Bigger and better in every way: Apple's XS really does take the iPhone to the Max
- New handset is the biggest iPhone Apple has ever made
- Boasts a gigantic 6.5inch edge to edge OLED screen
- Manages to cram the giant screen into the same form factor as the iPhone 8 Plus
- Boosts to battery, processor and camera also give the new phone a quick feel
- However, for iPhone X owners who don't want the bigger screen, there probably isn't enough to warrant upgrading
The iPhone XS Max is the biggest phone Apple has ever made - and the most expensive.
With a 6.5inch OLED screen, there is no getting away from the fact its screen is huge - along with the $1099 price tag.
However, with the XS Max, Apple has done the seemingly impossible - made a big screen phone that feels like, well, a normal sized phone.
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Apple's new iPhone XS and XS Max go on sale on Friday - and the biggest handset Apple has ever made if also its best. with the XS Max, Apple has done the seemingly impossible - made a big screen phone that feels like a normal sized phone
IPHONE XS MAX SPECS
Display: 6.5-inch OLED screen
Cost: From $1,099 (£1,099)
Ships: September 21
Battery life: 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X
Cameras: Dual 12MP rear-facing, dual 7MP front-facing
Powered by: A12 Bionic chip
Memory: 64GB, 256GB or 512GB
Colours: Gold, silver and space grey
Waterproof rating: Up to 2 meters (6.5ft) deep for several minutes
Improved augmented reality tools
Picking up the handset is a real ‘oh’ moment - by making almost the entire front of the phone screen, Apple has crammed that giant screen into a handset the same size as the previous ‘Plus’ model.
By stretching the OLED screen to the edge of the device, it means that for owners of any of the previous plus models, the XS Max is like going home - and for everyone else, the phone feels way smaller than you expect.
The curved edges and glass back, while something of a fingerprint magnet, particularly in the new gold colour we've been using, make this a phone that feels great to pick up and use.
There is, sadly, still a notch, but as owners of the X know, it's relatively easy to live with, and you’ll soon forget it's there, even on the giant 6.5inch screen.
While the screen is the first thing you'll notice, in fact, everything about the Max, and its smaller brother, the XS, has been improved from last year's Phone X.
They both boast a faster and improved dual camera system, and the first 7-nanometer chip in a smartphone, the dramatically named Bionic A12, which has a ‘next-generation Neural Engine’.
This new A12 bionic processor in the iPhone does the image signal processing every time you snap a photo, and the iPhone combines those functions of the processor with the neural engine for a frankly astonishing whopping 1 trillion operations per photo.
Apple says the new camera uses multiple technologies — like faster sensors, an enhanced ISP, and advanced algorithms — to create a 'smart HDR' setting, which brings more highlight and shadow detail to your photos. As you can see, it seems to work, producing great shots.
The camera sensor itself has also got an overhaul, with deeper and larger pixels for improved color fidelity and better low-light photos.
Combined, this allows Apple to do some pretty smart stuff, such as Smart HDR, which takes multiple pictures, analyzes all the photos, selects the best portions of each, and then combines them to create an optimal version of what you’re trying to capture.
The camera is incredibly impressive, and Apple talks about it using the incredible power of the firm's chips to carry out 'computational photography'.
THE IPHONE XR: A SUPERB PHONE IN A SMALLER SIZE
While much of this review focuses on the Max version of the XS, there is of course also the smaller 5.8inch screen version.
Apart from the screen size, its almost identical, and is perfect for those who don't want the eyeball blowing 6.5inch screen of the Max.
It's the same stunning screen, processor and camera updates, just in a smaller package, and while it may be tough for owners of the X to justify an upgrade, those who held off as the X was so new and different from previous phones can rest assured that while the X was a great phone, the XS really has had every flaw removed.
What this means is that anyone with no photography skill whatsoever, such as myself, can create stunning shots easily using new features such as an update to the popular portrait mode.
Known as bokeh, this lets you change the depth of field after you've shot your picture, with incredible results.
It's highly intuitive to use with a slider, and great fun - and a perfect example of just how Apple can improve photography.
There’s also faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, that new gold finish, and for the first time, dual SIM capabilities (although they won’t be available until later this year).
The camera on the XS has received a big boost, and its stunning - particularly in low light conditions. Pictured, a sunset in San Francisco.
From a hugely updated processor, to an updated camera and terrifying loud speakers, everything about the XS feels faster, snappier and better thought out than in any previous iPhone.
Part of this is also, of course, down to software, and Apple’s decision with iOS 12 to focus on performance and reliability over flashy new features has paid dividends.
This is the most solid, reliable version of iOS I’ve ever used, and for owners of older handsets, downloading it really is a no brainer - you’ll see everything from battery life to the general speed of your phone, even in older models, increase.
The camera on the XS has recieved a big boost, and its stunning - particularly in low light conditions.
However, it’s on the XS where iOS is really blazingly fast.
Whereas even on the iPhone X, tasks like FaceID, complex games and even portrait mode in photos could feel a little sluggish, on the Xs they are blazingly fast.
iPhone XR vs iPhone XS vs XS Max
3D Touch Display:
Up to 15 hours
194g (6.84 oz)
Yellow, White, Coral, Black, Blue, and Product Red
Up to 12 hours
Dual 12MP Lens
Gold, Space Grey, Silver
iPhone XS Max
Up to 13 hours
Dual 12MP Lens
208g (7.34 oz)
Gold, Space Grey, Silver
FaceID feels dramatically faster, and although I've only been using the phone for a few days, I can say it has been improved significantly - even first thing in the morning, where previously I’d struggle, seems more reliable (apparently I’m not a morning person even when it comes to facial recognition).
Apple also revealed the iPhone will support dual SIM cards for the first time.
It will use Apple’s eSIM, a built in electronic sim card that works alongside the primary sim card, and Apple said it will be available later this year.
The Max really is the biggest iPhone Apple has ever made
But it’s hard to get away from the screen.
The curved design means that in the flesh, it’s incredibly easy to pick up and handle - and absolutely stunning to look at.
That screen is sharp and incredibly bright, and the phone (and even the still present notch) are almost invisible, making this the closest thing yet to Apple’s ‘all screen’ vision.
While many users liked the smaller size of the iPhone X when it was released last year, the Max does the seemingly impossibly - making a big screen phone that really doesn’t feel like a big screen phone.
Picking up the handset is a real ‘oh’ moment - by making almost the entire front of the phone screen, Apple has crammed that giant screen into a handset the same size as the previous ‘Plus’ model, by stretching the LED screen to the edge of the device.
It’s big enough that you feel you could actually do far more, with emails and documents given a whole new lease of life (and infringing on the iPad a little, I would imagine).
So should you upgrade? Well, if you held off buying the X, and are a plus user, then absolutely.
The iPhone XS Max is probably the handset users of the Plus iPhones have been waiting for - and the extra screen real estate really does make this a phone that manages to balance a big screen with the usability and great feel iPhones are known for.
The smaller iPhone XS is a more complicated story, especially if you bought the X last year.
The updates to the camera, processor and other hardware are great - but by upgrading to iOS 12 you’ll see a performance boost to your existing handset that may well make it worth holding off - unless, like many people who bought the X, you absolutely have to have the latest and greatest.
For those on a budget, there’s also the complication of the cheaper, LCD screen iPhone Xr coming out
Overall, this is absolutely the best iPhone Apple has even made - but for $1099 you’d expect that.
For many, the Max is the iPhone they've been waiting for, and expect it to be a massive hit - and leave its smaller brother in the dust.
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