iPhone XS Max First Impressions


The most bizarrely named iPhone finally landed in the hands of eager owners on Friday. Predictably, for god-knows how many years in a row, I couldn’t resist temptation and got my upgrade on launch day. Here are a few of my thoughts on Apple’s latest and greatest phone.

The size of the Max phone is my primary reason for upgrading. The iPhone X was nice, but I missed a big phone and being able to use apps in horizontal view.

iPhone XS MaxIn your hands, the phone feels big, but not unmanageable. I can use the phone in one hand, accessing control centre with some slight adjustment in grip. For typing, I use two index fingers, but I did this with the iPhone X as well.

The screen size doesn’t bring a horizontal view to the home screen like it did on the old ‘Plus’ phones. You also don’t get an additional row of icons over the smaller XS and X models. UI elements are slightly bigger and there is greater spacing, but generally it doesn’t bring additional advantages over the 5.8″ models.

The screen looks awesome and the OLED display is incredible. Even now, I can’t get over just how brilliant the screen looks even at the widest and weirdest viewing angles.

A lot of apps haven’t been optimised for the larger display. The apps don’t look bad, in fact most of the time they look great and the iPhone sizes clearly don’t suffer the same issues as iPads do when a new size is introduced (such as Facebook and GarageBand in the 10.5″ iPad Pro). However, you can tell which apps aren’t optimised quite easily.

The most obvious is when the keyboard is launched. Unoptimised apps have a slightly enlarged keyboard. Occasionally there are UI issues which affect functionality. For example, at the time of writing, the keyboard inside the WordPress app covers the last line of text you are writing and some text looks ever-so-slightly fuzzy in Tweetbot. Hopefully, developers will be quick to act now the phone is out.

I have barely had a chance to use the camera yet. Adjusting the f-stop after the shot has been taken through software simulation is a big selling point of the new phone. I was never a big fan of portrait mode. It often misreads the edge of faces or hair resulting in quite a fake look. It doesn’t seem to be any different this time around. However, I tend to shoot in RAW through the Lightroom app anyway.

iPhone AccessoriesMuch has been made of the fact that the new iPhone doesn’t come with a USB-C cable and fast charger.

I sympathise with Apple slightly here, although not too much. It is after all impossible to cater for everyone and switching to USB C will annoy a lot of people who don’t have the latest MacBook computers or want to be able to charge their phone in the car. There are also, people like me who have no need for the included cable, charger and EarPods. I’m sure there are many too, which results in a lot of waste.

The only solution I can see here is to ship only the iPhone in the box and let users choose which accessories (or no accessories) they want. This means smaller iPhone packaging which is good for the environment. Apple could also charge the same but make a donation to charity for users who do not want any accessories with their iPhone.

It seems the Apple Watch is taking this approach as the latest models have the strap in a separate box.

I don’t have much more to say at this point. It’s only been 24 hours so far. The phone is slightly quicker and the biggest improvements in speed seem to be with WiFi, LTE (4G) and connecting to HomeKit devices which seems a lot quicker.

I’ll take a bunch of photos and do some more app testing and will return with a follow-up post soon.

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