>Apple Iphone Xs Max Review: Greatest Iphone Ever, But Android Flagships Are Way Ahead
Apple iPhone XS

Apple Iphone Xs Max Review: Greatest Iphone Ever, But Android Flagships Are Way Ahead

Is this the best iPhone money can buy? Absolutely.

Does it make sense to spend so much on a phone, even if it’s an iPhone? Absolutely not.

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max finally started selling in India on 28 September. The last generation iPhone X did not manage to sell many units here and the overall market share of Apple actually declined. Some might argue that the price was too high, but Apple doesn’t seem to think so. After all, the poor sales haven’t stopped the Cupertino giant from charging an even higher premium for its current generation flagship devices.

We have discussed in the past how the high price point would not be much of a bother for Apple, as previous generation iPhones will be the ones that would drive volumes and Apple’s inherent brand value will take care of the rest. At a starting price of Rs 99,000 (for a 64 GB iPhone XS) and going all the way up to Rs 1,44,900 (the iPhone XS Max I am testing), the pricing on the iPhones has reached unprecedented levels. This is the phone you want, more than the phone you need, because that need of having a flagship smartphone can easily be fulfilled by other Android (or older iPhones) devices which cost half or even a third of these new iPhones.

If you are a price conscious consumer, the iPhone XS/XS Max isn’t for you. If you are an iPhone X user, then the iPhone XS/XS Max isn’t for you. The XS/XS Max is the perfect upgrade, if you are coming from the iPhone 6/6s/7 generation and if you have money to burn. With iOS 12 breathing new life into older generation phones, there is little incentive for an iPhone 8/8 Plus/X user to make the switch. The ‘S’ upgrade years have always been about adding more finesse to the non-S iPhones, and the XS/XS Max don’t divert from that philosophy. So, most of the improvements have happened on the inside. Externally though, the XS looks identical to the X. Thus, if it’s a phone you want to flaunt, the larger XS Max is the one you want.

With that out of the way, let’s take a more in-depth look at the iPhone XS/XS Max. I have used the iPhone XS Max as my primary device for a couple of weeks now and barring the larger display and the battery life, everything is identical on the two phones. So while the review will focus on the XS Max (512 GB), the same things apply to the XS as Apple hasn’t reserved its best features for the XS Max (as it used to do with its ‘Plus’ phones). The XS and XS Max are identical in all respects except for the display size and battery capacity. Wherever there are changes, I will explicitly mention them.

As I said before, in the S upgrade, there are barely any changes in the design or form factor. The iPhone XS Max is just a larger iPhone X, which was the first major redesign of the iPhone. It also marked the 10th year anniversary of the iPhone. That design trend should, hopefully, continue for a few more years, if the iPhone 6 to iPhone 8 generations are any indicators. While the XS looks identical to the iPhone X, the large size display on the XS Max really stands out.

You get the sturdy Corning Gorilla glass on the front and the back, which sandwiches the stainless steel edges. These edges are rounded not just on the corners, but also in places where it meets the glass on either side so as to create a seamless transition. According to Apple, the Gold and Space Gray (the model under test) finishes “use an advanced physical vapor deposition process on the stainless steel bands.” In simple terms, Apple claims this will ensure the shine of the edges never reduces. Despite having used the iPhone X with a third party case last year, I noticed that there were scratch marks left on the steel edges. There was no corrosion per se, but there were marks that wouldn’t come off. The glass back is there to enable wireless charging.

Button placement is the same, the volume buttons and ring/silent switch is on the left-hand side and the power/standby button and the SIM Card tray are on the right-hand side. The top edge is clean, showing just one antenna line, whereas at the base you see a lightning port with an asymmetrical speaker grille arrangement on either side, which is asymmetrical to accommodate the antenna cut line on the base.

This visual oddity is strange to see on an Apple device, which is supposed to be meticulously designed. The antenna bands are necessary to take advantage of new features like 4×4 MIMO, but it still strikes a bit of a jarring note on such an expensive phone. You get used to it quickly enough, though.

The rear side has the dual camera setup which is a design that carries on from the iPhone X.

The device is sturdy and the massive 6.5-inch display means that you will need two hands to operate it. Even though the dimensions are similar to the 5.5-inch display toting iPhone 8 Plus, the edge-to-edge screen lets the display real estate extend all the way to the edges, thereby giving a 6.5-inch display — the largest on an iPhone. It weighs in at  208 gm and is 7.7 mm thick. The glass back makes it a tad slippery and the iPhone isn’t likely to survive a fall from a height. Although Apple says that it has used a special variant of the Corning Gorilla glass to survive minor falls. If you want to put Apple’s word to the test using a Rs 1.5 lakh device you just bought, be my guest, I certainly don’t have the courage to test their claims. In fact, the first thing I’m going to do is pick up a nice case for the phone.

Features: 8.5/10

The iPhone XS and XS Max are identical except for the display size and the battery capacity.

The XS comes with a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display with a 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution working out to a pixel density of 458 PPI. The XS Max comes with a 6.5-inch display with 2688 x 1242 pixel resolution with a similar pixel density. The notch is present on the OLED display which houses all the major sensors needed for Face ID to work, such as the infrared camera, the flood illuminator, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, front camera, and dot projector.

In terms of battery capacity, the XS has 2,658 mAh capacity (which is less than the 2,716 mAh seen on the iPhone X) whereas the iPhone XS Max come with 3,174 mAh battery. Barring these two feature sets, the iPhone XS and XS Max are identical in every respect.

Compared to other smartphone batteries, these are tiny, but Apple still bundles the mind-numbingly slow 5 W charger with all its phones, even the XS Max. Apple’s argument for only bundling a 5 W charger is even stranger still. They claim that people prefer the 5 W adapter because it’s small. Did Apple not ask those people what they thought of the 4-hour charging time for the XS Max?

So here’s the second accessory investment — a 10 W or higher charging adapter.

Both phones have the same camera setup. The primary camera (with f/1.8 aperture) comes with a new sensor featuring a larger pixel size and the secondary camera with the telephoto lens comes with an f/2.4 aperture. The cameras feature dual optical image stabilisation. On the front is the 7 MP selfie camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The rear camera is capable of shooting 4K video at 60 fps and it also supports slo-mo videos at FullHD resolution at 240 fps, and you can also click 8 MP images while a video is being recorded. The XS/XS Max cameras also support Smart HDR for photos, portrait lighting modes and the ability to store images either as JPGs or in the HEIC/HEVC format which occupies less space in the storage.

The Apple A12 Bionic chipset powers both phones. This is Apple’s in-house chipset which comes with a new generation neural engine to assist with all machine learning tasks. The processor break up is 2 high-performance cores + 4 efficiency cores. There’s also a 4-core Apple designed GPU with support for Metal 2. This is the first generation chipset where Apple has decided to go with its in-house GPU process and it certainly has a lot riding on it. There’s also an 8-core neural engine which supports CoreML and has the capability to perform up to 5 trillion operations per second to assist with tasks involving machine learning and immersive augmented reality. This is up almost ten times from that of the previous iPhone.

The front and rear cameras both support AR, with the front camera AR effects even available on third-party apps such as Snapchat.

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