iPhone X vs. iPhone XS and XR

The latest iPhones — the iPhone X, XS, XS Max and XR — are some of the most advanced smartphones ever to hit the shelves. Even if you've decided on one of these new models, it can be confusing to figure out which one to choose. What do all those different letters mean? Which features do they have in common and which differ? Which device is best if you value battery life? Display quality? Speakers?

If you're looking to get one of the new iPhones but aren't sure which is the best choice for you, we get it. There's a lot to consider. That's why we've put together this guide. In this article, we'll explain the differences between the iPhone X, XS, XS Max and XR and discuss which categories they each perform best in. By the end of this guide, you should be ready to choose the perfect phone for you.


1. iPhone X

Apple's release of the iPhone X in November of 2017 had a significant impact on the world of smartphones. The design update was the biggest change yet for Apple — the company removed the home button and let the screen take over the vast majority of the front of the device. iPhone X changed not only the design direction for Apple but every other smartphone company as well. After the X, devices from Samsung, Huawei, Google and others took on similar designs.

Let's take a look at the iPhone X specs:

  • Display size: 5.8"
  • Display type: OLED
  • Resolution: 2,436x1,125 pixels
  • Pixel density: 458 ppi
  • Dimensions: 5.7x2.79x0.3"
  • Weight: 6.14 oz.
  • Camera: Dual 12-megapixel
  • Front-facing camera: 7-megapixel
  • Video capture: 4K
  • Processor: Apple A11 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Battery: 2,716 mAH, up to 21 hours talk time (wireless)
  • Connector: Lightning
  • Headphone jack: None
  • Water resistance: IP67
  • Special features: wireless charging, Face ID, Memoji
  • Price new and off-contract: $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB)
  • Colors: Silver, Space Grey

The iPhone X vs. Previous Models

With the iPhone X, Apple created a phone that fell in between its most recent older models at the time in terms of size. It has bigger overall dimensions than the iPhone 8 and 7 but smaller dimensions than the 8 Plus and 7 Plus.

The screen on the iPhone X, however, was the biggest on any iPhone yet and the first edge-to-edge display from Apple.

Along with its increased size, the X offered a significant improvement in screen resolution and pixel density as compared to earlier models.

It was also the first Apple phone to use an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display rather than an in-plane liquid crystal display (IPS LCDs). IPS LCD and OLED technology both have pros and cons. IPS LCD screens tend to look sharper and have a clearer picture, while OLED devices offer more vivid colors and improved contrast. The X was also the first iPhone to support high dynamic range (HDR) content, in which the contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of an image is greater.

The iPhone X was also the first iPhone with a build of stainless steel and glass. iPhone 8 and 8 Plus featured an aluminum and glass build, while the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had an aluminum unibody.

Apple also introduced some new technologies on the X, including facial recognition. This phone's camera was the first from Apple to have depth-sensing capabilities, which allow it to take an accurate scan of your face. This capability enables the Face ID system you can use to unlock your phone as well as the Animoji and Memoji features, which create a cartoon animal or an animated version of you after scanning your face.

All of this is powered by the A11 Bionic processor, which was also used for the 8 and 8 Plus. The 7 and 7 Plus, meanwhile, had the A10 fusion. As far as battery life goes, the X has a more powerful battery than the 8 and 7 but not the larger 8 Plus and 7 Plus.


Perhaps the main disadvantage of the iPhone X was its cost. With a price of $999 at its release, it was anything but cheap. If you didn't mind paying top dollar for one of the most advanced smartphones available, you got a lot for your money. Now that the X has been out for a while and Apple has introduced several newer models, it's easier to get it used for a lower price. Also, one of the models introduced after the X was a bit more budget-friendly.

The design of the display on the X was another contentious topic, with some Apple fans praising it while others were not such big fans. Apple has used the term bezel-less to describe the X and its edge-to-edge design. There are some very slight bands around the display's edges, but they can be useful as they give you somewhere to put your fingers to avoid accidentally touching the screen and triggering some unwanted action.

The most controversial aspect of the X's design is the notch at the top of the device — a small chunk taken out of the screen to make room for the new TrueDepth camera. Some users complained that this disrupts the flow of the display, while others didn't seem to mind. Interestingly, after the X came out, a lot of Android phones introduced a similar notch design.

While the iPhone X is still very aesthetically pleasing, Apple could reduce the size of the bezels and the notch on future designs to make them even sleeker.

2. iPhone XS — The New Kid on the Block

In September 2018, Apple released two new iPhone models — the XS and XS Max. They're the most advanced iPhones yet, and in many ways, the most advanced smartphones yet.

The two phones have the same features and many of the same specs. The main difference between them is their size. The Max is, as its name suggests, bigger. It features a 6.5-inch display, while the iPhone XS screen measures 5.8 inches. In the next few sections, we'll give you the specs the two phones have in common and the ones that make them distinct.

Here are the specs the XS and XS Max Share:

  • Display type: OLED
  • Camera: Dual 12-megapixel
  • Front-facing camera: 7-megapixel with Face ID
  • Video capture: 4K
  • Processor: Apple A12 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Connector: Lightning
  • Headphone jack: None
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • Special features: Dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, Memoji
  • Colors: Silver, space gray and gold

These are the specs for the XS:

  • Display size: 5.8-inch
  • Resolution: 2,436x1,125 pixels
  • Pixel density: 458 ppi
  • Dimensions: 5.7x2.8x0.3"
  • Weight: 6.24 oz.
  • Battery: 2,658 mAh, up to 20 hours talk time (wireless)
  • Price new and off-contract: $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB)

And here's how the XS Max compares:

    • Display size: 6.5-inch
    • Resolution: 2,688x1,242 pixels
    • Pixel density: 458 ppi
    • Dimensions: 6.2x3x0.3"
    • Weight: 7.3 oz.
    • Battery: 3,174 mAh, up to 25 hours talk time (wireless)
    • Price new and off-contract: $1,099 (64GB), $1,249 (256GB), $1,449 (512GB)

The iPhone XS and XS Max vs. the iPhone X

The iPhone XS has a similar design to that of the X. The two phones have almost the same dimensions, and they both feature a 5.8-inch OLED screen. The XS Max, however, has the biggest screen of any current iPhone at 6.5 inches, making for quite a striking design. The XS Max is about the same size overall as the iPhone 8 Plus but has a screen that's a full inch larger. Apple kept the notch in its XS and XS Max designs.

To go with the bigger screen, the XS Max offers a slight increase in resolution as compared to the X. The resolution of the X and XS are the same. At 458 ppi, the pixel density is consistent across all three phones.

One of the big differentiators between the X and the XS and XS Max is the processor. The two newer phones feature the A12 Bionic chip, the most powerful processor in any smartphones, as well as an improved next-generation Neural Engine.

All three phones have the same camera as well as Face ID, but the XS and the Max introduce some new camera features such as Depth Control and advanced bokeh, which has to do with the quality of the blur in the out-of-focus portions of images.

The video recording capabilities are also similar but with some new features, including cinematic video stabilization and stereo recording. Apple also says that the speakers on the XS and XS Max have wider stereo playback, improving their sound quality.

The new phones also improve a bit on battery life. According to Apple, the XS lasts up to 30 minutes longer than the X, while the Max lasts up to 1.5 hours longer.

The XS and XS Max also offer improvements in water resistance. They're both rated IP68 and are water resistant at a depth of up to two meters for up to 30 minutes. The X has a rating of IP67 and will survive for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter.

With XS and XS Max, you also get new dual-SIM capabilities and an option for a bigger 512GB of storage in addition to the 64GB and 256GB options available on all three phones.

3. iPhone XR — The New, Colorful and More Affordable Kid on the Block

Apple followed up the XS and XS Max with the iPhone XR in October 2018. At $749 new, the XR still isn't cheap, but it's a more affordable alternative to the XS and XS Max. It tones down a few of the advanced features available on the XS and Max to enable the lower price, but you still get an extremely powerful device that's perhaps even more visually striking than its higher-priced siblings.

So, what kind of specs does the iPhone XR bring to the table?

  • Display size: 6.1"
  • Display type: LCD
  • Resolution: 1,792x828 pixels
  • Pixel density: 326 ppi
  • Dimensions: 5.9x3x0.33"
  • Weight: 6.8 oz
  • Camera: Single 12-megapixel
  • Front-facing camera: 7-megapixel with Face ID
  • Video capture: 4K
  • Processor: Apple A12 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Battery: 2,942 mAh, up to 25 hours talk time (wireless)
  • Connector: Lightning
  • Headphone jack: None
  • Water resistance: IP67
  • Special features: Dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM), wireless charging, Face ID, Memoji
  • Price new and off-contract: $749 (64GB), $799 (128GB), $899 (256GB)
  • Colors: white, black, coral, yellow, blue and red (Product Red)

The iPhone XR vs. the Other New Models

The XR offers a little bit less in the way of features to allow its lower price, but it's still an excellent phone. It even beats out the other recent iPhones in some categories.

The screen on the iPhone XR is bigger than that of the X and XS but smaller than that of the XS Max. The XR, however, has a lower resolution and pixel density than the X, XS and XS Max and lacks an HDR display.

Overall, the device is also bigger and heavier than the X and XS but smaller and lighter than the Max. Instead of the stainless steel of the XS and XS Max, the XR's frame is made of aluminum. The back of the phone is still glass.

The XR starts to pull ahead of the older X when it comes to the processor. It features the same A12 Bionic chip and next-gen Neural Engine as the XS and XS Max. This makes it more powerful than the X and enables some features that help minimize the gap between the capabilities of the two devices.

Battery life is one of the XR's standout categories. The A12 and updated Neural Engine enable some significant energy efficiency improvements that help give the XR the best battery life of any iPhone.

Another feature that helps the XR stand out is the range of fun, aesthetically pleasing colors it comes in — coral, blue, yellow, red (Product Red), white and black.

While the iPhone X, XS and XS Max have dual lenses, the XR has just one. The camera, though, is the same as the main camera on the XS and XS Max. The zoom on the XR isn't as powerful as on the other models, but it does have portrait mode with Depth Control and advanced bokeh, which XS and XS Max have, but the X does not. It also matches the XS and XS Max but outperforms the X with its stereo recording and cinematic stabilization for video recording.

The next-gen Neural Engine helps the XR make up, at least in part, for its lack of a dual lens. It uses its artificial intelligence technology to allow photography modes such as smart HDR, Depth Control and enhanced portrait mode. The Neural Engine can identify faces in portrait mode and then blur out the background for beautiful-looking portraits and selfies.

The XR also has dual-sim capabilities like the XS and XS Max but offers slightly less robust water resistance. It's water resistance matches that of the X at IP67. Like the other new models, the XR offers Face ID, Memoji and wireless charging.

It doesn't come in a 512 GB like the XS and XS Max, but it does offer a 128GB option that none of the other models do.

Upgrading Your iPhone

All four of the latest iPhones are excellent smartphones. Whether you're a die-hard Apple fan or you're just looking for a practical, reliable and aesthetically appealing phone, you'll be happy with any of these devices. So, should you upgrade and, if so, which phone should you choose? Let's review.


If you have the iPhone X, is it worth it to upgrade to the XS, XS Max or XR? While the X does lack some of the features and power of the newer phones, it's also similar in a lot of ways. If your X still works well and you're happy with it, you may not have to upgrade it — unless, of course, you want all of the latest, greatest features. If you do, getting a new phone may be worth it.

If you do want to upgrade, which new model should you choose? To help you decide, let's go over which performs best in each category:

  • If you want the biggest, most visually striking display, choose the XS Max.
  • If you want the best camera with the most photo and video features, upgrade to the XS or XS Max.
  • If you want more battery life, choose the XR or XS Max. The XS also has more battery life than the X but only by half an hour.
  • If you want an especially aesthetic phone and you like the colors of the XR, that may be a good enough reason to upgrade.
  • If you want a dual SIM, upgrade to any of the new phones.
  • If you want a stronger processor, you'll find it in three newest iPhone models. For most users, though, the chip in the X is probably powerful enough.
  • If you're looking for improved display quality, the XS and XS Max will give you a slight boost. The difference probably is not enough, though, to warrant an upgrade. The display quality of the XR is a downgrade from that of the X.


What if you don't have any of the four latest iPhone models? Should you choose the X, XS, XS Max or XR? That depends on which features you value the most. Let's take a look at which of these four phones performs best in various categories:

  • If you want the ultimate iPhone, go with the XS Max. It's packed with all the latest features and capabilities and has a big, beautiful display. If you want all of the features of the XS Max but on a slightly smaller screen, choose the XS.
  • If you like your phone's display to be larger, choose the XS Max.
  • If you value display quality, choose the XS Max. Avoid the XR.
  • If the quality and features of the camera are especially important to you, you'll be happiest with the XS or XS Max.
  • If you're looking for the most powerful processor and the fastest phone, go with either the XS, XS Max or XR.
  • If you want your battery to last as long as possible, choose the XR.
  • If you want an aesthetically pleasing device in a fun color, you'll love the XR. All of the iPhones are aesthetically designed though. The others just lack the color options of the XR.
  • If you want dual SIM capabilities, choose the XS, XS Max or XR.
  • If you're looking for the lowest price, choose the XR or X. The XR had the lowest price of any of the phones on their initial release dates. You may be able to find especially good deals on the X since it's been out longer than the other phones.


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