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(Pocket-lint) - Apple's current top of the range smartphones including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.

But what's the difference between them, which one should you go for and more importantly, what's the best new iPhone for you if you are looking to upgrade from your current iPhone. 

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR design

  • iPhone XS/XS Max: Stainless steel and glass
  • iPhone XR: Aluminium and glass
  • Similar design to iPhone X on all three
  • IP67 rating on XR, IP68 on XS and XS Max

All three of the new iPhone models launch with a similar design to the 2017 iPhone X, ditching the Touch ID home button and featuring a notched-display on the front with Face ID.

The iPhone XS is the smallest model measuring 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm and weighing 177g, followed by the iPhone XR at 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm and 194g and then the larger iPhone XS Max at 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm and 208g. Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max feature a stainless steel core, like the iPhone X, while the iPhone XR opts for aluminium. All three models offer a glass back allowing for wireless charging, like the current iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

In terms of ports and functions, the 2018 iPhones follow the same design as the iPhone X. There is therefore a volume rocker on the left edge, a large power and Apple Pay button on the right edge, and the Lightning connector at the bottom flanked by speakers either side.

The iPhone XS and XS Max come in Gold, Silver and Space Grey colour options, while the iPhone XR comes in a wider colour palette, including black, white, red, yellow, coral and blue.

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR display

  • Range between 5.8 and 6.5-inches
  • iPhone XS and XS Max sharpest, iPhone XR softer
  • iPhone XS and XS Max OLED, iPhone XR LCD
  • All offer 19.5:9 aspect ratio

The Apple iPhone XS comes with a 5.8-inch OLED display like the 2017 iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Max comes with a 6.5-inch OLED display. Sitting in the middle of these two devices is the iPhone XR with a 6.1-inch LED-backlit Retina display, or LCD display.

All three devices feature Apple's True Tone technology, along with 3D Touch and the P3 colour gamut, all of which are already on the iPhone X and iPhone 8 models. They all also offer the 19.5:9 aspect ratio found on the iPhone X.

In terms of resolution, the iPhone XS and XS Max deliver the sharpest screens of the three new devices. The XS has a 2436 x 1125 resolution for a pixel density of 458ppi, while the XS Max has a resolution of 2688 x 1242 for the same 458ppi as the smaller model.

The iPhone XR meanwhile, delivers a pixel density of 326ppi, like the current iPhone 8, thanks to its 1792 x 828 resolution, making it the softest display of the three new iPhones. It also doesn't offer 3D Touch like the iPhone XS and XS Max, though it does come with True Tone technology and a P3 wide colour gamut.

Apple has included HDR and Dolby Vision compatibility on the iPhone XS and XS Max, as the iPhone X offers, but it is not supported on the iPhone XR.

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR hardware and specs

  • All run on A12 chip
  • Wireless charging
  • All offer Advanced Face ID
  • eSIM capable

The Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR all run on the same hardware, as the iPhone X and iPhone 8 models did. This means you'll find the new A12 Bionic chip which is a 7nm chip offering a 15 per cent faster and 40 per cent more efficient CPU and a 50 per cent faster GPU than the A11.

RAM capacities aren't officially disclosed by Apple but the iPhone X is thought to have 3GB so we'd expect the iPhone XS and XS Max to have at least this.

In terms of storage, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR all come in 64GB and 256GB models, but the iPhone XS and XS Max come in a 512GB option too, something Samsung introduced on the Note 9, while the iPhone XR comes in a 128GB option too. None of Apple's models offer microSD storage expansion though all three new iPhones are now eSIM capable.

Wireless charging capability is present on all three new iPhone models and all three offer improved Face ID as the biometric security method too, ditching Touch ID and its fingerprint sensor completely. 

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR camera

  • Dual rear camera on iPhone XS and XS Max
  • Single camera on iPhone XR
  • Next-gen TrueDepth front camera on all three

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max come with a vertically-aligned dual camera on the rear, while the iPhone XR opts for a singular sensor on the rear.

The XS and XS Max has two 12-megapixel sensors, one wide-angle with an aperture of f/1.8 and 1.4µm pixels and one telephoto with an aperture of f/2.4. Dual optical image stabilisation is on board, along with a range of features including optical and digital zoom, Live photos and 4K video recording.

The iPhone XR meanwhile features the same 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture 1.4µm pixel sensor as the XS and XS Max but it doesn't have the secondary 12-megapixel telephoto lens so it won't be able to offer optical zoom. All three of the new iPhones have Smart HDR and Portrait Mode with Depth Control features however, despite the XR only featuring one sensor.

The three iPhones all have Portrait Lighting too, but the XR only has three effects while the XS and XS Max have five.

In terms of the front camera, the iPhone XS, XS Max all have the next-generation TrueDepth camera, which is a 7-megapixel RGB sensor with Advanced FaceID and 1080p video recording at 60fps.

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR software

  • iOS 12

The Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR all feature iOS 12, but will be getting iOS 13 later this year. You can already update it to the iOS 13 Public Beta, but we wouldn't recommend it if this is going to be your main phone, which chances are, it will be.

The software experience will therefore be identical, aside from perhaps a few additional features on the iPhone XS and XS Max models.

Apple iPhone XS vs XS Max vs iPhone XR price and conclusions

The iPhone XR starts at £749. The Apple iPhone XS starts at £999. The iPhone XS Max starts at £1099.

The iPhone XS and XS Max both offer more premium build qualities than the iPhone XR but you still get the same design and you still get all the same the power from the A12 chip.

The main differences between these three devices is the XR comes in more colours and is cheaper, but you compromise a little on the camera capabilities in that it only offers a single rear lens, while the Liquid Retina display panel ditches 3D Touch and HDR and might not be as vibrant as the Super Retina panel in the XS and XS Max. You also get a slightly lower IP rating and aluminium over stainless steel as the core.

The XS Max is the most expensive of the three new iPhones but it offers the largest display without adding too much in terms of footprint. Aside from size however, it is exactly the same as the XS in terms of specs.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 5 September 2018.