OUR EARLY VERDICT
The iPhone XS Max appears to be the perfect upgrade for owners of iPhone Plus who prefer a large form factor with a big screen and a bigger battery. It packs in all the top-end features of the smaller model, but really turbocharges them in the hand.
- Big and beautiful screen
- Good battery life
- Improved camera
- Two-handed device
- Even more expensive
Apple revamped the iPhone last year with the iPhone X but the plus model didn’t get that same treatment. That changes this year as Apple announced the iPhone XS Max- that’s 10 S Max and not Excess Max which is what everyone will call it.
It has a massive 6.5-inch screen along with a bigger battery and all the other features present in the smaller iPhone XS such as dual SIM support, an improved camera setup and the super fast A12 Bionic processor paired with the all new 512GB storage option.
Although Apple has differentiated the Plus models with a better camera setup, the iPhone XS Max is identical to the iPhone XS other than the larger screen and battery
iPhone XS Max price and release date
The iPhone XS Max, along with the iPhone XS will be available to pre-order in most countries around the world from September 14, with the phablet going on sale from September 21.
The iPhone XS Max is going to be available in configurations of 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. It will also be Apple’s most expensive phone to date but that was expected when Apple introduced the iPhone X with the expensive price tag last year.
On average, the iPhone XS Max is about $100 more expensive than the smaller iPhone XS with the 64GB priced at at $1,099 / £1,099 / AED 4,649. The 256GB price is $1,249 / £1,249 / AED 5,279 while the most expensive 512GB version setting you back $1,449, £1,449 and AED 6,129.
That makes the iPhone XS Max the most expensive non-car branded handset in the market.
Very much like the Plus model of previous generations, the iPhone XS Max is a larger version of the iPhone XS. It measures 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm which puts it around the same levels as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with dimensions of 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm. This is a big phone and there’s no way you’ll be able to use it with one hand.
Interestingly, even though the iPhone XS Max is slightly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (208 grams vs 202 grams), in hand, it feels lighter than its competitor. In other words, the iPhone XS Max looks like a big and heavy device but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you pick it up.
Like other iPhone X models, the iPhone XS Max is basically two slabs of glass with a stainless steel frame joining them. Apple claims that it has used the most durable glass ever made for a smartphone and it felt less slippery than we expected, but it is a big glass device at the end of the day and we recommend getting a cover for it when you purchase one.
The new iPhone XS and XS Max are now rated at IP68 which means that it’s water resistant for upto 2 meters and 30 minutes. Apple claimed that it has tested these new phones submerged in fresh water, salty water and various other scenarios including a beer party and made sure the phones comes out unharmed.
Button and ports configuration on the iPhone XS Max is the same as the smaller model which means that you’ll have the volume buttons and the silence switch on the left while the power button and SIM card tray sit on the right.
The SIM tray houses a single nano SIM, except for models sold in China which will have allow the tray to be equipped with two nano SIM cards- one on the front and one on the back. Android phone manufacturers should take note of this which could allow them to equip their phones with dual SIM cards AND a MicroSD tray.
The iPhone XS Max will be available in three color options- Space Grey and Silver make a return with a new Gold version that looks stunning, especially with the golden stainless still band around it.
The screen size of the iPhone XS Max is 6.5-inches which makes it the largest display Apple has ever put on an iPhone- hence the name Max. It’s an OLED panel with a resolution of 2688×1242 giving it the same density as the smaller iPhone Xs at 458 ppi. There’s still a notch on top but with a bigger screen, you at least have some more area to left and right of the notch.
Hopefully, apps designed to work with the iPhone X will work fine with this new resolution but we’ll have to play around a bit more to comment on that. Zoomed mode is back on the iPhone XS Max though we couldn’t see a big difference between standard and zoomed modes, at least not on the home screen.
The screen supports TrueTone technology as well as 120Hz input like the previous generation iPhone X. We were hoping that the new iPhone XS Max supports True Motion technology found on the iPad Pro that makes scrolling and moving within the UI very fluid, but it doesn’t. Apps can now work in split mode, much like they did on the Plus sized version of previous iPhone models.
Apple also claims that the screen now has a 60% better dynamic range which should make your photos and videos appear more vivid. We tried the new Bethesda game Blade game and it looked visually very appealing – although we did notice some stuttering as we flicked around the gameplay settings. Having said that, playing on a massive 6.5-inch screen definitely makes games more appealing and gamers should definitely check out the iPhone XS Max purely for that.
The camera on the iPhone XS Max is similar to last year’s iPhone X with a dual lens setup, however, Apple has made improvements on both the software and hardware level.
You’re still getting two 12MP sensors on the back, however the pixel size has now been increased to 1.4um on the wide-angle camera. The secondary 12MP camera is still fixed at 2x zoom levels with an f/2.4 aperture.
Apple has made progress when it comes to software by introducing the new Smart HDR mode with zero shutter lag. This allows the iPhone to capture multiple images with facial landmarking and segmentation to take better pictures with the NPU kicking in to get the best photo.
You can also now chose the amount of bokeh after you’ve taken the photo. All of this post-processing might help the iPhone to get as good of pictures as some of the competing handsets that offer similar functions such as the Google Pixel 2.
Besides the larger screen, the iPhone XS Max also has the largest battery Apple has put on an iPhone. Apple promises battery life of over and hour and half from the iPhone X. Talk time is expected to be up to 25 hours while Internet usage is set at 13 hours.
We’ll be making sure to give the battery a full workout when we get our hands on the review devices. The Plus versions of previous iPhones had killer battery life so we have high hopes for the iPhone Max.
The iPhone Max is clearly designed for iPhone Plus owners- consumers that want a large device with a large screen and a battery to go with that. It’s strictly a two-handed device though but very close to the actual size of the Plus model so if you are comfortable with an iPhone Plus, you’ll feel right at home with the iPhone Max.
With dual SIM capabilities, an updated camera module and the fast new A12 Bionic processor, Apple looks to be on track to deliver it’s best iPhone yet. It’s strictly a two-handed device though unless you want to get to lower-reaches of the display.
If you can get over the size and price (and that’s a big ask) the iPhone XS Max is the phone to go for out of the new devices. It packs in the best of everything Apple has shown off with better battery life and a larger, more impactful screen as a result.
The above points of size and price do stand though – this is a gargantuan phone for so many reasons, but we’re looking forward to putting it through its paces to find out whether it’s just an oversized version of the iPhone XS or the supercharged version you’ll want to go for.