Apple’s iPhone XS Has Two Great Secret Features
There’s no escaping it, the iPhone XS (details) and iPhone XS Max (details) ship with several problems – one of which
has confirmed. But these new iPhones also hide a major real-world upgrade and now we know it isn’t the only one…
‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
This week both acclaimed review site Anandtech and researchers at Taiwan’s National Tsing-Hua University discovered Apple has, somewhat surprisingly, been downplaying two seriously big improvements inside the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. So let’s break them down.
The more subtle of the two discoveries comes from Tsing-Hua University. In testing an iPhone XS Max, it learnt Apple’s latest OLED displays are scientifically healthier for your eyes compared to Apple’s previous LCD-based models.
Tests revealed the iPhone XS Max delivers a 20% higher MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) than the iPhone 7. MPE is the time before a retina will become inflamed due to screen exposure. The duration was just 346 seconds (a sobering reminder we shouldn’t stare at our displays for too long), but it easily beat the iPhone 7’s 288 seconds.
The iPhone XS Max was also found to have a lower MSS (Melatonin Suppression Sensitivity) score of 20.1% versus 24.6% for the iPhone 7. MSS is basically a measure of blue light, exposure to which disrupts the circadian rhythm and can actively damage the cells in your eyes.
In short: if you’re a heavy phone user then the displays in Apple’s new OLED-based iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are demonstrably better for your health. This is interesting as the, otherwise hugely appealing, iPhone XR (details) cuts costs by using an LCD display.
The second discovery is even more surprising.
Anandtech has found Apple’s claim that the A12 Bionic chipset (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR) has 15% faster performance cores than the A11 Bionic (iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X) to be false. It’s actually as much as 40% faster and can rival some of the most powerful desktop CPUs.
Anandtech discovered the A12 has major structural changes to the CPU core and memory compression in the GPU, while system cache has the “biggest change since its introduction in the A7.”
“Apple’s marketing department was really underselling the improvements here” states Anandtech and the consequences for Android system system-on-chips (SoCs) are severe:
“Apple’s SoCs have better energy efficiency than all recent Android SoCs while having a nearly 2x performance advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised that if we were to normalise for energy used, Apple would have a 3x performance efficiency lead.”
This is a quite staggering achievement.
That said, it’s also a source of frustration because in-depth testing of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have revealed they have fairly disappointing battery life. And we now know how much longer these phones could last if only Apple hadn’t cut corners… quite literally.
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