2019-06-20
Electronics May 16, 2019

Should You Buy iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max

At the time of writing, Apple’s latest flagship devices are the iPhone XS and XS Max. These phones offer top-of-the-line specs, and have replaced the discontinued iPhone X as the top-tier pick for Apple enthusiasts.

 

However, deciding on which to buy is not a straightforward decision. Both the iPhone XS and XS Max are have similar hardware, and run identical software, meaning you’re getting the same experience with only minor differences.

With that said, how does the iPhone XS Max justify the higher price tag? And more importantly, is it worth it?

 

iPhone XS Max Worth it

 

iPhone XS

The iPhone XS is the base model, and is an overhaul to the prior 2017 iPhone X, bringing it up to date with the standards expected from 2018 smartphones. The iPhone XS has an 88% Metascore, and you can see what industry experts have to say about it here.

Performance

The highlight here is the A12 Bionic chipset, which comes with a hexa-core CPU that is designed to have enhanced performance while being more power-efficient.

In real-world terms, this means a longer battery life during extended periods of heavy use.

The A12 Bionic chipset also includes a Neural Engine, which is tuned for machine learning algorithms. While not many apps take advantage of these features right now, it does make Apple’s Face ID system for phone security accurate and secure.

Overall, the iPhone XS feels fast, and that’s down to Apple’s good software optimization with iOS 12. If you felt the previous iPhones were sluggish, this is a definite improvement.

Screen

In terms of visuals, the iPhone XS has a beautiful 5.8-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2436 x 1125. Part of the beauty comes from the great colour accuracy and contrast.

Watching videos on the iPhone XS is great, and the stereo speakers are much cleaner than those found on the prior iPhone X.

Camera

Finally, the iPhone XS comes with an impressive array of cameras. The rear camera has a dual telephoto and wide-angle lens setup, allowing more versatility when it comes to taking photos.

The A12 Bionic chipset’s comes into play here as well, using a photo composition technique to deliver clearer, more defined images.

All in all, the photos are what you’d expect from an Apple device. There isn’t too much digital smoothing, and colours are reproduced naturally. While its not the best camera out there, it still ranks among the best.

Battery Life

The iPhone XS can carry you through the day under moderate use, but you’ll need to charge it at night. This does fall in line with the other flagships currently available, so no need to worry.

Thoughts

The iPhone XS is an excellent phone from Apple, and is a worthy successor to the iPhone X. If you’re looking for a phone that looks and performs great, then the XS is worth considering.

However, the iPhone XS Max exists, and it has a few features that might upset the XS’s position as the obvious choice.

Let’s talk about it.

iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is essentially a larger iPhone XS.

That might be an oversimplification, but a look at the iPhone XS Max’s specs shows that the underlying tech is essentially the same. You have the same A12 Bionic chipset doing the heavy work, the same rear and front camera set up, and the same build quality and colours.

In fact, the iPhone XS Max seems to be built around the mantra of ‘bigger is better’, and I’m surprised that I agree. Industry experts seem to agree, as it shares the iPhone XS’s 88% Metascore, have a look right here.

Size

The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-ich OLED display with a 2,688 x 1,242 resolution. The improvements may seem minor when reduced to raw numbers, but the experience is much improved.

The iPhone X had a controversial notch at the upper end of the screen, and the iPhone XS Max makes it seem a lot less intrusive thanks to the larger screen real estate. You might be surprised to learn that the iPhone XS Max is even larger diagonally than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which has one of the largest screen-to-body ratios of any smartphone.

The increased screen size means a better video watching experience, and even allows you to utilize landscape mode, a feature included on the larger iPhones.

A complaint I have about the XS Max’s larger screen is that it’s not ideal for people with small hands. Since the screen has minimal bezels, you need to reach all the way to the top to access certain features, such as the notification tray. Apple does have a ‘reachability mode’ that seeks to remedy the problem, but it does make a few actions slightly less intuitive.

Also, not all applications take advantage of the increased screen size. Most apps show the exact same amount of text as the XS, only enlarging it, rather than keeping the same font and increasing the information shown.

Battery Life

The iPhone XS Max comes with a slightly larger battery than the XS, and Apple reports that you’ll get an extra hour of mileage with the XS Max. From testing, we’ve found that you do indeed get 1 hour during heavy use, which means you’ll have even more juice if you’re a moderate user.

While the iPhone XS Max isn’t a 2-day workhorse, there’s a lot of comfort knowing that you have a larger battery as a safety net. I’m impressed that the larger screen didn’t translate to a larger power draw, so good job to Apple on that.

Thoughts

That’s it. There really isn’t much more that separates the Max from the XS. You’re just getting more of the same, and that’s not a bad thing.

I’d say the XS Max is the obvious choice, provided you like the feel. I strongly recommend trying these phones out before making a final decision as size really is the only major difference here.

 

iPhone XS Max Camera

 

Conclusion

Both phones are great choices, and worth the money. The 10% difference in MSRP is not a huge concern, and I’d recommend making your choice based on the following factors:

  • Whether you need a larger battery life
  • Whether you prefer a larger screen

If you answered yes to both above reasons, then the XS Max is for you. The larger screen is easily worth the extra cost, and the user experience is worth the additional premium.

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