After the revolutionary redesign of the iPhone X in 2017, many fans of the plus-size iPhones were disappointed due to the lack of a larger size option. The iPhone XS Max in the following year was the answer to all of these fans in what is definitely the most powerful, highest quality, and most expensive iPhone ever. It’s 2020 and the XS Max will be 2 years old in September. Has it held up well and should you buy one now? Read on to find out!
My favorite on the iPhone XS Max and all other premium iPhones from the last 2 years is the strong, sturdy stainless steel frame. I’ve had my iPhone XS Max since it launched in October 2018 and I’ve inevitably dropped it many times, with or without a case, but the stainless steel frame held up superbly and far exceeded my expectations. Not to mention dents, there aren’t even many microscratches. It’s also very heavy, which gives the device a feeling of dense luxury. What I did not succeed so well in my use, however, is the front and rear glass. Over time, no matter how much you like it, they will accumulate a lot of scratches. So if you’re looking to buy one or already have one, don’t repeat my mistake and have a screen protector put on.
Display and FaceID
The display of the iPhone XS Max is beautiful. Apple’s color science is my favorite, and the display is as good as it gets for multimedia, reading books, surfing the web, and gaming. Compared to Samsung’s highly saturated panels, the iPhones have a slightly toned-down natural feel that I really like.
Unfortunately, like the newer iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone XS Max has a 60 Hz display, which is a shame compared to similar and even cheaper Android competitors. It doesn’t feel too bad due to the smooth running of the software and the high touch sampling rate, but it would have been a very welcome addition nonetheless.
There’s a big, bad notch at the top that houses all of the sensor setup for FaceID. Again, the huge notch compared to Android smartphones is a Stone Age artifact, but if you’re in the market for an iPhone, no matter which iPhone you choose, you’ll have to live with the notch. Maybe the iPhone SE, but switching from the iPhone XS Max to an iPhone SE wouldn’t be considered wise.
Back to FaceID, I was hesitant about the iPhone X initially. I wasn’t skeptical about the performance, I just loved TouchID too much. I’ve got used to FaceID over the years and personally I don’t mind or miss it now that the fingerprint is unlocked. FaceID is very secure, and the work is as seamless as picking up the phone and simply swiping up without worrying about the lock screen. It also works flawlessly in the dark, which is a huge advantage over other face unlock solutions.
Software and performance
In terms of software and performance, the iPhone XS Max recently received the iOS 13 software update and has been flying since then. I remember the days of the iPhone 6-6S when people were skeptical of software updates because they feared it would slow down the phone and affect its battery life. Well, that has changed and the iPhone XS Max is flying on iOS 13. Gaming is fluid and error-free, intensive apps run without breaking a sweat, and all elements of the user interface work in harmony with one another to offer an excellent, very well-put together result Experience. Many popular games like PUBG and Fortnite run shockingly better on the iPhone XS Max compared to even 2020 flagship Android phones. Well, there are a couple of annoyances with iOS like the lack of any customization, notification system, etc, but they are mostly subjective and we won’t go into them any further.
Another thing I want to mention here is software updates. The iPhone XS Max was launched in 2018 with iOS 12. It received its first major upgrade, iOS 13, last year in 2019. With every iPhone receiving software updates for about 5 years, we can assume that the iPhone XS Max will hit the market through iOS 16 and receive updates through 2023 . This is insane because the same cannot be said about the S20 Ultra, which is Samsung’s flagship product for $ 1400 in 2020.
Expected software cycle for iPhone XS Max (based on logs from previous iPhones):
- Started 2018 (iOS 12)
- September 2019 (iOS 13)
- September 2020 (iOS 14)
- September 2021 (iOS 15)
- September 2022 (iOS 16)
- Loses support from September 2023.
Let’s get to the camera: in terms of specs, the XS Max has a wide angle and a telephoto lens, and both of them deliver 12MP still images.
In addition, both lenses are optically stabilized.
photos : Overall, the images are well exposed and sharp. The real-time HDR processing function is amazing.
- The sensors deliver an excellent dynamic range and handle lights and shadows very well even in demanding environments.
- The color rendering is pretty good too, and the saturation values are very good close to real colors especially outdoors.
- Indoor performance is good as long as the area is well lit. Otherwise, the images will be noisy and grainy, especially when shooting with the telephoto lens.
- The low-light performance is fine by 2020 standards as there is no dedicated night mode. The images are noisy and the saturation is missing.
- The front camera works very well for selfies and video calls.
Videos : The iPhone is still at the forefront when it comes to recording videos with the smartphone.
- the [email protected] Modus delivers exceptional video quality. The footage is well exposed with balanced colors. There is also no focus hunting.
- the [email protected] takes it one step higher with better dynamic range and reduced rolling shutter effect.
- The low-light shots are quite usable, but get too loud / grainy in poorly lit areas.
- The slow motion camera is fun, but only with outdoor lighting.
- Indoor video quality can get noisy, but it still looks better than some of the 2020 flagships.
In short, the camera is good in terms of hardware, but overall performance can be improved by correcting low light performance and noise processing, especially for content shot with the telephoto lens.
Check out our 2020 review of the iPhone XS Max (camera samples included):
With both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses optically stabilized, a dedicated night mode update may be possible in the future, but that probably never will, given Apple’s track record.
Best camera accessories for iPhone
Another thing I want to talk about specifically is this phone’s stereo speaker setup. It’s actually pretty good for watching movies and listening to music and gets pretty loud. Call quality and reception are also excellent. During our test calls, the listener produced a crisp, clear voice and the other party could also hear us clearly.
One big caveat I have with the iPhone XS Max is the lack of a quick charger in the box. It’s just unacceptable and quite greedy for Apple to incorporate a tiny 5W brick into such an expensive phone, especially when phones that are worth a fraction of the price come with fast chargers in the Android warehouse. There’s also no flash on 3.5mm dongle, which again is pretty greedy.
Be sure to read our roundup of the best fast chargers for iPhone XS Max .
Before we finish, let’s talk a little more about battery life. While it was superb in the beginning as expected, I was really impressed that after 15 months of use and a major software update, it stayed just as good. I was expecting the battery to only drop for a day after all this time, but that didn’t happen and can still last a good day and a half.
Well, to conclude, will the iPhone XS Max hold up well in 2020? Yes, a very simple yes. But should you buy one now? I’m not sure about this. Let’s take one example, the iPhone XS Max still costs 70,000 rupees in India, which is about $ 920. That’s still very expensive, and it almost makes you rethink, considering that this is the price for a phone to hit the market in 2018.
If you’re open to switching to Android, there are plenty of cheaper and arguably better options in the price range. If you need to stick with iOS, you can Get an iPhone 11 for cheaper, which in itself is a very good phone.
However, if you can find one cheaper or if you don’t mind the budget or anything like that, the iPhone XS Max is a solid, solid device that will easily last for many years to come. It’s a pleasure to use in 2020 and a phone I’ll be happy to use for the next 3 years.
Check out the latest prices for the iPhone XS Max: