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24 hours with the iPhone Xs Max - first impressions



6 minute read

The iPhone Xs Max was announced just over a week ago and I’ve had the opportunity to experience it, hands-on. It’s got a ginormous display, the fastest processor yet and it’s in the all-new Gold. After less than 24 hours with it, check out what my first impressions of it are.

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max were announced on Wednesday 12th September and pre-orders began on Friday the 14that 8.01am. A whole week later and the iPhone was officially released. I got my hands on the Xs Max in Gold for review and I was eager to get it unboxed; it’s always the most exciting part.

Design & Display

Seriously, wow. The iPhone Xs Max is simply stunning, thanks to its 6.5” Super Retina OLED display; the largest screen size on an iPhone to date. Call it ginormous if you like but Apple did an exceptional job with its screen-to-body ratio. Even though the display is bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5”), it’s actually the same physical size. You just get a much bigger screen at a much higher resolution: 2688 x 1242 at 458 pixels per inch (ppi). I love it.

As for the design, Apple didn’t really change much. The buttons are all the same and in the same position and there’s no USB-C port, which was reported in some rumours. So, I guess we’re sticking to the lightning connector until next year, when they will hopefully switch to USB-C.

iPhone Xs Max - Gold

Essentially, the Xs Max looks identical to the iPhone X, with the display size being the obvious difference and not to forget the all-new Gold colour. I’m not usually a fan of Gold at all but on the Xs it looks beautiful, which I think is down to the glass back making it look subtle. If you look at the stainless-steel sides, the Gold is much more obvious but it looks really good and I won’t be surprised if this is the most popular colour this year.


The Xs Max rocks 12MP wide-angle (f/1.8 aperture) and telephoto (f/2.4) cameras. While the specs seem the same as last year’s iPhone X, the camera on the Xs Max has been improved. The quality is very good but the best feature of it has to be the enhanced Portrait Mode. It has advanced bokeh and Depth Control, which means after you take a photo you can go into Edit mode and adjust the depth of field.

This essentially lets you control the amount of blur in the background of your image. I tried it quite a few times and it’s amazing what a difference bokeh makes. I love that it can be adjusted after the photo is taken too. Nice one Apple.

iPhone Xs Max - Camera

Check out the detailed video review:

Tech Specs

     iPhone Xs Max specifications                                         

6.5” Super Retina OLED display
2688 x 1242 pixels at 458 ppi

A12 Bionic chip
Next-generation Neural Engine


Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X
Lithium-ion 3,174mAh battery
Supports wireless charging (Qi standard)
Supports fast-charging (up to 50% in 30 minutes)
Up to 15 hours of video playback (wireless)
Up to 65 hours of audio playback (wireless)
Up to 12 hours of internet use


Rear Camera:
12MP wide-angle (f/1.8 aperture) and telephoto (f/2.4) cameras 2x Optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
Portrait Lighting
Dual OSI (optical image stabilisation)
Quad-LED True Trone flash with slow sync
Auto HDR
Live Photos with stabilisation
4K Video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps Front

7MP TrueDepth camera (f/2.2 aperture) Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
Portrait Lighting
Animoji and Memoji
1080P HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
Water and dust resistance IP68 (can withstand up to 2 metres of water for 30 minutes)

Face ID (utilises TrueDepth camera).

iOS 12


Immediately, I felt the responsiveness of the Xs Max. Everything ran very smoothly and quick; it was all very instant. However, I can say the same for the iPhone X. Of course, the Xs Max runs the all-new A12 Bionic Chip so it is generally faster and better but from general use you can’t really tell unless a comparison was done of the two side-by-side. Regardless, the performance is exceptional and the hardware as well as iOS 12 contributes to that.


Given its much larger display, it makes sense to have a bigger battery (3,174mAh). Apple claim the Xs Max lasts 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X, which is a reasonable improvement but this could always be better. I wasn’t able to fully put this to the test as it’s been less than 24 hours since I’ve had the phone in person. What I can say is that I did notice the battery wasn’t draining at the same pace as my iPhone X usually does. It was slower, which is very good; longer battery life is always appreciated.

iPhone Xs Max VS iPhone X

Price and availability

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are available to buy in Silver, Space Grey or the all-new Gold and you can get them in 64GB, 256GB or 512GB memory variants. The latter is probably a little too much for a smartphone and I doubt many people would ever utilise most of that space but at least it’s an option, quite a pricey one may I add.

iPhone Xs

64GB - £999
256GB - £1,149
512GB - £1,349

iPhone Xs Max

64GB - £1,099
256GB - £1,249
512GB - £1,449

If you’d like to pick one up then check out the following links where you can purchase one directly from giffgaff.

iPhone Xs | iPhone Xs Max

First Impressions

After less than 24 hours with the iPhone Xs Max, I can honestly say that it runs exceptionally smooth, performance is impressive and that 6.5” display is simply amazing. The large screen has got to be its biggest selling point.

It doesn’t really have a great deal going for it though, when compared to last year’s iPhone X because it is essentially the same device, with no major new features and equipped with enhanced hardware. That’s probably not significant enough to make the jump to it. Saying that, it really does depend on what your current smartphone is. If you’ve got the X then it may be worth waiting until next year to upgrade but it would make an exceptional upgrade for those with an iPhone 8 or older. For Android users wanting to make the switch to iOS, I think you’ll love it.

I personally will not be making the switch as I don’t think the iPhone Xs Max is significantly better than the X. No doubt it’s better, I mean the 6.5” OLED display alone makes it much better but in terms of general features it’s not different enough to make it worth spending the extra money. Still, I’d totally recommend it to non-iPhone X users and hope the next iPhone will be revolutionary.

Written by shadylady

Sadia produces tech reviews, tech tips & tutorial videos at XALIRATE.