Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and XR: Which iPhone should you buy?

Or may be just drop the idea of buying a new Apple iPhone this year.

Apple has just announced its brand new lineup of iPhones called the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max and the all new iPhone XR. While the first two are upgrades to the previous iPhone X model, that somehow replace the iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus, the interesting addition of the strange XR will make purchasing decisions a bit difficult (not to mention confusing) for buyers.

The Apple iPhone XS in Gold. Image: Apple

The Apple iPhone XS in Gold. Image: Apple

If you want a quick and simple answer try out our short buying guide below.

 

Not quite satisfied with your answer? Well, it's best you continue reading to come to a conclusion.

Pricing

The most important detail about the new iPhone lineup are its rather interesting price tags. While things look typically Apple for the US market with the iPhone XR (the most affordable iPhone) starting at $749 (Rs 53,928) all the way up to $1,449 (Rs 1,04,328) things get a lot more complicated for iPhone fans and customers in India.

In short, the pricing is downright ridiculous!

Not only do buyers in India have to pay a premium amount over the US price tags, but it feels worse when what you get for these premium price tags is the basic 64 GB model.

As per Apple’s official pricing, the iPhone XR starts from Rs 76,900, the iPhone XS starts at a staggering Rs 99,900 and the iPhone XS Max going even higher with a Rs 1,09,900 price tag. All the above price tags are for the base variant that gets you a meagre 64 GB of internal storage space!

Apple has just revealed the complete price range of all the variants which includes a 128 GB and 256 GB variants for the iPhone XR and 256 GB and 512 GB variants for the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Below is a table showcasing the mind-numbing price list of the iPhone XR, XS and the XS Max.

iPhone Model Official India Price (INR)
iPhone XR 64 GB 76,900
iPhone XR 128 GB 81,900
iPhone XR 256 GB 91,900
iPhone XS 64 GB 99,900
iPhone XS 256 GB 1,14,900
iPhone XS 512 GB 1,34,900
iPhone XS Max 64 GB 1,09,900
iPhone XS Max 256 GB 1,24,900
iPhone XS Max 512 GB 1,44,900

The detail that is worthy of pointing out is the price gap between both iPhone XS and the bigger iPhone XS Max models barely sees a bump of a $100 or around Rs 7,000. At the same time, unlike the Plus models of the past (single camera vs dual camera), there is no differentiator between the standard iPhone models and the Max models save for the bigger battery and the bigger display as the rest of the components basically remain the same.

In short, the real successor to the humbler iPhone 8 is the iPhone XR, with the iPhone X being replaced by the iPhone XS and the iPhone 8 Plus being replaced by the iPhone XS Max.

There is a bit of a shuffle here that most buyers will find extremely confusing.

Your iPhone 8 replacement becomes the iPhone XR

While the iPhone 8 was the smartphone with the smallest display and lowest price, Apple now offers the second biggest display in its new iPhone range as with the lowest price. And this creates two problems for iPhone buyers looking to upgrade.

The iPhone XR features a mammoth 6.1-inch display in a footprint that is bigger than the iPhone XS, which is Apple’s smallest iPhone this year.

The Apple iPhone XR in Yellow. Image: Apple

The Apple iPhone XR in Yellow. Image: Apple

The second problem the XR creates is that of pricing. So if you want a small iPhone, your only choice this year is to go in for an iPhone XS, which has a wide Rs 23,000 price gap (for the base 64 GB model of course) for a device that now starts from Rs 99,900. Instead of giving customers options, Apple here is forcing customers into switching models.

In short, if you like small iPhones, the only small and updated iPhone you can buy this year is last year’s iPhone 8 or be ready to pay up a jump to a bigger iPhone XS as the iPhone X will in all probability be discontinued (it has been taken down from the official site). Of course, if you are upgrading from an iPhone 6S or an iPhone 7 then the iPhone 8 is the most obvious choice.

Who is the iPhone XR for?

The iPhone XR being the most "affordable" iPhone this year, basically packs in everything save for a lack of dual camera (software bokeh), no optical zoom and basically an HD+ display. According to Apple, it does pack in a solid battery life like the iPhone 8 Plus. So the XR will cater to every need of the basic iPhone buyer, a first time iPhone buyer, a gamer, someone who loves to watch videos and even the professional. It won’t appeal to buyers who are looking out for the best cameras as the XS and the XS Max offer the best hardware on that front.

The iPhone XS is now the smallest new iPhone

With a 5.8-inch display, the iPhone XS is now the smallest new iPhone you can buy! So if you are in the market for an iPhone for (almost) normal-sized hands, the iPhone XS is the one to go for provided you can digest the premium pricing that starts from Rs 99,990 for the 64 GB model.

It’s not really the most practical buy, now that the iPhone XR exists, more the only additional feature it packs in is a dual camera. As for that Super AMOLED display, that should appeal to those wanting to stream and view HDR 10 content, the bigger iPhone XS Max or even the iPhone XR will be a better experience.

Apple iPhone XS. Image: Apple

Apple iPhone XS. Image: Apple

Who is the iPhone XS for?

Well, it’s for those who want a smaller and updated iPhone that gets you the best hardware that Apple has on offer this year. In short, it appeals to professionals, smartphone camera enthusiasts and those looking to get the maximum storage capacity on an iPhone, which you would not get with an iPhone XR (it tops out at 256 GB).

The Apple iPhone XS Max is the biggest iPhone you can get

The iPhone XS Max is one device that has not shuffled or had a character or profile change this year. It’s the one member of the iPhone family that knows its place in the hierarchy and is back to reclaim its spot after a year as the most expensive iPhone in Apple’s stable. The reasoning behind the Max naming convention is that it has a lot more display in the same phone size as the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus.

For about a year, the iPhone X (or Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone) took the top spot as the most expensive and feature-packed device with the biggest display.

Now the iPhone XS Max gets its title back as it's not only the smartphone with an Android-beating, mammoth display, but the biggest one even Apple has on offer. Surprisingly, that 6.5-inch SuperAMOLED display surprisingly also fits into the frame of an iPhone 8 Plus.

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max. Image: Apple

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max. Image: Apple

It also costs a pretty penny with the base price for the 64 GB model starting from a whopping Rs 1,09,900 in India and going up to Rs 1,44,900 for the 512 GB model. As compared to the US price conversion, you are paying close to Rs 40,000 premium in taxes and duties!

Who is the iPhone XS Max for?

Packing in a massive display in the same footprint as the iPhone 8 Plus is a good thing. Many who were growing tired of the thick bezels on the 8 Plus, will now get more screen space than they asked for, making this an ideal device who those who love to watch movies (HDR 10 enabled) and play games (bigger battery, biggest display) and even for professionals who want to see more emails threads, more on their excel sheets and so on.

Separating the men from the boys

With the new iPhone line-up one thing becomes evidently clear, Apple is separating the men from the boys. While that sounds cool, it’s interesting to note how iPhone buyers or Apple customers would react to these sky-high price tags. It also waits to be seen if Apple will be able to move these exorbitantly priced iPhones especially during the upcoming festival season in India.

It also poses questions about whether iPhone users would look to Android flagships for reasonable prices because the iPhone XS Max does make the premium Samsung Galaxy Note 9 look like a value for money deal!

And lastly, do look out for our full reviews of the new iPhone models in the coming weeks before you make that buying decision.




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