On the heels of the iPhone X comes the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and XS Max, the latter of which we’ve been using around the office. Like so much from Apple, the iPhone XS Max is undoubtedly one of the best mobile devices on the market, as striking in design as it is in performance. Its OLED display–which comes housed under durable glass–is the largest in the brand’s history. Bursting forth from that screen is a full spectrum of stunningly accurate colour. Indeed, this thing is a beast.
Of course, what most folks really want to know is: how’s the camera? Well, we’re happy to report that the camera on the iPhone XS and XS Max has been tweaked to perfection, representing a small but significant improvement over the iPhone X, which says a lot because the iPhone X camera was already pretty extraordinary. And while the camera is perhaps comparable to the iPhone XR, the pixel density and adjoining display resolution are substantially greater. Furthermore, the XS (and XS Max) has two rear cameras while the XR has just one, meaning the XR doesn’t offer 2x optical zoom. Putting comparisons aside, we can’t stop taking pics with our iPhone XS Max, and utilising the gadget’s wondrous post-shot capabilities.
Facing the front on the iPhone XS Max is a 7MP camera with f/2.2 lens, Face ID, and Animojis. According to Apple, the 7MP sensor is twice the speed of the preceding model, and while we weren’t exactly taking measurements, we certainly vouch for the selfie camera’s swift alacrity. At the back is a dual 12MP camera with a 1.4µm sensor (the iPhone X sensor, by comparison, is 1.22µm), a wide-angle f/1.8 lens, an f2.4 telephoto lens, 10x digital zoom, and five portrait lighting effects.
Also featured on the iPhone XS Max is a formidable pixel size and depth, enabling a higher sensitivity to light along with improved auto-focus. That’s joined by 4K video, optical image stabilisation, and True Tone Flash. Put it all together and you have a smartphone camera that’s fast, sharp, and just all around magnificent.
Among the iPhone XS Max’s bevy of camera features is Smart HDR. Specifically, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, a technology that combines a series of photos into a single image in order to better maximise the finer points and contrasts alike. Meanwhile, Smart HDR–which comes powered by the processor in the device’s A12 Bionic chip–takes things a step further. By employing some advanced algorithms, the technology shoots 4 frames between each shot and captures secondary images at different exposures. As a result, Smart HDR is able to optimise the final image to even greater effect, leading to improved details and sharper colours.
Portrait Mode and Depth Control
Portrait Mode is a technology that’s been used by other manufacturers, and we’re happy to see Apple bringing it into the fold. One nifty edit feature it includes is Depth Control, which allows you to adjust the bokeh effect (i.e. background blur) after you’ve already taken the picture, using a slider in the gallery. If you’re someone who takes the depth of field seriously, this means you don’t have to tinker with the camera while the ideal shot passes you by.
Bolstered by some serious intelligence, Portrait Mode also enables better and sharper pictures of people (and their heads, in particular). That is, it provides greater definition at the perimeter of the head, which is prone to blurring when paired with soft backdrops. In general, this blurring effect is a common annoyance in digital photography, and it’s great to see brands like Apple doing their part to eradicate it.
As stated earlier, the differences between the iPhone XS Max and iPhone X cameras aren’t exactly what one might call substantial. However, a better sensor can go a long way, and there has been some improvement in picture quality. Also, the camera is completely effortless to use, and purposefully minimalistic. To that end, everything from taking the pic to editing the bokeh effect to zooming in or out is usually just a matter of pushing the right button or sliding in a given direction. In summary, you’ll hear no complaints from us in terms of the camera’s performance.
In case it’s not yet obvious, the iPhone XS Max is an excellent smartphone with a great camera. If we have a favourite feature, it’s the smart HDR, which really achieves the full potential of a given image, maximising the colours and details alike. Pair that with the camera’s ability to distinguish facial edges from the background blur, and it results in photos that pretty much epitomise sharpness. Of course, we’re also huge fans of all the post-shot edit capabilities. After all, the perfect shot waits for no man, and now it doesn’t have to.
As for the smartphone itself, expect a big, sleek, and sturdy stunner. And while Apple might have dubbed it the XS Max, the gadget feels anything but excessive. On the contrary, it feels just right. Maybe that’s why we’re so addicted to using it.