Picture this. There is a shiny chrome finish coffee maker on the table. Someone places another object near it and it starts reflecting on chrome. All very normal, till I tell you only the table is real here, the coffee maker as well as the very real, real-time reflections on it are all augmented reality being created by an app on the latest iPhone XS Max. A few years back most computers couldn’t dream of processing power that would make this happen. Today, it is possible within the smartphone in your hand. This is the era of super-computing in your hand, the era of the A12 Bionic processor.
Apple iPhone XS Max specifications: 6.5-inch (1242×2688) OLED display| Apple A12 Bionic chipset| 64GB/256GB/512GB internal memory| 12MP+12MP rear cameras, 7MP front camera|IP 68 certified, water & Dust resistant|Face ID|Wireless charging support|Nano SIM, eSIM| iOS 12
Apple iPhone XS Max price in India: Rs 1,09,900 for 64GB, Rs 1,24,900 for 256GB, Rs 1,44,900 for 512GB
Apple iPhone XS Max review
The Apple iPhone XS Max is a S year iPhone, which means it’s an upgrade on a model that is already there and you should not expect much. That has been the tradition with iPhones. But the iPhone XS series parts from that logic as Apple has chosen to launch a processor that moves from 10 to 7 nanometer architecture this year.
That alone means this phone has a processor that packs in many more transistors and is capable of doing stuff its predecessors could not. So the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are more about the stuff you can’t see than those you can. And there is a lot here you can’t see, or should not really bother to understand.
First, let’s look at the stuff you can see. The iPhone XS Max is technically the largest display Apple has ever offered. I will not call it the largest phone Apple has sold, because it is clearly the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus. So for users like me the iPhone XS Max, despite being a new form factor, offers a lot that is familiar — for instance the grip I am used to from the Plus devices which I preferred for the extra real estate they used to pack.
The iPhone XS Max is also about this extra real estate. This phone is for those who like to consume more, be it reading on the Super Retina display or just binging on videos with the HDR enabled screen. In fact, for those who love to watch video or hear music without earphone, this phone has the best speakers, that too stereo, Apple has ever packed in a phone.
This was something waiting to happen as Apple had with the iPad Pros showed the world what can be done, or should I say heard, in a mobile device. In both smartphones and tablets, Apple now offers the gold standard in audio playback. Let me warn you, the speakers are loud enough to startle a meeting or get you thrown out of a cinema.
I like the large body of this phone. At just above 200 grams this phone offers me the weight that comes as an assurance that this is a device that will be with you whatever you do. Remember this is water and dust proof, just in case the need arises. Also, the large body means this has a better battery than the iPhone X and the iPhone XS. However, this will be my biggest pain point with the iPhone. It is still woefully inadequate. I want a phone that lasts till late in the night, not till the evening. On Indian networks, which are all tower and no connectivity, I’m searching for a charger around sundown.
But for those on a power trip, the gold version of the new iPhones have enough to satisfy more than the urge for bling. But remember, there is quite a bit of glass on this phone and you will have to protect this with your life.
This new iPhone is all about power, of the other kind. If there is something excess in the XS Max, other than the 6.5-inch display, it has to be the extra power behind the hood. The A12 Bionic processor is made to offer the power needed for the era of machine learning and augmented reality.
It is endowed with six-cores and GPU needed for the smartphone to have a mind of its own, offer answers before questions are asked and brings in computation where none was possible before. The A12 Bionic, Apple claims, can offer nine times more power for machine learning processes, at a tenth of the power needed last year.
Now, this means every other app can start offering ML and AR features. Like for instance Kayak, the popular ticketing app, which now has a feature that lets the camera look at a bag, measure it and tell you if it is fine to be carried inside the cabin. Or elementao, the AR app that lets you play ball by controlling the elements, gushing winds and thunder, all on your dining table.
This also means Apple can start talking about computational photography where the processor and neural engine can take the already good photos to an altogether new level. This is the first phone that can click a photo with details in the back and foreground. Though I’m a bit afraid a silhouette might be hard to click now, the Smart HDR is more the result of high-end computing that great optics.
This is the kind of stuff that gives goosebumps to cellphone photographers like me. Then there is the portrait mode where you can, after the photo has been saved, change the depth of field. Others too do it, but Apple seems to do it better with cleaner edges around the subject, which for now has to be a human. Add the optical image stabilisation in video and the stereo recording, this is pretty much the best overall camera in a phone, though the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Note 9 are no pushovers.
With iOS 12, Apple is also making its users mindful of how they engage with their devices. Screentime, which alerts you about usage behaviour across devices and lets you self-regulate, might well end up being an USP for selling these phones. As a parent, I want the ability to control the time my son spends on the phone and the type of apps he engages with. If I can do it for myself, that’s an add-on I can pay for.
Apple iPhone XS Max verdict
So who should buy a phone like this? Well, it is a great upgrade for Apple users who have been on the Plus size models since the iPhone 6. For others who have been itching to upgrade from a smaller screen, too should look at this as a good option.
I will not, however, recommend this for those already on the iPhone X. But then, this is not a phone for everyone… the price will take care of that. If you look at the Apple iPhone XS Max as a powerful computing device that you are going to carry close to your heart for 12 hours a day, then the price might just be justified.
The best phone has to come at a price, and in India that is Rs 1,09,900. But if you can afford it, the chances are you will not regret it one bit.