Why you may need a new iPhone XS case after all

The just-revealed iPhone XS might look just like last year’s iPhone X, but it turns out they’re not exactly the same. The new smartphone’s camera housing is ever-so-slightly bigger, which means it might not fit if placed in a case made snugly for the iPhone X dimensions.

The longer side of the camera housing on the iPhone X is 24.13mm, while the new iPhone XS was enlarged to 25.50mm (the shorter “width” was only enlarged by .01mm), Macotakara found. This is supposedly because Apple slightly enlarged the wide-angle camera sensor in the dual-camera suite.

That’s barely enough to see with the naked eye, but some iPhone X cases made for the older smartphone are form-fitting, so anyone buying Apple’s latest phone should go with a case properly sized for it. You can try forcing it, of course, or manually widening the cutout.

More reasons for new cases

Apple only lists the iPhone XS as compatible with the new first-party cases built for its latest smartphone, and is even discontinuing iPhone X cases this week, according to 9to5Mac

But Apple may have a good reason to discourage some of the older cases, like the fold-over folio, from being used with the new smartphones: The company may have switched around the locations of the Hall Effect sensors, Macotakara theorized. 

Magnets in the folio cases interacted with these sensors to wake the iPhone X screen when the cover was flipped open (and put it to sleep when closed). So if these hidden magnets were shifted around in the iPhone XS, the old cases won’t preserve this handy functionality.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.