Apple iphone XS Max £1099
At What Hi-fi?, a smartphone lives or dies on its effectiveness as a portable cinema and hi-fi. So, it’s little wonder that when Apple claimed the iphone XS Max had the ‘biggest display ever on an iphone’ we were rather excited.
That excitement was well founded. The iphone XS Max is the most cinematic phone ever released, and it’s got some less headline-grabbing, under-the-hood improvements that make it a musical marvel, too.
The phone itself is essentially the same size as the company’s existing Plus phones, but the screen is a full inch bigger, running more or less to all four edges, albeit with a notch at the top for a speaker and selfie camera.
The XS Max’s screen is dazzling in other ways too. For a start, it’s an OLED, with the inherent pure black depth that entails. It’s also fabulously sharp, the 2688 x 1242 resolution equating to a pixel density of 458ppi – a 65in 4K TV has a pixel density of just 68ppi. The display also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and abundant content in both formats is now available via the Netflix app and Apple’s itunes Store.
We dip into the latter, rent a copy of IT in Dolby Vision and are blown away. This is pin-sharp, super-detailed, threedimensional, richly yet subtly coloured, and with excellent motion control. What’s more, insight in dark images is exceptional – even better than that of the existing iphone X – and that enables you to see more of the gruesome detail in Pennywise’s underground lair.
Switch to an HD movie with standard dynamic range, such as Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the XS Max demonstrates a slightly cooler colour balance that looks a little closer to neutral than the slightly warmer iphone X. This results in slightly purer whites, which are also a touch brighter and more detailed.
The iphone XS Max is more or less flawless in terms of picture quality, but it also sounds better than its siblings. The most obvious improvements are to the built-in speakers, which produce a wide, loud, clean and balanced sound by the standards of smartphone speakers.
Of course, we’d still recommend using headphones with the XS Max. There are improvements here, too. It’s subtle, but connect a good pair of headphones and you’ll notice improvements to clarity, dynamics and punch. Given that the X was already one of the best-sounding smartphones out there, these subtle improvements make the XS Max even more of a marvel with music.
That’s not the end of the iphone XS Max’s talents – its camera is incredible and it looks gorgeous – but we judge it on how it makes your movies look and music sound. In that regard, the XS Max is head and shoulders above its rivals.
We were promised the biggest iphone screen ever, and it didn’t disappoint