APPLE IPHONE XS MAX
The new iPhone is bigger and better
We use Apple’s biggest iPhone yet to see if it’s worth the hefty price tag
Apple was one of the few remaining major smartphone manufacturers to go big with their phone displays four years back. However, not to be outdone by the competition (and also realising that consumers prefer a large screen), Apple, this year, has introduced their biggest iPhone yet. Dubbed iPhone XS Max, the phone is actually not that big if you compare it with the iPhone 8 Plus variant but in fact, come with the largest display you’ll find on an iPhone.
Apple moved to a new design with the iPhone X last year and the new iPhone XS Max follows the same design language. At first glance, the size may overwhelm many due to the large display but Apple has made it a hair smaller than its Plus series.
If you compare the size with the competition, the iPhone XS Max is slightly wider but a tad smaller than Google’s latest Pixel XL phone. There are subtle changes, of course, as the improved glass on the front and back for better durability, a “surgical-grade” stainless steel frame that makes it better against scratches and improved cellular reception. Moreover, the frame uses a PVD process that gives it a glossy finish to complement the glass. The iPhone XS Max is also IP68 compliant, making it dust and water resistant (1.5m for up to 30 mins).
As far as placement goes, there’s the lightning port and speaker at the bottom, volume buttons and mute switch on the left-hand side and the power key along with the SIM slot on the right. Overall, we like the iPhone XS Max’s clean and classy design.
The iPhone XS Max brings some noteworthy things but the thing that needs a special mention is the screen. If you thought iPhone X display was gorgeous, the display on the iPhone XS Max is gorgeous-er. It’s a visual treat to watch anything on the huge 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED display that has a resolution support of up to 2688x1242 pixels. Interestingly, Apple has maintained the same pixel density for both the iPhone XS phones at 458ppi.
The display supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision and comes with a wider colour gamut, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and true tone sixchannel light sensor that adjusts the screen white balance to match the
colour temperature. Complementing the HDR display is the wide stereo sound that is loud, crisp and well-balanced that makes a difference when you’re watching a video or streaming anything on Netflix, Prime Video or iTunes movies. Underneath the display is Apple’s in-house designed A12 Bionic processor. The chip is a kind of big deal because it is industry’s first SoC based on a 7nm process that not only improves performance but also helps achieve better power efficiency. If we talk about numbers, the six-core CPU is fitted with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, which is up to 15 per cent faster and consumes up to 50 per cent lower power when compared to last year’s A11 Bionic. The quad-core GPU is also faster by up to 50 per cent and the difference is obvious when you compare it with the iPhone X.
The iPhone XS Max loads apps faster, and overall, offers smoother performance than last year’s counterpart. The games also get some boost with the upgrade in RAM and GPU. The octa-core Neural engine has also got a meaty upgrade that can perform up to 5 trillion operations per second, making features like AR, Face ID and even enhanced ISP for pictures better and faster.
The infamous notch is still present on the iPhone XS Max that hosts the TrueDepth camera technology for Face ID. Face ID features adaptive recognition that recognises changes in the user’s face and unlocks the device, irrespective if you sport a new hairdo, beard or even wear sunglasses. While the underlying technology remains the same, this generation is considerably faster that evidently shaves off a few milliseconds and adds the option to add a second face.
Unlike Android manufacturers, Apple does not mention the battery capacity. Instead, they claim the iPhone XS Max to last up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X and during our use that included a couple of hours of videos, few mins of calling, music and some camera time, the iPhone XS Max easily bested its claim. Similar use on the iPhone X would have sent us looking for a charger but we easily got a day’s worth of use. The disappointing thing though, is that Apple still bundles a 5W charger despite the phone supporting fast charging. For dual-SIM users, the new iPhone supports dual-SIM connectivity. However, unlike the Chinese SKU that allows inserting two physical SIM cards, the one sold in India supports a regular SIM and eSIM, which will be enabled in a future update.
iPhone is the most popular camera in the world and the upgrade to iPhone XS Max’s dual 12MP rear cameras will help them further the lead. The phone comes with fast and improved sensors that ensure near-instant focus and zero shutter lag and works with the new Smart HDR feature. The pictures are certainly better than the iPhone X that captures fine detail, colours and has an excellent dynamic range. Low-light performance is decent but Google’s latest Pixel takes the cake in preserving the details and colours. That said, iPhone XS Max’s camera is perfect for everyday use that is able to take some pretty shots.
The portrait mode has also been improved and is near perfect with its edge detection and for the first time, the ability to adjust the background blur after the picture is taken. Apple will also bring real-time depth control in the future iOS update.
On the video front, the phone supports up to 4K video recording at 60 fps and the capture quality is great, helped by OIS for better stabilisation. The device also supports stereo sound recording and slow-motion in Full HD resolution to up to 240 fps.
The front-facing 7MP camera takes decent selfies, but the camera seems to smoothen skin details and there’s no way to adjust or turn it off completely. The front camera can also be used to create Memojis.
Is the iPhone XS Max expensive? Yes. Is it worth the upgrade? Well, that depends on the device you’re currently using. If you’re an iPhone X user, the jump isn’t big enough unless you are looking for a bigger battery and display size. However, if you’re coming from an Android or iPhone 8 or below, the iPhone XS Max will not only wow you with a full-day battery life, camera and an immersive display but also an improved overall performance.