Apple released the biggest smartphone ever made in iPhone series -iPhone XS Max (pronounced as iPhone Ten S Max). The iPhone X series is released to mark the 10th year anniversary of iPhone. iPhone XS Max was released in September 2018 along with iPhone XS and iPhone XR.
Is iPhone XS Max, the best iPhone ever released by Apple? The answer is definitely Yes.
Is it worth spending so much for this iPhone? Probably not. This decision depends completely on the type of customers and their requirement. This article should help users decide if this phone is worth buying.
With a big 6.5-inch screen with hardly any noticeable bezel, iPhone XS Max is the biggest and one of the best smartphones ever released by Apple.
iPhone XS Max is the most powerful phone from Apple to date equipped with an A12 Bionic chip for faster processing and maximum power efficiency. A breakthrough dual camera system for capturing images and videos make the phone as good as having a movie camera.
The model comes in 3 beautiful shades of Gold, Silver and Space Gray. The beauty is magnified several times with the presence of a glass coating on the surface. This is one smartphone that nobody would like to enclose in a protective casing.
The biggest sized iPhone not only dominates your pocket by size, but also by its price. This is the costliest smartphone released by Apple to date.
iPhone XS Max Design
iPhone XS Max offers the largest display ever for an iPhone. The phone weighs only 208 gm and is 7.7 mm thick.
A surgical grade stainless steel is used on the border which compliments well with the interior glass used for display. The steel on the edges is so narrow that it leaves little space on the corners and there is plenty of real estate for display.
The front and back of iPhone come with a toughened glass coating made of Corning Gorilla glass which gives the model a shiny and a premium look and feel. The glass coating also enables wireless charging. According to Apple, iPhone XS screen is made of the toughest Glass for any smartphone in the world. The glass coating looks slippery, but surprisingly it holds to the hand perfectly without any risk of getting dropped.
A series of tests were conducted to check the glass toughness on iPhone XS Max and iPhone XS. Both models were dropped on the sides, face up and face down. iPhone XS Max finished with no damage from a 6 feet drop, while iPhone XS did break the glass on the front. However, the iPhone XS Max front and back glass did break from a 10 feet fall. This phone is very tough. The phone continued to work without any problem even after dropping from 10 feet. Even with a damaged screen, the touch screen worked perfectly. The glass didn’t break open which could have caused injury to the fingers.
In short, it shows the phone is breakable but this might be the toughest phone to break among all the smartphones in the market right now.
The phone is also well protected against dust and water. The protection level is now raised to IP68 certified which allow the phone to be submerged in water up to 2 meters for 30 minutes without any problem. Apple claims to have conducted the test in different liquids including milk, salt water, chlorinated water, beer, and wine.
The button controls are the same compared to iPhone previous versions. The volume button, ring/silent buttons are on the left side. The SIM tray and power button are on the right side. The top side is clean with only an antenna line. The bottom side carries a lightning port and asymmetrical speaker on either side.
iPhone XS Max components are also environment-friendly as the components are recyclable. The surgical grade stainless steel is recyclable. To reduce environmental impact, there is no Arsenic, Mercury, PVC, and Beryllium-free used in its components.
iPhone XS Max Screen
XS Max screen size is 6.5 inches compared to the 5.8 inches of iPhone XS.
The phone screen is made of OLED panel capable of displaying Super Retina HD display. The screen supports a resolution of 2688 x 1242 with a pixel density of 458 PPI (pixels per inch). This is the highest pixel density in any Apple device.
XS Max screen is very bright and colorful. The screen supports a wide range of colors allowing the display of every single detail on the screen. The pictures are sharp and support a contrast ratio of 1,000,000 to 1. Every pictures and video on the screen looks amazing with every little detail displayed on the screen.
A six-channel sensor is also added to the screen to adjust white balance. The sensor detects the color temperature around the viewer and adjusts the display accordingly. This makes the images easier on the eyes.
iPhone XS Max memory and storage space
XS Max comes with 4 GB RAM memory which goes well with the enormous processing power of this smartphone.
The internal memory comes in 3 capacities – 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB. The phone price varies with the amount of internal storage capacity.
A suggestion to Apple – Start the internal memory from 128 GB. 64 GB is too less for a premium phone, considering there is no path to expand memory using SD cards.
iPhone XS Max processing power
iPhone XS Max processing is powered by Apple’s new A12 Bionic chip. The A12 Bionic chip is custom built for Apple using a 7nm FinFET process. The predecessor A11 which was really good used a 10nm technology. This is one of the first 7nm chip along with Huawei’s new Kirin 980 chip.
A12 Bionic chip is equipped with a Neural engine, CPU, GPU and enhanced ISP.
Neural Engine: A12 Bionic use what the Apple call a Next-generation Neural Engine designed for incredible performance. The engine is designed for AI, recognize patterns and make predictions. The neural engine is incredibly fast and capable of processing 5 trillion operations/sec. The boost in processing power is used for AI, processing pictures, augmented reality, gaming, and movies. Core ML which allows machine learning for Apps made by developers is 9 times faster than A11.
CPU: A12 bionic chip CPU is Hexa-core (4 High-efficiency cortex + 2 High-performance Vortex). Two cores are used for heavy computational jobs and four cores are used for normal everyday tasks. Whenever there is a need for a performance boost, all the six cores are activated to provide the power boost.
The A12 chip is 40% more power efficient than its predecessor A11 chip. The performance scores are 15% faster than A11.
GPU: A12 GPU is Quad-core (4 processor) which is also custom designed for Apple. It uses lossless memory compression to boost graphics performance in games, videos and visual performance demanding Apps. The GPU is 50% for more powerful than A11.
Enhanced ISP: This is used to process image signals to capture extraordinary details in a picture. By capturing these tiny details, the depth and tiny details of an image are effortlessly displayed on a Super Retina HD display.
A12 Bionic chip performance can be compared to that of an entry-level laptop. This level of performance leaves the current generation of other chipsets far behind in performance. Every high-end games and application performed well in all benchmarking scores.
One of the main concerns in running high-end games and application is overheating. XS Max generated very less heat playing these games. More than heat, it can be better described as warm on the rear-end which was not unpleasant. The only time the phone became hot was when using AR Apps. These Apps need a lot of computing power and so it tends to heat up any phone. However, the heat produced never crossed the 40-degree mark which is considered unpleasant.
The speaker on the phone is loud and clear. The sound separation from Stereo speakers is very noticeable and clear. This perfect for any special effect movies and games and also for music lovers. The earpiece was also very loud and clear. Calls on the phones were also clearly audible.
iPhone XS Max OS and software
iPhone XS Max uses the latest operating system from Apple, iOS 12. The previous OS version iOS 11 was buggy and needed frequent updates to fix the bugs reported by consumers. This time around, Apple concentrated more on making the operating system stable than adding new features. The new OS is smooth, faster, more stable and added some new features. iOS 12 is 50% faster in opening Apps, camera Apps compared to iOS 11.
Here are some of the new and improved features in iPhone iOS 12:
Improved Notification center: Rather than showing all the notifications at once, the new design organizes notifications based on App, Topic or by the sender. Instant tuning feature allows these notifications to be sent to the notification center and allow it either to display or hide in the lock screen.
Improved Photos App: Photos App is smarter in iOS 12. It allows images to be searched based on events, time and locations. A new feature “For You” allow these images to be shared with a friend using Messages App.
Measure App: The App allows users to take the measurement of lines, shapes, and objects using the camera.
Siri Shortcuts: Siri is now capable of performing different tasks using simple commands.
Screen Time: This new feature allows users to set a time limit for certain Apps. If a user is spending too much time on WhatsApp, the user can set a time limit for every day. It will notify the user towards the end of the time limit. Once the time limit is reached, Screen Time prevents users from seeing the App on the screen. If the user is not happy, there is also an option to ignore the time limit. The feature can be used to restrict kids and the settings can be synced across all iOS devices in the household.
QR code scanner: There is a new option QR code scanner in Control Centre: Users can now quickly open the camera to scan QR codes or take pictures.
Support for Animojis and Memojis: Users can now send animated emotions using iMessenger. Animojis allow animal characters to suit your image while Memojis use human characters to express their face and emotion.
iPhone XS Max Camera
The extended module on the top rear end of the handset carries two 12MP cameras with 26mm wide lens placed in a vertical stack. One camera is a telephoto lens and the other one is used for taking a wider angle with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures. This is separated by a Quad LED true tone flash for better lighting.
The front end camera is a 7MP designed for selfie snaps. Selfie snaps are much natural and sharper in capturing every detail using this phone.
iPhone XS camera comes with a wide angled sensor which is 32% larger than the iPhone XS sensor. This means each individual pixel is larger and able to gather more light. The individual pixel is 1.4 micron.
Another feature is SmartHDR. The SmartHDR feature takes a series of a quick burst of photos at different exposure level, then combine them to produce the best pictures by retaining maximum details from all the pictures.
Quad LED true tone flash is used to take pictures in low light conditions. Pictures taken using this flash looks much normal without making it look like a flashlight was ever used.
The captured images can be stored either as JPG or in the HEIC/HEVC format, which has a smaller file size.
Videos captured using XS Max has better colors and image quality. A new feature Auto Low Light FPS automatically change the frame rate to improve image quality in low light conditions. The videos can be captured in 4K quality. 4K videos can be recorded at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps. 1080p HD videos can be recorded at 30 fps or 60 fps. 720p HD videos can be recorded at 30 fps. XS Max is the perfect companion for any video bloggers and budding filmmakers.
The high quality of picture and videos produced from the phone is attributed to the processing power of the powerful Bionic A12 chip.
Some of the notable competition for XS Max camera is from Samsung Galaxy Note and Google Pixel. There is no clear winner as each phone proved itself superior to others in multiple categories. In the case of capturing 4K videos on smartphones, XS Max is the clear winner.
iPhone XS Max Battery
XS Max uses a 3174mAh built-in lithium-ion battery. Apple usually keeps its battery capacity secret, but this was revealed by the ifixit website. The battery capacity might sound too little for a high-performance phone with a big screen. But thanks to Apple’s perfect integration of hardware and software, the smartphone is able to churn the best out of its battery performance.
The battery can be charged using a wired connection through the Lightning port and wirelessly using Qi charges which are sold separately. Fast charging is supported which allow the phone to fill up 50% of the battery power in 30 minutes.
iPhone XS battery is what the makers call all-day-battery-life. The battery is designed to last a day for normal users. Under the settings -> Battery, it gives a nice breakdown graphical details of battery usage based on App and time. This is a new feature which was there for years in Android phones.
Some tests were conducted to check the battery life for iPhone XS Max. The phone was made to play YouTube videos, run a series of benchmark tests which takes a heavy toll on processor and battery life and play high-end games like PUBG. It took 5 hours and 10 minutes to completely drain the battery power. No Android phones or previous Apple iPhone versions can last that much. XS Max also lasted longer than iPhone XS.
In short, watching movies, playing high-end games, making mobile hotspot can reduce battery life. But for most normal users, it lasts enough to get through the end of the day.
A big disappointment for Apple users is the 5 Watt charger that comes with the box. Apple started support for fast charging from iPhone 8. This cannot be done using the 5 Watt charger but needs to buy an additional charger separately.
The phone supports fast charging and it still comes with 5 Watt charger when 13 Watt charger is available in the market. Rumor has it that Apple is in the process of completely getting rid of wired charging and researching more on wireless charging. The problem is wireless charging is not as fast as wired charging. But the good news is that it is slowly picking up charging speed with the introduction of new standards.
iPhone XS Max supports Dual SIM
Apple finally allows users to use dual SIM – eSIM and nano-SIM. Support for dual SIM is helpful to those who need two SIM’s one for business and one for personal use. If one of the SIM is busy on a call, a call on the other SIM will automatically go to the voice message.
eSIM is a SIM card that is embedded inside the mobile device. This SIM needs to be activated by the mobile network service provider. eSIM is not always supported in certain countries and some service providers.
eSIM and nano-SIM are supported. SIM slot is opened using the SIM tool provided in the package.
iPhone XS Max Price
iPhone Max comes at 3 prices based on the internal storage space. The 64 GB version is priced at $1099, 256 GB at $1249 and 512 GB at $1449. All models are available in 3 colors – Space Grey, Silver, and Gold.
Apple’s cloud service iCloud provides free space of 5GB to save iTunes collection, iBooks, movies, and Apps. Additional space can be bought starting from 50 GB at a price of $0.99/month.
AppleCare for XS Max is also highly recommended. $269 scheme give full coverage to screen damage, accidental damage, and theft or loss.
iPhone XS Max Verdict:
iPhone XS Max is one of the best smartphones in the market without any doubt. It is even better than the smaller iPhone XS. This is the best phone for a segment of customers who prefer larger screen sizes. The support for HDR makes it a pleasurable experience to those addicted to YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime video. For gamers, this phone takes gaming to the next level.
The powerful A12 Bionic chip combined with iOS 12 ensures smooth processing of Apps and high-end games. The display feels more lifelike with enhanced depth of the screen. Every tiny detail and special effects are displayed better than any other smartphone.
One of the Hollywood filmmaker compared iPhone XS Max camera to that of a $10k cinema camera. This is the phone for those who demand to capture the best picture and video with clarity. The powerful processor inside the phone is tuned to ensure maximum capture and display of minute details in images and videos.
However, the pricing of this phone will be a sticky point for most users. This is not the preferred phone for a price conscious customer. This is a phone that you want than what you need as there are plenty of phones that can do similar functions at a lower price. Higher price need not mean the highest quality every time. In this case, iPhone XS Max is worth the price for its looks and quality of the product.