Apple began taking preorders at 3 a.m. this morning for two of its new iPhones–the Xs and the Xs Max. Also early this morning, the pro phone reviewers came out with their reviews (see how that works?), and the feedback is good but not great. If you’re considering buying one of these marvels of consumer technology, gather round for some real-world, budget-sensitive advice.

Some people were surprised last year when Apple announced a phone that started at almost $1,000. The iPhone X with 256 GB of memory was actually $1,149. But one thing we learned from Apple this year is that paying more than $1,000 for top-of-the-line iPhones is the new normal, and that applies to two of the phones Apple recently announced. The biggest phone, the 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max, starts at $1,100 for the 64 GB version and goes to $1,449 for the 512 GB model. The Xs starts at $999 for the 64 GB version and goes up to $1,349 for the 512 GB version.

Of course, Apple outlined many improvements in these devices over last year’s iPhone X, but the most tangible–those that matter in that moment when you’re laying down the plastic–are the display and the camera. Here are some of the details you should be paying attention to.


The display used in the iPhone Xs and the Max is an OLED (organic light-emitting diode), as in last year’s iPhone X. This high-end component (made by Samsung and LG) renders photos and video with deeper blacks and brighter whites, extending the range of the colors on the screen. All the colors look slightly brighter than on other kinds of displays. And the display surface itself stretches from edge…