The iPhone XS Max in the LEAD test

1-6-4-9. The new house number of Apple. Costing the iPhone X, introduced in the fall of 2017, up to 1349 euros (with 256 GB of storage space), Apple has now once again turned on the price screw. The new XS Max model with 512 GB is 1649 euros, the 256 GB model of the XS Max at 1419 euros. 70 euros more than its predecessor iPhone X costs.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has just relativized the new pricing in the CBS show “Good Morning America”: Apple have many good older models in the range, the average price for an iPhone is currently “at 1 dollar per day”.

Is the premium smartphone for up to 1649 euros still worth the money? LEAD has tested.

The history

When Apple released the iPhone X in the fall of 2017, all buyers were in some ways test subjects. With the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus devices came on the market, which were in line with the previous models: Home Button, bars at the top and bottom of the display.

The X was different: FaceID to unlock, no home button, new gesture control, almost borderless screen, apart from the notch (notch) on the upper edge of the case.


The X was the beta test for the new iPhones this year. And the pointer to the future of iPhone development.

more on the subject: iPhone Guide: Which device fits you?

Apple set a new standard for the entire industry, which after the X-release suddenly threw through the bank rimless smartphones with Notch on the market.

Apple has abolished the home button in all three new iPhones this fall. FaceID is used for authentication, all models are almost borderless, all are supplied with Notch – and all with the iPhone X familiar gesture control. In summary: The X-generation defined the next evolution of the iPhone, starting today with the XS and the XS Max.

Size comparison 6 photo Gronau
The iPhone XS Max in size comparison (Photo: Gronau)

The name

First of all, why Apple calls its devices XS, XS Max and XR remains officially a secret. Apple does not talk about that. The “S” could stand for speed. This has been speculated for years, it was never confirmed. Nevertheless, the “S” always marks an intermediate stage.

The XR? Is most likely for R like puzzles, in terms of meaning. Nobody knows. Max stands for the larger screen compared to the XS: 5.8 inches versus 6.5 inches at max.

The size

The XS Max could scare with 6.5 inches many iPhone prospective buyers. Even bigger than the Plus series (5.8 “), fits in no trouser pocket, is unwieldy ?! Yes and no. We had the 6.5 “-” phone “(yes, you can also make calls with the iPhone XS Max), but in reality it comes very close to the iPhone 8 Plus.

For people with slim and rather short fingers, one-hand operation is definitely not possible. But because the visible surface fills the whole front display, it looks rather smaller and more compact than the 8 Plus from last year. But despite the big hands of the author, the usage leveled from the first minute: With the right hold the Max, with his left index finger tapping. Folded easily, was not exhausting.

PS. (If you need it): The Reachability feature, where the screen shuts down to half, still exists. Too bad: The Max does not offer an additional app series. This hope was not fulfilled.

the display

Watching videos, surfing on a larger area: For this application, the large and truly brilliant high-resolution OLED display of the Max, called by Apple “Super Retina HDR”, is made – and a real added value.

Naked figures – 558 ppi, at a resolution of 2688 x 1242 – or not, the look on the display makes it clear: In conjunction with TrueTone and NightShift, the adjustment of the display to the respective day and night time, the display is one , which also supports HDR, for reference in the market.


FaceID works, as with the predecessor X, formidable. TouchID is dead.

Although Apple’s statement that facial recognition now works even faster, it did not show up significantly during setup. Everything as always, everything as with the X. Also in this generation Apple omits however FaceID in the landscape format. Only the portrait mode is supported.

The camera

Is there more? The question is probably every year. And also in 2018 Apple managed to make the very good camera even better.

So Apple extends the depth segmentation thanks to the new Neural Engine, the new Smart HDR refined image details with higher dynamic range – especially in front of a luminous background and evening shots. Portrait mode and dynamic depth of field have also been optimized.

This also benefits videos. We were particularly surprised by the recording of the stereo soundtrack, which was not mentioned in the keynote. For the first time four microphones are installed in the new iPhone, the channels are separated. This can actually be distinguished when a cyclist moves from the left into the picture and right back out.

The processor

A few guesswork: The more power-efficient A12 Bionic replaces the A11 in the X and performs thanks to the new neutral engine 5 trillion operations per second, the A11 was “only” 600 billion operations per second.

Apple promises a 15 percent performance improvement. In the first tests, the XS Max was not significantly faster than the already extremely fast A11. The 50 percent faster GPU compared to the A11 GPU impresses power users, the average Joe users will hardly notice the difference.

It is noteworthy, however, that the A12 is the industry’s first 7nm chip. Apple is setting standards.

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The speaker

Noteworthy is the much improved sound of the internal speakers, they are louder and clearer. Apple calls the “Wide Stereo”, on the keynote the fine tuning took up a lot of space. A progress certainly.

But let’s be honest: who hears his music today via the smartphone-internal speakers? These situations are rare, which is usually streamed via Bluetooth speakers or headphones.

The battery

Apple estimates the XS Max to improve the battery life of 90 minutes compared to the iPhone X. A point that should be tested in the coming days. In the short time it was not possible to verify this promise.

Other pre-testers speak of about 12 hours of battery life at normal load, without having to go into power saving mode.

iPhone XS Max has a 3174mAh battery with 4GB of RAM and the XS has 2658mAh at 4GB. For comparison, the XR comes with 3GB and 2942 mAh battery in October, should then have the best mileage of all three new models.

Side note: According to Apple, the iPhone can now charge 100 percent 30 minutes faster on the wireless charging pads. That too will have to be checked in the next few hours.

Other special features

Apple has made device encryption even more secure with an enhanced secure enclave: While corporations such as Google continue to live on selling data, Apple is taking the new iPhone models a step further in terms of security.

With technologies such as differential privacy, random information is added to the iPhone’s private data. Only then does Apple analyze the device, but can not connect this data with your iPhone.

The XS Max is now dustproof and water resistant to IP68, previously IP67. It could be underwater for about 30 minutes in two meters, after which it would have to be dried for five hours before you recharge it, according to Apple. No everyday scenario. But good to know.


1-6-4-9 is a house number. But if you are interested in the new iPhone XS, the version with 256 GB should be enough to store its content on the device. So then at least “only” 1419 euros for the iPhone XS Max due. A proud price, but also for the currently probably best premium smartphone on the market.

LEAD recommends:

If you own an older version of the iPhone, you get the trend-setting iPhone technology with the new generation and can upgrade without hesitation. Anyone who has indulged in an iPhone X last year, has to think twice about whether he needs the XS.

The XS Max with its impressive 6.5-inch screen, however, is also a change, if you liked the X from 2017, but the screen was clearly too small.

Who has appreciated his Plus model, for the XS Max is the ideal entry into the new (gesture) world of Apple – the Home Button you will not miss after a few minutes, bet?

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