Ap­ple iphone XS Max £1099

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

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

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