The Apple iPhone XS Max packs the largest screen ever available on an iPhone - a Samsung-made 6.5" OLED screen with a cutout on top and a Gorilla Glass 6 piece for protection.
It has the same flagship-grade 458ppi pixel density as seen on the iPhone X and XS, while the screen resolution has increased up to 1242 x 2688 pixels. The screen supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and offers 120-Hz touch input.
The proprietary True Tone adjustments are available - an automatic white balance correction enabled by a six-channel ambient light sensor. The True Tone algorithm will correct the white balance according to the ambient light making the whites and grays rendition more accurate. That's completely separate from the blue-light filter called Night Shift.
Apple promises a maximum brightness of 625 nits, and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. We measured 653 nits of brightness with the slider at the farthest right and True Tone turned off, and about 645 nits with True Tone enabled. This is even higher than promised, on par with the XS display, and among the brightest OLED screens you can get today.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Quite expectedly, the iPhone XS Max display scored an excellent mark in our sunlight legibility test. It's not the chart-topping score of the XS, but the difference is indistinguishable with a bare eye. Still, it's among the best AMOLED screens out there and on par with the Infinity displays on the latest Galaxies.
The display on the iPhone XS Max has an excellent color accuracy - we measured an average DeltaE of 1.9 and a maximum deviation of 3.8. Few phones are as good or better than this, and most of them are in Samsung's ballpark. But the amazing thing is that the display gets to keep such a level of accuracy even while you are lowering the brightness all the way down to 1.9 nits.
The iPhone XS Max is powered by the largest battery Apple has put in a smartphone to date - a Li-Ion cell of 3,174 mAh capacity. The iPhone XS Max ships with an outdated 5V/1A wall charger that will replenish only 18% of a dead battery in a 30-min charging session.
We also tested the iPhone XS Max on a Qi-compatible Samsung wireless fast charger - it recharged 15% in 30 mins.
The phone supports fast charging through USB-C power delivery, you just need to buy the proper cable (USB-C-to-Lightning, $25), and use a compatible charger from a MacBook, Pixel 2, or even a USB-C port on a Mac or PC. This way you will be able to charge north of 52% of an empty battery in half an hour.
We concluded our battery test on the iPhone XS Max and it posted balanced battery life scores across the board, just like the iPhone XS and X. It can do about 16 hours of 3G calls, 11 hours of web browsing on a single charge, or you can watch videos for about 14 hours. All of the three scores are up one or two hours from the iPhone XS numbers.
The Max, just like the regular XS, had an average standby performance, which is the reason for the equally average total endurance rating of 79 hours.
Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Apple iPhone XS Max for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
Update, Oct. 4. Numerous users have reported for charging issues with the iPhone XS and XS Max. Apparently some iPhones won't start charging when the Lightning cable is connected - in some cases a tap on the screen was needed to wake up the phone and start charging, others required an unplug-and-plug-back-in type of procedure.
We did try ourselves with the units we have at the office, but for better or worse ours charge just fine, both with the bundled charger and with the 29-watt Power Delivery fast charger.
We learnt that this happens when the phone wasn't used for at least an hour. So, we left our XS Max for an hour and then we plugged it in a knock-off charger and cable. Surprise, surprise - it didn't charge. It began to work only when we woke up the phone, removed the cable, flipped it, and then plugged it back in.
We repeated the with the original charger - after an hour and we found no such problems.
Finally, we used another knock-off charger and it still worked hassle-free.
We can't be certain if the knock-off chargers are responsible for the ChargeGate fiasco, but we know how you can fix it.
Sure, iOS 12.1 update will squash this bug, if it's a bug, but you can get rid of it today. Just go to Settings -> Face ID and enable USB Accessories option.
The reason why the phones won't charge is the additional security that fires after 60 minutes of inactivity and disables the recognition of all USB accessories except the chargers. But some units don't even recognize the chargers either because they are knock-offs or because of some software-related issues with the USB controllers in some units.
Now you know where the problem lies, and you can easily fix it. But the jury is still out on whether third-party cables and/or chargers are responsible for the issue, or Apple screwed up with the USB drivers.
The iPhone XS Max has two speakers for stereo audio playback, just like the iPhone XS, the iPhone X, and the iPhone 8 series. There is a change for the new XS phones, though. The front-facing speaker, which is also the earpiece, has been improved. It is much louder now, almost as loud as the bottom one, and it's now able to pull its own weight when it comes to loudness, instead of merely aiding in the stereo effect.
Huawei made this setup trending, but you could always hear the difference in loudness. That's the case with the latest P and Mate series, and it's also the case with the iPhone 8 and X. Well, that's no more.
Apple uses a full-blown speaker behind that earpiece grille, and it is really loud, almost as the bottom one. The sound is richer, and the bass is deeper, and after playing multiple songs, videos, and games, we feel the iPhone XS Max has one of the best speaker setups a smartphone could offer today. And it's slightly louder than what we got from the XS, scoring an Excellent mark by our calcs. This experience should be something others should look up to.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
Starting with the 2018 lineup Apple no longer includes a Lightning to 3.5mm audio adapter in the retail package of its iPhones, which means that we were unable to perform our audio quality test. We could have used an adapter from the iPhone X, but since the adapter contains a built-in DAC, the output would be representative of the adapter rather than the new iPhone XS Max.
Active adapters such as this one do their own processing, so if you get a different adapter, you won't get the same kind of output, and our findings wouldn't be relevant to you.
Still, if you plan on purchasing the official Apple adapter, you will get the exact same output as with the iPhone X. You can find how it did over here.