Apple iPhone XS Max review
What is it?
The biggest iPhone ever. Also, it’s the most expensive mainstream smartphone you can buy right now.
Design & Construction
- It’s basically a bigger iPhone X, and that’s not a bad thing. You get the familiar super solid construction with a stainless steel frame that’s sandwiched by two glass panels. The rear glass panel of the XS Max (and XS) is claimed to be the most durable one on any smartphone yet.
- The massive display of the XS Max fits into a body that’s the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to the phone’s bezel-less design with a notch.
- The iPhone XS Max’s panel is a 6.5-inch OLED with a tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The panel produces deep blacks and vivid colours. Sunlight legibility is great too.
- Despite having a great screen to body ratio, it’s still a large phone, so those hoping that it will be easy to use one-handed will be a bit disappointed. Also, the back button on iOS is mostly situated on the top left, so you’ll have to adjust the phone in your hand to reach there if you plan not to use your second hand.
User Interface & Performance
- Any iOS user will feel at home while operating the iPhone XS Max. It comes with gesture-based navigation and the latest iOS 12, about which you can read here.
- Despite having the largest display even on an iPhone, the XS Max does not support split-screen multitasking, which is a real shame. Incorporating the multi-window feature from the iPad would have helped to make the best use the phone’s massive real estate.
- The phone sports the latest A12 Bionic SoC that’s built on a 7 nm FinFET process. While Apple never officially reveals the RAM of its devices, many teardowns have confirmed that the XS Max has 4GB of RAM.
- The A12 Bionic is supremely powerful and comes with an equally capable GPU. The UI of the device is butter smooth – everything from animations to app switching works flawlessly without any stutter or lag.
- The phone is capable of running all demanding games at their highest setting. We witnessed no frame drop while playing PUBG and Asphalt 9 on our test unit.
- The A12 Bionic also an on-board neural engine that powers its Face ID, Siri services and other AI-related tasks. Talking of the Face ID, it’s improved and super quick in most scenarios. However, we still miss the fingerprint sensor and believe that it’s a more dependable option.
- While the telephoto and front cameras of the XS Max are shared with the iPhone X, the primary 12MP f/1.8 sensor is heavily updated and features bigger pixels. The photos taken from the primary camera are great, if a little on the warmer side.
- Also, Apple has introduced something called Smart HDR with the XS range. This feature takes a series of photos with different exposures and merges them to create the final result. Smart HDR definitely works and captures details a lot better than the iPhone X.
- There’s also a new Portrait Mode that works with the neural engine to blur the background. Then, users can also adjust the background blur later on. The portrait shots look great and edge detection is good, not perfect.
- The 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens comes in handy when you need zoomed-in shots. It’s one of the best telephoto lenses around, but then again, it loses detail and is prone to producing noisy results.
- The videos come out pretty stable on the iPhone XS Max thanks to OIS. There is very good detail in most videos and the audio recorded via the inbuilt microphone isn’t tiny either. You can also shoot 4K @ 60 fps and 240 fps 1080p slo-mos.
Camera samples of the Apple iPhone XS Max can be seen below:
- The battery life on the device has been very good can will easily last you the entire day of heavy usage. However, we were only able to test the battery performance with a single SIM card. Since the XS is dual-SIM (nano SIM + eSIM), battery life will take a hit with both connections active.
- It’s 2018 – and the iPhone XS Max starts at Rs 1.10 lakh – but Apple still hasn’t bothered to include a fast charger with the phone’s standard retail package. The bundled adapter will take three hours to fully charge the device!
- The lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adaptor no longer comes in the box.
- The stereo speakers produce excellent audio output and are the loudest we’ve heard on a smartphone.
- IP68 water and dust resistance is standard. A phone this expensive desperately needs such protection.
- The iPhone XS Max is certainly the best iPhone ever made. It has got a great display, amazing stereo speakers and blazingly fast performance.
- However, it still struggles to justify its exorbitant 1.10 lakh starting price. The 512GB storage variant retails for Rs 1.44 lakh, which is absurd for a smartphone. On top of it, even this unreasonably high price tag does not get you essentials like a fast charger.
- Despite its great performance, it’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend the Apple iPhone XS Max. You can go for the more realistically priced iPhone XR if you’re totally into iOS. Otherwise, the Android world is full of equally brilliant (yet cheaper) alternatives.