iPhone XS lineup is great, but not as great as Samsung’s Note 9

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Apple wins benchmark and real-world comparisons of the performance of the iPhone XS Max and the Galaxy Note 9.
Two great handsets, but which is better?
Photo: SuperSaf TV

Respected consumer testing publication Consumer Reports has released its full review of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

While neither Apple handset quite dethrones Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 as the group’s top-rated smartphone, the testing results do highlight multiple improvements from previous iPhones.

Building on solid foundations

The review suggests that, other than the 6.5-inch display for the iPhone XS Max, there is little change from last year’s iPhone X. However, it continues that:

“The most noticeable improvement is in battery life. Previous iPhones have typically lagged the competition in this area, but the new models have a lot more staying power, now rating among the industry’s leaders. Apple also managed to make its already top-rated cameras just a bit better, and boost the phones’ overall performance with a new, faster processor.”

Putting the handset through its rigorous lab-based testing, Consumer Reports says that the new, more efficient A12 Bionic processor lives up to Apple’s promise of longer battery life. Specifically, the XS can last 24.5 hours, half an hour longer than last year’s iPhone X, while the XS Max can last 26 hours, up to 90 minutes longer than the iPhone X.

This was based on getting a robotic finger to put the handset through the rigors of an average day, including browsing the internet, taking pictures, using GPS navigation, and making phone calls. All this was carried out on 100 percent screen brightness.

As far as the camera goes, the improvement is only slight, but still remains one of the best smartphone cameras around. It’s even better than the iPhone, which racked up the highest rating of any smartphone camera Consumer Reports has tested.

“The Samsung Galaxy phones lag behind a little,” Richard Fisco, who heads CR’s smartphone testing program, said. “But that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that their image quality is poor.”

But don’t drop it

One area where the iPhone XS and XS Max could do with improvement is on their overall toughness. They were tested in a tumbler rotating chamber, which repeatedly drops the handsets from 2.5 feet.

Two of the three iPhone XS sample units were damaged after 50 drops, although one iPhone XS Max model made it through all 100 drops without breaking. This makes the handsets slightly more delicate than Samsung’s Note 9.

As a result, Consumer Reports says that users, “should probably consider investing in a sturdy protective case if you purchase an iPhone XS or XS Max.”

In total, the report gives both handsets an overall score of 82. That’s one better than the Galaxy S9’s 81, but a single point behind the Note 9’s 83.

Source: Consumer Reports