 Apple iPhone XS Max Review

The iPhone XS and XS Max came out last Friday (21st September) and I upgraded my handset in Cardiff. I am on the iPhone Upgrade Program so pay a monthly fee to Barclays Partner Finance and basically lease the iPhone until a new one is released. I do this because I don’t have to worry about selling the device after a year or two of use (which I used to do) and it is covered by AppleCare+ the entire time.


In this blog post I am covering my first thoughts and favourite features of the new iPhone XS Max. I’ve had the phone now just over a week and collected it last Friday in the Cardiff Apple Store. I have the iPhone XS Max in Space Grey with 64GB capacity. I’ll also be referencing iOS 12 in this blog post which I spoke about previously.

Unboxing & Set-Up

I unboxed the iPhone XS Max in-store and activated it there and then. I am always conscious of doing this just so that Find My iPhone and my iCloud details are on the phone in case it gets stolen when I leave the shop. This renders the phone useless to anyone else as I also have two step authentication switched on for my Apple ID. I love this feature of Apple devices and it makes me feel a lot happier using the iPhone. The set-up process was fairly quick and I restored from an iCloud backup. One thing I did slip up on was my Apple ID password… I use iCloud Keychain for all of my passwords (including my Apple/iCloud one) and the old device was erased to hand back before I could open and set up the new iPhone XS Max. This meant I had to reset my Apple ID password and thankfully was able to do this without another device present (as I was heading to Berkshire for the weekend as well straight from Cardiff)! The hardest part of an iCloud Backup restore is the banking apps for me which require authentication again. I actually went to Starbucks shortly after logging in to the new iPhone as they had faster wifi there because so many people were in the Apple Store. I think the whole process took me about an hour to complete including regaining access to the more secure apps!

6.5″ OLED Display

The screen was the feature I was looking forward to most about the iPhone XS Max. Before I upgraded to the iPhone X in November 2017 I had the iPhone 7 Plus. This is a similar device size as the iPhone XS Max but with the edge-to-edge design it is significantly larger in comparison (to 5.5″ on iPhone 7 Plus). I love the OLED displays and the True Tone feature as well which takes into account ambient lighting conditions. I actually chose to get the larger device for a couple of main reasons being the screen size and battery life. This is because I do a lot of work on my iPhone (it’s primarily what I use it for if I’m honest) and the larger screen will make this a lot easier with having more content visible at any one time!

Battery Life

This is the second most important feature about the iPhone XS Max that swayed me in the decision to choose the larger device. It was mentioned in the Apple Special Event that the iPhone XS Max has ninety minutes longer battery life in comparison to the iPhone X from last year. This is a great thing for me as I typically can last a full day on one charge (then use a wireless charging base to replenish the battery overnight). I do sometimes have to recharge mid-evening though when I use the iPhone excessively so the extended battery life will help with this. This is the largest battery Apple have ever included in an iPhone device to date. I have been very impressed this week so far and look forward to using it more for a variety of tasks and really putting it to the test!

Camera Quality

The cameras have been improved again for the new iPhone release and I am really impressed with this! They provide more clarity, higher resolution, better low light photography and enhanced depth-of-field features within portrait mode. I love that you can adjust the background of portrait mode photos after you have taken them with the depth of field (making it look more blurred / focused behind the subject). The cameras combined with stereo microphones can record crystal clear, great sounding video at 4K as well!

iPhone Speed

The iPhone XS Max has amazingly fast processors within it which enables things like Animoji within FaceTime, augmented reality apps, faster rendering within games and smarter features within the photos app. The first thing that I noticed with this new chip was the speed of FaceID. From what I can tell it takes roughly half the time of the iPhone X to unlock your device… I already thought FaceID was a massive success last year (after being pretty skeptical about it) but Apple have improved on this only nine months after the original introduction of FaceID! The phone is SO fast to unlock and wake when you lift the device. Things like Apple Pay and authenticated app log-in will also be sped up with this.

Augmented Reality

I spoke about this briefly above in the section about the speed of the new iPhone XS Max however I have downloaded and used a couple of different apps this week to test this out. I have used the built-in Measure app which comes with the iOS 12 update. I used this a bit and also tried out the ‘spirit-level’ feature but to be honest I think it’s a bit of a gimmick. I have since deleted this app as I don’t think I will use it. Secondly I downloaded Leo Augmented Reality Camera from the App Store and put a dinosaur and elephant in my kitchen which was quite cool. I think it’s an excellent feature and will be great for interior design, shopping and gaming amongst others. I don’t typically play any games on my phone so I don’t think I’ll use AR a huge amount (until it’s introduced more within shopping websites and apps).

IP68 Water Resistance

This is a feature I hope I won’t use or need for my iPhone XS Max but it’s good to know that the device is now IP68 water resistant. This means that Phone XS and iPhone XS Max are splash, water, and dust resistant and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions. They have a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes). I used my iPhone X in pretty heavy rain throughout the past year and I actually dropped my iPhone 7 Plus in the sink/bath a couple of times! It makes me a little less worried about the devices when Apple are continually working to increase water and dust resistance!

Device Size & Finish

One of the things I was a little concerned about before getting the iPhone XS Max is that I had gotten used to the iPhone X (which was smaller in size than the iPhone 7 Plus). I also don’t use a phone case with my devices anymore and was worried that getting used to a larger device again would be difficult. I’ve actually adapted really well and love the larger iPhone size. The screen alone is totally worth it but it also has a longer battery life to go along with this and other features! Many people I speak to are surprised I don’t use a case but I just love the way the iPhone looks and don’t like how some cases make it clunky and bigger overall.

I hope you liked this quick review of the iPhone XS Max from a week of using the device. Have you upgraded or are you holding off for the iPhone XR or another future release? Let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading, have a great day.

2 thoughts on “ Apple iPhone XS Max Review

  1. Excellent summarization of some of the key benefits of the XS Max, Glen! I’ve had mine since launch day. What I’m most excited about is the screen size. The keyboard is a bit larger which helps me greatly with my typing accuracy.

    Also, I’m loving the faster speed. I’ve just downloaded Civilization VI from one of my favorite strategy game series of all time, and I’m looking forward to using the power of the A12 processor to play this game. The processor is one of the first 7 nanometer parts on the market, containing a 6 core CPU and a 4 core GPU. That’s a lot of power.

    As a matter of fact, I imagine that your phone has more powerful processing than your laptop at this point. That’s insane, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂

      I found that the keyboard size has caused me to type badly to begin with (as I adjust to it and the new screen size).

      Yeah the phone is so powerful! I probably don’t use it to full potential as I mainly use it for work (Pages, Mail, Phone, Messages, Safari etc.)

      My laptop is an Early 2011 MacBook Pro with 8GB Quad-Core i7 Processor and I have a 1TB hybrid optical/SSD hard drive. I don’t even know how to iPhone XS Max processor compares to that?


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