Goodbye iPhone XR: Signal strength and size bring me back to the iPhone XS

In my quest to find the perfect iPhone for myself, I switched back to the Apple iPhone XS after testing the XS Max and XR. It all came down to a couple key elements.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Regular readers and Twitter followers know that I tend to use an iPhone for a couple of months before getting bored and then switching over to one of the many Android smartphones in my collection. However, I went a full year with the Apple iPhone X and figured that one of the newest 2018 models would be a simple upgrade.

I started off by going with the biggest and baddest iPhone of the year, the iPhone XS Max. With the largest iPhone display ever and all of the other 2018 iPhone technology I figured it would be the perfect device for a power user like me. After two weeks, I returned it to T-Mobile because it was just too large, didn't offer anything special like we saw with the Plus models, and is extremely expensive.

Also: iPhone XS review: Everything Apple has to offer, but in a smaller package

Since I am a T-Mobile Jump On Demand participant, I next chose the Apple iPhone XR (see our full review) since it offered most of what is found in the iPhone XS Max with a longer battery life and some fun vibrant color options. The Coral wasn't quite as orange as I wanted, but at first I was satisfied with the device.

The iPhone XR is $250 to $350 less than the iPhone XS and XS Max while offering the same processor, same primary rear camera (no secondary rear camera), and same Face Unlock technology. It has an LCD screen and less RAM, but a longer battery life so I thought it would be the device for me and was mostly happy with it.


After six weeks, I realized I just could not put up with the less capable wireless technology that daily made my streaming media pause on my commute and had calls drop without warning. A new Christmas kitty arrived and the single rear camera of the iPhone XR doesn't let me shoot portrait mode shots of pets. I also just ordered another Apple Watch Series 4 and am planning to go back to the iOS world for a while so I need an iPhone that is going to keep a connection and support photo shoots.

I also came to the realization that one major factor that kept last year's iPhone X in my pocket for a year was the perfect size of the device. I could never get over how well the iPhone X fit in my hand and front pocket while providing me with a device that felt like it was all screen in my hand. The size and display-to-body ratio of the iPhone X was made for me and I had to have that again.

Also: Apple iPhone XR review: Lower cost comes with camera, reception compromises

Yesterday I visited my local T-Mobile store and traded in the Coral iPhone XR for a gold iPhone XS. The gold is a new color and I've heard a lot of great things about it so I figured I would try it out. So far, I am loving the color and am ecstatic to have a perfectly sized iPhone back in my hand.

I'm giving up some battery life, paying a bit more money, and not buying something unique in an XR or XS Max form factor, but the iPhone XS is perfect for me. With its gigabit-class LTE with 4x4 MIMO and LAA, along with Band 71 support, I am seeing better cellular performance than last year's iPhone X and this year's iPhone XR.

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