New iPhone XS users face problems with charging, photos and reception

Since the launch here on Sept 21, 2018, users have flagged issues with Apple's new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max handsets, which start from $1,649 in Singapore.
Since the launch here on Sept 21, 2018, users have flagged issues with Apple's new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max handsets, which start from $1,649 in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

Apple's new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max handsets are the most expensive iPhones ever, and have also been billed by the tech giant as the most advanced iPhones it has ever produced.

But since their launch on Sept 21, users have flagged issues with the handsets, which start from $1,649 in Singapore.

Apple declined to comment on these issues when contacted by The Straits Times.

That said, bugs and problems are not uncommon when new tech products are launched, and device makers do sometimes try to address them in future updates. 

For example, a charging issue with the phone will be addressed  in Apple's next software update, according to a Cnet report on Wednesday.

Here are some of the problems that have been raised for the new iPhones:

1. Shorter than expected battery life

According to tech website Tom's Guide, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have a shorter battery life compared with last year's iPhone X, even though Apple said the new iPhones' batteries are supposed to last longer.

In an initial battery test result published by Tom's Guide, which involved continuous Web surfing at a constant screen brightness, the iPhone XS clocked 9hr 41min before its battery died, while the iPhone XS Max clocked 10hr 38min. But when the iPhone X was tested last year, its battery lasted 10hr 49 min, beating the battery performance of this year's handsets.

But in an updated report, Tom's Guide said that the iPhone X clocked 9hr 51min in a subsequent test. While this narrows the difference between the iPhone XS and the iPhone X, it still goes against Apple's claims that the iPhone XS can last 30 minutes longer.

Tom's Guide said the difference in the two iPhone X's test results could be due to the phone ageing, or that the websites used for the test were modified such that they now place more stress on phones.


2. Battery charging issues

Reports in recent days said there is a potential problem that prevents the new iPhones from charging. In an online video published last Saturday (Sept 29), YouTube channel Unbox Therapy said some users have complained that they were unable to charge their iPhones through cables while in idle mode. For some other users, their phones became unresponsive when it was plugged into a charger.

In a test conducted by Unbox Therapy on eight new iPhones, five phones were found to have problems being charged via a cable. The video has since garnered more than 4.6 million views.

A thread started on the official Apple discussion forum last week also flagged a similar charging problem. More than 100 other users indicated that they had questions on the topic, too.

But help is on the way for users who face these problems. According to Apple analyst Rene Ritchie, the iPhone maker on Tuesday released a beta update to its operating system that will address this problem.

Tech website Cnet said late Wednesday that iPhone XS users who are not ready to try out the beta program will also be able to access this fix soon, with the issue to be rectified in the soon-to-be released iOS 12.1.

A quick fix for this problem would be to unplug the cable used to charge the phone and then plug it back again, Cnet added.

3. Beautygate

Netizens have complained that the front cameras of the new iPhone models tend to smoothen out users' faces or add unnatural hues.

A Reddit thread on how the iPhone XS is allegedly applying skin smoothing or a beauty filter on images taken with the handset's front-facing camera has attracted more than 8,000 votes of approval.

The netizen who started the thread did a side-by-side comparison of a selfie taken on the iPhone X and on the iPhone XS. Skin complexion in the photo taken by the iPhone XS appears smoother than that of the iPhone X.

According to tech site AppleInsider, which cited sources, Apple is looking into the situation.

Cult of Mac, a website that focuses on Apple news, said the smoother images were likely due to noise-reduction technology in the new phone. Some photos taken in low light might show an uneven grainy look, and while noise reduction tools can remove these rogue pixels, it can often leave a smooth or slightly softer finish to a photo, the Cult of Mac report added.

The iPhone XS camera has otherwise been well received. Camera review lab DxOMark called it one of the best mobile cameras that it has ever tested, and ranked it second only to the Huawei P20 Pro.

4. Online connection issues

A number of users have complained about connectivity issues with the new iPhones. Affected users said they have trouble connecting to the Internet, and experience slower online speeds than older iPhones.

A netizen posted a question on the matter on the official Apple forum and some 600 netizens also claimed they had similar questions.

The affected user, Henryhuang24, said he used to have good reception on his bed with the iPhone X, but the new iPhone XS Max's reception appeared to be weak. He added that the phone also had trouble reconnecting to a Wi-Fi network after the airplane mode was turned on.

According to an expert quoted by tech website Tom's Guide, this problem could have been caused by the phone's antenna design. This means that only a change in the phone's design could remove the issue, the expert said.