At the end of September, the iPhone Xs Max was officially put on sale. It is the model with the largest screen that an iPhone has ever had . Its 6.5-inch OLED panel is a big leap from the iPhone X, with "only" 5.8-inch screen. An iPhone that many expected for a long time, since high-end Android terminals have large screens. There were many Apple users who expected this jump.
But the iPhone Xs Max isn't just a bigger screen. Another great novelty compared to the previous generation is the new A12 Bionic chip . Apple has once again removed an incredible processor from its sleeve, with a Neural Engine capable of improving even the photographic system. And it is that the apple manufacturer has once again relied on a double sensor with practically the same configuration that we saw in the previous generation.
All this while maintaining a first-class design, the Face ID system that was released on the iPhone X and with the latest version of iOS. And, let it be said, again with one of the highest prices on the market . But is an iPhone Xs Max worth investing in? I have had the opportunity to spend almost a month with this terminal and here I tell you what I think.
Data sheet iPhone Xs Max
|screen||6.5-inch OLED, resolution 2,688 x 1,242 pixels, 458 dpi, 1,000,000: 1 contrast, HDR compatible (including Dolby Vision), True Tone, Wide color gamut (P3), 3D Touch, 625 maximum brightness cd / m2|
|Main chamber||12 MP wide-angle and telephoto dual cameras|
Wide angle: f / 1.8 aperture
Telephoto: f / 2.4 aperture
Optical zoom x2
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Wide color gamut for photos
Double optical image stabilization
4K video recording at 60 fps
Optical Image Stabilization for Video
Four-LED True Tone Flash with Slow Sync
|Camera for selfies||7 MP|
F / 2.2 aperture
Animoji and Memoji
1080p HD video recording at 60 fps
Smart HDR for photos
Extended dynamic range for video
Cinema-quality video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
Wide color gamut for photos and Live Photos
|Internal memory||64, 256 or 512 GB|
|Processor and RAM||A12 Bionic chip, 4 GB RAM|
|Battery||3,174 mAh (up to 1.5 hours more autonomy than iPhone X)|
|Operating system||iOS 12|
|Connections||Gigabit-class LTE with 4 × 4 MIMO and LAA|
Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2 × 2 MIMO
NFC with read mode
|SIM||Dual SIM (Nano SIM and eSIM)|
|Design||Steel frames and glass back, IP68 rating, colors: Gold, space gray and silver|
|Dimensions||157.5 x 77.4 x 7mm, 208 grams|
|Featured Features||Face ID|
Wider stereo sound
|Price||64 GB: 1,260 euros|
256 GB: 1,430 euros
512 GB: 1,660 euros
One of the most beautiful mobiles on the market
I think no one can deny that the iPhone Xs Max is one of the most beautiful phones on the market . It is striking and its build quality is undeniable. It has stainless steel frames, which give it a very different touch to that seen in other terminals.
Its back is made of glass , according to Apple the most resistant in the world. Still, even though I don't like it at all, I would put a cover on it. In my case, the mobile continues as the first day, but I have acquaintances who have suffered small scratches on the rear glass.
Its design is the same as that we saw in the iPhone X. On the back we have the double camera, located in the upper left corner. This protrudes quite a bit from the housing , which makes the mobile "lame" when we leave it on the table. Yet another reason to put a cover on it.
The steel frames off - quality look where the look. They offer the feeling of being in front of what we have in hand, a very premium mobile. In the right frame we only have the large power button. Also the SIM card slot. And in the left frame we have the volume buttons and the "switch" to silence the terminal, something very characteristic of Apple.
The front also maintains design. We have a screen with very narrow side and bottom frames . At the top, as you know, the well-known notch or notch. This is still quite large, as we saw in the previous generation. And it is that in it hides the facial recognition system Face ID, which I will talk about later.
We must bear in mind that, despite using the frameless design, the iPhone Xs Max is a large terminal . Its full dimensions are 157.5 x 77.4 x 7 millimeters. To give you an idea, it has dimensions very similar to those of an iPhone 8 Plus.
And, again, the weight is very striking . I had the opportunity to carry the iPhone X for a few months and one of the things that most caught my attention when I released it was its weight. After a few months testing all kinds of Android terminals, on the return to the iPhone the same thing happened to me again.
Even more considering the size of this new model. The iPhone Xs Max weighs 208 grams and it shows on a daily basis. It shows when you carry it in your pocket and when you have it in your hand. I am a big person and I have big hands, so it's not a problem. But I understand that for a person with smaller hands it may be excessive.
Finally, comment that the iPhone Xs Max now has IP68 certification . Last year's model was IP67, so now it is capable of holding up to 2 meters of depth for up to 30 minutes. I have not dared to try it.
The big screen slightly wasted
I know, this headline requires an explanation. But it is the feeling it gave me after a few days of using the mobile. As I mentioned at the beginning, the iPhone Xs Max has a 6.5-inch OLED screen . It offers a resolution of 2,688 x 1,242 pixels and a whole series of technologies that make it one of the best screens on the market.
For the reproduction of multimedia content it is an incredible screen, almost always. And I say almost always, because depending on the application we use, we will not be able to make the most of it . For example, with Netflix we cannot use the enlarged screen, so we will have stripes on the sides. This means that we do not take advantage of the 6.5 inches. However, with YouTube if we can expand to use the entire screen. Of course, as you know, losing some content.
For the rest, it is an OLED panel that guarantees almost perfect blacks. It supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision image playback . It has a maximum brightness of 625 cd / m2, enough for viewing in bright sunlight. In addition, it has a 1,000,000: 1 contrast and an extended color gamut, so the color reproduction is quite spectacular.
If you come from an older iPhone or an Android terminal, you will be surprised by the yellowish tone of the image. This is due to the True Tone technology . This consists of a six-channel light sensor that adjusts the white balance of the screen by adapting it to the color temperature of the light around you. The result, according to Apple, are more natural images that allow less visual fatigue. But if you don't like this more yellow tone, you can deactivate it.
So why do I say the screen is "wasted"? Because it has caught my attention how Apple uses this larger screen. We don't have more content on screen, but it looks bigger . This occurs because Apple has used the same resolution for the iPhone Xs and the Max model. Personally, I think the screen with a higher resolution would have been used much more. Also, the feeling I had is that something was "wrong" on that screen. I thought it would be much more spectacular to have a 6.5-inch iPhone and I was a bit disappointed in this regard.
A12 Bionic, the chip that changes everything
If the larger screen is one of the reasons that can lead an owner of an iPhone X to change for the Xs Max, the processor is the other. The new iPhone comes with the new A12 Bionic processor , a more powerful and intelligent chip.
The technical data for Apple's new mobile processor is overwhelming. It is a chip manufactured in 7 nm and has 6 cores . Two of them are dedicated to performance while the other four focus on efficiency.
According to Apple data, we have 50% more performance at the graphical level, 15% more speed and up to 50% less power consumption . In addition, it is accompanied by an eight-core neural motor that, as we will see later, also affects the performance of the camera.
As expected, the new processor achieves spectacular results in the usual performance tests . In Geekbench it gets 4,822 points for a core and 11,409 points for Multi-Core. In AnTuTu it is even more impressive, with no less than 359,900 points.Comparison iPhone Xs Max
In the day to day it is difficult to appreciate a change with respect to the iPhone X processor . The mobile works wonderfully, without lag and with tremendous speed. All applications run instantly and work very fast. What is expected in a top terminal and with such a high price.
Although the performance improvement is not seen in the fluidity of the system, it is in other tasks and iPhone systems. For example in Face ID, which has improved in performance. Now we can configure two faces , just like we did with fingerprints.
The system allows you to configure the faces of two different people, but Apple warns that, doing so, we will lose much of the security that the system offers. So why have the option to configure two faces? According to the manufacturer of the apple, it has been designed for situations in which our face changes a lot , such as if we wear some type of mask or accessory when we are working.
With one or two faces, the truth is that Face ID works wonders . Identification is lightning fast in almost any situation. Even with the lights totally off. Improvements over the previous model system are noticeable in specific situations. For example, if we have the mobile on the table, just by touching the screen and "looking out" it is unlocked. I have also noticed improvement when we look at the iPhone somewhat tilted, detecting us perfectly.
However, there is still a very specific situation where Face ID is unable to detect the face. I mentioned it last year and with the iPhone Xs Max it keeps happening. This is none other than when we are lying in, for example, the bed. Here the system is not yet able to recognize the face. But this is the only situation that has happened to me.
An improved camera from the processor
I said a few lines ago that the new A12 chip improved some functions of the mobile, such as Face ID. Another one is the photographic system. And it is that Apple has decided to maintain a technical set very similar to that seen in the previous generation and invest the time in improving the processing level.
Thus, the iPhone Xs Max has a dual 12-megapixel sensor . The main sensor is a wide angle with aperture f / 1.8 and the second sensor is a telephoto lens with aperture f / 2.4 . The latter allows a 2x optical zoom , as we have already seen in previous models. In addition, both sensors have optical stabilization .
Indoor photo with very dim light
So what has changed regarding the iPhone X camera? The first thing is that, as reported by Apple, we have a larger main sensor . This increase in size is an improvement in night photography or in low light. The iPhone Xs Max is capable of taking pictures at a higher ISO, which prevents jitter by increasing the exposure time and also the appearance of noise in the image.
Photo in very good sunlight
In terms of photography in good light, the iPhone Xs Max camera achieves more than correct exposure and color reproduction . The photos have a good level of detail and a great reproduction of the skin tone, one of the strengths of the iPhone camera.
2x optical zoom
The 2x optical zoom offers us the same experience as last year. It allows us to get a little closer to the action, but we lose some quality in the images. It may be useful, but it is not nearly as spectacular as the one achieved by the three cameras of the Huawei P20 Pro.
Although an almost identical technical set is maintained, the truth is that the iPhone Xs Max has several new features in the photographic section. One of the most striking is the Smart HDR or Intelligent HDR . As the name implies, this one has been designed to take advantage of the new image signal processor, new advanced algorithms and faster sensors to add detail to the highlights and shadows of our photos.
And, as is usual in Apple, all this is done automatically. We cannot activate or deactivate the system from the camera application . To deactivate it we will have to do it from Settings. Apple maintains its philosophy of "point and shoot", give the user an operation as simple as possible.
But to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and the truth is that in scenes typical of using HDR, such as sunsets and sunrises, the iPhone Xs Max camera achieves excellent results . We have much improved light control over its predecessors. Perhaps in more complicated situations, such as a scene with areas of sun and shade, is when we continue to detect some exposure errors.
As I said, if we don't like the system, we can deactivate it from Settings. Or, we can leave it on and tell it to keep normal photography as well (without HDR). It will occupy twice the space but we can select which photograph we like the most.
Portrait Mode with Depth Control
Another novelty at the software and photo management level is the Depth Control . It is something that has been available for a long time in some Android terminals and that now reaches the iPhone.
From left to right: f / 1.4 (maximum blur) - f / 4.5 (depth applied by default) - f / 16 (minimum blur)
The Depth Control allows us to adjust the depth of field after taking the photo . We can vary the depth between f / 1.4 and f / 16. The shallower depth of field, the more blur in the background. The highest aperture value is fictitious, logically, so the effect is excessively forced. Also, at such high blur values the software makes some mistakes, blurring parts of the hair or areas that it should not blur. It is normal. By the way, the Depth Control can be used whether we shoot in Portrait Mode with the rear camera or with the front camera.
We also have available the Lighting Modes that we already had in the previous generation. The truth is that I have not noticed any type of improvement in these modes, many of them being only usable in very specific lighting conditions.
And speaking of Portrait Mode, it is still surprising that Apple leaves it in the hands of the second sensor in the rear camera. It is surprising because it is a smaller sensor and with a much smaller aperture than the main sensor. Perhaps if you use the main sensor for this mode we could get better portraits in less light situations.
That said, the Portrait Mode of the iPhone Xs Max improves slightly over that seen in last year's model . The quality of the blur is superior and the skin tone, as I said before, is one of the best on the market. However, something more sharpness is missing, especially when we remember the price of the mobile.
But as an image is worth a thousand words, here I leave you a complete gallery of photos of all kinds taken with the iPhone Xs Max so that you can draw your own conclusions.
Gallery of photos taken with the iPhone Xs Max
Video up to 4K with amazing stabilization
Apple has always taken care of the video recording section on the iPhone. The main camera is capable of recording video in 4K resolution up to 60 fps . It also allows slow motion video recording, with a maximum of 240 fps with 1080p resolution .
But the really cool thing about video recording on the iPhone Xs Max is stabilization . The two rear sensors have optical image stabilization. And this year Apple has added what they call “Cinema-Quality Video Stabilization” for 1080p and 720p recording.
And this, which may seem like a marketing move, the truth is that it shows a lot. The video recording with this mobile is incredible, with a stabilization that I had not seen in any other terminal . It almost seems that we are recording with a steadycam . The truth is that I was quite surprised.
Apple, we need to talk about the battery
The Cupertino people never tell us the battery capacity of the iPhone. They always talk about improvement over the previous model. So, according to Apple, the iPhone Xs Max has a battery that offers up to 1.5 hours more autonomy than the iPhone X and 1 hour more autonomy than that of its younger brother, the iPhone Xs.
In real life I have verified that the battery of the iPhone Xs Max is able to last the whole day without problems . Even the days where I've squeezed it out, with lots of photos and continued use, I've come home with 15-20% available.
In addition, iOS 12 now offers us a lot of information about the use of the iPhone battery . We have data from the last 24 hours and the last 10 days, with graphs that show us the activity, how long we have had the screen on and which applications have used the highest percentage of battery.
So what is the battery problem? Load. It cannot be that a mobile that exceeds 1,200 euros has a charger that does not offer fast charging . The first year I had a pass, but this year you can't afford it. We know that Apple is a "special" manufacturer, which does not follow what is marked by others. But when this seriously harms its users, it must be said.
Thus, with the standard charger it will take more than 180 minutes to fully charge the iPhone from shutdown. If we want to opt for fast charging, we will have to purchase a 29W charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable. If we have it, we can get 50% charge in half an hour.
We also have the option of wireless charging, just like last year. This is still quite slow and compatible with any charging base with Qi technology .
Conclusions and price
The iPhone Xs Max is a great mobile, there is no doubt about that. It keeps the best features of its predecessor and improves others. Now, once and for all, Apple fans can opt for a mobile with a large screen . Its 6.5-inch OLED panel is one of the great attractions of this device.
Inside we have a new processor that, although it is not as obvious as the increase in screen, is another of the great novelties. In addition to being very powerful, it improves functions as important as the Face ID system and the camera .
However, despite being a great terminal, it is not a revolution . It is common is the Apple "S" models, in which we usually see small improvements over the previous year's models.
Is it worth buying the iPhone Xs Max if I have an iPhone X? In my opinion, no. Is it worth buying if I have any other iPhone? Probably yes, as it is the best way to move to the new all-screen design. Although if you have a relatively new iPhone, for example an iPhone 8, I would wait until next year.
Is it worth buying instead of a high-end Android mobile? That is a very personal decision for each user. In this case, the operating system and its entire ecosystem are very heavy. In my opinion, and this is something very personal, I think that today we have Android phones that offer the same as this iPhone with a lower price. And it is that the 1,260 starting euros that the iPhone Xs Max has are an insurmountable stumbling block for the vast majority of users.