Apple iPhone XS Max review

GSMArena team, 1 Oct 2018.


The Apple iPhone XS Max is big alright. It's as big as the iPhone 8 Plus - only with much slimmer bezels and a bigger screen. And it's the model many were waiting for since the iPhone X launch.

Apple iPhone XS Max reviewiPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

But other than being bigger, the iPhone XS Max has virtually the same build as the iPhone XS. It's a glass-on-glass design with a stainless-steel frame in-between. Nothing has changed since the iPhone X, at least that's what the shape suggests.

Apple iPhone XS Max reviewiPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Apple did sneak a few notable upgrades this year though, with the most important one being the "most durable glass ever on a smartphone". This applies for both the front and rear glass and all those drop tests on YouTube have proven Apple didn't lie about this.

The glass is none other than a version of Corning Gorilla Glass 6 produced for Apple. Both companies have a long history of working together and last year Apple once again invested in Corning to help them create just that - the most durable glass ever on a smartphone.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

Apple has been known for applying oleophobic coating on all its phones since the first iPhone and the iPhone XS Max is no exception. Both panels are covered with this coating that makes the surface less susceptible to fingerprints and smudges. It's not like this is some magic fingerprint-resistant layer, but it takes more time for the iPhone to get smudged and it's much easier to clean.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

Another thing Apple has improved over the iPhone X is the water resistance. The XS and XS Max are now IP68-rated for up to 2m dive for 30 mins. Apple says the XS phones have also undergone and survived submerges in salt water and other liquids such as beer or coffee, but you should remember, the warranty doesn't cover liquid damage so the IP rating is only there to give your phone a better chance of survival should an accident occur.

Naturally, the whole front is occupied by the bezel-less but notched OLED screen. The Max's screen is 6.5" in diagonal, and content on it looks gorgeous. The notch houses all Face ID necessities, the earpiece/speaker and the 7MP selfie camera as usual. The top speaker is more powerful than it was on the X for better stereo sound.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

We are glad Apple didn't opt for a curved Infinity-like display as we think those edge pixels are usually lost to the reflected ambient light. We understand the effect's coolness, but we still prefer usability over looks.

Apple iPhone XS Max reviewiPhone XS Max and Galaxy Note9

The back looks unsurprisingly familiar - it's perfectly flush and clean if we don't count the camera hump that is. The iPhone XS Max, just like the iPhone XS, has a new and improved 12MP wide-angle snapper, while its 12MP telephoto cam seems to be the same as we saw it on the iPhone X. The quad-LED flash is here to stay, too.

The wireless charging coil is hidden behind the glass and Apple claims it works better now. Apple has expanded the charging surface on the XS series, so finding the right position in which the phone allows charging is less of a hassle.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

The iPhone XS Max is dual-SIM, yes, but unless you are in China, don't expect to find two SIM beds in your tray. There is just one nano-SIM slot on the iPhone XS Max, while the second SIM functions are handled by an eSIM. So, if at least one of the carriers you intend to use supports the eSIM standard, then you can take advantage of the Dual SIM function. Otherwise, you're out of luck. Or you have to import a Chinese iPhone, which would put an extra premium over the already premium price.

Apple iPhone X Max - Apple iPhone XS Max review Apple iPhone X Max - Apple iPhone XS Max review Apple iPhone X Max - Apple iPhone XS Max review Apple iPhone X Max - Apple iPhone XS Max review
Apple iPhone X Max

The good old audio jack is nowhere to be found, but we didn't have any expectations in this regard. You still rely on the Lightning port for plugging your EarPods. And if you want to use another pair of headphones, now you must buy the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter for $9 as it's not bundled with the most expensive iPhone to date. What a bummer!

Apple iPhone XS Max review

We noted that the top speaker is louder, but the bottom speaker has been improved as well. Apple promises wider (than on the X) stereo sound from the speakers. We already heard the setup on the iPhone XS and it's shaping to be a benchmark for the phones to come.

Before we conclude the physical description, let's take a look at how big the iPhone XS Max is exactly. The Max spreads at 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm and weighs 208g. That's about 5mm shorter and 1mm thinner than the 201g Samsung Galaxy Note9.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

This also means the Max is 14mm taller and 6mm wider than the regular XS model. And it's 30g heavier than the XS.

The Apple iPhone XS Max isn't the most compact device to hold, on the contrary - it's large, heavy and you can barely use it with one hand. And yet it's as premium and luxurious as the regular XS model. It has the shiny steel frame, the tough to break glasses, and no matter the color option - the XS Max is one of the most gorgeous devices money can buy this Fall.

Apple iPhone XS Max review

The XS Max isn't as slippery as it looks, probably because of the oleophobic coating and the extra care Apple has taken for the paint on the frame. And for such a large and glossy device, that's a massive achievement.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 24 Jan 2023
  • fuN

Are the cameras that different?

  • Chimpu
  • 07 Jan 2023
  • vGd

Xs max is better than iphone 11 Xs max have better display better battery the only difference is processor

  • Iphoneguy27
  • 22 Nov 2022
  • Nn@