THIS VIDEO WAS CREATED BY: Dave Lee
Hey, how’s it going? Dave 2D here. Okay, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, these are devices that… Well, when they did the announcement I was not overly impressed with them, not because they weren’t good phones, but I just felt like they were very similar to the iPhone X that I already had. And, ever since the iPhone 3G– like, not the original iPhone, but the one after that– I have gotten every single iteration of every iPhone possible. Because I’m an iPhone user, it’s always been my thing. This is the first year that I will not be upgrading to the iPhone XS Max or even the iPhone XS. So, these phones are– they’re easy to criticize. I feel like people have been critical about the price tag– it’s very expensive and yet it doesn’t include the fast charging cable or a fast charging brick.
It also doesn’t include the analog headphone adapter this year, so a few things feel like they’re missing right out of the box. Now, on paper, the specs are pretty good, but there were no standout features that really made these iPhones pop out as being really special phones this year. But I ordered a pair anyways just because I was interested to see if the XS Max would be a phone I’d be interested in switching to– just because of the bigger size, bigger screen I thought I’d be interested in it.
Short answer: It’s a great phone, but it’s not enough for me to switch over to it coming from the iPhone X. A couple physical things I don’t love about it: It’s a big phone, bigger than I thought it would be– like, it’s been a while since I used one of the Plus-sized iPhones and it’s a big phone. I’ve used this for four, five days at this point and it just feels–it feels big. I don’t like it. Uh, I definitely prefer the smaller size of the iPhone XS or the iPhone X. And also, the color on this phone is more pink than I thought it would be. Like, in pictures on their website, it looks like kind of like a brownish gold, but in real life, I think on certain angles, it’s got this pinkish hue I think it’s because the glass has this iridescence to it and when you tilt it the right way it’s just–it’s pink to me Uh, and I don’t love that. But, aesthetics aside, it’s a really good phone and the camera is way better than I thought it would be. So, over the past few days, I’ve been shooting quite a bit with it and the only thing I can confidently say is that it’s definitely a better camera than the iPhone X.
As for whether it’s better than the Pixel 2 XL or even the Note 9, I feel like that’s a lot more subjective I’ve always had personal preference for the way that images look coming off the Pixel 2 XL and over the past year I feel like it’s been the “camera leader.” That’s just my personal preference, but right now the iPhone XS really gives it a run for the money. The iPhone X from last year just always felt sub-standard compared to the Pixel 2 XL but XS and the XS Max really stepped it up They’re still not the leader with low-light photography.
I think the Samsung flagships and the Pixel 2 XL still do a little bit better with low-light photography, but the XS and the XS Max are definitely better than the X. The other thing I noticed is that the XS Max has a more aggressive facial smoothing compared to the iPhone X. Apple has traditionally been timid or light-handed with any of the facial smoothing or any kind of effects that they put on the selfie cam, but this year it’s bumped up a little bit. It’s not crazy over-the-top like the Huawei P20– that thing just /destroyed/ my kid’s face, but, it is noticeable compared to the iPhone X.
Everything else on the iPhone XS Max, though, feels really kinda similar to the iPhone X–and I think that’s the whole point of this phone. I mean, it’s not meant for people that are coming from the iPhone X to just immediately want to upgrade to the XS or the XS Max. I feel like these phones are reserved more for people that have older phones and they’re great phones in that regard, it’s just that for someone that’s a bit of an iPhone–not a fanboy, but I’m an iPhone enthusiast; I use them every year– it’s just not enough of a hardware upgrade to switch over to this year’s.
IOS 12 running on my old iPhone X feels like a fresh phone to me. The stacked notifications and Siri’s shortcuts and the improved speeds: it’s a really nice OS update. So my overall thoughts on this phone: if you’re fortunate enough to have an iPhone X from last year I think you’ll find the iPhone XS and the XS Max kind of uninspiring. They’re great phones, but they’re just so similar to the iPhone X from last year that you probably won’t be compelled to upgrade to them this year. If you have an older generation phone, they’re awesome phones. But, I think the real winner here is actually iOS 12. It has made older devices–like, even the 5S: this is a device–I actually use it pretty frequently for work and I actually use it, like, for the thermal imaging app for my laptop reviews and this phone feels like it’s doubled the speed compared to what it was like on iOS 11, and that just speaks volumes about software in general, right? For Apple to put out iOS 12, it must have taken crazy amounts of effort and time, money, and we get it for free*, it just breathes new life into older hardware.
You look at these phones, the XS and the XS Max, they’re fantastic hardware, and we’re always in that pursuit of, like, better phones, faster phones, but this time, software did the trick for me. It wasn’t hardware, like, this is great hardware, but I feel like it just got eclipsed by how good the software was this year. Okay, hope you guys enjoyed this video. Thumbs if you liked it, subs if you loved it.