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Apple’s latest and greatest

This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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I recently got to try out the iPhone Xs, Apple’s latest flagship smartphone. It is a great phone, and this is the phone to get if you are an Apple lover (or maybe the larger form factor iPhone Xs Max).

I really like almost everything about this phone. The only issue for me is that it is built on Apple’s ecosystem, and I prefer Google’s ecosystem built around the Android operating system.

The device is easy to use with a smooth operating system that uses simple gestures to navigate through the phone. The layout is basically the same layout that Apple has used for the past decade. All of your apps are always available on your screen, and there’s no app drawer, a feature common in Android to store apps that you don’t need to have on your screen.

More and more, I have seen that the Apple/Mac ecosystem makes it very easy to get used to the phone if one is already using an Apple laptop or desktop. You have similar apps on the mobile and desktop OS for mail, calendar and more. Using it on one provides a similar feeling for using it on the other.

The iPhone Xs uses Face ID to unlock and secure the phone; there is no option to use a fingerprint anymore. Face ID is fast and works well in low light so that I never really saw any problems using it to unlock the phone.

The only issue I have with Face ID is having to still swipe up to open the phone after Face ID recognizes your face. If Face ID doesn’t work, the fallback is to use the regular 4- or 6-digit passcode.

The phone uses a Super Retina display with HDR, which is Apple’s OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen. The screen is sharp with nice colors and blacks.

Pictures look great on the phone. The display is 5.8 inches diagonally, while the larger iPhone Xs Max is 6.5 inches diagonally.

That leads us to the cameras.

There are two 12 megapixel cameras on the rear of the phone, one for wide-angles and one that works as a telephoto lens. The camera produces images that are considered among the best in the industry. Photos are sharp and crisp with rich colors and nice definition.

The front facing-camera has a wide-angle lens, and both cameras have a portrait mode that allows you to blur your background and focus on your subject. You can even adjust that blur after you have taken the photo.

The front-facing camera also has special light sensors that are used for depth mapping and Face ID recognition, as well as infrared dot projectors for Face ID.

The phone is splash, water and dust resistant with a rating of IP68, allowing the phone to be submerged in up to two meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

For charging, it uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable, but now also includes Qi wireless charging standard too.

Siri, Apple’s smart digital assistant, is still there to help with all of your needs. Siri works within the operating system well, but I prefer to still use Google Assistant on the phone for deeper searches.

With the latest iOS 12 release, Apple added new Siri integration with third-party apps, so a user can create special Siri commands that trigger actions in third-party apps.

The iPhone Xs is available from all major carriers and starts at $999 for the base model with 64 gigs of space.

All in all, this is a great phone. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the only reason this is not the right phone for me is that it is based on Apple’s ecosystem and meant to use the built-in apps for mail and such.

For someone who is already immersed in the Apple ecosystem, or someone wanting to switch to it, the iPhone Xs is Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone yet. It offers high-end smartphone features that can definitely hold their own against other manufacturers.

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Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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