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When Apple announced the iPhone 11 back in September 2019, it was viewed as a high-quality but reasonably affordable device with an outstanding camera and speedy processor. If you’ve got the 2018 iPhone XS you might be thinking that it’s time for an upgrade. There’s the pretty new colors as well as some decent spec upgrades.

To give you the TL;DR, if you’ve got an iPhone XS at the moment, there’s no good reason to let it go, especially with the iPhone 12 due in 2020, and there’s the even better iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max if you really fancy a change. In a straight battle between the XS or the 11, the 11 does win out, says Lynn La for cnet. The XS has stopped being manufactured now, but there’s still stock to be had with lots of retailers and networks.   

Apple iPhone 11

Few ways to beat it

iPhone 11 has gor such meditave color scheme

Priced at $699, £729, or AU$1,199, it’s not too going to beat up your bank balance too much. The LCD screen falls down against the iPhone XS’s OLED one, but the updated camera array that has a Night Mode and an ultra-wide-angle lens to give your phone some drama, do make up for it. The 11 runs faster and the battery will last you longer thanks to little upgrades like a change to the U1 chip which should near-future proof it.

$699 AT APPLE

$699 AT AMAZON

$700 AT BEST BUY

Apple iPhone XS

Don’t get rid, but don’t buy

Pleasure in the hand

We’re not here to slate the iPhone XS; it is still a great piece of kit if you’ve got one. The changes you’d feel if you went for the upgrade to the iPhone 11 are marginal so not really worth it. If you’re presented with a straight choice for a new phone, the 11 is the clear choice. As well as everything we’ve already covered, the price of both phones is the same, even though it’s a whole year older. It depends where you source your phone from – whether you got to retailers, carriers, or to Apple for a refurbished one – but an iPhone XS comes in at between $699 and $899.

$900 AT SPRINT

$1,000 AT BOOST MOBILE

$900 AT BEST BUY

The testing

The screen on the iPhone XS is “better”, but you’d not notice

The iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch screen, so it’s bigger than the iPhone XS that measures in at 5.8 inches, so it’s smaller but also lighter and thinner. On paper, the specs of the XS screen are better due to the sharper resolution and more pixels per inch – you can check the numbers in the spec chart further down.

With the iPhone XS, you get an OLED display whereas the iPhone 11 is only an LCD. For normal use like streaming YouTube videos or cruising through Instagram, you’re not going to notice day-to-day. Previously, the editor of cnet said, “Apple does a great job with its LCD Liquid Retina display in the iPhone 11. It doesn’t feel like a compromise except when looking at dark images with subtle light details.” 

You can pick up the iPhone 11 is a few different colors, with funky hues of green, red, yellow, and purple – the latter being the color of choice in the Twittersphere – as well as the standard white or black. At launch, you could only get the iPhone XS in gold, black, or white, and since they’re no longer in production, you might not have all three to choose from, depending on the retailer. The color of your phone might be no biggie for a lot of people, and you can always stick a case on, but it’s ok to find joy in little details, too.

The victor: We like the cute, candy colors of the iPhone 11, but the iPhone XS just about wins out due to the display.

Cameras on the iPhone 11 have great features

You won’t be surprised to read that the camera on the iPhone 11 is better. Both handsets come with a dual-camera setup on the back, but Apple switched up the telephoto lens from the XS and went for an ultra-wide lens on the iPhone 11. You miss out on the 2x telephoto zoom feature, but you get all the drama of wide-angled shots for sweeping vistas and interesting closeups.

On the iPhone 11, there’s also a Night Mode so that when you take a picture in low light conditions you get a level of detail that’s impressive. Your photos will look fantastic and are directly comparable to other phones with nighttime shooting settings like Bright Night on Samsung phones, Night Sight on Google phones, and Nightscape on OnePlus’. The photos you take in low light on the iPhone XS will be perfectly ok, but you’ll get graininess, less sharpness, and more digital artifacts. 

Another extra feature that you get on the iPhone 11 is Deep Fusion, giving a better photo quality and more detail on pictures taken in medium-light levels, like when you’re inside a room or building. You get a smoother and more stable video experience on the iPhone 11 too, plus the front-facing selfie camera is 12-megapixels as compared to the 7-megapixels on the iPhone X. If you can ignore the awful term “slofie”, you can bring yourself to try out the slow-motion option on the front-facing camera on the 11, too.

The Victor: Your everyday photos are going to be better when you use the new trickery that comes with the iPhone 11.

Speed and stamina in the iPhone 11

No matter if your iPhone XS is fresh out of the box or one you’re hanging onto from a while ago, it’s not going to match the performance of the iPhone 11. It’ll still be reliable when you use it and it’s certainly not slow; using it as a normal workaday phone you might never notice that things are different. Even when you discount the two years of use that have taken some oomph out of an iPhone XS, the Apple A12 Bionic processor on a new one can’t beat the A13 processor in the iPhone 11. There are some benchmarking tests you can check out here:

Image credit: cnet.com

Longevity is also important, and the iPhone 11 has more of it. You’ll not find official battery capacity numbers from Apple, third-parties that have done hardware teardowns have found a 3,110-mAh battery in the iPhone 11 and only 2,658 mAh in the iPhone XS. Lab testing by cnet, with the phone on continuous video playback whilst in airplane mode, the iPhone 11 managed 15 hours and 24 minutes, whilst the XS managed 13 hours and 17 minutes. For streaming videos, cnet only checked the iPhone 11 and it could last 13 hours and 52 minutes.The victor: The processor is faster and the battery is bigger in the iPhone 11, making it a clear winner.

Getting ready for the future with the iPhone 11

To round off, we’re going to look at some of the less sexy, less eye-catching features that nonetheless make the iPhone 11 better by virtue of futureproofing you against upcoming tech developments. These are:

The U1 chip gives “spatial awareness” to the iPhone 11, which means that it can hunt down other iPhones with more precision in the local area. The chip is ultra-wideband and allows AirDrop to give priority to the other device so file-sharing gets faster. The U1 chip is also rumored to be part of a bigger plan for a tile tracker from Apple.

Wi-Fi 6 is the next big thing in wireless networking. We’ll let cnet’s editor Ry Crist explain, “Wi-Fi 6 supports faster top transfer speeds; lets devices send more information with each individual transmission… facilitates better, faster performance in dense, crowded environments,” plus other great features. The tech might be there, but you’re not going to be using it any time soon. Wi-Fi 6 received certification back in September 2019 and the routers are super expensive at the moment. 

Haptic Touch replaces the 3D Touch that came with the iPhone XS. 3D Touch, in general, was phased out by Apple in 2018, with the iPhone XR being the first one without it. What 3D Touch did was give you access to extra menus and commands with a hard-press on the screen. The new Haptic Touch isn’t dissimilar, but you press for longer rather than harder. 

IPHONE 11 VS. IPHONE XS


iPhone 11iPhone XS
Display size, resolution6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels5.8-inch Super Retina OLED; 2,436×1,125 pixels
Pixel density326ppi458ppi
Dimensions (Inches)5.94×2.98×0.33 in5.7×2.8×0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters)150.9×75.7×8.3 mm143.6×70.9×7.7 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams)6.84 oz; 194g6.2 oz; 177g
Mobile softwareiOS 13iOS 12
Camera12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera12-megapixel with Face ID7-megapixel with Face ID
Video capture4K4K
ProcessorApple A13 BionicApple A12 Bionic
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAMNot disclosedNot disclosed
Expandable storageNoneNone
BatteryNot disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 1 hour longer than iPhone XRNot disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 30 min. longer than iPhone X
Fingerprint sensorNone (Face ID)None (Face ID)
ConnectorLightningLightning
Headphone jackNoNo
Special featuresWater-resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless chargingWater-resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging
Price off-contract (USD)*$699 (64GB), $749 (128GB), $849 (256GB)$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB)
Price (GBP)*£729 (64GB), £779 (128GB), £879 (256GB)£999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB), £1,349 (512GB)
Price (AUD)*AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,279 (128GB), AU$1,449 (256GB)AU$1,629 (64GB), AU$1,879 (256GB), AU$2,199 (512GB)

*prices at launch

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