Is The iPhone XS Actually Worth Buying In 2020? My 2¢…

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The iPhone XS came out in 2018 and was the iPhone 11’s predecessor. But it is worth buying in 2020 or are you better off with the iPhone 11?


Apple launched the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max on September 14. The phones picked up where Apple’s iPhone X left off, adding in improved internal specs and updated cameras. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max got a release date on September 21, 2018 – prices started at $999 and went up to $1300+ for a fully maxed-out model.

The iPhone XR came slightly later in the year, bringing with it a lower price and not-quite-as-good specs and hardware. Still, the XR went on to become the most popular iPhone release since the iPhone 6.

This is why we’re also probably going to get an iPhone 9 (SE 2020) later on in 2020; people like cheap iPhones and Apple’s finally woken up to that fact, realizing it can endlessly repackage its iPhone 8 and still make tons of money in the process.

But what if you want a “flagship” iPhone, but you cannot afford iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max money? My advice would be to go with the next best thing – the iPhone XS. And don’t think you’d be missing out on too much either; the XS has an OLED display, a mighty processor, and it looks practically the same as the iPhone 11 Pro.

Oh, and if you pick one up reconditioned (which you kind of have to now, as the iPhone XS is discontinued), then you could save a further 40% on the RRP on the phone. If you’re in the USA, the best place to do this is Gazelle. In the UK? Use mResell – they’re great.

Why iPhone XS is Worth Buying In 2020

The main reason is simple: price. The iPhone XS is now relatively affordable, thanks to the fact it has been replaced by the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. The phone still functions brilliantly, it looks more or less identical to Apple’s iPhone 11 releases, and it has a brilliant camera.

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The only reason it’s not a popular choice anymore is that the vast majority of people in the UK and the USA have been mugged off by marketing departments into thinking they need a new, flashy phone. Spoiler alert: you don’t – Apple’s 2018 flagship iPhone is just as good and in some ways better than the iPhone 11 which is the newer model.

iPhone XS Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
  • Weight: 177g
  • Display: 5.8in Super Retina OLED 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • SoC: Apple A12 Bionic
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB & 512GB
  • Sensors: Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
  • Camera (Front): 7 MP, f/2.2, 32mm
  • Camera (Rear): 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS;
  • 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.4″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
  • WiFi: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
  • Colors: Space Gray, Silver, Gold
  • Model Number: A2097, A1920, A2100, A2098

How so? Well, for starters, the iPhone XS has a better display; it uses an OLED panel whereas the iPhone 11 has an LCD panel (and OLED is better than LCD). Internally, you’re getting a better CPU on the iPhone 11, but the iPhone XS’ A12 SoC is no slouch either. You have to remember that Apple’s chipsets are LEAGUES ahead of CPUs used inside Android phones – even newer ones like the Galaxy S20.

All iPhones (Kinda) Look The Same Anyway…

If you’re not massively bothered about having a triple-lens camera and can get by with just two lenses, there really isn’t that much to separate the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 Pro. They look remarkably similar, the function more or less the same, and they both run the same software.

The 11 Pro might have slightly more performance, but you shouldn’t concern yourself too much with this – it’s a bit like saying you should upgrade your Porsche 911 just because the new 911 has 5 more horsepower.

Where it counts (performance, battery life, design, camera, and software), the iPhone XS still looks and feels like a flagship. Given the choice between the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11, I would almost certainly take the iPhone XS.

Why?

Simple: the iPhone XS has a better (OLED) display, a comparable camera, it’s water-resistant, it has wireless charging, and it’ll still outperform the vast majority of flagship Android phones released in 2020. And when you look at it like that it’s easy to see why plenty of people opt to buy older iPhone flagship models instead of coughing up four figures for the latest and greatest model.

Isn’t The iPhone XS Discontinued Though?

Yes, the iPhone XS is now discontinued, following the release of the iPhone 11 range. This means you can no longer buy it from Apple.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as you now have loads of options for buying your iPhone XS from a third-party retailer. My advice would be to get a refurbished model because doing this will save you around 40% versus buying the handset new.

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If you’re in the USA, the best place to pick up refurbished iPhones – including the XS, 11, X, and 8/8 plus – is Gazelle. You’ll save 40%, every phone comes with a warranty, and has been put through a battery of tests and evaluations before it sold on to you, the consumer.

The phones basically look and function as good as new. I buy all my phones refurbished, have done for years. It allows me to buy the outright and keep my ass away from carrier contracts and huge monthly bills.

If you’re in the UK and are looking for a similar option to Gazelle, go with mResell – they do iPhones, Apple Watch, iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks. The works, basically!

Is The iPhone XS Really Better Than The iPhone 11?

In some ways, the iPhone XS is a better phone than the iPhone 11. It has a better display, for starters, and its camera abilities are still very impressive in 2020. The design is similar as well, although the iPhone XS is more portable and has a smaller display which, for me, is a big plus.

However, the iPhone 11 does have the iPhone XS beat in a couple of ways. Internally, the iPhone 11 does have a better CPU; Apple’s A13 chipset is an absolute monster with respect to performance. But so too was the A12 chipset that you’ll find inside the iPhone XS.

The difference in performance between these two chipsets, to the untrained eye, is negligible. Yes, the A13 is better but, no, you probably won’t be able to notice that much difference if you used both handsets side-by-side. The iPhone 11 might feel slightly snappier, but that’s literally it.

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The iPhone 11 also has a bigger battery than the iPhone XS (3110mAh vs 2658mAh in the XS). On top of this, the iPhone 11 is available in more color options. The iPhone 11 also has a slightly more advanced camera, although it’d take a professional photographer to spot the difference between images captured on either phone.

How much does the iPhone XS cost in 2020? If you go the refurbished route, you can pick one up for as little as $459 – that’s for the 64GB model. Want more storage? You’re looking at $629 – and that’s still cheaper than the 64GB iPhone 11. If you want the bigger model, the iPhone XS Max, prices start from $539 and range to $699.

Either way, you’re getting a flagship iPhone for better than the cost of Apple’s non-flagship iPhone 11.

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