If you were doing something boring and normal like sleeping last night, you probably missed that iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max pre-orders kicked off at 3AM Eastern Time last night. The new iPhones will be in stores in a week, which means we’ve officially entered the dangerous twilight zone where a handful of misinformed (or desperate) people are going to buy an iPhone X for an eye-watering amount of money, either out of ignorance or need. Don’t be one of them.
Apple has done something unusual this year, entirely killing off the 2017 iPhone X in favor of new and shinier models. Normally, when a new flagship comes out, Apple simply discounts the previous-year model, and it becomes the “cheap” iPhone option. This year, that isn’t going to happen, because in addition to the iPhone XS, Apple also launched the iPhone XR, a $749 iPhone for people who don’t care about things like OLED vs LCD.
But the iPhone XR doesn’t go on sale until October, and the iPhone XS isn’t in stores until September 21st. In the meantime, carriers and third-party sellers are trying to get rid of their iPhone X models with a modest discount: AT&T, for example is selling the iPhone X for $899 right now.
A $100 discount on a phone that, until last week, was Apple’s best iPhone doesn’t sound too bad. But unless you absolutely have to walk out of a store right now, today, with the very best iPhone you can get your hands on, there is not one single valid reason to buy the iPhone X right now.
The reason why not is very simple: the iPhone XR, which will be out in a month, is substantially cheaper and better than the iPhone X. Sure, it has an LCD screen rather than the theoretically better OLED, but Apple’s LCD screens have always been fantastic, and nothing is about to change. The iPhone XR has exactly the same Face ID sensor as the iPhone X, the same form factor, the same waterproofing and wireless charging, and it actually has a much better processor.
In fact, there’s two things that the iPhone X has that the iPhone XR doesn’t: 3D Touch, and a dual-camera setup on the back. If you’re the kind of person who actually cares about having 3D Touch on their phone, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you’re also the kind of person who can wait an extra week to get an iPhone XS for almost the same price as an iPhone X. The dual-camera setup will be missed on the iPhone XR, but the single camera that Apple has put on the iPhone XR is better in its own right than the camera on the iPhone X, and the iPhone XR can also do Portrait Mode photos, which was the reason to buy an iPhone X in the first place.
So if you can somehow find and iPhone X for $500 this week, then sure, go for it. It’s still an excellent phone, and it’s not going to be much worse than the iPhone XS or XR in any noticeable way. But if you can wait a week or a month, you can either have a much better phone for the same price, or a slightly better phone for significantly less money. That’s one hell of a no-brainer.