Smartphones

iPhone XS Max Review: If You Have the Monies, Go for It Apple's largest display so far, enhanced camera capabilities and iOS 12 firepower make it a user's delight

@SidnChips

LAST YEAR when Apple showcased the iPhone X (ten not X), it mentioned that the new design language would be followed by the company for future iterations of the iPhone. At this year’s event in September Apple did exactly that when it launched the much-awaited iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XR.

Two of the three iPhones announced are already here in India – the iPhone XS and XS Max. iPhone XS pretty much resembles last year’s iPhone X, but it is the iPhone XS Max that caught our eye. We have been using the top-of-the-line iPhone XS Max, priced at Rs 1,44,990 (yes, that’s right), and here’s what we think about it.

Design & Durability

In terms of design, iPhone XS Max looks like a bulked up iPhone X. It is similar in size to iPhone 8 Plus launched last year. What you get extra is the real estate space on the display.

iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch display – the biggest display Apple has ever created – and is a Super Retina HD with an OLED screen that’s so crisp it sets the gold standard for displays in 2018.

Apple has also used surgical grade stainless steel on the frame of the new iPhone XS Max, making it durable. The phone also has an IP68 rating for splash and water resistance. This means the device can survive underwater  up to 2 metres deep for 30 minutes. The company also says iPhone XS Max is spill proof, which means you can spill beverages on it and not worry about it going kaput.

Apple also claims that it has used the most durable glass for both the front and back of the device, which is scratch-resistant and offers more durability.

However, we have been using iPhone X for almost a year as our primary device and it hasn’t given us any reason to complain about durability so far. The iPhone XS Max is available in three finishes: space grey, silver and all-new gold. And no prizes for guessing, the all-new gold is the one to go for.

On the iPhone XS Max, you get a wider stereo sound for an immersive cinematic experience while watching movies or listening to music. It also supports wireless charging.

What hurts the eyes, though, is the bottom section of the device. It lacks symmetry.  On either side of the lightning port, there are two grills, but one only has seven openings, while the other has four. However, this isn’t something that you can’t live with. So, yes, it’s a bigger and improved version of the iPhone X when it comes to the design and durability.

Display

As mentioned earlier, the iPhone XS Max has one of the biggest displays to be ever used on an iPhone.

Apple stopped updating iPad mini apparently after sales dropped when iPhone’s Plus models were first launched a few years back. With the iPhone XS Max’s large display, it may now creep into the iPad mini territory. For users who prefer large smartphones to a small tablet, this device may be it.

The 6.5-inch notch display on the iPhone XS Max offers one of the highest pixel density on any Apple device, and needless to say, it is very immersive. This is simply because it offers over 3 million pixels for videos, movies, and games, an unmatched colour accuracy and also HDR capability.

You can watch or stream content in a million to one contrast ratio on this device and the compatibility with Dolby Vision and HDR10 means that your Rs 850-per-month Netflix subscription is totally worth it if you are viewing on this device. Even the photos that you click on the iPhone XS Max have a 60 per cent greater dynamic range.

Since the new iPhones (all of them) now no longer come with a dedicated home button, the only way to switch between apps and also exit them is to swipe your finger from the bottom of the device. The curve that it offers, being a bigger display than the iPhone X, is smooth enough for you to literally enjoy opening and exiting apps on the iPhone XS Max.

Performance, User Experience &  Battery

iPhone XS Max comes with Apple’s latest A12 Bionic chip which also has Apple’s next generation Neural Engine. This helps the phone use real-time machine learning for a greater immersive user experience.

Apple is one of those few companies in the tech world which creates both software and hardware for its devices. That’s one of the reasons cited for its devices (iPhones and iPads) being more stable and immersive.

iPhone XS Max is no different. The use of iOS 12 with a 7-nanometer chip and a fast storage controller makes the iPhone XS Max a hyper phone. This hardware and software magic has also enabled the company to give the iPhone XS Max a maximum storage of 512 GB (Apple’s own MacBook comes with less storage at this price).

The A12 Bionic Chip that comes with a six-core fusion architecture with two performance cores and four efficiency cores balance the performance of the iPhone XS Max without compromising on the battery life.

Apple says that the two performance cores are up to 15 per cent faster than the CPU performance cores in the A11 Bionic chip and the four high-efficiency cores use up to 50 per cent less power.

This is seen when you play augmented reality games and also try to balance your productivity or social media needs simultaneously on the device.

For gaming, iPhone XS Max is perhaps the best AR gaming device that your money can buy for now. For regular folks who are happy with just playing PUBG, the four-core GPU on the iPhone XS Max will be a delight to use. However, a small hitch while playing a game like PUBG is that the notch on the iPhone XS Max will hide a few controls and you’ll need to customise them to adjust to this phone.

For AR gamers, the Neural Engine built by Apple for advanced machine learning allows it to complete up to 5 trillion operations per second. That’s where you can easily use Augmented Reality apps which detect plane surfaces or games that are multiplayer in nature and graphic demanding. The neural engine also works to deliver on functions like emoji and Stage Light in camera preview which uses real-time machine learning.

All this firepower and the prowess of the iOS 12 makes this phone seamless to use.

One of the biggest changes with the new iPhones has been dual-SIM capability. However, this will now be available beginning this fall on the device. Since we haven’t really tested the feature, we are yet to form an opinion on it.

Apple says the dual SIM is enabled with a nano-SIM and an eSIM. eSIM is a technology developed by Apple that was also integrated into the iPad and Apple Watch with Cellular.

Apple says that when this capability will come on the iPhone XS and XS Max, users will be able to activate their eSIM by scanning a QR code from your carrier or provider. The new iPhone XS Max also comes with additional antennas that enable 4×4 MIMO and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA). Those combined with carrier aggregation deliver Gigabit-class LTE for even faster download speeds.

The battery on the iPhone XS Max lasts longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. This is commendable considering the bigger display and an even more powerful processor that the device features. This is where the user experiences the perfect marriage between software and hardware.

There is also a low power mode, similar to the one seen on last year’s iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus, which give the user more operational time with the iPhone XS Max.

Overall, the new hardware compliments the iOS 12 experience and is capable of even converting many hardcore Android lovers to move to an Apple ecosystem.

Cameras

There have been many memes on the internet suggesting that new Apple iPhones launched each year are nothing but the same old versions with a better camera.

Well, one has to experience it first hand to bust the myth. We, too, were a little sceptical on the new camera capabilities of the iPhone XS Max. After all, it does come with a dual 12MP camera which is similar to the iPhone X.

On the iPhone XS Max, the dual-camera system integrates the 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, there is also an ISP, Neural Engine, and advanced algorithms, that all work in tandem.

The result was just stunning when it came to detailing. Compare the iPhone XS Max’s camera with the iPhone X and you’ll know what exactly we are talking about. In fact, we urge you to visit an Apple seller whenever you can and just compare the camera clarity on the iPhone X with the iPhone XS Max.

This clarity is delivered as the camera sensor on the iPhone XS Max features deeper and larger pixels for improved colour fidelity and better low-light photos. The Smart HDR also bring more highlight and shadow detail across all your photos.

We are not sure as to what makes Apple all excited about the Depth Control feature, which lets you adjust the depth of field of your portraits after you shoot. After all, many other phones have been sporting the feature for some time now.  Hence, this would more of a hygiene feature for Apple to integrate with the new iPhones this year.

In addition to taking images, the larger sensor on the primary cameras of the iPhone XS Max also improves video stabilisation. There is also a new Quad-LED True Tone flash with flicker detect sensor and a smart HDR on the iPhone XS Max.

The hardware used on the camera of the iPhone XS Max is a 12-MP wide-angle camera with f/1.8 and a six-element lens while the telephoto camera boasts a f/2.4 aperture. Both the cameras feature dual optical image stabilisation (OIS), optical zoom, and fast lenses for image capture and video recording.

Needless to say, the iPhone XS Max is capable of shooting videos in 4K and with 512 GB storage on board that is something that you would love to do. There are also four built-in mics to record stereo sound.

This will make the lives of content creators easy as they won’t require an additional mic for every vlog. There is also crosstalk cancellation and left and right channel speakers are matched in output and bandwidth, so the soundstage is wide and balanced.

For people who love to click portrait images with bokeh effect, there is  Portrait Lighting, now no longer in beta mode, which uses sophisticated algorithms to calculate how your facial features interact with light. Then it uses that data to create lighting effects and produce images that are stunning.

The camera on last year’s iPhone was equally good, but it was soon overshadowed by the beauty and clarity of Google Pixel’s camera. This year the iPhone XS Max has all the potential to be the best phone camera in business. Having said that, when it comes to video recording capabilities, the iPhone XS Max is at least two years ahead of many flagship Android phones out there.

TrueDepth Camera

This is just another Apple term for the front camera of the iPhone X and beyond. The iPhone XS Max also features a quite similar 7MP TrueDepth camera that is also capable of delivering advanced Portrait mode with a sophisticated bokeh, background blur and Depth Control for portraits and Smart HDR.

Simply put, it’s capable of doing everything that the primary camera of the iPhone XS Max can.

In addition, it’s also responsible for Face ID, which was started by Apple and adopted by all, and still is done best by Apple.

It might not be the fastest in business as compared to others (faster than the iPhone X), but it is secure and failsafe. The TrueDepth camera sensors read the unique geometry of a user’s face and compare it with information protected by the Secure Enclave of the A12 Bionic chip. If there’s a match, the iPhone XS unlocks. At no point your Face ID data is on a server, the data is stored locally.

There is also Portrait Lighting for selfies that uses a precise depth map to separate the subject from the background for studio-quality selfies. The TrueDepth camera is also used for Animojis that was introduced last year and Memojis that replicate your animated avatar on the device.

The camera captures and analyses over 50 different facial muscle movements, then animates those expressions in more than a dozen different Animoji, including a panda, unicorn, and robot. Animojis and Memojis are available as an iMessage app that is preinstalled on iPhone XS and XS Max.

Verdict

We have just one thing to say, if money is not your concern, there is no better phone than the new iPhone XS Max to have for now.

Price
iPhone XS Max (64 GB): ₹ 1,09,900
iPhone XS Max (256 GB): ₹ 1,24,900
iPhone XS Max (512 GB): ₹ 1,44,900

~ENDS~

 

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