Apple iPhone XS Max review: Plans | Pricing | Specs

Apple iPhone XS Max
Apple iPhone XS Max Find out more Buy now

Apple's iPhone XS Max has the biggest screen, biggest battery and fastest processor that Apple has put into an iPhone.

What is the iPhone XS Max?

Apple's biggest, boldest and by far most expensive phone builds on the model pioneered by the Apple iPhone X, alongside the smaller and slightly less expensive iPhone XS.


Apple iPhone XS Max 2018 at a glance
When did the Apple iPhone XS Max come out? Launched on 12 September 2018, pre-orders from 14 September 2018 with availability from 21 September 2018.
What’s new about the Apple iPhone XS Max? Colourful designs, Apple A12 Fusion processor, 6.5-inch OLED display, improved battery performance.
How much will the Apple iPhone XS Max cost? $1,799 (64GB), $2,049 (256GB) $2,369 (512GB).

Apple's "S" year phones typically emphasise performance over new style points or markedly new features, and it's very clear with the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max that this is exactly what Apple has done this year.

They new phones are the iPhone X on a dose of steroids, with improved performance, upgraded camera features and new size formats, but the way Apple has not-so-subtly crept up the prices for handsets is a serious issue that any smartphone buyer will have to resolve before buying.


Design

  • It's the iPhone X, but bigger
  • More antenna points around the body
  • Slippery, which is scary on a phone this pricey

The iPhone XS Max is a big phone, but you'd expect that for anything bearing that kind of suffix.

Measuring in at 157.5x77.4x7.7mm with a carrying weight of 208g, it's one of the largest smartphones you can buy right now, although it's not technically Apple's largest phone.

Camera

  • Smart HDR gives pleasing image results
  • A very guided camera experience
  • Video stabilisation is excellent

Apple's taken the slightly unusual step of offering the exact same camera array on the iPhone XS Max as it does on the iPhone XS.

Typically – and this was the case last year between the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X – the "bigger" (and certainly more costly) phone gets a slight boost in camera optics. Stare at the back of an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, and what you'll be looking at are dual 12MP lenses. The wide angle 12MP lens has an f/1.8 aperture, while the 2x optical telephoto lens has an f/2.4 aperture.

Performance

  • Apple's A12 Bionic is the processor that other processors fear
  • Lacks split screen or a key reason for such a large display.
  • IP68 water resistance, but no change to official Apple warranty
  • Gigabit LTE, but not the fastest
  • Technically Dual SIM, but not in Australia
  • No expandable memory (again), and higher storage choices are expensive.

If 2017's A11 Bionic threw down the gauntlet to competing processors, then 2018's A12 Bionic processor, the heart of the Apple iPhone XS Max, has clearly picked it up, added a few shiny gems and is grinning while it ponders snapping its fingers.

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Battery life

  • Best battery life on an iPhone to date
  • Wired or wireless charging
  • Still lags behind premium Android phones for battery life

The Apple iPhone XS Max's physical size has allowed Apple to throw in what it's calling "the biggest battery in an iPhone ever", although as always it's notably reticent to cite actual battery capacity figures. Here iFixit comes to the rescue, noting that it's actually a split L-shaped 3,179 mAh power pack. That's decent, but well below what we're seeing in Android flagships where 4,000mAh is becoming common.

However, battery life isn't just a numbers game because with larger screens comes the prospect of lower battery life. The more you need to glow, the faster the battery will go, basically.

Verdict

I'm genuinely torn on the iPhone XS Max. It's Apple's best iPhone to date, it has the best processor in the industry, the camera is good and iOS is easy to use.

It's also very slippery, the battery life doesn't come close to the benchmark of the best Android handsets and, of course, it's super expensive.

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Pricing and availability

Apple iPhone XS Max

The cream of the crop

If you want the very best smartphone money can buy, Apple's iPhone XS Max won't leave you wanting.

Promoted
  • You can purchase the iPhone XS Max directly from Apple as well as retailers like JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Catch.
  • The iPhone XS Max is also available on contract through Telstra, Vodafone and Optus.
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OS iOS 12
Display size (inches) 6.5
Display resolution (pixels) 2688 x 1242
Pixels per inch (PPI) 458
Processor Apple A12
Height (mm) 157.5
Width (mm) 77.4
Depth (mm) 7.7
Weight (g) 208
Battery size (mAh) 3,179
Wireless charging Qi
Internal storage 64GB
256GB
512GB
MicroSD expansion N/A
Fingerprint scanner Yes
RAM
Water resistance IP68
Rear camera (1) resolution 12
Rear camera (1) aperture 1.8
Rear camera (2) resolution 12
Rear camera (2) aperture 2.4
Rear camera (3) resolution
Rear camera (3) aperture
Front camera (1) resolution 7
Front camera (1) aperture 2.2
Front camera (2) resolution
Front camera (2) aperture
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed Category 16
NFC support Yes
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Updated December 13th, 2018
Name Product Processor type Display size Display resolution Internal storage Provider in CTA
Apple A12
6.1
1792 x 828
64GB
128GB
256GB
Apple A12 Bionic
5.8
2436x1125
64GB
256GB
512GB
Apple A12
6.5
2688 x 1242
64GB
256GB
512GB
A11
5.8
2436 x 1125
64GB
256GB
A11
4.7
1334 x 750
64GB
256GB
A11
5.5
1920 x 1080
64GB
256GB
A10
4.7
1334 x 750
32GB
128GB
256GB
A10
5.5
1920 x 1080
32GB
128GB
256GB
A9
4
1136 x 640
32GB
128GB
A9
5.5
1920 x 1080
32GB
128GB
A9
4.7
1334 x 750
32GB
128GB
A8
4.7
1334 x 750
16GB
32GB
64GB
128GB

Compare up to 4 providers

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Latest Apple iPhone X 2018 news

Alex Kidman

Alex Kidman is a multi-award-winning consumer technology journalist and the Tech & Telco Editor at finder.com.au. He's been writing about consumer technology topics for more than two decades, and enjoys breaking down complex topics into their component parts. He has written for just about every major Australian technology publication, and is a former editor of Gizmodo Australia, PC Mag Australia, and CNET.com.au.

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