iPhone XS Max Design
The iPhone XS Max follows the same design language as the iPhone XS, the XR, and the X before it.
The front is nearly all-screen, with only the notch and a little chin getting in the way of the OLED display. The glass rear is available in three distinctly iPhone colors: Silver, Space Gray and Gold. You get the same large capsule-shaped camera bump as the XS, and some light-touch Apple and iPhone branding.
Both glass panels are flanked by a curved stainless steel band, which also houses a single lightning port and no headphone jack. So far, so iPhone.
The most noticable difference between the XS Max and other iPhones is simply the size of the device. It stands at 157.5mm tall (6.2-inches) and features a 6.5-inch screen on the diagonal. For reference, that makes the XS Max 4 mm smaller than the Samsung Note 9 and 1 mm smaller than Google’s Pixel 3 XL, while packing a screen that is 0.1-inch and 0.2-inches bigger than those phones, respectively.
The XS Max is 7g heavier than the Note 9 and 24g heavier than the Pixel 3 XL. That might not sound like much, but in hand, you definitely notice the XS Max’s extra heft. This extra weight largely comes from the stainless steel clasp that holds the front and rear glass together, and this extra heft lends the XS Max a more solid, well-built feel.
One area where the XS Max does fall down is in its width. It’s a full millimeter wider than the Note 9 and 0.7mm wider than the Pixel 3 XL. Again, that might not sound like a lot, but it makes the iPhone feel slightly more ungainly. The extra width makes one-handed holding, let alone one-handed use, significantly more challenging.
iPhone XS Max Display
The XS Max’s beefed-up body gives it almost an inch of extra screen size compared to the regular XS.
Having a phone screen this large definitely has its advantages. Firstly, it makes productivity tasks easier, such as reviewing documents or reading and writing emails. Secondly, it makes watching videos or playing games even more enjoyable.
However, the extra screen size afforded to the XS Max generally feels, well, wasted. The Samsung Note 9, for example, has great multitasking functionality, which allows you to display two apps in an over-and-under arrangement for easier on-the-go work.
Everything on the XS Max is, simply, bigger. The extra screen isn’t utilized to its fullest, and as a result, it makes the XS Max feel a bit lumpen. It’s taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
The under-utilization of the extra screen feels even more disappointing when split-screen functionality is already available in the iOS operating system – Apple uses it extensively on iPads to help pitch them as laptop replacements, for example.