So much anticipated: In our view, 2018 is a typical s-year. In other words, groundbreaking new features have failed to materialize. That’s why owners of an iPhone X are going to struggle with the purchase decision.
In our opinion, the demand for the not yet available and most cost-effective iPhone Xr will be interesting. The iPhone Xs Max that we tested is identical to the smaller iPhone Xs, except for the display size.
The iPhone Xs Max looks exactly like the iPhone X from last year – just bigger. On the front, a narrow edge framed the 6.5-inch display and even the controversial Notch is back with the party. While the frame is made of metal, the back of the smartphone is made of glass. Overall, the device is a little smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, but offers significantly more screen than the older model.
The same applies to the Xs Max as to the Plus models of older generations: These smartphones are only suitable for people who either have big hands or have no problem using the device with two hands at all times.
Incidentally, the water resistance of the case has been improved from IP67 to IP68. This means that not only can the Xs Max survive two meters under water for up to 30 minutes, but it can also put away salt water at short notice. Apple explicitly points out that you should let your device dry for five hours before reconnecting it to the power supply. Incidentally, water damage is still not covered by the guarantee.
Contrary to the A11 Bionic of the iPhone X the processor of the Xs Max is to be according to Apple approximately 15 per cent faster. The GPU of this year’s A12, however, should be 50 percent faster. We have not checked these details meticulously, but the Xs Max can definitely confirm an excellent performance.
This is not least due to the Neural Engine, which among other things is responsible for the acceleration of internal machine learning. Apple said in 2017 the A11 still has 600 billion operations per second, the A12 should create five trillion operations per second. So far, of course, only a few apps are tempting. First and foremost, this performance boost augments augmented reality applications and some new camera features such as controlling the depth of field after taking a photo.
The A12 not only has a positive effect on performance, but also on battery life. In combination with a larger battery – thanks to the overall size of the device – we came in our test easily through the day. During that time we used the Xs Max for a week’s browsing, email checking, slack and other typical use cases. Even watching videos and editing photos after work did not bring us to the edge of power-saving mode.
The OLED screen of the iPhone Xs Max dissolves with 2,688 x 1,242 pixels and offers 458 pixels per inch. As with the iPhone X, screen content is crisp and the display looks good from the side as well. Contrast and black levels are also more than convincing for an OLED. The iPhone Xs Max supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Due to the size and quality of the display, the large iPhone is ideal for playing movies, series and other videos. This is all the more true because the stereo sound was also drilled out.
Probably the most important sales argument for the new iPhone Xs Max revolves around the built-in camera technologies. Although the two lenses of the dual camera on paper read exactly as they did in the predecessor, Apple has improved the image processing processor and sensors and also worked on the algorithms for photo and video recordings.
Without going into too much technical detail, the hardware and software improvements provide better low-light footage and even more compelling HDR results. In direct comparison with the iPhone X convinced us particularly video recordings and photos in low light conditions. In good lighting conditions the differences are less obvious.
Also improved was the background sharpness introduced in portrait mode, which is generated on the software side. The depth of field can be edited later on the new iPhones. Self-acting and selfie-friends will be pleased: With the Xs Max, the seven-megapixel front camera can also create shots with depth of field. In addition, the front camera now also offers video stabilization.
The iPhone Xs Max records videos in 4k with up to 60 frames per second and allows for improved stereo recording, since all four microphones are used.
Also, the unlocking of the iPhone via Face ID Apple wants to have accelerated. In normal situations, however, the extra performance is not noticeable. However, we found in our review that the Xs Max compared to the iPhone X even fewer situations occurred in which the face recognition did not work the first time.
The iPhone Xs Max is available in the colors Silver, Space Gray and Gold as well as the memory sizes 64, 256 and 512 gigabytes. For prices of 1,250, 1,420 or 1,650 euros certainly no bargain. Nevertheless, the iPhone Xs Max is a very good smartphone.
Anyone who owns an older model than the iPhone X – or attaches particular importance to a large display and / or improvements to the smartphone camera – can make a big leap forward with the decision for the Xs Max.