As much as I love the idea of the iPhone XR, I have already preorder the iPhone XS Max. I would have ordered one for my wife already except we had some confusion about the size of the device.
I suspect we were not the only ones confused about it. Apple has trained us to think in terms of better and best. The smaller new phone is better than the previous year’s phone. And the larger new phone is the best of the offerings based on features. It is everything the smaller phone is, plus a little more.
But it would be a mistake to think of the Max in this way. There is less to the Max than meets the eye. Here are the ways it is Max, and the ways it is not:
Resizing Your Expectations
When the 6.5” size was first rumored, people were abuzz about the ridiculous size of the device. After all, the Plus-branded phones are 5.5”. The natural expectation is that a phone with a screen a full inch larger would itself, be a full inch larger.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is the Max not a full inch larger, it is perceptively the same size. You will likely need finely calibrated tools to tell the difference. In some dimensions, it is most of a millimeter larger. In other dimensions, it is smaller by the same imperceptible amount.
It is the Plus size for all intents and purposes. If you are okay with the plus, you will be okay with the Max. It is less than you think when it comes to size. You will not need new pants, or a new purse, or a bigger smartphone holster. More to the point, you will not need bigger hands. If you can use the Plus, you can use the Max. If you were expecting some weirdly awkward phablet, think again.
Bigger Is No Longer Better
With a bigger case, you would suspect that Apple would cram in more parts. After all, that is what they have done in the past. Not this time. The rear camera system is identical. The front camera is also shared by both sizes.
Both have the same processors, the same ram, and the same dual-sim options. The only advantage enjoyed by the Max is battery life. And even that is not expected to be a real difference-maker.
Bottom line: the Max is only minimally different, and not really better. It is not a Plus, as it adds nothing you don’t get from the smaller model.
It should come as no surprise that with such small differences, there is only a small difference in price. In the grand scheme of things, $100 is not much of a premium. For that difference, you get the following:
- A taller and slightly wider screen
- Larger fonts and a bigger picture
- A little more battery life
What you do not get:
- More power
- More features
- An unmanageable formfactor
You get about $100 worth of benefit. If you are going for an S model and you don’t mind the size of the former Plus models, why not make it a Max?
If you are looking at the iPhone XS, my recommendation is skip it and either go for the Max, or go for the iPhone XR.