iPhone XS + Max colors: Should you get silver, space gray, or gold?

Color is so personal. It's distinctive, sure. Each one has pros and cons, absolutely. But, when it comes to going out in classic black or blinging it up, a lot of it comes down individual taste and personal preference. Still, if you're trying to choose the perfect iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max for you, there are a few color factors you should consider.

Distraction dangers

With older iPhone models, when you chose the back casing color you also had to consider what was up front. Space Gray came with black but silver and gold came with white. Red, over the years, has come once with each.

And, unfortunately, some found the white faceplate distracting, especially for videos and video games.

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max changes all this. Now, whether you choose silver, space gray, or the all-new gold, all the front plates are black. You're welcome, says the edge-to-edge design.

  • You no longer need to worry about faceplate color. Whether you watch video or play video games, all new iPhone XS models are black up front and distraction free all around.

Discoloration doubts

One thing that shouldn't worry anyone anymore is the idea that the light-colored glass on the backs of the silver or gold iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max could get stained or otherwise discolored.

We've all learned to be deeply anxious when we wear white clothes or have white furniture or carpets for that very reason. Apple, though, took an extra six months to ship the white iPhone 4 and in that time the company nailed it.

The glass back on my iPhone 4 still looks as clean and crisp as the day I bought it in 2011, and all the subsequent iPhones I've bought have also have stayed every bit as bright.

  • If you're worried about an iPhone with a light back staining or discoloring, or the metallic finishes fading, stop. It'll be fine.

Withstanding wear

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have glass backs and stainless steel bands with a clear or vapor finish. Polished (silver) stainless steel can scratch. Vapor coating, like the black DLC (diamond-like) is much, much tougher. Still, all finishes can scratch over time.

On the silver iPhones, small scratches have less contrast, which makes them harder to see, depending on the lighting. Gold iPhones are somewhere in the middle. Space gray iPhones have a higher contrast, so scratches are a bit more noticeable.

Some people won't care. To them, aging is part of what makes great objects great, like an old leather bag, favorite t-shirt, or the Millennium Falcon. Others don't ever want to see any wear.

  • If you hate the look of scratches, silver iPhones are your best bet.
  • If you like one of the other colors more, you can learn to love the wear or get a protective case.

Cases closed

If you're the type of person who immediately locks your new iPhone XS or iPhone XS Plus up in a heavy-duty case or wallet, you might think the color doesn't matter so much. Fair enough.

Most cases will still show some of the color though, be it the Apple logo, ports, edges, or the faceplate. In other words, just because you'll be wearing a jacket doesn't mean you the clothes beneath don't matter.

Cases can absolutely be used to change up a look, but you should still be happy with the basic look. Choose a color you love, then add a case you love to complete it.

  • If you want your case to "pop", a black or silver iPhone will let the accessory be the star.
  • If you want your case to complement or fade away, a gold, rose gold or (Product) RED iPhone will share the stage.

Coolness concerns

Silver has a classic elegance about it, and gold gets attention. Especially iPhone XS gold, which is less intense and slightly blushing on the back, but full on bling around the edges. Space gray is equivalent to this little black shirt or dress — it goes with anything.

  • If you want a classic, stick with space gray or silver.
  • If you want some extra flair, go with gold.

Who should get the space gray iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max?

If you want a color that won't distract you when you game or watch video, that absolutely won't discolor, even if it does show wear and tear a little more visibly, that's closer to timeless even if it's also more reserved, then get the space gray iPhone.

It's the classic for a reason.

Who should get the silver iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max?

If you want a color that isn't so dark but still doesn't call a lot of attention to itself, and that doesn't show scuffs and scrapes as much, then get the silver and white iPhone is for you.

Who should get the gold iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max?

If you like the luxury look, aren't distracted by white borders, don't mind the middle ground when it comes to how wear and tear shows, and basically know bling is your thing, get the gold iPhone. It's almost as rosey.

Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about which color you should get, jump into our iPhone forums and the best community on the web will happily help you out.

At the end of the day, the only real answer is this — get the color you like best. Nothing else matters. Just close your eyes, picture your iPhone in your hand, and pay attention to what color you're picturing. Then buy that. And if you change your mind later, you can get a case.

Once you've decided, tell me — which one are you getting?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.