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iPhone XS Camera Review: Truly Impressive

The iPhone XS has a lot of things going for it. It has one of the best displays on any smartphone ever, it’s performance is beyond amazing, it has an impressive battery life, and awesome sounding stereo speakers. Along with all of that, Apple made some pretty big claims about the iPhone XS camera. So, if you’re wondering if the iPhone XS camera is all that great, well, we’ve tested it pretty thoroughly and here are my thoughts on it.

Rear Cameras

On the back, the iPhone XS features a 12MP f/1.8 + 12MP f/2.4 set up that’s similar to the iPhone X. However, Apple has made certain improvements here. For starters, the pixels on the sensor are now larger and deeper than the iPhone X, so they capture more light. Plus, there’s Smart HDR now to ensure the iPhone XS captures even more details in shadows and highlights. We tested out the rear camera in multiple conditions.

Good Lighting

In good lighting, the iPhone XS takes some pretty amazing photos. There is a lot of detail in the shots, color balance is usually on point, and thanks to Smart HDR, the shadows have ample detail. It’s a really good camera in good lighting as you can tell from the sample shots I’ve attached below. I did notice that the iPhone XS does saturate colors a tad more than what the iPhone X used to do, and I’m not sure how I feel about it because it’s not so oversaturated that it looks like a Samsung photo, but it’s not always true to life either. That said, the photos from the iPhone XS in good lighting conditions are definitely pretty amazing, and they won’t disappoint.

That said, I noticed that in indoor lighting, especially with yellow lights, the iPhone XS sometimes messed up the color balance and ended up making people’s skin appear pink and quite weird, but that only happens very rarely.

Low Light

In low light, the iPhone XS’ bigger and deeper sensors definitely do make quite a difference. Photos from the iPhone XS in poor lighting conditions turn out really nice, even though there is, obviously, noise due to the increased ISO. However, that’s not really something I can complain about because every single smartphone in the world has those issues with noise in low light, and the iPhone XS is on the end of the spectrum with the phones that perform the very best in low light, so that’s definitely great. Take a look at some of the sample shots I’ve taken for testing the iPhone XS’ camera capabilities in low light.

Portrait Mode

The Portrait Mode on the iPhone XS is one of the best I’ve seen. I’m not kidding, I’ve used the Pixel 2 which happens to be my favorite camera smartphone of all time, but the iPhone XS outdoes it. Portrait mode photos from the iPhone XS have plenty of detail, and excellent color balancing which is something I really like. Plus, the edge detection on the iPhone XS is really good. I mean, sure, it messes up sometimes (every phone does), but the iPhone XS portrait mode is a lot more consistent at taking better photos with more details than the competition. Plus there’s a Depth Control feature now which will let you adjust the background blur in portrait mode photos after you’ve shot them. That might sound a lot like Live Focus from Samsung or whatever, but it’s actually pretty different and quite a bit more advanced. However, as impressive as Depth Control is I didn’t find myself using it that very much.


In terms of videos, the iPhone XS is capable of shooting 4K video at up to 60FPS, and videos from the iPhone XS just look stunning. Believe me, I’ve taken a bunch of videos with the phone and everything is on point. The colors look beautiful, the sharpness is amazing, and there’s a lot of detail. Plus, the phone also handles HDR pretty well, so that’s great. In fact, personally, I think the iPhone XS is the best in terms of shooting videos of the phones I’ve tested so far.

Front Cameras

On the front, the iPhone XS comes with a 7MP true depth camera that comes with support for Portrait Mode, and the new Depth Control feature is here too. Again, I didn’t find myself using it very much, but as far as selfies are concerned, the front camera on the iPhone XS is definitely pretty good.

I did notice that photos from the front camera do end up with slightly reduced details most of the time, which is basically what Beauty Gate is all about. We have a dedicated article on Beauty Gate that you can check out if you’re interested in a detailed look into it.

Other than the slightly lower details though, the iPhone XS front camera is pretty great. There’s ample lighting, and the photos look really good. Plus the Smart HDR really makes a difference in the shadows and highlights of images.

iPhone XS Camera Review: Definitely Awesome

Overall, the cameras on the iPhone XS are definitely pretty great. Pictures from the iPhone XS have ample detail, the colors look great, and overall they are just very pleasing to look at. Even with the front camera, the lack of details is not very evident when you’re just looking at the photos on a smartphone, which honestly, is where you’ll be looking at most photos anyway. The point is, personally, I’m very impressed with the cameras on the iPhone XS, and I don’t think they leave a lot to be desired. That said, I’m looking forward to the Pixel 3, so we can see if the iPhone XS can hold its own against what is likely to be the best camera on a smartphone.

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