A supersized iPhone with speed to spare

As well as having the largest screen on the market, the iPhone Xs Max is fast enough for some interesting augmented-reality capabilities

iPhone Xs Max, from £1,099
iPhone Xs Max, from £1,099 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

Two years ago, in this spot, I proclaimed the iPhone 7 “a masterpiece”. Then, in January this year, I described the iPhone X, after a couple of weeks of using it, as “superb”. I later decided it was the best phone ever made, although I somewhat revised my opinion after an unfortunate incident in June, when, having proved it worked in a swimming pool, I took it for a brief dip in the Med only to discover the waterproofing claim didn’t cover saltwater. The device was ruined. Now I’m sticking my neck out to say the new Xs, specifically the giant Xs Max, really is the best phone ever made, and not just because Apple has sorted out the saltwater thing (Apple is circumspect about this, saying it’s fine for a bit, but deliberately using it in the briny isn’t recommended – I shan’t be). 

So what are the qualities of this “phone” – though it’s a funny word to use to describe this device – that has stolen my techie heart? A lot has been written about the camera, and yes, it’s impressive, but still not as good as a reasonably priced dedicated digital camera. The first killer feature of the Xs Max is the screen, which is currently the largest of any high-performance phone on the market (even the new Google Pixel 3 XL is a fraction smaller). The Xs Max makes the iPad Mini, which I used to love, redundant; you can easily watch a film on this telephone.  

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Other things I love: after taking a portrait, you can tune the background out of focus to the equivalent of a wide-open f1.4 lens – you’ll be amazed how professional the shots look; the face ID is now instantaneous and even works in the near dark; there’s provision for a dual-SIM arrangement, although yet to be operational at the time of writing; and finally, the processing is now so fast that there are some very interesting augmented-reality capabilities, which I will be demo-ing in a forthcoming Technopolis TV.

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