Consumer Reports celebrates iPhone XS battery life, incremental tweaks

Consumer Reports is out with its final report card on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The publication focuses on the improved battery life on both devices, versus the iPhone X. It also looks at performance, camera quality, and durability.

Improved battery life

Noting that battery life has traditionally been the iPhone’s Achilles’ heel, Consumer Reports says this year’s models nonetheless live up to Apple’s expectations.

Apple says the iPhone XS should last 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Max should last up to 90 minutes longer. Using a robotic finger designed to simulate a user’s average day, Consumer Reports found the iPhone XS lasted 24.5 hours, while the iPhone XS Max made it to 26 hours. The iPhone X, by contrast, lasted 19.5 hours during similar tests.

In separate tests performed last month, Tom’s Guide was less impressed with the battery life found on both handsets. It’s conclusion: “Based on our results, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max don’t have the staying power of the best Android phones when it comes to our web surfing test.”

Consumer Reports did criticize Apple for the amount of time it takes to charge the handsets using the chargers that came with the phones. The battery in the iPhone XS took 195 minutes to fully charge while the one in the iPhone XS Max took 210. In comparison, Samsung’s Note9 takes 105 minutes. Unlike Samsung, Apple elected not to include a USB-C fast charger in the iPhone XS box.


Thanks to Apple’s new A12 Bionic processor, the iPhone XS bested other current-generation smartphones regarding performance. However, the publication stresses “most people aren’t going to notice that extra horsepower operating behind the scenes.” Regardless, “But in practical terms, the new chip should help apps open faster and graphics-heavy or augmented-reality games run smoother.”

Slightly better camera

A similar conclusion is made about the camera system found on both handsets. Consumer Reports offers praise for the clarity and resolution of still photos. Specifically, it mentions the new Portrait mode features, which includes a technique known as bokeh using Depth Control.

Nonetheless, the publication says “image-quality improvements in the new iPhones may be tough for the average person to see.”


Finally, Consumer Reports recommends the use of a sturdy protective case on both models, noting that during repeated drop tests damage did occur with both models. Given there’s glass on the front and back of both devices, this makes sense.

Bottom line

Consumer Reports found the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max both lived up to expectations, especially when it comes to battery life. Nonetheless, it says most of the improvements were minimal at best. This conclusion isn’t surprising for “S” devices.

Did you buy an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max? Are you waiting for the arrival of the iPhone XR later this month? Let us know.