First Impressions of the iPhone Xr, Xs and Xs Max

They say the best camera is the one you have on you which in today’s day-and-age is usually your smartphone. It wasn’t long ago people used to buy small point-and-shoot cameras but they’ve been slowly replaced by even more compact and versatile devices like the iPhone.

With today’s announcement you may be wondering what I think about the three new iPhones (Xr, Xs and Xs Max) and if I’ll be getting one since all I seem to write and talk about these days is… tech.

iPhone Xr (blue)

iPhone Xr (blue)

Where I’m coming from

Firstly, I don’t consider myself an Apple fanboy but happen to own lots of Apple stuff. For about a week I owned an iPod Touch, iPad Mini, iMac, iPhone 6 and a MacBook Pro. Truth be told I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Apple.

I love to hate them and hate that I love them

Having tried to support Microsoft in the past by buying into Windows Phone and a Surface Pro they didn’t perform any better for me. My Surface Pro is a prime example where it just up and died on me. It never turned back on again losing everything that was on it. My iMac, however, ran just fine for over ten years and still worked like-new before I sold it last month.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses with my Apple products though…

iPhone 6

2014’s iPhone 6

My iPhone 6, a three year old device, is slowly dying. The battery doesn’t last as long as it used to and any charging cables I try to plug into it keep falling out because of a loose connection in the phone.

When I took it into an “Apple” store they said it’d cost $60 to replace the battery and another $250 to replace the screen because of some tiny scratches.

I told them I’d think about it

That was a few months ago. Since then I’ve been struggling with a phone that randomly shuts down resulting in my face forming a semi-permanent scowl that could scare the hounds of hell.

And that’s all because of my old phone of course and NOT *cough* because I’m getting old and grumpy. No no no!

Anyway, I’ve been patiently holding out for today and now that we’ve got three new iPhone models you probably want to know…

How the new iPhones stack up

Lets keep this short. All the new iPhones are faster and “prettier”. They always are. In fact, I didn’t even need to look up the specs sheet to know that.

The iPhone Xr comes in the colors; Red, Yellow, White, Coral, Black and Blue

The iPhone Xr comes in the colors; Red, Yellow, White, Coral, Black and Blue [source:]

But here’s a quick run down:

  • Xr (from $749 USD or $1,399 NZD) has a 6.1-inch LCD display
  • Xs (from $999 USD or $1,899 NZD) has a 5.8-inch OLED display like last year’s X
  • Xs Max (from $1099 USD or $2,099 NZD) has a 6.5-inch OLED display

FYI: LCD screens use more power to light the entire screen whereas OLED displays are considered to have more vibrant colors and deeper blacks.

Both Xs (pronounced, TEN S) models come in a more conservative Silver, Space Grey and Gold color whereas the Xr (pronounced, TEN R) comes in White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral (orange), and [Product]Red.

Personally I think they should’ve swapped the Coral for a Deep Purple.

Everything else in terms of specs, at least for me, is…


Dat notch tho

2017’s iPhone X was a hard pass for me because I hate the notch with a passion however it seems Apple’s quite happy to stay onboard the notch train. In other words, the notch is here to stay until hopefully next year.


The functionality of unlocking your device with Face ID is brilliant. As someone who lives in a cooler part of the world I’m regularly wearing gloves. They’re special gloves so I can perform most touch gestures with them on but I have to take them off to unlock my phone with Touch ID *brrrr*.

All they have to do is add an equally sized bezel that’s the same size as the notch to the top and bottom parts of the phone and I’m sold for whatever version they want to put this on. Apple even had a comparison side-by-side shot of the 8 Plus and the Xr so they could do it if they wanted to and the screen would still be bigger.

iPhone Xr notch

iPhone Xr notch

Why they probably won’t ditch the notch any time soon

I believe the notch is Apple’s way of being “unique” and to stand out from the competition. When you see a phone with a notch you think of the iPhone and that’s exactly what they want – it’s all about marketing and branding for them.

Too bad it’s at the cost of being uuuuuuuuuuugly.

How do they stack up against my new Mirrorless camera?

There’s pros and cons for-and-against the new iPhones and a mirrorless camera. They’re so different it’s hard to compare them and I really see them as complimentary to each other than it’s “this one or nothing”.

Sometimes you won’t have your camera so you’ll be forced to use your phone. Other times you’ll want to use an optical zoom to get in closer to your subject. And the image/video quality from my new mirrorless is going to be tough for any smartphone to beat.

Yes, even the iPhone. Any version of it.

Am I getting a new iPhone?

I’m definitely passing on the Xs in either flavour (Xs or Xs Max). For me the New Zealand prices are ridiculous and I can’t justify paying that much for a phone (from $1,899 and $2,099). If you can afford it that’s awesome but for me I’m out.

Whereas the Xr is another story. At $1,399 NZD it’s a tough call and a maybe.

After years of jumping on the tech bandwagon I’ve learned to hold off on the latest and greatest of any new gadget so I have to consider that.

Also, my main reason for holding out for the new iPhones was so I could get one of their now older and “cheaper” models. New Zealand prices have already gone down by roughly $150 for the 8 Plus ($1,299), 8 ($1,099), 7 Plus ($1,069) and 7 ($829).

Over the last couple of months I’ve had my eye on the iPhone 8 Plus and 7 Plus in RED but given how close they are to the Xr ($100 difference to the 8 Plus) has complicated things.

It could all come down to how much I hate that notch… which is a lot!

This probably means I’ll need to see and hold the Xr in person.

Conclusion: Who are the new iPhones for?

A good friend of mine buys a new iPhone every year by selling last year’s model to help offset the cost of a new one.

There’s also payment plans and some telcos (telecommunications companies) have an upgrade option to get a new phone every year although you’re usually locked into a contract.

These are just a few examples for those who aren’t satisfied with last year’s model. If that’s you, great!

As for me…

I’m just glad I can finally say goodbye to my “aging” iPhone 6. May you Rest In Pieces…

2018-09-13T17:38:05+00:00By TravellingCliff|