Whilst the exterior design of the iPhone XS is practically unchanged compared to iPhone X, the devices are not identical. Obviously, the Max is larger and will not fit any current cases. The 5.8-inch iPhone Xs situation is more murky.
Macotakara has found that the camera bump on the iPhone XS is just a tad bigger than the iPhone X, which means some existing cases are not a perfect fit.
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Whilst the protruding thickness of the camera bump appears unchanged, the overall housing has grown by a millimetre or so.
Macotakara measured using digital calipers and found that the iPhone XS bump is 25.50 mm ‘tall’. The iPhone X camera bump is 24.13 mm.
This means that cases designed to snugly fit the iPhone X cases are unlikely to be perfect fits for the iPhone XS. The width of the camera bump has also changed by fractions of a millimetre.
You can see that best visually, in the following image where Macotakara placed an iPhone X inside an iPhone XS case.
iPhone X inside an iPhone XS case, imperfect fit
If you look closely, you can see how the iPhone X camera stops short of the bottom of the hole in the iPhone XS case, and doesn’t quite fill the width either. It’s not a perfect fit, which means it’s also not a perfect fit putting an iPhone XS into an iPhone X case.
In their testing, Macotakara found that the Apple iPhone X leather case would fit the iPhone XS, but they had to use some force to get it in.
They measured that Apple iPhone X case had a camera hole that had a 25.39mm tall opening. The equivalent official XS case was 25.68mm, without any force applied to stretch it out like the iPhone X case.
It’s worth noting that Apple does not list the iPhone XS cases as backwards compatible with iPhone X, and is discontinuing its iPhone X cases this week.
For third party cases, it will depend on the design as to whether an iPhone X case will work. In most instances, it is going to serve the job even if the fit isn’t quite there — they might be a little loose.
The Apple schematics for case manufacturers recommend a 24.73mm gap for iPhone XS cases so if a rigid case followed these specifications exactly, there’s a possibility the XS wouldn’t be able to fit at all.
Aside from variance in camera bumps, it’s worth restating that the XS also has an additional antenna band in the bottom left of the chassis, which means it has asymmetric holes.
Whereas iPhone X had six holes on each side of the Lightning port, the XS has three holes on the left and six on the right. The majority of cases are open bottomed and leave the entire bottom edge of the phone exposed, like the Apple ones do, but it’s something to keep in mind.