iPhone XS Max review: Apple’s supersized smartphone

Its massive screen is beautiful, but has it lost some of the charms that made the iPhone X so good?

Apple’s top of the line smartphone has been supersized in both screen size and price, but is the iPhone XS Max really worth the eye-watering £1,099-plus asking price?

Last year’s iPhone X was a massive leap forward in design for Apple after years of resting on its laurels. This year the iPhone XS Max is essential that winning design stuck in a photocopier on 112%, which doesn’t sound a lot but makes quite a difference.

The iPhone XS Max is all about its massive, beautiful screen, which is easily better than any other, apart from Samsung’s top-of-the-line displays. At 6.5in diagonally the screen is essentially the same size as that on Samsung’s monster-phone the Galaxy Note 9, which has a 6.4in display but with a different width to length ratio. Both are high-end phones with around 103cm2 of screen area and a screen-to-body ratio of around 84% and as such dwarf the competition.

iphone xs max review
iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Apple’s biggest achievement is that the colossal screen has been squeezed into a body that isn’t that enormous. The iPhone XS Max is certainly a big phone, but at 7.7mm thick it’s thinner than all of the current top-end phones, including the 8.8mm thick Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

At 157.5mm long the iPhone XS Max is also shorter than even phones with much smaller screens such as the 6in Google Pixel 2 XL (157.9mm long), the 6.2in Samsung Galaxy S9+ (158.1mm long) and is a full 4.4mm shorter than the Note 9.

The thing is the iPhone XS Max is actually one of the more difficult super-sized phones to handle. That’s partly because it’s marginally wider than the competition at 77.4mm wide, which is 1mm wider than the Note 9 and a full 3.6mm wider than the S9+. But the biggest difference between the iPhone and the rest is Apple’s use of rounded sides.

Yes, they look and feel luxurious in stainless steel, but they’re difficult to get a solid grip on with your fingers. Others taper to an edge of some sort along the sides, which gives your fingers purchase.

Unless you have abnormally large hands, the iPhone XS Max is therefore almost exclusively a two-handed phone, even with Apple’s reachability, which brings the top of the screen down to the middle – try and use it with one hand at your peril, as this metal and glass sandwich will smash if you drop it.

Specifications

  • Screen: 6.5in Super Retina HD (OLED) (458ppi)
  • Processor: Apple A12 Bionic
  • RAM: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 64, 256 or 512GB
  • Operating system: iOS 12
  • Camera: Dual 12MP rear cameras with OIS, 7MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fiac, NFC, Bluetooth 5, Lightning and GPS
  • Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm
  • Weight: 208g

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