Apple iPhone XS Max Review Blog: When the Apple iPhone X came along, I quickly jumped ship from the large iPhone 8 Plus I had been using for a while. The iPhone X technically had a larger screen, though in a much smaller chassis. Since it was a larger screen, it was easier to adjust. Now, Apple has a phone that has the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, with a screen to match. Though Apple is calling it the largest phone it has ever made, keep the iPhone XS Max alongside an iPhone 8 Plus and you realise it is not exactly the largest Apple phone, just the largest screen on an Apple phone.
Click here for Apple iPhone XS Max review
The Apple iPhone XS Max will be available in three colour options — gold, silver and grey. Available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB versions, the Apple iPhone XS Max’s price in India will be Rs 1,09,900, Rs 1,24,900 and Rs 1,44,900 respectively. The phones will start selling in India from September 28 onwards.
On Day 1, we looked at the design and display aspects of the new phone. On Day 2, the focus was on the camera, which Apple is claiming as one of the big improvements with this phone. Day 3 looked at battery and performance. After Day 4, focussed on UI, today we end the blog with answering the most pivotal question: Should you buy the iPhone XS Max?
The blog tries to answer all your questions on the new Apple iPhone XS Max, thus reviewing the top features of the phone.
Apple iPhone XS and Apple iPhone XS Max first look video
Apple iPhone XS Max review with specifications and features, price in India and everything else you wanted to know:
Apple iPhone XS Max: Should you buy?
Well, whether you should buy the iPhone XS Max depends on which phone you have at the moment. In my opinion, the XS range is a good upgrade for anyone who is using an Apple phone older than the iPhone 7 series.
- For those on the iPhone 8 it comes down to whether you want to spend more for the better camera and to get rid of the home button.
- For the those on iPhone X, I would say wait another year.
Even for those thinking of switching over from Android, it makes sense if you are on an older model.
The iPhone XS Max is a perfect phone that has hardly any flaws, except for the fact that it is certainly beyond the range of what a lot of people would want to spend on a phone. But Apple has figured out this math better than rest of the world. It knows when it comes to a powerful computing device you will hold in your hand for most of the day, the laws of demand and price don't apply exactly as we learnt it.
Buy the iPhone XS Max for its amazing camera, stutterless performance and computing power, flauntingly good gold model and best operating system around.
Is the eSIM available in India?
No. The eSIM will come as a software update later in the year. That will make these year's Apple iPhones the first to have dual SIM capability.
Both Airtel and Jio will offer the eSIM services to India customers, initially via a QR code driven process. There could be apps later that will let users install an eSIM on the phones.
The eSIMs will work on 4G dual-standby, so only one number will be available for use as a time. However, users will be availble to choose which of the two is to be used as the primary numbers. They can also decided which to use for data and which for calls, thus making good use of cheap data plans and better voice quality available of different service providers.
Are there any UI changes? What else is new?
The iOS 12 software that runs out of the box on the new phones, don't really entail a UI change that needs a learning curve for users. However, the new OS version has a lot of new features as I mentioned before.
One feature that I am still trying to understand is shortcuts, which work a bit like routines on Alexa. So you can create shortcuts of your own or just added some of the preset ones. However, I can't convincingly say how I am supposed to use these.
The other feature that makes life simple is how the notifications from a certain app is nunched together. You now click on the stack to expand, dismiss or manage. This is a very good way to triage the notifications.
Are there any issues with performance?
So far I have not noticed any issues with performance. In fact, this is clearly the fastest phone I have used in a while with no lag or stutter anywhere. This has to be billions of extra transistors on the A12 Bionic chipset at play. Again, this seems to become more obvious while you are clicking photos. In low light, the iPhone XS Max is among the fastest cameras I have used. It does not wait to think and just clicks.
The one issue I have noticed so far is with Whatsapp, which while cycling between apps, sometimes shows up as a blank screen. The groups and chats don't load. It works as soon as I kill the instance and start another one.
How good is the performance? Is it better than iPhone X?
Everything I have tried with the iPhone XS Max so far has just worked. And it has worked well. The phone is fast, apps load quick and stay stable, multi-tabbed browsing is a breeze and the phone does not heat up from the stress.
The phone does a lot of stuff which other phones can’t because it’s running the A12 Bionic chip which is far more capable that its predecessor because it’s also based on the more efficient 7nm architecture and not 10nm. For instance, the processor can patch multiple photographs to bring out the best images, even let you edit depth of field on photos that have been saved already. Others have done these before, but the speed and ease with the new iPhones do it truly ushers in the era of computational photography. This is also a testament of the neural engines of the processor and how comfortable it is doing millions of calculations in the fraction of second to perform what in the end seems like a mundane task.
Even with the Memojis, a combination of the sensors and camera working in tandem with the processor to create real-time animations that move when they need to and not a few seconds later.
Is the Memoji fun?
When Samsung launched its animojis last year, I was excited but only to be disappointed soon after. Samsung's implementation was to pick a set of defaults and assign one of the faces to you. I needed a lot of imagination for the association to work.
Apple is thinking of its Memojis a bit differently. Here you select and fine tune the emoji till you are happy and even the first iteration is what you want it to be.
The one above is the Memoji I made of myself and I am quite happy with it. The first person I sent a hello to with the same replied with "???". That's in a way my reaction too. I don't really see the point. I hope the younger lot have fun with it, it's nothing something the 40-year-old me will use.
How good is the battery life?
Apple claims the battery life on the iPhone XS Max is about 90 minutes more than that of the iPhone X. This with a better and larger display, more powerful processor and a larger battery. Over the past few days, I have noticed that in comparison to the iPhone X it is better, but not to the extent that it would let me be carefree about this most worrying aspect of smartphone usage. Yesterday for instance, I was back home around 7 pm with just about 10 per cent battery left. With the iPhone X, I would be charging it on my office desk usually around 6 pm. The difference is just about that much.
How good is overall performance of iPhone XS camera?
The iPhone XS Max is a no-nonsense camera with great performance in low light, good speed and response and an eye for detail you seldom see in other phone cameras. It should be among the top three smartphone cameras we have used this year with the Pixel 2 and Note 9 being the other two.
Here are a set of shots that show you how the iPhone XS Max is expected to perform with the sort of photos most of us will take.
How good is low light performance of the iPhone XS Max?
As I mentioned earlier, the larger, deeper pixels should give this camera better performance in low light. I tested the camera in a badly lit room with my shadow on the subject making matters worse. The same shot was taken with the iPhone X as well. The iPhone XS Max clealry had better clarity, detail and less noise. So there is clear improvement from the X to the XS. This is hard to miss.
How can you change the depth of a photo with iPhone XS?
With the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max it is now possible to change the depth of field of a photo after it has been shot. This is possible because the (12mp wide 12MP telephoto) dual camera set up clicks a series of photos that are patched together to create the final image. The photo file, however, has information from all the images and this lets you adjust the depth of field afer an image has been shot. On portrait shots users can now adjust depth. The photos on the right show the two depth of field extremes in this mode for the specific photo. The mode now lets you switch from f1.4 to f16 after a shot has been saved. The photo has enough data to process this and the neural engine does the calulations on the fly to make this happen. However, this works only in photos shot using the portrait mode. Also, only human subjects are recognised at the moment by Apple's ML algorithm.
How is the camera of the iPhone XS Max different?
The iPhone XS Max and iPhone XS have the same camera. However, this camera is different from the iPhone X camera. The biggest change is at the pixel level, where Apple has made each pixel larger and deeper. This means the camera does much better in low light than before and also has more data per pixel than before.The details of the flower shot in low indoor light and natural tones are a good example of how this works.
Why do you need True Tone display?
The iPhone display now comes with True Tone as default. This makes a lot of the colours look more natural instead of the the blueish digital look we are all used to on smartphones these days. This is also great for those who will use the phone to click cameras as again the colours look more natural.The iPhone display also supports HDR now and the videos look more vibrant. Again, one of the reasons why the iPhone XS Max makes for a good consumption device.
What are the new features in iOS 12?
The iOS 12 upgrade is at the core of the new iPhones. iOS 12 is not an in-your-face upgade and the UI is more or less the same. But there are some very intersting features. Here's what I have loved so far.
- The one-touch OTP fill-in is a great feature, especially since I have two-step aiuthentication enabled on most accounts. As the OTP comes in via SMS, you now just need to tap the number that appears at the top of the keyboard to fill the numbers in.
- The screen time features is something I have been testing in beta for a while now. It tell you how much time you are spending on apps and let's you sets limits to usage. I have discovered over the past few months that I spend more time on Twitter than Facebook and that my average screentime is a shocking three hours plus a day. In fact, I have been able to cut down on this as the phone locks down some apps late night and I don't often have the strength to go through the two-step process needed to get more time to just see someone else's selfies.
- The photos app is now much improved and along with AI-drive folders and albums, it even suggests effects I could add to certain photos that are lying ignored in the files. It is also getting better with each day.
How good is the Apple iPhone XS Max display?
Well, it is good. This is again the Super Retina display that Apple pushed with the iPhone X. That is the 2688x1242 pixel resolution at 458 ppi in comparison to the 1920x1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi on the iPhone 8 Plus. So in this screen size the display does really shine. The Max should appeal to those who need the extra real estate to consume video content. This phone is ideal for that, especially since this has the best audio output Apple has put on any phone sor. In fact, the audio is available in stereo and you can hear cars while past from right to left when you see a chase on video. You will, however, need to take good care of this display as it has no bezels to protect in case of a fall. So ensure you buy a good screen guard and cover -- there is glass at the back too -- with the phone.
So what is different between the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max?
Well, there is hardly anything to differentiate the two phones, except for the size. And as a factor of size, the iPhone XS Max has a larger battery. This battery, Apple claims, gives 90 minutes more juice than the iPhone X.
How big is the iPhone XS Max?
Apple iPhone XS Max design: Apple calls the iPhone XS Max the largest smartphone it has ever made. But it should be calling this phone the largest screen it has ever put of an iPhone, because the Max is pretty much the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus. The size, the grip and the weight of the iPhone XS Max reminded me of the iPhone 8 Plus and it was easy for the muscle memory to kick in, and feel at home.
Minutes after switching over to the iPhone XS Max, I was looking at iPhone X as you would a portable TV after having spent a lifetime watching a 52-inch LCD. It does feel time, a bit inadequate even. Anyway, it is just a larger version of the iPhone XS. There are absolutely no design features that are different on this phone.