Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max review round up: Bigger and better?
Apple last week introduced three new smartphones, iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. As expected, the new iPhones come with Apple's latest processor and software. Apple's new phones also feature a larger screen with a more premium look and feel. All three iPhones also look identical to last year's premium iPhone X.
Almost a week after the official announcement, first round of Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reviews are out. The new phones have met mostly positive reviews but there are a few riders. Let's take a look at who said what on the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
As mentioned earlier, Apple introduced new screen sizes for its iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Apple iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch Super Retina Display whereas iPhone XS Max has a larger 6.5-inch Super Retina Display. Other subtle changes include OLED screen on the front and glass panel on the back.
Nilay Patel of TheVerge says that the newer full-screen design makes more sense and is "absolutely killer" for streaming videos or playing games. He also points that Apple doesn't offer much when it comes to optimising software for fuller and bigger screens.
"The XS Max also doesn't really do a ton in software to take advantage of that big display: no extra row of home screen icons, or picture in picture for video. Some apps that haven't been updated look a little broken right now, particularly Instagram. Everything else is mostly just bigger; apps like Slack and Gmail and Twitter show you the exact same amount of information as the smaller XS. If you think big things are funny (they are) check out the size of the status bar when you pull control center down. AT&T WIFI, it bellows at you: THE TIME IS 4:12PM AND YOU HAVE 68 PERCENT BATTERY. I giggle every time, just as I did with the original Plus phones," he wrote.
Brian X Chen on NYTimes also pointed out a similar problem in his review.
"One flaw frustrated me in both iPhones: the poor design of Reachability, the software feature that was designed to make larger phone screens easier to use with one hand. On past iPhones, Reachability let people tap the home button twice to lower the top of the screen and reach for the buttons up there. Now there is no home button, so the new way to trigger Reachability is to swipe down from the bottom of the screen," he wrote.
"That's problematic because when you swipe from the bottom, it's easy to unintentionally hit a button on the bottom of an app, like the search tab inside Instagram or the video tab inside Facebook. There is a clear opportunity here for Apple to use the iPhone's pressure sensitivity, called 3D Touch, to let you press hard on the bottom of the screen to trigger Reachability. But for now, we are stuck with swiping down."
Apple made tall claims about the new camera capabilities of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The two phones have similar dual-camera setup on the back. The setup consists of dual 12- megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras. And then there are new software features like newer portrait modes, filters and adjustable background blur mode. So, does the iPhone XS and XS Max camera really impress?
TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino shares his experience on the new camera features.
"My testing of portrait mode on the iPhone XS says that it is massively improved, but that there are still some very evident quirks that will lead to weirdness in some shots like wrong things made blurry and halos of light appearing around subjects. It's also not quite aggressive enough on foreground objects — those should blur too but only sometimes do. But the quirks are overshadowed by the super cool addition of the adjustable background blur. If conditions are right it blows you away. But every once in a while you still get this sense like the Neural Engine just threw up its hands and shrugged," he wrote.
"If you compare camera specs for the 2017 iPhone X and the new iPhone XS, you'd think almost nothing's changed: Same dual cameras, same aperture settings, same megapixel ratings, same 2x optical zoom. But Apple's done plenty of work under the hood. The XS has a totally new image sensor that really does improve the quality of photos," Scott Stein wrote on CNET.
The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote, "Apple used to talk a big game about having a more accurate camera than Samsung, which has done aggressive smoothing and saturation tricks for years, but images from the iPhone XS camera look more like Samsung's cameras than ever. And that might be fine for most people: most of these photos will only ever be viewed on mobile displays, and XS photos look fine-to-great on smartphone screens. But I don't think they hold up to scrutiny the way Pixel 2 photos do."
"Loss of detail is one thing, but there are some subjective things I prefer about the Pixel 2 as well: the XS shoots extremely warm photos, while the Pixel is more true to life, if a little muddier in the reds. Pixel 2 photos are extremely contrasty and somewhat desaturated, which I like, but some people find harsh. This is all part of an age-old battle between what's accurate and what people like to look at, and there's really no right answer," he added.
Performance, battery life
Both iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are powered by Apple's advanced A12 Bionic processor with dedicated neural engine. Apple said it has improved battery life on its new phones as well. Apple iPhone XS is said to last up to 30 minutes longer than iPhone X whereas iPhone XS is claimed last up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone X. Most of the reviews are in Apple's favour when it comes performance and battery life.
"The A12 is also the industry's first 7nm chip to ship at scale, which is a big deal for a variety of reasons, particularly battery life. I mostly tested the XS Max, and it did great — better than even Apple's claim of 90 minutes more than the X. In fact, I got a full 12 hours of battery life out of the XS Max without low power mode, and that's even under my heavy daily use of constant Slack and email usage, video watching, photo taking, and browsing. The smaller XS is rated to get 30 minutes more than the X, which has run for about 8 hours for me this past year. It's solid," wrote Nilay Patel.
"That said, battery life has been hard to judge. In my rundown tests, the iPhone XS Max clearly went beast mode, outlasting my iPhone X and iPhone XS. Between those two, though, it was tougher to tell. I try to wait until the end of the period I have to test the phones to do battery stuff so that background indexing doesn't affect the numbers. In my 'real world' testing in the 90+ degree heat around here, iPhone XS did best my iPhone X by a few percentage points, which is what Apple does claim, but my X is also a year old. The battery didn't fail during even intense days of testing with the XS," wrote Matthew Panzarino on TechCrunch.
"The XS lasts, according to Apple, 30 minutes more than the X. So far, in everyday use, it feels the same. The larger XS Max lasts an hour and a half longer, at least on paper, but it's worth noting that I had to charge even the Max midway through the day so I wouldn't risk running low on battery on my commute home. That's no different from my iPhone X battery experience. More gentle users may do fine with the XS battery, but I'd sacrifice a millimeter of thickness for longer battery life. (Interestingly, the thicker iPhone XR lasts longer than both XS phones, according to Apple's own specs.)," added CNET's Scott Stein.