A non-tech guy's review: I've been using the new iPhone XS for the past 48 hours

Sep 20 2018, 7:45 pm

Last week, Apple announced its latest line up of iPhones, including the XS Max – the largest iPhone screen ever made, with a 6.5″ super retina display.

And that’s what I’ve been using for the past two days.

First things first, I came from an iPhone 8 Plus. Before that, excluding a brief flirtation with Android, I had an iPhone 7 Plus, an iPhone 6, and, a long time ago, an iPhone 3GS. Seriously, I still have it in our office. Here it is beside the XS Max:

This picture was NOT taken on the XS Max

Fun Fact: The 3GS has 1/64 of the space (8GB) that the largest XS Max currently offers (512GB).

Anyway, the point is, I may not be a tech guy, but I’ve spent a lot of time with an iPhone in my hand over the past decade. And the XS Max does not disappoint.

First of all, it’s waterproof. Not like, maybe-I-can-use-this-under-an-umbrella-and-not-break-it waterproof, more like they have a splash, water, and dust resistance rating of IP68, which equates to up to 2 metres for 30 minutes. Basically it can hold its breath longer than you.

Everything about this phone is a superlative – it’s a ‘Max’ size, it has a ‘super’ retina display, the new A12 chip is ‘bionic’, and the HDR is ‘smart’. Basically, the words you use to describe it are usually reserved for Beyonce, Ellen, or Oprah.

The first thing I noticed was that the Max is essentially identical in size to both the 7 and 8 Plus – it’s just that it’s all screen (minus the infamous notch). Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it’s not just fast, it’s faster than any phone I’ve ever used – by a mile.

In fact, its new Face ID technology means my phone now recognizes my face faster than my own mother.

But, in my two days of experience, what separates the iPhone XS Max more than anything is the camera. It’s a game-changer for anyone who’s ever even heard the word Instagram.

Not only does it have dual 12MP cameras, one is a wide-angle that features a ƒ/1.8 six-element lens, while the other is a telephoto offering a powerful ƒ/2.4 aperture. But it’s the Portrait Mode setting that really takes your shots to the next level.

For the first time ever, the new depth control lets you adjust the depth of field after you shoot. Simply hit ‘edit’ after taking a photo and you’ll have the option to adjust the depth of field, creating professional-looking photos full of all the bokeh you can handle (you know, that cool blur aesthetic you’ve always dreamed of producing with your smartphone).

iPhone XS

An example of editing the depth on a photo

To show just what kind of a difference this can make to your photos, I forced* Daily Hive’s Toronto Editor Yasmin Aboelsaud to take part in a photo shoot in and around our city’s famed graffiti alley. Check out the difference in the before and after photos once the depth of field has been adjusted:

Before

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Daily Hive

After

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Before

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After

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Daily Hive

Before

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After

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Of course, photos without any depth manipulation look pretty damn good on their own too:

iPhone XS

Daily Hive

iPhone XS

Daily Hive

The iPhone XS and XS Max will be available in Canada in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB capacity models in space gray, silver and a new gold finish starting at $1379 (CAD) and $1,519 (CAD) respectively on September 21.

Expect lineups.

*She got a coffee out of it, I’m not a monster.