iPhone XS Max Review (aka iPhone X to iPhone Xs Max with a slight detour on the journey (Part 3))

So keep this in mind when one thinks of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus when used in a setup that is primarily orientated to using macOS and tvOS – the integration is woeful, the Samsung bloat – yes they have reduce but Samsung still hasn’t cottoned onto the fact that Samsung cloud is a solution in search of a problem and their own re-invention of the wheel when it comes to critical applications such as Phone, Messages, Contacts and Calendaring isn’t something anyone is demanding. Then there is the lack of integration between Google, maOS and Android in the form of client side applications to make management and synchronisation of music a giant chore. Then there is the issue of Chrome and G-Suite – no matter how much of a second chance I gave it, it always felt out of place and none of the G-Suite services integrated well with macOS especially when it came to the email service with its butchering of IMAP standards when it comes to the use mapping creating directories to the use of labels that Gmail is based upon.

With all that in the background I returned the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and bought an iPhone XS Max 256GB (I was tempted by the 512GB version but it would be a major over kill for what I needed it for) along with an Otterbox flip case (link) which I picked up from Noel Leeming. I prefer going with the flip case because I use it to replace my wallet so then I only have one thing that I need to carry around which has my phone as well as my EFTPOS cards, ID for work along with my drivers licence (it is a requirement in New Zealand that when you drive that you have your licence on you).

Side note: I’m not going to focus on every feature but rather talking about the things that other reviewers haven’t talked about regarding the iPhone XS Max.

The first time you’ll notice when coming from an iPhone X is how substantial the phone is in terms of not only the build quality but also the the weight and size. It wasn’t until I got home and opened up the box when I realised just how big it was – not that it is a bad thing but visually it isn’t until you see a device the same dimensions as the iPhone 8 Plus but having a edge to edge display when you realise just how much space on the old ‘classic’ iPhone design was wasted once the scree is taken full size. Going from the iPhone X love the screen size especially with the screen configuration set to zoom. The screen quality appears to be better – I can’t empirically prove it but based on my experience it is an improvement in the areas of of brightness, colour accuracy and vibrancy, it is better than the iPhone X. When I say better I am not saying that it is hugely better but the improve is noticeable to the naked eye.

When it comes to responsiveness and over all performance, I updated it to iOS 12.0.1 – when it comes to operations such as taking photos with great detail, compressing video and so on the performance is outstanding but I think the biggest factor has been the under the hood performance improvements with the biggest improvement is improvements in the auto layout framework not to mention whole new frameworks which should make life easier for programmers. That being said, as I’ve noted in the past, you can keep throwing more hardware at a problem but eventually you’re going to hit a brick wall in much the same way that Microsoft hit a prick wall – throwing more hardware at a software problem is only going to compound the problems further than the demands placed on it by developers increase thus make the problems exponentially worse. The Verge has a great article going into detail and some benchmarks regarding (link) and I’d hazard to guess that with the launch of iOS 12.1 that we’ll see Group FaceTime will be merged back with iOS 12.1/macOS 10.14.1 along with more performance improvements.

When Apple made a switch to Intel modems (Intel having bought Infineon Technologies which were the original suppliers of cellular modems to Apple before moving to Qualcomm) there was a lot of noise made about the fact that the Intel XMM 7480 was lacking in areas such as download/upload speeds, reported issues when in spotty coverage areas, along with it’s die size many generations behind the Qualcomm counterpart which results in higher power usage. With the lunch of the XS and XR models, it now includes the new Intel XMM 7560 modem which supports both GSM/W-CDMA/LTE/CDMA2000 and other technologies which means a standardisation on a single modem suppler. There have been reports of issues with wifi and modem but my experience so far with my phone has been very positive – the signal is stronger than my old iPhone X (which had the XMM 7480 modem) and the wifi experience has been rock solid. Keep in mind that I’m located in New Zealand and use Skinny (which uses the Spark network) which operates 3G on 850/2100MHz and 4G/LTE on 700/1800/2300/2600MHz – it all works very reliably for both wifi and on the mobile network. There have been reported issues in the United States customers but for me everything is working well so I wonder whether this is an example of a niche situation given the abysmal quality of American mobile networks where ‘one dot’ is the norm where in most other countries ‘one dot’ would indicate a lousy connection.

Battery life has been superb but then again I never had issues with battery life given that what I most likely used it for didn’t require the screen on for long periods of time (aka listening to music) helps given that it is the component that has the biggest impact upon battery life – hence the move to AMOLED helped with battery life (I wouldn’t be surprised if in the long term that Apple moves away from LCD for all their products especially portables). It will be interesting to see what the battery life is like in the future as there will most likely be a baseband update included in iOS 12.1 – the die shrink for the modem down to 14nm (half the size as the one in the iPhone X/8) which should help with power consumption and with a more mature baseband and driver it will become more efficient overtime. Rumour has it that from 2020 onwards that Intel won’t be a modem supplier to Apple but then again the same sources said that Intel’s modem team had been abandoned then the next day they reported that Intel said that no such thing had taken place so I guess it’ll be a situation of ‘watch this space’.

Regarding the case that I bought, normally I buy a TwelveSouth BookBook but unfortunately for some reason they have decided not to ship then yet so I needed up buying a flip phone cover from Otterbox (I never realised they made such cases since I typically associate them with big chunky ruggedised cases). The one aspect I do like is the magnet latch which keeps it closed but other than that, it does a great job for what it is designed.

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