test iPhone XS

Back Market Lab: test of the iPhone XS, an efficient update, but that’s it!

In 2017, Apple gave us with the iPhone X the update we were waiting for, and defined the design for all its new models. The iPhone XS and XS Max, the iPhone XR and even the more recent iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max have fallen into line without any surprises on the edgeless screen, better quality materials and Face ID technology. But while the appearance hasn’t changed a lot, each iteration has added quite a few new features. And this is definitely the case for the iPhone XS: good performance, better photos and a smaller ecological footprint. Something we can get our teeth into.

Overall Back Market score
Performance and battery life
Ergonomics and design
Screen and display
Environmental impact


  • A magnificent OLED screen.
  • Lots of power.
  • Very good pictures, especially in daylight.
  • Better on CO2 emissions compared to the iPhone X.


  • Battery life is always a pain.
  • No adapter for fast charging, or jack socket.
  • Some discreet changes.
  • Little improvement on night photos.

The iPhone XS in a nutshell


143,6 x 70,9 x 7,7 mm

Screen size:

5,8 inches


2436 x 1125



Battery capacity:

2658 mAh

SIM card:



Apple A12 Bionic


4 Go


64 Go

Rear camera:

12 MP

Front camera:

7 MP


177 g

Satisfying performance, but a battery that soon leaves you empty


Everything runs perfectly…

Like the iPhone X before it and the iPhone 11 after, the iPhone XS shows off a new chip: the A12 Bionic. According to Apple, the processor is 15% more powerful while consuming 40% less energy. What does that mean? All functionality is faster: applications open up to 30% faster, even the hungriest beasts. The iPhone XS takes the top step of the power level podium when compared to the phones of 2018 (better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the Huawei P20). But in general use, however, it does not really make a difference.

… but shorter than before

On the other hand, we don’t see any benefits of reduced energy consumption on battery life. On this point the iPhone XS is even worse than the X. Your smartphone will probably need an early evening nap after a hard day’s work. And you’ll need a good 3:15h for it to wake up full of energy. Apple is far behind a OnePlus 6, for example.

iPhone XS

Ergonomics and design: a little twin brother


An almost identical design

The phone’s dimensions, the diagonal and proportion of the screen on the front, the weight, location of the buttons, glass back and chrome trimmings are all more or less the same as the iPhone X. The only difference is the new color: gold. Unlike the huge XS Max, the iPhone XS is easy to use with one hand.

The iPhone XS is suitable for small hands

With a few discreet new features

Its waterproofing means you can now submerge your iPhone XS to over a meter deep for 30 minutes. You never know, it might be useful.

And for once, this iPhone has dual-SIM compatibility. However, there is no microSD port, or mini-jack, missing since the iPhone 7.

review iPhone XS

Screen and display: everything the same, but slightly better


Here again, we are still in known territory. Same OLED technology and same overall quality, which is increasingly similar to that of the competition, especially the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The screen remains legible in all conditions, even in bright sunlight, but retains the same awkward notch at the top of the screen. The screen is extremely responsive and really nice to use.

What about photos, videos and audio?


Slightly better photo quality

On paper, the iPhone XS keeps the same 12 Mpx module as the iPhone X. However, the aperture is more responsive and better in low light, without being comparable to a Huawei P20. The new Smart HDR feature, on by default, allows you to combine 4 shots into one to improve the rendering quality. The portrait mode with its background blur is always available and you can even adjust the intensity of the blur after taking the picture. Overall, the camera is very good, but offers nothing new.

Excellent video performance

In terms of video, you can still record in 4K up to 60 fps and in Full HD up to 240 frames per second. The iPhone XS gives you an excellent video experience, both during recording and viewing. On the other hand, if you want slow motion selfie shooting, you’ll need to take a look at the iPhone 11 Pro.  

But the audio is a disappointment

In terms of audio, the report reads “could do better”. The headphone output provided by the Lightning adapter is passable, but nothing more, and the speaker lacks balance.

But what about the planet?

CO2 emissions: 3/5

70kg of CO2 emitted for production of the smartphone is better than the iPhone X (79kg), which was a little naughty, but not as good as the XR (62kg) and the iPhone 8 (57kg).

Energy consumption: 4/5

Its chip consumes less energy than that of the iPhone X, there is a real effort noted on this point.

Materials used: 4/5

As with the X, the 54g of stainless steel, an excellent recyclable material, get a thumbs up; we also note there is 2g less plastic compared to the X.

Reparability: 3/5

The repair of the screen and the battery is still satisfactory, but it is still necessary to have specific screwdrivers to disassemble the device and it is always necessary to replace the whole chassis if the glass is broken.


  • A magnificent OLED screen.
  • Lots of power.
  • Very good pictures, especially in daylight.
  • Better on CO2 emissions compared to the iPhone X.


  • Battery life is always a pain.
  • No adapter for fast charging, or jack socket.
  • Some discreet changes.
  • Little improvement on night photos.

This 2018 model is an update of the iPhone X, nothing more, nothing less. But still, the quality is good. Only real downside: the price. But this is offset on Back Market.

And our iPhone XS / Samsung Galaxy S9 comparison:

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