Apple iPhone XS & XS Max
APPLE’S BIGGEST, PRICIEST IPHONE EVER IS HERE - AND IT’S PRETTY GOOD.
THE IPHONE XS Max (pronounced ‘Ten S Max’) is the biggest smartphone Apple has ever made. With a 6.5-inch display, hardly any screen bezel and the now-iconic screen notch it’s a dominating presence in the hand.
It also dominates the pocket, both in terms of size and price. As well as being the biggest, the iPhone XS Max is also the most expensive iPhone to date, with Apple delivering a handset with a screen size that rivals the most premium of Android flagships.
This is a bold statement from a firm that has, up until last year with the introduction of the 5.8-inch iPhone X, resisted the urge to push the screen size envelope to the same scale as its Android rivals.
The steel frame around the outside and the new formulation of glass on the front and rear – which is tougher than the glass on the iPhone X – give the iPhone XS Max a supremely premium look and feel, while its resistance to dust and water has also been enhanced.
Apple has upped the protection to IP68, enabling the iPhone XS Max to be submerged to a depth of up to two meters for 30 minutes without suffering any ill effects. Apple claims it’s tested the protection in a number of liquids, including salt water, chlorinated water, milk, wine and beer, although we wouldn’t advise purposefully exposing the handset to any of these.
Overall though, Apple hasn’t moved far from the design of the iPhone X with the iPhone XS Max, other than to stretch it a little.
One of the main things – well, really the only main thing – that’s different about the iPhone XS Max over the the smaller iPhone XS is the screen, extended as it is to 6.5 inches compared to the 5.8 inches of the ‘normal’ XS.
We’re still not sold on the need for HDR as a ‘must’ in a smartphone though – watching Avengers: Infinity War on the iPhone XS Max was a pleasing experience thanks to the larger display, but there wasn’t a moment where we were wowed by the color reproduction, or the contrast between light and dark scenes. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but it’s not jaw-dropping enough to warrant buying this phone for that feature alone.
The OLED panel that makes up the Super Retina HD display in the iPhone XS Max is bright and colorful though, and has a 2688 x 1242 resolution, which equates to a 458ppi pixel density.
A12 BIONIC CHIP
The iPhone XS Max is powered by Apple’s new A12 Bionic chip, which promises to be 40% more power-efficient than last year’s model, while the GPU is said to be 50% more powerful than the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X.
From general navigation around the handset, to editing the lighting in portrait shots, to loading up games such as Clash Royale and PUBG, the iPhone XS Max is noticeably quicker.
We ran the Geekbench 4 CPU test on the iPhone XS Max, and came out with an average multi-core score of 11,465. That’s higher than the iPhone X (and every Android flagship), which scored an average of 10,247, starkly illustrating the improvements made by Apple with the A12 Bionic chip.
Apple says the iPhone XS Max battery offers an additional 90 minutes of power over the iPhone X. While it’s unclear how Apple arrived at that particular figure, we can be sure about one thing: the iPhone XS Max can last a day on a single charge with moderate to high usage.
That’s with us taking the phone off charge at around 7am, and then
plugging it in just before midnight with just a few percent left in the tank and low power mode enabled.
If you’re going to push the handset with an intensive app such as PUBG, the battery is going to take more of a battering, but still won’t be a major drain. A couple of hours of hotspot usage on the iPhone XS Max however, ultimately ended up with it dying at around 7pm, so if you rely on your phone to provide an internet connection to your other devices you’ll want to carry a charger with you.
The protruding module on the rear of the handset houses two 12MP snappers in a vertical stack, separated by a Quad-LED True Tone flash. As before one camera is telephoto and the other wide-angle, with the same f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures, but there is a key difference.
The iPhone XS Max features Smart HDR, an improved mode over the standard ‘HDR’ on the X, which improves shots with high contract, ensuring all areas of the photo are well lit and detailed.
Apple’s camera app is easy to use, with settings kept to a minimum for an intuitive and straightforward shooting experience.
The front 7MP camera has also been upgraded over the selfie snapper on the iPhone X. It also benefits from the new Smart HDR mode, and gets the addition of portrait mode.
The iPhone XS Max is special. This is the first time Apple has really pushed its screen size boundaries, and by offering a huge 6.5-inch display it’s made its smartphone line attractive to a new segment of customers.
The extra screen real estate will be music to the ears of gamers, while HDR support will please those addicted to Netflix and Amazon Prime video – and while the iPhone XS Max screen isn’t the best on the market, it is the best screen on an iPhone, ever.
And while the iPhone XS Max is a big phone, it’s also impressively compact. It’s a touch smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, but has a much larger display (6.5 inches vs 5.5 inches). It will still dominate your hand, but it’s not as unwieldy as you might expect for a phone with a screen this size.
Ultimately though, it’s the iPhone XS Max price that will likely be the sticking point for many. There’s simply no getting away from the fact that this is a very, very expensive smartphone.