Apple iPhone XS full review

The iPhone 8 is now the old generation of Apple smartphone, but should you upgrade to the new iPhone XS? Here we compare old and new models across price, design and specs to point out differences and help you decide.

If you're confused about where the iPhone 8S or iPhone 9 are, they never existed. Following the launch of the iPhone X last year for the 10th-anniversary of the phone, Apple's 2018 line-up is all X models.

iPhone 8 vs iPhone XS: Price and Availability

The iPhone XS (reviewed here) is available to pre-order now from Apple and ships from 21 September. Check out the best contract prices here in our iPhone XS deals article

It costs from £999/$999 for the 64GB model so remains the same price as the iPhone X was last year. With its close similarity, the original X is now discontinued but the 8 (and iPhone 7) remain on sale at lower prices.

So, you can get the iPhone 8 for a pretty reasonable £599/$599 if you're happy with 64GB.

A £400/$400 price difference is a large margin so is it worth spending a lot more on the XS?

The iPhone XS shown with the larger XS Max

iPhone 8 vs iPhone XS: Design and Build

All of the 2018 iPhones adopt the bezel-free design introduced with the original iPhone X. So the 'classic' design which has been around for many years has now been put to rest.

This means the iPhone 8 and XS are very different in this area. If you're used to the home button, and you no doubt will be, then you'll have to spend some time getting acustomed to the new way of doing things.

The iPhone XS' modern design means that almost the entire front is screen, apart from the famous notch (cleverly hidden in Apple's images), so there's no room for bezels or physical buttons. Apple decided not to put Touch ID on the back like rivals so you'll have to rely on Face ID instead or more traditional methods.

iPhone 8

Apple's typical screen size of 4.7in is now a thing of the past, and despite the bezel-free design, the iPhone XS is bigger and heavier than the iPhone 8. A little thicker at 7.7mm vs 7.3mm, but more importantly it's 177g vs 148g. 

Both phones are available in the same set of colours. It's worth noting that the XS has a slightly higher waterproof rating of IP68 compared to IP67, which just means you can take it to 2m rather than 1m.

iPhone 8 vs iPhone XS: Specs and Features

Although the XS is essentially the X with a few upgrades, it actually shares quite a lot of specs and features with the iPhone 8. Perhaps more than you would expect.

The biggest difference, as we've pointed out already, is the display. You get a 5.8in Super Retina Display with OLED tech on the XS, so the comparitively tiny 4.7in Retina HD screen on the iPhone 8 with LCD tech seems very dated.

Not everyone wants a phone with a notch, though, and some of you may even prefer a smaller screen. This difference alone might make the decision for you. However, if you're thinking £400/$400 extra just for a screen is too much, there are other differences (or you can opt for the cheaper iPhone XR which is £749/$749).

We've also compared the iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max.

iPhone XS

The other key differences here are the newer A12 Bionic processor inside the XS which is faster and is more future-proofed. The XS also comes in 512GB if you need it (at a whopping £1,349/$1,349). The iPhone 8 is limited to 64- or 256GB.

It might appear that the phones have essentially the same cameras, but not only does the XS have a secondary telephoto lens on the back, it also has modes that the iPhone 8 doesn't. Namely, Apples sought after Portrait Mode but also things like Animoji, better HDR, stereo recording and video stabilistion. 

Beyond , these phones are pretty similar with features like wireless charging, Lightning port and, of course, iOS 12. It is worth noting that none of Apple's phones, new or old, come with a headphone adapter in the box.

Here is a spec comparison of the iPhone 8 and XS:

  iPhone 8 iPhone XS
iOS iOS 12 iOS 12
Colours Gold, Silver, Space Grey Gold, Silver, Space Grey
Display 4.7in Retina HD Display (1334x750, 326ppi) LCD IPS 5.8in Super Retina Display (2436x1125, 458ppi) OLED
Processor Apple A11 Bionic Apple A12 Bionic
Storage 64GB/256GB 64GB/256GB/512GB
Rear camera 12Mp, f/1.8, OIS, 5x digital zoom, Quad-LED flash 12Mp wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS + 12Mp telephoto, f/2.4, OIS, optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, Portrait Mode, Quad-LED flash
Front camera 7Mp FaceTime HD, f2.2, 1080p video 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video
Video recording 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps
Biometric security Touch ID Face ID
Wireless charging? Yes Yes
Waterproofing IP67 IP68
Dimensions 67.3 x 138.4 x 7.3mm 70.9 x 143.6 x 7.7mm
Weight 148g 174g
Price £599/£749 (same in $) £999/£1,149/£1,349 (same in $)
Buy SIM-free From Apple Pre-order
Buy on contract From Carphone Warehouse Pre-order


The iPhone XS is a lot more expensive than the 8 so you need a lot of reasons to upgrade or choose it out of the two.

What you get is the modern bezel-free design with a large screen that also offers better tech. There's also a newer A12 processor, a second rear camera, portrait mode and more storage (if you can afford an even higher price).

This does come at the cost of physical size and weight, as well as the loss of Touch ID. So it's understandable if you want the smaller screen and home button on the iPhone 8. It's a much better value option, that's for sure.


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