I've used the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR — here's which one I'd recommend buying

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  • Apple released three new iPhones this year: the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.
  • The real question is: Which should you buy?
  • I’ve used all three phones extensively. Here’s how they compare.


The phones are powered by the same processor — Apple’s A12 Bionic chip — so you won’t notice a difference in speed or performance.

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All three phones also run iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads, out of the box.

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They all support wireless charging.

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The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR have the same front-facing camera for selfies and Face ID.

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Their rear cameras are nearly identical, too, even though the iPhone XR has one fewer lens than the iPhone XS and XS Max.

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They all have similar designs. They look like the iPhone X from 2017, with its nearly edge-to-edge display and “notch” cutout for the front-facing camera system.

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They all support two SIM cards (one physical Nano SIM card and one electronic SIM card, unless you live in China), which lets you connect to multiple carriers and networks.

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But that’s where the similarities end.

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The 6.1-inch iPhone XR has a slightly bigger screen than the 5.8-inch iPhone XS.

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Neither phone compares, though, to the massive screen on the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max.

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The screens for the iPhone XS and XS Max feature OLED technology. They have two of the best smartphone displays ever made.

GettyThe iPhone XS, left, and the iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XR has an LCD display, which is still good, but it doesn’t compare to the gorgeous colours, contrast, and brightness of the OLED screens on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

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The iPhone XR also has a slightly thicker bezel, or border around its display, compared to the iPhone XS.

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The iPhone XS gets about 13 hours of battery life. The iPhone XS Max gets about 14 hours of life.


The iPhone XR has the best battery life of them all, though: It gets about 16 hours on a single charge, which is about three hours longer than the iPhone XS battery.


The iPhone XS and XS Max support up to 512 GB of internal storage. The iPhone XR only supports up to 256 GB of storage.

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Both phones will survive just fine in the rain, but the iPhone XS is slightly more water resistant than the iPhone XR.

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The iPhone XS and XS Max support 3D Touch, where you can push into the screen to get more menu options. The iPhone XR does not support 3D Touch, but it has a similar system in which touching and holding the display can make menu options appear.

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The iPhone XS and XS Max support 2X optical zooming, meaning you can zoom in without losing any quality.

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Since the iPhone XR has only one rear-camera lens, it can’t perform optical zooming.

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The iPhone XS and XS Max come in just three colours: silver, black, and gold.

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The iPhone XR comes in six colours: white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and red.

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The iPhone XS is expensive. It starts at $US999 for the 64 GB model. The 512 GB model costs $US1,349.

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The iPhone XR is slightly more affordable, but it’s still expensive. It starts at $US749 for 64 GB. The 256 GB model costs $US899.

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The iPhone XS Max is the most expensive phone, though. It starts at $US1,099 for 64 GB. The 512 GB model costs $US1,449.

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If you ask me, the standard iPhone XS is the phone to buy.

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There are benefits and drawbacks to each phone.

The iPhone XR is more affordable and has better battery life compared with the iPhone XS, but it’s hampered by an inferior display, which looked too dim and almost sunken throughout my time with it. Apps and movies did not look good. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS has one of the best screens you’ll get on any smartphone.

The iPhone XR is available in more colours than the iPhone XS, but I didn’t like how the colours looked in person. Aside from the black and white colours, which are also available on the iPhone XS, the red, yellow, blue, and coral colours looked tacky on the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR is a good phone, for sure, but most people are going to be happiest with the iPhone XS. If you have really large hands, you might like the iPhone XS Max, but it felt a bit too unwieldy for me. The iPhone XS is the perfect balance: It has a better screen than the iPhone XR, it’s not as big or costly as the iPhone XS Max, it feels comfortable to hold, and it’s wonderful to use.

You won’t be disappointed with the iPhone XS – to me, it’s the clear winner.

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