Don't get us wrong -- we like the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. They pack stunning OLED displays, much improved cameras and the fastest processors ever in a phone. But some early problems have cropped up that are annoying some owners.
Early adopters of the iPhone XS and XS Max are reporting a number of issues with the phones, but the good news is that Apple seems to be responding swiftly.
Here are some of the biggest things iPhone XS users have complained about so far.
Chargegate (Status: Fix Coming)
Some users are reporting that their iPhone XS and XS Max aren't charging when their displays are off.
Some have only needed to wake up the phone for it to begin charging again. Others have said they need to unplug the phone, wake the screen, and plug it back in to resume.
Update: The good news is that a fix should be on the way in iOS 12.1, according to CNET. The software is available in beta and will arrive on iPhones and iPads this fall.
This is another problem our iPhone XS review unit doesn't have. But customers in at least a dozen different discussion forums have reported the issue according to MacRumors.
On his popular YouTube channel Unbox Therapy, YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger tested four iPhone XS and four iPhone XS Max units, and found that two of the XS and three of the XS Max units did not begin to charge with their display off.
Antennagate (Status: Apple Investigating)
Users are complaining of bad LTE and Wi-Fi reception compared to that of previous iPhones.
At least one radio expert believes a faulty antenna is to blame. Some users affected by the problem say that Apple has contacted them, so an investigation appears to be underway.
There's a chance Apple could issue a software fix — but that didn't work super well for the iPhone 4.
Our review units of the iPhone XS and XS Max didn't exhibit this issue, and we're only seeing these complaints from a small (but steadily growing) base of users. But a number of users have actually conducted experiments and found the new iPhones have lower signal strength than competing Android phones, which is worrying.
A just-released report from Cellular Insights and PCMag says that Apple's new flagships are twice as fast as the older iPhone X when it comes to 4G performance, but they trail the Galaxy Note 9.
Beautygate (Status: Fix Coming)
While the iPhone XS' dual 12-megapixel rear cameras take the best pictures we've ever seen from an Apple phone, its front camera has been off to a rocky start. Specifically, users are reporting that the selfie camera aggressively smooths the skin of its subjects. This issue is also affecting the iPhone XR. Apple has confirmed that a fix is coming.
While we generally prefer the results from the iPhone XS' camera compared to that of the iPhone X, some believe it comes at the expense of detail and contrast. This is reportedly due to a Smart HDR bug that occasionally chooses a smoother frame taken at a longer shutter speed than a sharper image at a shorter shutter speed. Apple is releasing a fix in iOS 12.1, according to The Verge, so that Smart HDR will default to the clearer photo.
In our testing, we found that the XS's camera limits photos' color contrast compared to those of the iPhone X. We also found a slight haze to some of the images, which wasn't present in predecessors' photos.
Generally, however, we thought the iPhone XS's photos looked better.
After traveling for three weeks in Portugal and Morocco, hoping to use the iPhone XS as my primary camera, I'm thankful that my wife suggested I bring along a small dSLR after experiencing several issues with the iPhone just a few days into the trip. Whether the issues are due to hardware (a bad unit?) or software (fixable remotely) is to be determined.
• Hot-spot light source flare, esp. with the sun. Yes, all lenses have this issue but for the iPhone there's a definite difference between the wide-angle and zoom setting, with the zoom lens being much more radically affected. Much worse than on my iPhone 8. And you MUST keep the lens clean of any residue. Again, same with all lenses/phones but this glass/coating seems to be much more easily affected.
• Related, on night shots of plazas, street scenes, etc., there are ghosted/repeated light spots from the scene, always blue, above and left of the source the scened. Again, no such issues with iPhone 8.
• Orientation issues, especially with video. Many of my photos and videos need to be turned 90º to 180º in post to get properly oriented. Maybe the chip that takes care of such things is wonky?
• With a specific sequence of actions while reviewing photos in the Camera app—not the Photos app—the entire display shifts down and to the right, showing only the top left corner of the app. Very difficult to fix without restarting the phone, which is a pain when using an overseas SIM PIN and having to re-authenticate.
Lastly, I missed many, many street shots due to the absolutely awful button-less swiping UX. I really came to loathe this interface. Here's a comparison of sequences, knowing that speed and reflex is key to getting good street shots:
iPhone 8, using a ShoulderPod wrist strap: With phone at my side, anticipating a shot, I can wake-up + authenticate (via fingerprint) the phone in one move while bringing the phone up to eye level; then snap a shot by simply moving my thumb slightly to the left to the shutter button. Fast, two moves.
iPhone XS, using a ShoulderPod wrist strap: With phone at my side, anticipating a shot, I can't wake up the phone until it is level with my face for wake/authentication. But guess what? I can to turn the phone vertically because FaceID doesn't work horizontally! Then I have to swipe up with free hand and hope that the app I want is active. All of this while not keeping an eye on my subject. The result of this 1-3 second + delay is lost shots.
PS: The battery life sucks.