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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max – an overview of Apple smartphones.

iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max – Apple smartphones review.

Today’s manufacturers find it increasingly difficult to create a buzz at the start of sales, but Apple miraculously gathers lines in front of its stores, even without significant changes to the iPhone. This year, the new models really did not receive a major update, only internal upgrades and the appearance of an enlarged version with the Max prefix. But this does not mean that there is nothing new in the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, on the contrary: they became faster, received versions with 512 GB of memory, new camera software and improved sound. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at how it all works in practice..

The lineup.

The 2017 line continued the design of the iPhone 6/6 Plus and along with these two models a new smartphone appeared, which received a frameless display and a couple of new features for the iPhone. This year the state of affairs has changed. Now, among the main devices, all have lost their bezels, they do not have a button with a fingerprint scanner, and they all received a not very original cutout at the top of the display..

iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max (yes, I agree, not the best name) are flagships with a cost of $ 999-1349 and $ 1099-1449, respectively. The new Xr model (will go on sale a little later) is slightly inferior to the flagships in terms of capabilities, but it also costs less – from $ 749. In Ukraine, when the turn comes, prices will be much higher.

Among the older devices, the iPhone 7 and 8 are still on sale (both sizes), but the SE and last year’s flagship iPhone X are no longer available. It turns out that the cheapest smartphone in the lineup is the “seven”, the price tag of which starts at $ 449. At the same time, for old smartphones, there was a choice of storage options..

Package contents and first impressions of the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max.

The latest changes in the box came with the release of the iPhone 7, when the device was stripped of the standard headphone jack. Then an adapter appeared in the kit. Complaints about him never stopped; this adapter breaks and is lost … and it is not the most convenient to use. New models of smartphones are already shipped without it, and the box with the device contains a standard power supply unit that does not support fast charging, a Lightning-to-USB cable, a headset, information papers and stickers.

You can buy a lot of useful things for a smartphone. A case for protecting the glass body is clearly useful. Fast charging requires a separate power supply and USB-C-to-Lightning cable. For wireless charging, you will need a separate station (at the time of this writing, Apple even removed all references to its prototype from the site). And the same adapter for ordinary headphones will cost $ 9.

There is nothing new in the unboxing process, as well as in setting up a novelty. First-timers will have to go through the entire account registration process. But for those who bought not the first such smartphone, the process is facilitated by express setting. But even here, nothing new is waiting for the user, the same thing happened before, with the exception of setting up Face ID, not Touch ID.

Design and usability.

In order to find significant changes in the appearance of the iPhone Xs compared to the iPhone X, you will have to take a magnifying glass. From the outside, they are identical. Xs is the same glass smartphone with a steel frame (polished surgical steel) and exactly the same dimensions: 143.6 × 70.9 × 7.7 mm, and the weight has been added as much as 3 grams – 177. From the innovations: the block of the main cameras has become a little more and several antenna bands appeared on the frame. One of them influenced the symmetry of the speaker and microphone slots on the bottom (it will be difficult for perfectionists to look at this). The rest of the design remains the same and the smartphone does not feel new in the hands.

iPhone Xs Max is the company’s first smartphone with a 6.5-inch display diagonal, its dimensions are very close to the iPhone 8 Plus – 157.5 × 77.4 × 7.7 mm and weighs 208 grams. Plus users won’t feel the size difference to the Max. And if the screen of the Plus model can still somehow be handled with one hand, because it is not so big, then the screen of the Xs Max has grown significantly and the smartphone must be constantly intercepted. Those who do not have a very large hand will either have to use the Reachability function often or use the smartphone with both hands. This is especially inconvenient while driving, which once again reminds of the safety rules..

Compared to last year, they also added a golden case. The shade, of course, is controversial, because it partly looks bronze, in some places it gives off gold, in some lighting it can seem either pink or approaching beige. But it looks good anyway. The usual colors of Space Gray and Silver remained in the store and did not visually change (while Space Gray on the iPhone 6, 7 and 8 did look different).

The difference between the body of the updated model is its water resistance. Whereas previous models could submerge one meter in water for up to half an hour, the Xs and Xs Max “dive” to a depth of two meters. Of course, the upgrade is not the most important one, but it can be useful nonetheless. It is worth remembering that if water does get inside and damage the device, the warranty will not cover such damage..

Although there are no global changes in the appearance of Apple’s flagships, their design is still relevant. I can’t say that it has become boring or boring in a year, but it has become recognizable and popular even among competitors. Based on the experience of the previous four years, it can be assumed that such a design of the flagships will remain without global changes for some time. And from last year’s experience, we can say that there will be no problems with the usability of the iPhone Xs. In turn, you will have to get used to the iPhone Xs Max and get the hang of using a 6.5-inch screen..

Cases and protection.

Based on the glass construction of the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, you can hardly expect the body to be stronger. As much as the company says that “this is the most durable iPhone,” you can still scratch or break it (this is true of all current models). Actually, that’s why the industry of all kinds of covers and protective glasses continues to gain momentum. And checking the durability of the gadget will be quite an expensive pleasure for the user. So against the background of the cost of the entire device, it is probably worth taking care of the case immediately when buying a new item.

We tried to try on a new case on an old smartphone and vice versa. Since the dimensions of the X and Xs are identical, the smartphones fit perfectly into the cases. But the location of the block with cameras in cases for different models leaves small but noticeable gaps. Therefore, the Xs will also need new accessories..


Nothing radically new has happened to the screen. Unless, of course, you count the appearance of the second size. The flagships are presented with diagonals of 5.8 and 6.5 inches. The resolution of the smaller model has not changed – 2436 × 1125 pixels. This equates to a density of 458 ppi. The same indicator was retained for the older model, increasing the resolution to 2688 × 1242 points. This display has not been given a new name and continues to be called Super Retina HD. As well as not touched the aspect ratio – 19.5: 9.

There were no cardinal changes in the picture. As in the iPhone X, the new items use OLED displays with a small notch at the top and rounded corners. Color reproduction is close to natural shades, and the screen itself adjusts the color temperature depending on the environment. HDR video is supported, but content is still scarce. There were no problems with the burnout of pixels on the matrix with the last year’s model, I really want to believe that the new models will also bypass this. And for those who love IPS displays and still have doubts about OLED, such a screen should like its calibration..

The brightness has not decreased and there are no problems with reading the screen in the sun, and the light sensor works almost perfectly. 3D Touch was not removed, but it did not have new functionality (there is a suspicion that over time the company will abandon this technology). Apple Pencil support was not included in the company’s plans for this year. Well, it would be nice to use the OLED display to its fullest, making a dark theme for the system design, add interesting features for the screensaver … but this, apparently, will have to wait.

Face ID in iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max.

Instead of passwords, you can use Face ID – a face scan using a set of TrueDepth sensors. In Xs and Xs Max, they should work a little faster than in the previous version, but in practice this is difficult to notice..

True, as in the case of the fingerprint scanner, Face ID can also sometimes “think” a little. This rarely happens, in the vast majority of cases TrueDepth works quickly, and things like large sunglasses are not at all a hindrance to it..

Last year, the 8 Plus had the nicest speaker ever in an iPhone. This time, the iPhone Xs Max slightly “moved” it, because it sounds a little louder. But I personally did not hear a strong jump in the quality of playback. And in principle, you will need to directly compare the two devices in order to understand the difference..

With headphones, everything becomes a little more complicated, because even an adapter for a standard connector is no longer included in the kit, even if there is still a headset with a Lightning connector. The company does its best to hint to the user that he should still switch to wireless headphones (of course, AirPods or Beats). But those who stay true to their usual headphones and use the adapter will not be disappointed..

The quality of the spoken dynamics and speech transmission did not disappoint.

IPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max performance and software.

Although the design is not updated every year, the power in new products is steadily increasing. This time, the A11 Bionic was replaced by the A12 Bionic with a new generation of Neural Engine (a chip responsible for machine learning). Also, the new processor is distinguished by a 7-nanometer process technology, which accommodates two high-performance cores and four economical ones. The first two promise 15% growth from last year, energy-efficient cores should be twice as efficient, and a quad-core graphics accelerator is half as powerful as the previous one..

IPhone Xs synthetic tests:

IPhone Xs Max synthetic tests:

All this should provide excellent performance not only in games, but also in today’s more interesting tasks involving machine learning and augmented reality – something that is being emphasized today in consumer gadgets. Subjectively, the iPhone Xs and Xs Max do not work much faster than the previous generation, the difference is difficult to feel in everyday use. Most likely, the power and increase in RAM up to 4 GB can be felt in a few years, when more complex tasks appear..

The operation of the interface and applications (messengers, browser, email client, calendar, social networks, camera, etc.) is very fast and smooth. This is also the merit of iOS 12, which in this version Apple decided to modify, instead of increasing the functionality..

Also this year, the iPhone has got support for two SIM-cards. But here it was not without “troubles”. Almost all over the world smartphones will work with one physical SIM card, and one more e-SIM. But two cards can be installed in the model for the Chinese market, and only in the iPhone Xs Max. But even with this, the radio module will still remain alone. Nevertheless, for Apple, this is a very atypical step, which many fans of technology did not believe until recently..

Everything should get better with the connection. Even before the release of the smartphone, there was news about the replacement of Qualcomm chips with Intel, and the opening of the device confirmed this. It is also no coincidence that additional antenna cutouts appeared on the frame. I did not notice any difficulties with the previous models, and with the current ones, minor troubles arose only with office Wi-Fi (I am sure the problem will be solved with updates, such trifles were often encountered at the start of sales of new models). Otherwise, everything was fine with the work of wireless modules and NFC for paying for goods via Apple Pay..


One of those smartphone functions, the difference in operation of which is increasingly difficult to feel between the old and the new device, is the camera. At least in the case of Apple. In the Xs and Xs Max, although the same 12-megapixel sensors with / 1.8 and ƒ / 2.4 apertures and optical stabilization remained, there were some internal changes. The increased pixel size allowed for more light to be collected, and the aforementioned machine learning is increasingly involved in the camera. For flash users, the True Tone capabilities have been updated. The most avid mobile photographers will notice a change in the angle of the wide-angle camera (26 mm versus 28 in the top ten). There is also a second telephoto camera, which not only serves as an optical zoom, but also helps to take portrait shots..

In most cases, in good lighting conditions, it will be difficult to distinguish between old and new cameras. This is more noticeable in difficult conditions, where more light and less artifacts are obtained in the frames. What these cameras indulge in is the stability of the results. If many phones may require you to take a couple of repeated shots from which you can choose the appropriate one, then with the iPhone camera a blurry frame will be a rare exception to the rule. For a simple user, this is a good advantage, because you can avoid clogging up extra storage space and not wasting time looking for the best shot. And they, by the way, turn out to be excellent. Thanks for this is the work of the processor and the Smart HDR function..

The small zoom that the second camera gives, I personally use in real conditions much more often than I could imagine. It allows you to crop the image a little, not programmatically, but physically. Moreover, it will not be a “digital crop”, but a full-fledged image at once.

Although the portrait mode has acquired new algorithms, the difficulties in its work still remain the same. For example, if a person has a “creative” hairstyle, or, say, curly hair, it will be very difficult to get the correct blur of the head line. But in the future, this mode will surely develop due to software updates..

Video can be recorded in 4K resolution at 60 FPS, and slow motion can be maximum in Full HD at 240 FPS. As with photography, this is a great camera. This time, the presentation focused on sound recording when shooting video, where the stereo effect should be more noticeable..

An example of recording a 4K video by a camera of an iPhone Xs Max smartphone:

An example of a Slo-Mo video recording by a camera of an iPhone Xs Max smartphone:

The 7MP front camera is good too. Moreover, with the help of TrueDepth technology, it can “lather” the background. It doesn’t always work well, and the hairstyle can have the same problems, but in good conditions and without fanatical blurring of the background, a good effect can be obtained. And video can now be accompanied by 60 frames / s, which not every front camera can..

The camera app is already familiar to seasoned users. It is rarely changed. A long-standing competitor’s blur correction function has been added to the standard set of features. It is available only in pictures taken with new smartphones. Moreover, if you send a photo to, say, 8 Plus, then the picture can be edited even on it.


IPhones have relatively small batteries, but due to their chips and software optimization, even with a rather modest battery capacity, these smartphones can work for quite a long time. During the test, I mainly used the Xs Max, which, if desired, of course, can be discharged in a day, but in real life I have never used a smartphone so much during the day (more than nine hours of the screen, during which the camera and navigation were used a lot).

In the Geekbench Xs test (2659 mAh) it lasted exactly 5 hours, which is slightly less than last year’s figure for the iPhone X. But it is worth expecting that this figure will slightly increase with a couple of OS updates, and the company itself said about an additional 30 minutes of work compared to the previous model. The large Xs Max (3179 mAh) in Geekbench did not last 15 minutes to 5 hours. But here you need to take into account that in real use, both smartphones keep the battery charge longer..

Geekbench iPhone Xs autonomy test:

Geekbench iPhone Xs Max autonomy test:

Both smartphones spend about 3.5 hours on charging from the complete charger, but for those who shell out for a more powerful unit and a USB Type-C-to-Lightning wire, it will be possible to halve the charging time.

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