I received my brand new iPhone XS Max in Space Gray this past Friday and have been in love with it. The big thing for me is the stunning new 6.5-inch screen size offered with the Max model. 

After having played with and tested the iPhone XS Max for a few days, here’s what I think. Check out our review and unboxing video below along with a complete write-up. 

iPhone XS Max review & unboxing video

Size + Weight

The XS Max is pretty much exactly the same size as the 8 Plus (it’s 0.04-inches taller)—the difference is that the XS Max is all screen—6.5-inches of it as a matter of fact.

It’s obviously bigger than the X, but for me, it’s not unwieldy. And it certainly doesn’t feel much heavier than the X in practical use.

Speed + Face ID

The iPhone XS and XS Max are incredibly fast. Geekbench is clocking them with a Compute Metal Score in the 22,000-range (where the iPhone X was in the 15,000-range).

But even aside from benchmarks, the XS Max, to me, feels super fast. It’s really snappy and even Face ID seems faster.

I don’t really game much, but I’m excited to try out games that take advantage of ARKit 2 and Metal 2.

Screen

Both phones offer the same pixel density of 458 ppi. But while the iPhone XS’ 5.8-inch OLED Super Retina display is 2436×1125 pixels, the iPhone XS Max display is a stunning 6.5-inch OLED affords more pixels (2688×1242) for more screen real estate.

Some apps, like Mail and Safari, even take advantage of the Max’s extra real-estate by offering dual column layouts. I’d expect to see more apps offer this kind functionality for Max owners in the near future.

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I personally really love the bigger screen. When I went from the 7 Plus to the iPhone X it felt like a great upgrade, but the XS Max is even better.

Camera

Smart HDR uses sensor, ISP, and neural engine enhancements to capture some of the best high-dynamic range photos I’ve ever seen. The difference between what was possible on the original iPhone X and the XS and XS Max is stunning.

The new iPhone XS and XS Max are much better at managing exposure, which is really noticeable in extremely backlit photos (like if the Sun is behind you).

The iPhone XS and XS Max also do a really good job at finding color and detail in dark spaces without blowing out the brighter areas—a definite improvement over the iPhone X.

Battery

Apple claims the battery in the iPhone XS will give you an additional 30 minutes of battery life compared to the iPhone X. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS Max is supposed to be able to give you an additional hour and a half (90 minutes) of battery life when compared to the iPhone X.

In my experience, the iPhone XS Max has definitely had a good enough battery to get me through the day, even with the brightness high and running all kinds of apps. I’ve been seeing 10 hours or so of battery life. 

Final thoughts

If you’re in the market for a new phone, the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max is hard to beat. While pricey if bought outright, if you get them on a plan such as AT&T Next it makes the price a bit more manageable with monthly installments that are added to your bill. 

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In terms of whether or not you should get the iPhone XS or the iPhone XS Max, check out my article where I discuss how to decide which iPhone to get.


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