I’ve never been obsessed with smartphones. They have always been a necessity for me, as well as a means to kill time. Because of that, I was never willing to actually spend money on a new one until the old one was pretty much unusable. Even then, there was no reason for me to actually buy the latest and greatest. Times have changed however, and my enthusiasm for tech not only grew and grew, but also expanded into new areas, such as mobile devices.

Never having owned a truly highend smartphone, I was curious what makes a 1000 euro phone that expensive. ‘How will the experience differ compared to the entry levels’, I asked myself. Surely, there has to be some kind of valid reason behind the pricing scheme, which seems to be spiraling out of control and out of reach for most wallets.

The iPhone XS wasn’t my first iOS based phone

Around last year, about three weeks prior to buying the XS, I got a used iPhone 6. This was my first iOS based mobile phone and the last missing piece to the Apple echosystem. I already owned a Macbook Pro, an iPad Pro, Airpods and various other devices.

I loved the experience provided by my new phone. After a week I already knew, that there wouldn’t be any going backto Android – at least not in a forseeable future. Unfortunately however, the phone broke before I was able to get a cover for its protection. Mind you, that it wasn’t because the phone was weakly built or anything like that. It was due to a combination of bad luck and aweful judgement on my part.

Thus, only two weeks after I happily made the jump to iOS, was I forced to go back to Android. Surely that couldn’t be the end of it I thought. Only a few days later did I go to the Apple store, self-assured that the new iPhone would be worth the investment.

I’ve spent hours in the store, looking at the different models and comparing their prices. Being perfectly honest, the XR would’ve easily made the cut performance wise. Hell, even the iPhone 6 did (setting the battery life aside). So surely, there’s no reason to get the iPhone XS.

In the end I left the store with a brand new iPhone XS (not the max) with 64GB of storage. My desire got the better of me. The OLED screen, the slimmer bezels, the glass back and the stainless steel edges were just too sexy to be left lying there.

Looking back at my purchase almost a year later, was my decision a good one or did I just waste over a thousand euros?

First let’s look at the design and the available colors

iPhone XS lying display first on a desk

The iPhone XS’s beautiful design absolutely struck me. The stainless steel border as well as the glass back both look good and feel great in your hand. While there are three options, Gold, Silver and Grey, only the Silver one actually stood out to me. The other two colors’ glass back just didn’t feel as premium.

The slim bezels also looked great and the notch didn’t bother me at all. Yeah, it would be nice to not have it at all, especially when watching movies or series, but in no way is it a deal breaker for me.

Comparing it to some of the Android phones on the market, Apple’s design both wins and looses at the same time. Looking at the phone from the back, there has not been a single competitor that could even come close. Unfortunately though, the back will most likely be covered all the time anyway. That is unless you find a good looking case that’s actually see through.

I would not recommend anyone to use the device without a decent cover! While the design is impeccable from a visual standpoint, it is also fragile. The phone can be slippery in your hand, and upon falling down will most likely break. No matter whether it’s the front or the back, replacement will be insanely expensive.

Looking at the front of the device, there are some Android phones with even slimmer bezels, often at a cheaper price.

Any comparison with Android phones is worthless however, if you are indulged into the Apple echosystem. I have been relying on Airdrop and some other features so much, that I wouldn’t want to miss it, even if it means paying a huge premium.

While the iPhone’s back is beautiful, it doesn’t come without its flaws…

iPhone XS lying on desk unevenly due to camera size

One thing that you need to be aware of is, that the glass front, while looking gorgeous, can break relatively easy.

Due to the camera sticking out, it is almost impossible to properly use the phone without a case anyway. It won’t lie flat on the ground and will easily slip off. None of the materials offer a great grip either, which makes it way to easy to drop the phone.

In case you ever get scratches or cracks in your display, it won’t be easy to repair either. Without Apple care it’ll cost you around 270€ just for the front.

Having a cracked or scratched phone is all the more annoying if you’ve spent that much on it. The reparation isn’t the only thing that Apple charges a premium for …

I still can’t decide whether buying the 64GB version was a good idea or not…

I am currently a student, which means that my budget is limited. Therefore every price increment has to be looked at closely and every decision has to be made with care. Luckily I’m in a position where I can buy the devices I want as long as the purchase can be justified.

Selecting storage space is extremely easy on a computer. Just get the bigger SSD so you won’t run out of space any time soon. The price is low compared to the computers original price anyway. On mobile devices however, it’s a much bigger pain in the ass. Between the 64GB and the 256GB versions, there’s a price difference of around 170€. For that price you’d get a 1TB external SSD (which of course wouldn’t work with any phone), which makes the justification difficult. The price increment from 256GB to 512GB is even bigger than that.

The way I use my phone, 256GB are absolutely excessive, while 64GB is barely not enough. I usually use between 50GB and 62GB while being too lazy to delete all the photos and videos that have accumulated. Every once in a while there comes a moment where I’m forced to delete something, which can be rather annoying. That being said, more than half of the storage isn’t actually needed. I’d be paying a premium for convenience’s sake.

If you are relying on having all the files, pictures and videos you ever took on your phone at all times, then by all means, get the bigger version. Otherwise it’s just important to ask oneself whether the 170€ are worth the convenience or if you’d rather spend them on something else.

Why Apple, WHY?

Lightning port for iPhone XS and USB C for iPad Pro

With Apple’s devices, there’s one thing that I absolutely can’t figure out. How can it be, that on one device, they go all out, ditching every single port in favor of USB-C and then on the other, they reluctantly cling to an old standard.

Since 2016, every Macbook device, be it the Pro or the Air, had nothing but a headphone jack and USB-C ports. Many considered it a pain, while it opened a whole new world for me. I’ve been fascinated by having one single port which can handle everything at once. I believed in the change and switched most of my setup based around that. In 2018 it was finally time for the iPad Pro to adapt the same port.

What I just don’t get is why the lightning port has been kept for the iPhone XS (and also for the 11 Pro). This is by far the biggest downside of Apple’s phone lineup for me. Most Android phones adapted to the change a long time ago and ironically, Apple as the one who initiated it for laptops, should too.

The display makes me hope OLED screens become more widespread

iPhone XS lying on iPad Pro

Coming from a relatively old phone, the change to the iPhone XS was immense. While the display was still small (it’s a phone, duh), it’s colors are vibrant and thanks to the OLED technology, the blacks were actually black. While the change wasn’t as apparent in videos due to the small size of the device, there have been some forms of media which absolutely shone. One of them was manga, which I read on the train for a while. Being black and white anyway, it looked absolutely phantastic.

To be perfectly honest, the great color accuracy doesn’t really mean that much considering that I won’t do any work on my phone. Due to the phone’s size I’d also much rather go to a TV or even to my iPad for media consumption. As a tech enthusiast however, seeing the beautiful screen often puts a smile on my face. For me it can be compared to buying good looking shoes, clothes or pictures. It makes me happy seeing them so I’m willing to pay the price. That’s just my way of looking at it though.

One thing it absolutely does however is raising a hope within me. Ever since buying the iPhone XS I’ve been dreaming of an iPad Pro and a Macbook Pro with an OLED screen. I am going to upgrade the moment an ‘affordable’ OLED variant of those devices releases. Let’s hope Apple decides to go down that road soon.

One of the iPhones main selling point is the camera…

closeup of iPhone XS camera

That can easily be seen in Apple’s advertisement. One of its core focuses is always the camera. And it’s good. Really good even. Without doing any post editing, almost every shot looks absolutely phantastic. Of course it can’t be compared to the quality of a full sized camera, especially when paired with post editing. Considering that the iPhone fits in your pocket though makes it a worthy contender. Many trips just don’t allow you to carry an extra bag for your camera around.

For many tasks, such as taking photos for product reviews, the devices’ quality is good enough. Once again though, Apple isn’t really the strongest contender, albeit it features one of the heighest price tags. If your main concern is the phone’s camera, then it might be worth taking a look at Android alternatives. For me the camera is an important feature, which is towered by the operating system. Therefore Android isn’t really a viable option for me.

Verdict – is it really worth the money?

frontal picture of the iPhone XS

It’s been over a year since I bought the iPhone XS and the only thing about it that I’ve regretted is not buying a screen protector as well. That being said, it’s been the last device on my to get list. I already owned an iPad Pro, Macbook Pro and everything else that I needed for my setup. Thanks to that the 1000€ price tag didn’t kill me… it just hurt really bad.

Despite the many negatives that I went through, I absolutely love my phone. The swipe gestures, which replace the home button feel so much more natural and are fun to use. The extra screen realestate is very much appreciated and everything else… just works. Flawlessly. The battery life is so good, that it almost never happened to me that the phone just died.

If you’re in need of an iOS based phone and don’t mind the premium price, then go ahead, it’s worth it.