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iPhone Xs Max: What Apple got so right and so wrong



6 minute read

Apple supersized the iPhone this year. It definitely ticks some boxes but it’s also missing some features you’d expect in a premium smartphone in 2018. Read on to find out what the iPhone Xs is missing.

Last month, I wrote a review on the iPhone Xs Max and it got me thinking about some things that I would like to have seen. We can’t exactly expect Apple to have included every single new feature possible, so it’s only fair to appreciate what Apple got right. So, let’s get into that first.

iPhone Xs Max: Apple nailed 5 things

1) 6.5” OLED display

Making the jump from a 5.8” display to a 6.5” display is probably the best thing Apple have done to the iPhone so far. I’m a big fan of large screens but what I love most about it is that it’s a Super Retina OLED display, offering a high resolution of 2688 x 1242. Size is one thing, resolution is another, but the two put together is perfect. OLED displays are stunning so I’m totally in favour.

What makes it even more impressive is the bezels are very thin so it’s almost all-screen. Not only does this look much better than thick bezels framed around it but you get more screen real estate. That is always a big win and Apple certainly did well with the screen-to-body ratio.

iPhone Xs Max - Display

2) Portrait mode with Advanced Bokeh and Depth Control

We were introduced to Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus and it was impressive. A few years later and we could see that Apple really got to work when they introduced the all new Portrait Mode with Advanced Bokeh and Depth Control. This lets you edit a photo after it has been taken and adjust its depth of field to add some bokeh to it. This is done by adjusting the aperture, which ranges from f/1.4 to f/16. The lower the aperture, the more amount of blur you’ll get.

For anyone not familiar with the term ‘bokeh’, it refers to the blur that’s produced to parts of an image that are out-of-focus. Essentially, the background blur.

iPhone Xs Max - Camera

3) IP68 Water resistance rating

No-one intentionally puts their iPhone under water but sometimes accidents can happen, which is why smartphones these days are dust and water-resistant.

The iPhone X has an IP67 water resistance rating, which means it can be submerged at a depth of up to 1 metre for up to 30 minutes. That’s not bad really because realistically, you’re going to want to go get your phone out asap. But who’s going to complain when the water resistant rating is even better?

The iPhone Xs Max has an IP68 rating, which means it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to 2 metres, which is double the depth that the iPhone X can endure. This is a positive move from Apple, especially since the IP68 rating has pretty much been the norm for most premium smartphones in the last couple of years.

4) iOS 12

iOS has always been the best operating system, in my opinion. It’s fast, it’s responsive and very user friendly. I enjoy the user experience of iOS a lot; it’s the reason why I can’t switch to a non-iPhone as my primary phone, I just can’t do it. There are definitely better premium smartphones out there but iOS is too good and iOS 12 tops that off.

Apple enhanced it to make it even more faster but it also comes packed with a bunch of great features including grouped notifications, Screen Time, Siri Shortcuts and an AR based Measure app.

iPhone Xs Max - Screen Time on iOS 12

5) Battery

With a much larger display and an even faster processor, you’d expect more power consumption. This is where Apple did well and made the Xs Max more power efficient and even gave it a bigger battery, which is quite impressive.

It lasts 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X, which may not seem like a big deal and it could have been better but it still beats the iPhone X. Apple are definitely moving in the right direction. Hopefully the next iPhone will have an even bigger battery and last at least 2 - 3 days; that’d be really ideal.

iPhone Xs Max: Missing Features

The Xs Max is a fantastic phone with a stunning display. Apple did a good job with it overall, considering it was never going to be a huge jump from the iPhone X. Despite that, it doesn’t quite have enough features to really make it stand out from the X. Sure, it’s got the 6.5” OLED display, which is no doubt the biggest and most noticeable difference but there are some things missing that would have been nice to have.


For smartphones with large displays, a multitasking feature is essential. It lets you run two apps on-screen at the same time, so you could watch a YouTube video whilst having a conversation on WhatsApp or writing notes. How great would that be?

Unfortunately, the Xs Max does not have this feature as it hasn’t been included in iOS 12. Clearly, the OS is not making use of the real screen estate of the Xs Max, which is a shame but I guess I’m hopeful that it will be a feature in the next OS because Android smartphones have had this since 2016.

Multi Window on the Samsung Galaxy S9
Multi Window on the Samsung Galaxy S9. Image credit:

Super Slow-mo

Super slow-motion is practically a given feature with the top of the range smartphones these days. The Samsung Galaxy S9 has it and the Sony Xperia XZ3 is another example of a smartphone that features it.

Apple has had the Slo-mo feature built into the Camera app for years now but it hasn’t been enhanced and doesn’t offer super slow-motion, which is the new trend and it’s also very cool.

Fast charger

I think this year should have been the year where Apple included a fast charger inside the box with the iPhone, after all it supports it. I know Apple likes consumers to fork out on additional accessories but the Xs Max is a premium phone with a premium price tag so it’s only fair to include a fast charger really. Here’s hoping they include one next year because standard charging is just not good enough these days.


The iPhone has always been a fantastic phone and it still is. The iPhone Xs Max is definitely the best one yet but it certainly could have been better. When compared to other premium smartphones on the market, the iPhone is lacking in terms of features and Apple are quite behind. I’m not sure what their reasoning could be for all the things they haven’t yet included but here’s hoping there’ll be some big changes in the next iPhone and the next major iOS update.

Written by shadylady

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