results (like new apps that will use the new tech) have yet to be experienced.”
Finally, Gareth Beavis writing for TechRadar, said consumers should consider Samsung, Sony or OnePlus phones if they want to have the impression of carrying a thinner device with a large screen.
“The iPhone XS Max design is deceptive. Pick it up, and the rounded sides of the handset make it feel noticeably thick. The result is a phone that doesn’t sit as comfortably in the hand as it could, and considering the size and cost of the XS Max it’s a phone you want to be able to securely hold. This is only half the story though.
We compared the iPhone XS Max to a number of phones during our in-depth review, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (6.4-inch screen), OnePlus 6 (6.2-inch) and Sony Xperia XZ3 (6-inch), and the iPhone felt thicker, and less planted in the hand then all of them.
The funny thing is though, the iPhone XS Max is thinner than all of those phones at just 7.7mm."
So before shelling out $1,000 for the iPhone XS or XS Max, it might be worth waiting just one more month for the iPhone XR that comes at a cheaper price and has many of the same features.