Jun 17, 2020 Reviews
No matter what happens or what sort of phone they release, it’s almost inevitable that the iPhone will have more and more customers, and it will still be considered the most premium and sought-after phone in the market. Apple easily has the most loyal customers out of any smartphone, and that’s mostly due to their simple to operate devices and the whole ecosystem that Apple surrounds the devices with, so that the whole user experience can be enhanced tenfold. The features of iMessage and how it seamlessly syncs across iMacs as well; the operation of Apple’s iWatch and iPad being functional with the iPhone and vice versa - it just doesn’t make sense to switch over to an Android and not get the most out of these devices. That’s why even if Apple comes out with a subpar phone each year, they will still get customers in large numbers. The XS Max is definitely not a bad phone - in fact, it’s quite the opposite. However, the pricing was still a lot more expensive than its competitors; yet, Apple still had a lot of people going for their latest and greatest flagship in 2018. Now that the price has almost halved (600$), is it worth buying in 2020? Let’s find out in our full review of the Apple XS Max a year and a half later.
Apple’s iPhone XS Max comes in the same design as the iPhone X, but is just larger in dimensions and screen. It was one of the first phones to introduce the notch display and was the one who really popularized it amongst the masses. After the introduction of the notch on the iPhones in 2018, a lot of budget and mid-range phones started to follow suit. Moving on, you can see a dual back camera setup, with the back fully made of glass. This does help the phone to look great, but it also means you’ll get a lot of fingerprints and the screen can get cracked quite easily if you drop the phone. Moreover, you don’t get a headphone jack, nor a USB-C port. Instead, unfortunately, Apple’s own lightning cable port is implemented, which we hope the company will get rid of in the future. The phone is certainly large, but if you’re used to holding the previous “Plus” models, then you’ll feel right at home with the Max.
The XS Max comes with a 6.5” OLED display which is one of the best OLED screens you can get on a phone as of right now. It was also the first time Apple decided to opt for a large display in its smartphone lineup, something which the other phone manufacturers were constantly being commended for. The OLED display, which Apple calls Super Retina HD, gets plenty bright even in direct sunlight, and reproduces punchy colors with just the right amount of contrast. The blacks are deep, and overall it’s a joy to experience media or gaming on this device. Obviously you won’t get any 90Hz refresh rate in the display like the flagships of today, but even the iPhone 11 Pro lacks that feature. You do get a brilliant screen though, and it might not be at the level of Samsung’s flagship displays, but it’s right up there with the best of ‘em.
The performance department is one that you just can’t go wrong with an Apple device. You know that Apple will give you blazing fast performance, and a buttery smooth experience throughout your time with the phone. The A12 bionic might be outshined by the A13, but it still is one heck of a chipset, and will surely handle anything you throw at it. Day to day tasks feel like a breeze, and any sort of heavy games you put the XS Max though, it’ll run them without breaking a single sweat. You can play heavy titles like PUBG, CoD, and Fortnite on high settings and expect the phone to play them at almost 60 frames per second. Yes you do get only 4 gigs of RAM, but we all know that Apple’s 4GB of RAM is at the same level if not better than 6 or 8GB on any Android phone - it’s just how well they optimize their hardware and software together to make the most out of the device.
Well, even in 2020, the XS Max will give you one of the best picture qualities out of any phone on the market. The dual-camera setup is going to give you exceptional results, with tons of dynamic range and natural color reproduction. Unlike other manufacturers like Samsung, which tend to over-process their photos, Apple keeps them natural and realistic, and that’s why it has one of the best cameras in the game. It also since its launch has had an amazing portrait mode, with crisp and accurate edge detection. The blur in the background looks extremely natural, which is something you just don’t see on many phones these days. And we don’t even need to talk about the phone’s video capabilities, because we all know Apple devices record the best video out of any phone, period.
The XS Max has a decent battery life - not the best, not the worst. It can give you a good 7-8 hours of screen-on time, and will last you about a day on heavy use like gaming and video streaming, and maybe a day and a half if you just use social apps. That’s just over the average of the usual battery performance from most phones you see these days. However, even today the phone has decent charging capabilities, and you can juice your device up to a respectable 50% in just 30 minutes. Even by today’s standards, that’s well and good.
All in all, the XS Max is a great device all around. The 1100 dollar price point at it’s release may not have been a good deal for the base model, but today when it’s going for just about 600 bucks, it makes a decent case for itself. If you want a better display and slightly faster performance, then you can go for the OnePlus 7T which comes at about the same price segment currently. But iPhone does boast a superior camera, and if that’s what you’re into, then go for it!