iPhone XS (Max)

I usually write my review of the new iPhones about a week after I get one of the new devices, but this time around, I just kept using and trying out the different features of the iPhone. Now, I want to give you my thoughts on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

When it comes right down to it, the XS and Max are exactly the same iPhone, except for the size. All of the internals, cameras, and design provide you with the same experience. The only real difference is the display size, but that’s a big difference.

For me, there is a clear winner in the size comparisons to these iPhones—it’s the XS Max. The Max is the perfect iPhone for me—the bigger screen allows me to see everything I need, and I a lot of the time I don’t even need to put on my reading glasses to see everything.

My favorite iPhone before this was the “Plus” versions because of the bigger size, but the Max takes that to a whole new level. The case size of the Plus and Max are basically the same, but the Max is all screen, whereas the Plus had that prominent chin and forehead.

Some people don’t like the “compromise” of not having one-handed control using the iPhone Max and prefer the XS model. That’s fair, I guess, but when I look at how I use the iPhone, I don’t tend to use one hand for anything but scrolling. Ultimately, the amount of time I use one hand doesn’t make up for the extra screen size I get with the Max.

When I type on the iPhone, I use two hands regardless of the model I’m using. I scroll using my thumb on the same hand I’m holding the iPhone with, and other tasks like pinch and zoom require both hands. Size wins out for me.

The camera on both XS models is magnificent. If you’ve listened to my podcasts, you know I’m not a great photographer, so I need all the help I can get.

Part of the reason I didn’t post this sooner is that I was waiting for a live concert to take some pictures. I was scheduled to see Ozzy Osbourne last weekend, but he canceled, so I don’t have any low light shots to show, but I do have some experience in a different lighting situation.

I went to a San Jose Sharks game on the opening night with some friends. If you’ve been to a hockey game, you know it’s terrible for lighting—actually, there is too much light on a white ice surface, which just destroys your pictures.

We all took turns with the XS Max camera and the iPhone X camera—the difference was stunning. Using the iPhone X, the picture of my friends turned out okay, but the background was really bright white, and you couldn’t make out the people in the crowd on the other side of the rink. They were just blotted out by the white lights, and I assume reflections from the ice.

The Max was able to minimize the effects of the white ice and lighting, so you could easily make out people on the other side of the rink, and even signs they were holding. Even in this unnatural environment, the picture seemed more natural. (I don’t have these pics to show either—another long story.)

The bottom line with the camera is that the Smart HDR Apple developed for the iPhone cameras really works. Even the most average of photographers will benefit from this camera.

Of course, there are a lot of other advanced features with the new cameras like bokeh (background blur), depth control, and Quad-LED True Tone flash. All of these features are designed to bring you the best pictures possible, and they do.

As someone who listens to music on my iPhone a lot, I was impressed with the new stereo speakers. The speakers are loud, clear, and they provide you with a broader stereo sound than any previous generation. I even found myself turning the volume down a bit on the Max.

As an aside, a friend asked why I listen to music on my iPhone so much. The only reason I can think of is so that when I’m listening to a great playlist or station, and I go for a walk or a drive, I can just continue listening. I don’t actually know why I listen to music so much on my iPhone, but I do.

I would like to touch on one thing—iPhone XR. I’ve heard people say that the iPhone XR will hurt sales of the XS and Max. I don’t believe that to be true. I think the majority of people that were going to buy the XS models are still going to buy those models. There are a few that will want to be a little different and get an XR for the color option, and that’s fine.

The iPhone XR is going to bring in a whole new group of people that want a large screen iPhone but don’t want to pay the additional cost of the XS. The XR is a fantastic iPhone in its own right, but I don’t think sales of one model is going to hurt the others.

There’s a lot to like about this year’s three iPhone models. There are a ton of upgraded features, from the processor to the camera, and the display. There is nothing I’ve seen in my time of using these devices that would make me hold back on recommending either of the two new iPhones.