The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max may have displaced the older iPhone models on the top spot of our best iPhone for 2019, but there’s one important catch to them: They both cost a small fortune. Although it might be tempting to shell out nearly $1,000 for Apple’s latest and best smartphones, you might want to consider the older models instead. Why? Plenty of reasons, actually. Besides inevitably getting marked down, there haven’t been many significant changes on Apple’s flagship phone. Plus, the previous A12 Bionic chip was already impressively quick. Right now, you can save as much as $620 for a refurbished iPhone XS and XS Max on Amazon.
The iPhone XR may have won the title of the best iPhone of 2018, but the XS is our personal favorite. For starters, we think its smaller size is perfect. We appreciate a phone that isn’t unwieldy in the hands. It also looks exquisite, with an elegantly minimalist design and a stunning 5.8-inch OLED screen that’s colorful without looking oversaturated and with blacks that are so deep you’ll barely notice the notch up top if you have a dark wallpaper. The display also supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, making this phone incredible for watching ultra-high-definition Netflix or YouTube content. Nicely rounding it out is the new and improved stereo speaker that easily fills a room with sound.
This phone is powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, an upgrade to the A11 Bionic, which was already blazingly fast. It houses 6.9 billion transistors, has a so-called Neural Engine that intuitively learns tasks, and a total of six cores that can run 5 trillion operations per second. You may not understand any of these, but the bottom line is the iPhone XS is incredibly fast.
On a surface level, there are no apparent improvements in the dual-camera system but take a closer look at the photos and there’s a big difference. The bane of an iPhone has always been low-light photographic conditions, but now thanks to a new feature called Smart HDR, pictures taken at night are no longer grainy and appear natural. Those taken in daylight are even more remarkable with accurate colors and a terrific amount of detail. Finally, this phone was able to last 11.5 hours with continuous internet browsing and HD video streaming. With lighter usage, this phone can easily last an entire day.
The iPhone XS normally costs a hefty $1,300 but you can get a refurbished unit on Amazon for a whopping $620 less. Get one for $680 and what’s more, you can score an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for an Amazon Rewards Visa card, bringing the price further down to $630.
The iPhone XS Max, as the name suggests, is the larger version of the XS. Both carry nearly the same specs and features but differ in screen size and battery. At 6.5 inches, the XS Max offers more screen real estate for watching movies. With a 2,688 x 1,242-pixel resolution, the OLED screen explodes with vibrant colors and rich details. And just like the XS, this iPhone supports Dolby Vision and HDR10. What we didn’t like about the taller screen is it was difficult to reach certain areas such as the Notification Center menus. It’s a good thing Apple added a Reachability feature which allows you to move items from the top of the screen down to the middle.
This phone is powered by the A12 Bionic, the former processor champion of the world. It’s been dethroned by the obscenely quick A13 which is found in the heart of the iPhone 11. Not to worry. This chipset is still capable of a buttery smooth performance, so playing graphically intense games, multitasking, and switching between multiple open applications is no problem. Further, features like Memojis, Siri Suggestions, and grouped notification system make for a fun and extremely convenient phone experience. Finally, the XS Max is equipped with the biggest battery out of all the 2018 iPhones. With moderate use, including music streaming, some picture taking, and a ton of social media and web browsing, it can easily last you through the day with extra juice to spare.
The iPhone XS Max usually comes with a $799 price tag, but now you can snag a renewed factory-unlocked unit on Amazon for $750 — that’s $49 less. To make the deal even sweeter, you can enjoy an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa card, which brings the price even lower to $700.
The iPhone XS and XS Max possess almost the same features and specs and only differ in screen size. They both guarantee a premium phone experience minus the astronomical price tag of their most recent kins.
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