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iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS: Which one should you buy?

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS: Should you upgrade your iPhone?

Apple’s latest flagship phone is the iPhone 11 Pro and it’s now been out a few months. The important question though is whether or not you should upgrade if you’re already got the iPhone XS

The iPhone XS was a refinement to the iPhone X that preceded it, offering a modest spec bump rather than a reimagining – we went as far as dubbing it “easily the most iterative update to a previous iPhone we’ve ever seen”. 

The XS replaced the A11 10nm processor with a more powerful A12 7nm processor and packed 4GB rather than 3GB of RAM. Is the iPhone 11 Pro the big leap forward that we hoped for? Read on for our full rundown and see below for some of the biggest upgrades.

Related: Best iPhone Deals

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – At a glance

  • Both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone XS have a Max-sized sibling
  • The iPhone XS and iPhone 11 Pro both have 5.8-inch displays and the Max versions up that to 6.5-inches
  • For the 11 Pro Apple has used the A13 chipset instead of the A12
  • You get an 18w fast charger in the box with the Pro, the iPhone XS still has a 5w charger
  • The camera is the big upgrade for the 11 Pro and it takes much better photos

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – Design

The iPhone 11 Pro mostly looks familiar to Apple’s smartphones of the past couple of years. It’s still rocking that notch, and it has very slight bezels, curved corners, flat screen. All attractive, although the notch does look a bit dated now in comparison to alternative selfie camera solutions that occupy less space. We wouldn’t be surprised if this was the final year Apple used this design and next year saw the notch ditched.

The deciding battle in this round comes down to the rear camera. The iPhone XS has a fairly elegant dual-camera set-up, with the flash set between both lenses. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 Pro has taken the controversial step of a far bulkier square-shaped triple-camera array. This design had its critics when it was first introduced however we’ve grown to like it quite a lot.

The 11 Pro comes in a few new colours – including a lovely Midnight Green – and they all have a back that’s got a matte finish rather than the glass of before.

Plenty of things have remained the same: same water-resistance (though Apple does say the 11 Pro is more durable), same lack of a headphone jack and same stainless steel rim. 

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – Camera

The most obvious new feature joining the iPhone 11 Pro is the new camera sensor. The new lens is a 12-megapixel, 120-degree ultra wide angle affair which allows you to snap much wider shots than previously possible, and switching between the main and ultra wide angle lens is very straightforward.

Meanwhile the iPhone XS has just two 12-megapixel sensors, one being a telephoto and the other being the main wide angle snapper. In our review we rated the camera very highly, judging that it takes stunning shots under almost any conditions, and offers the best video recording of any smartphone, boasting OIS-supported footage on 4K at 60fps.

We would say the jump in camera quality the iPhone 11 Pro has is the biggest reason for you to upgrade. Not only do you have that extra versatility afforded by the new wide lens, but you generally get far better pictures thanks to the much better Smart HDR. The new Deep Fusion feature helps too, using AI and computational photography to seriously improve detail.

Apple has altered the Camera app slightly too. You can now see outside the frame (thanks to that wide camera) which can be handy when setting up your shot.

Video remains excellent and you can record footage from all the rear sensors without really sacrificing too much.

For a more in-depth look at the camera on the iPhone 11 Pro, take a look at our iPhone 11 Pro camera review.

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – Performance and Display

The iPhone XS ran on the A12 Bionic chip, and it posted incredible performance scores comfortably ahead of the rest of the competition. It should serve you very well for several years, since it’s hard to even find content on the app store that pushes this chip to its limits.

While it’s easy to recommend you upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro for its extra camera skills, we wouldn’t suggest you do so for huge speed improvements. That’s not to say the iPhone 11 Pro is slow (quite the opposite and it blitzes Android competition) but with the XS already being so speedy it doesn’t feel much quicker.

Games load a bit quicker and apps open marginally faster yes, although you’ll only really notice this if you have the two phones side-by-side.

Of course, the real benefit of the A13 Bionic chipset is that it handles all the other big improvements the phone offers – the seriously features inside the camera for one. It should also continue to perform excellently for a number of years.

Storage options remain the same: 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. While a 1TB option would have been nice, it’s hardly a necessity and we’re struggling to fill up a 256GB model.

While the screen size and resolution haven’t changed, the new XDR Retina display on the iPhone 11 Pro is brighter and far superior for viewing HDR content.

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – Battery life

Along with the camera, the other big upgrade the 11 Pro has over the iPhone XS is the far superior battery life. This is Apple’s biggest jump in endurance for years.

While it’s the larger 11 Pro Max that has the biggest jump, the regular 11 Pro gets a big boost too. Apple says an extra four hours and while this is hard to gauge, it feels about right.

You also get a much faster charger in the box. The new 18w USB-C charger will fully charge the phone in about half the time as the iPhone XS and the charger that came with that – this is something we’ve been asking for for ages and it’s great to see Apple finally include a faster charger.

The port on the bottom of the phone remains LIghtning though, rather than the USB-C connector you’ll find on recent MacBooks and the high-end iPad Pro.

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone XS – Verdict

While the iPhone 11 Pro looks virtually the same as the iPhone XS, it’s a seriously strong improvement in a number of ways. They two key upgrades are far better battery life and a far superior camera – if those two things matter to you more than anything else then we think you’ll appreciate the update.

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