How good is the iPhone XS Max? Glad you asked

The new iPhones, or at least two of three new iPhones, went on sale Friday: the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max.

 

The new Apple iPhones are here. The iPhone XS and Apple iPhone XS Maxew iPhones, or at least two of three new iPhones, went on sale Friday: the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max.

On the outside, the XS is a lot like it’s $1,000 predecessor, the iPhone X: a 5.8 inch phone with a pretty screen and a pretty awesome camera.

Only, using a technology called Smart HDR, Apple has made the camera better.

Like way better.

Colors are richer. Photos taken in bright light don’t wash out nearly like before. The camera also allows you to adjust the blur, or bokeh, in portrait mode. Here’s a good example.

Besides the camera, the new phone has stereo speakers that are much louder and clearer the the ones before. The new phones are faster. Apple said the glass used on the front and back of the phone is stronger, too. Drop tests are mixed but seem to indicate that is true. But bottom line, you and your Otterbox will still need to be good friends (and we’d suggest a screen protector, too).

The iPhone XS Max is the biggest differentiator between the 2017 iPhone X. It’s 6.5 inches with an improved FaceTime sensor. At first, the phone felt enormous compared to the iPhone X I’d been carrying for the past 11 months. I had moved from a 7 Plus.

In October, Apple will release the iPhone XR, a $749 model that doesn’t have a dual camera like the flagships or the gorgeous OLED displays. But it’s $250 cheaper than the XS and is 6.1 inches, so it’s bigger. And Apple has become pretty good at making some really good LCD displays.

But if it’s the size you’re after, you want the Max phone. It’s the same physical size as the previous Apple Plus-sized models but eschews the top and bottom borders for an “all-screen” design that you saw in the iPhone X last year.

It took about two days for the Max to feel comfortable versus the much smaller iPhone X, but considerably less time for me to become engrossed with the screen. It’s very skin to the iPad Mini if you’ve used that and with many reports saying the Max has the best looking screen ever in a smartphone, it would be hard to disagree.

Movies are displayed in Dolby Vision and HDR and look incredible. Text seems like it’s sitting on top of the screen. You’ll find yourself, if you’re like me, using this phone a little too much, at least at first, just because the screen looks so good.

But ultimately, this is an S class upgrade, which is mostly about speed and performance. If you have an X, and don’t want the larger screen, I’d say stick with the X for a year, but if you want the best smartphone available today, and if you’re an IOS person, the best smartphone until the next iPhone releases a year from now, get ready to separate yourself from $1,099.