One month later: iPhone XS versus the iPhone XS Max

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2018
When upgrading to Apple's new iPhone XS, you have to choose between the 5.8-inch XS or the 6.5-inch XS Max. After spending a month with both phones, there's a few real-world differences between the two models that may be worth knowing about before reaching a decision.

iPhone XS versus iPhone XS Max

Bigger is better

First of all, the massive 6.5-inch display of the iPhone XS Max is so immersive and mesmerizing. It's perfect for everything from watching YouTube videos to movies on Netflix, or playing games like Fortnite.






It finally competes with other manufacturers displays like Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 in terms of screen size, with the XS Max's display actually one inch larger on the diagonal. The Note 9 also has pretty large bezels on the top and bottom of the phone that are very noticeable.

Of course, the XS Max has the notch, but it's actually less noticeable than on the XS. The notch is still the exact same size on both phones, but it takes up a much smaller percentage of the entire display compared to the XS, making it far less noticeable. This difference is huge when watching videos.

Not only that, but the display area on the left and right side of the notch is larger, so things like the time, cellular signal, and battery life don't seem as cramped along with everything else that occupies that space.

iPhone XS Max Notch


The bezels on the XS Max are actually slightly thinner than the ones on the XS. It's hard to notice, but the specs show that the screen to body ratio is 1.5 percent higher than its smaller counterpart.

iPhone XS Max UI


Depending on what you're doing with it, the iPhone XS can look a bit cramped, whereas the Max looks very open and roomy.

It's also packing the highest-resolution display on any iPhone ever, with 2688 by 1242 pixels. On top of that, it's been awarded DisplayMate's Best Smartphone Display award, setting or matching records in 8 different categories, like highest color accuracy, highest full-screen brightness for OLED smartphones, and lowest screen reflectance.

Technically the display used on the iPhone XS is actually identical when looking at performance, but the award and records gives the iPhone XS Max the bragging rights.

One thing you can't get on the iPhone XS is landscape mode, which was present on the Plus-sized iPhones and was missing on the iPhone X. While most probably don't care for it, it's there for the people who do like to use it.

iPhone XS Larger Keyboard


The keyboard is also bigger with larger buttons for each key, which will help those prone to making mistakes while typing with cramped keyboards.

With all that said, the larger screen does introduce some issues.

Size isn't everything

If you've used the iPhone 8 Plus and found that it was a little hard to reach the top of the screen for the notification center, you may find it's a lot harder with the XS Max. Since the control center comes down from the upper-right corner of the screen, it's also harder to reach, even with large hands.

iPhone XS Max Control Center


Not only that, but just using the iPhone XS Max with one hand is quite a bit harder than it is with the iPhone XS, since you have to stretch your hand out to reach anything near the top side of the screen. If you do have large hands, you'll get used to it over time as you find creative ways to hold the phone to get better reach, but the problem with that is the risk of dropping your device increases.

There's always reachability mode, but I never really got used to it and I can reach the control center just fine.

If you're somebody with small hands, good luck using the iPhone XS Max without using both hands effectively all the time, or constantly using reachability mode.

The power

Now let's move onto battery life.

If you're someone who really cares about battery life or you've noticed that you're constantly running low every evening with your current iPhone, the iPhone XS Max is the right choice for you.

The XS Max is loaded with a 3,174 mAh battery, compared to 2,658 on the iPhone XS. It's rated by Apple for an extra hour of overall battery life, but a real-world test by Consumer Reports saw that the XS Max got about an hour and a half more than the XS, and 6.5 hours more than the iPhone X.

iPhone XS Max Battery Life


Results can vary, since a test by Tom's Guide showed that the iPhone X actually lasted longer than the XS, but still almost an hour less than the XS Max.

Over the last month, I've personally experienced longer battery life with my iPhone XS Max than on any iPhone ever, including my old iPhone 8 Plus which lasted longer than the iPhone X.

The iPhone XS Max lasts literally all day and more, and I've been using my phone a lot more than I used my iPhone 8 Plus. I basically only ever have to plug it in when I'm going to sleep, making it more convenient.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone XS

In short

Overall, the iPhone XS Max is basically the iPhone of my dreams. The screen is so massive and immersive that it's just awe-inspiring.

When Apple revealed the iPhone XS Max costs only $100 more the XS, I was shocked. Having both phones in hand for a couple of weeks, there's no question that the iPhone XS Max is easily worth the extra $100 and even more.

If you are still trying to decide between buying the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, unless you've got small hands and feel more comfortable with a more compact phone, just spend the extra $100 and go for the bigger option. I'm pretty confident that you won't regret it.

Deals on the iPhone XS and XS Max

If you haven't already ordered Apple's iPhone XS or XS Max, wireless carriers are incentivizing the purchase. Want to get your hands on a new device asap? eBay sellers are also shipping units now.

Carrier deals:

  • AT&T Wireless: Buy one iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, get a second $700 off when you add a line.
  • Verizon Wireless: Get up to $300 off with an eligible trade.
  • Sprint: Get the 64GB iPhone XS for $0 per month with eligible trade-in and Sprint Flex lease.
  • T-Mobile: Save up to $300 on the iPhone XS with an eligible iPhone trade.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,133moderator
    I never grokked the whole one-handed crowd.  What’s so important that’s occupying the other hand when both eyes are focused on tone device.  The only context where I want to use my iPhone single handed is when I’m scrolling through a long document or web page.  I think the use cases have evolved along with the screen size, bothaway from one-handed use.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Would love to hear about what I’m missing doing with the other hand.   
    wlymtycho_macuserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 38
    I agree with all this author said about the Max! I own a Max too!
    iqatedowatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 38
    matteblack13matteblack13 Posts: 10unconfirmed, member
    The real question is "why no product red?" If there was a RED Xs Max, at least for me, it would be game over. I'd  be all over it. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 38
    netroxnetrox Posts: 794member
    I really hate the super sized iPhones. It's really a problem. It's the same mindset with people having for McMansions and supersized meals where they measure their egos based on how big their things are. It's a sickness. There is nothing appealing about carrying a big ass phone around. I have XS and while I love it, it's really pushing to how much I can tolerate the size. I don't like the weight and the size being too large. The sense of portability is lost. I have Appe Watch. I have iPad. I have MacBook Pro. I have iMac. I much have everything Apple but damn it, Apple, stop making iphones bigger to appeal to those size queen idiots.
    dm3jroynj analystgeorgie01jbdragonwlymcommand_f
  • Reply 5 of 38
    dm3dm3 Posts: 153member
    Disagree

    Smaller is better. Carry around an iPad if you want big.
    The XS Max is too big to carry, too big to use. What is needed is a phone with the footprint of the iPhone SE but with a display the size of the iPhone 6/7/8. This is the sweet spot. That provides a big screen that you can barely manage with one hand, while having the smallest footprint for that screen.

    Apple needs to provide choices. They have big sizes, 5.8, 6.5, iPad mini with its 7.9 display, iPad 9.7, iPad Pro 10.5.

    What they're currently lacking is a small PORTABLE device that can be easily managed with one hand. Thats the phones smaller than iPhone X/XS.

    Apple has classically been blamed for making things too small, thin. Now they've given up on that and making phone big big big.

    Hopefully Apple will provide variety and not continue to be obsessed with size. 
    jroycommand_f
  • Reply 6 of 38
    I guess with Apple probably killing off the iPad mini...the iPhone XS Max kinda fills in the gap. Even tho the XS Max is not an iPad, I can see why Apple felt the iPad mini wasn’t needed anymore. Still I wish they’d update the mini one last time with pencil support.

    but when my beloved iPad mini dies, I will probably get an iPhone XS Max for my next iPhone. I’m a big guy with big hands, so i’d Definitely go with the Max over the XS. Plus i’d Miss my iPad mini, so it makes sense. But I could see where others prefer the regular XS...or even the smaller SE. There’s no right or wrong, it’s all good. 

    I’ll also nab one of the upcoming bezel-less iPad pros with face ID as my next iPad for doing serious work on. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 38
    The real question is "why no product red?" If there was a RED Xs Max, at least for me, it would be game over. I'd  be all over it. 
    Just wait for it. Most iPhones with the exception of the XR never initially came out with a product red color. They usually come out much later.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 38
    In fact my iPhone XS Max feels smaller than my iPhone 7 Plus. What’s the problem? 
    redgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 38
    cmd-zcmd-z Posts: 58member
    netrox said:
    I really hate the super sized iPhones. It's really a problem. It's the same mindset with people having for McMansions and supersized meals where they measure their egos based on how big their things are. It's a sickness. There is nothing appealing about carrying a big ass phone around. I have XS and while I love it, it's really pushing to how much I can tolerate the size. I don't like the weight and the size being too large. The sense of portability is lost. I have Appe Watch. I have iPad. I have MacBook Pro. I have iMac. I much have everything Apple but damn it, Apple, stop making iphones bigger to appeal to those size queen idiots.
    Me, me, me ... practically everything you've stated is self-centric. That's fine, but calling those who prefer larger phones "idiots" and associating the desire for a larger device with ego is where you cross the a-hole line. You don't like it, that's cool, don't buy one. Many of us have no problem handling or carrying around a larger device, and prefer the extra screen space. If you don't like it, move along ...
    edited October 2018 lkruppStrangeDaysboltsfan17shark5150mazateiqatedoRightNowredgeminipawatto_cobraapres587
  • Reply 10 of 38
    I never grokked the whole one-handed crowd.  What’s so important that’s occupying the other hand when both eyes are focused on tone device.  The only context where I want to use my iPhone single handed is when I’m scrolling through a long document or web page.  I think the use cases have evolved along with the screen size, bothaway from one-handed use.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Would love to hear about what I’m missing doing with the other hand.   
    I expect that something like 80% of my phone usage is one-handed.  I pick up my phone to check my email.  I'm walking down the street selecting a podcast.  I'm scrolling through eBay listings.  Sure, when I'm writing an email I will use both hands, but if I need to send a quick text, I often use one.

    How's this different from anything else?  To drive a car, you need two hands, but much of the time, you're only using one.  No one would be happy with a car that forced you to keep two hands on the wheel 10% more often.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    I also want a smaller phone than what is offered.  I will stick with Apple regardless, just one area I have to deal with it.  I have average hands, but I have dropped my 7 more times than I have my 5S just because it’s harder to use one handed.  And to those who don’t understand, I often have something in my other hand preventing usage of 2 (kids, books, groceries, keys, to name a few).  I was skeptical of the size bump with the 5 series, but when I tried it I liked it.  I again was skeptical with the size bump with the 6 series, but thought, hey I liked the last increase, let’s give this a go.  I can say I have adjusted, but I do not prefer it.  I’d buy a new iPhone in a heartbeat if it was slightly smaller than the 7 but with the XS form factor with no other short comings other than decreased battery size. But alas, the thing I wish for will probably never come to pass...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 38
    netrox said:
    I really hate the super sized iPhones. It's really a problem. It's the same mindset with people having for McMansions and supersized meals where they measure their egos based on how big their things are. It's a sickness. There is nothing appealing about carrying a big ass phone around. I have XS and while I love it, it's really pushing to how much I can tolerate the size. I don't like the weight and the size being too large. The sense of portability is lost. I have Appe Watch. I have iPad. I have MacBook Pro. I have iMac. I much have everything Apple but damn it, Apple, stop making iphones bigger to appeal to those size queen idiots.
    You’ve made the terrible mistake of believing your own opinions are facts. Two different things. 
    cmd-zmazatewlymiqatedoredgeminipawatto_cobraapres587
  • Reply 13 of 38
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,184member
    netrox said:
    I really hate the super sized iPhones. It's really a problem. It's the same mindset with people having for McMansions and supersized meals where they measure their egos based on how big their things are. It's a sickness. There is nothing appealing about carrying a big ass phone around. I have XS and while I love it, it's really pushing to how much I can tolerate the size. I don't like the weight and the size being too large. The sense of portability is lost. I have Appe Watch. I have iPad. I have MacBook Pro. I have iMac. I much have everything Apple but damn it, Apple, stop making iphones bigger to appeal to those size queen idiots.
    Did it ever dawn on you some people have bigger hands, may need a bigger screen to read better, etc? We get it, you don't like large iPhone's but it's foolish to say others who like something that you don't are idiots. 

    Signed Large Sized iPhone Queen Diva. 
    cmd-znetroxmazateiqatedoredgeminipacommand_fwatto_cobraapres587
  • Reply 14 of 38
    Consider this another "me me me" comment if you will, but I realize everybody's mileage (kilometrage) will vary. For a variety off reasons including what else I keep in the pocket, how deep it is, and where my body folds when I drive a car, my phone has to sit horizontally in my left front trouser pocket. I'm not changing my wardrobe or wearing a belt clip (tried those years ago excellent way to lose a phone entirely) to accommodate a phone, so this is a limiting factor in how large a phone I carry. The XS Max, regardless of its other wonderful characteristics, doesn't fit, while the XS does. All other factors irrelevant. And I like my XS and its battery lifetime just fine.
    wlym
  • Reply 15 of 38
    rkorko Posts: 12member
    thanks for the review, very useful.  surprising the xs doesn"t support landscape - seems
    unbelievable  - such an accepted standard.  i'm thinking this means that if i'm browsing a site in safari and rotate my phone to landscape, the view remains in portrait, and all apps have to be used in portrait? i'm using a galaxy note 4 and it supports landscape.  when you go into landscape you can see more of the text on a line, especially if you zoom.  this is a big useability issue, doesn't seem consistent with apple.

    also hoping apple adds a pen to the iphone, it's  an amazing addition - clicking, selecting, writing, drawing, remote, mic...  what could apple come up with? once you get used to having a pen, it is hard to consder buying a phone that doesn't have one.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 38
    M68000M68000 Posts: 110member
    Choice - it's a good thing.   Let's hope that Apple continues to offer choice in sizes.  I don't want to walk around with something as big and heavy as the Max but that doesn't mean that others should not.   What would really be cool is a new phone size bigger than the SE but slightly smaller than the iPhone 8 with the new "liquid" retina LCD screen making the most out of the size.   I think a phone like that would sell like hotcakes.   The size of the iPhone 8 is about as big as I want to go, portability and one handed use is important to me.  
    bushman4retrogusto
  • Reply 17 of 38
    Battery Life varies depending how you use your iPhone Max. The proof is Toms  Guide says one thing Consumer Reports another etc etc. Basically you will
    get more life than the X or Xs the question is how much  more and as the battery deteriorates how much difference will you see
  • Reply 18 of 38
    I have had a 6+, 7+, 8+ and this year, XS Just don't see the point in a huge phone after having had 3. Back to the comfort of a smaller, more usable phone and quite happy with the choice.
    tedp88watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Both are terrific. Absolutely the best ever and with no material differences beyond screen size and battery life. After a month with the Max, and after a year with the X, I feel the Max was the better choice for me. I have relatively small hands but always use it two handed. The majority of my daily use is mail, text, notes and browsing/news apps. Typing is marginally less error prone. News/web site layout is more generous and more comfortable to read (as are Books - single page being close to double page on an iPad Mini.) Photos/editing is easier, camera function a little less so, size-wise. And, no doubt, using it to watch a movie in flight the extra screen size makes all the difference.

    I personally carry my Max around all the time in my jeans front pocket, no issue, or in a jacket 'wallet' pocket. It is a bit heavier for sure, but not, for me, unacceptably so. One thing I would add: I use Apple's silicon case. I have used their leather cases in the past but I find they wear quickly on their edges. This is a minimalist case that adds very little to the Max's size or weight. It works perfectly for me, giving me enough protection (I have never dropped my iPhone) and grip. On the other hand, if you like big, bulky, heavy, super protective cases, that may tip the scale for you re the size and weight versus the Xs. 

    Some have mentioned that Apple's lack of ongoing support for the iPad Mini form factor suggests they see the Max as being an effective substitute.I really don't think it fully is and I'd buy an updated Mini 5 or Pro in a minute if they introduced it: same form factor with a slightly larger screen and Face ID, to replace my aging 4. But the Max certainly gets closer and when I travel internationally I will likely continue to leave the Mini 4 behind. Less to bring with a single always connected mobile device with one daily international roaming charge.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 38
    I never grokked the whole one-handed crowd.  What’s so important that’s occupying the other hand when both eyes are focused on tone device.  The only context where I want to use my iPhone single handed is when I’m scrolling through a long document or web page.  I think the use cases have evolved along with the screen size, bothaway from one-handed use.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Would love to hear about what I’m missing doing with the other hand.   
    I often use my phone when I’m outside, in which case I’m probably holding something—a bag, a bike helmet, walking my bike, carrying my dry cleaning or my takeout meal, something to drop off at the post office or something I just picked up at the hardware store. Wearing a backpack could solve some of these issues, but I don’t really like to wear backpacks and shouldn’t have to, and it wouldn’t entirely solve the problem anyway. Plus I wear glasses for seeing far away but can’t read very well with them on, so I usually have to take them off and hold them if I’m reading something on my phone. A lot of people also probably need to use their phone while holding a dog leash. If I’m sitting somewhere with nothing to carry (and not with friends, in which case I think it’s kind of rude to play with your phone), I’m probably going to use my iPad or my laptop anyway. I know that different people value different qualities in a phone, but for me, one-handed use is critical. 
    rcfa
Sign In or Register to comment.