The iPhone XS Max is the new Plus-sized iPhone in Apple’s lineup now. It replaces the company’s Plus iPhone lineup and brings to the table an even bigger 6.5-inch OLED display. As an iPhone 8 Plus owner, should you upgrade to the iPhone XS Max though? The iPhone 8 Plus is just a year old right now but does the iPhone XS Max bring enough new features to the table to make the switch worth considering? Read our decision calculator to find out.
The iPhone XS Max is the absolute best iPhone Apple offers in terms of specs, performance, and battery life. But does it offer enough to warrant an upgrade over the year-old iPhone 8 Plus?
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: To Upgrade or Not?
Design and Display
The biggest area where the iPhone XS Max sets itself apart from the iPhone 8 Plus is design and display. The iPhone XS Max with its bezel-less front has a futuristic look, while the less said about the iPhone 8 Plus the better. With even budget smartphones now coming with small bezels, the iPhone 8 Plus looks outdated in front of them with its massive bezels. The iPhone XS Max features a stainless steel chassis which gives it a more premium in-hand feel than the aluminum chassis of the iPhone 8 Plus.
The iPhone XS Max also carries a higher IP68 water-resistance certification when compared to the iPhone 8 Plus (IP67). This difference is unlikely to play a huge role for anyone looking to upgrade to the iPhone XS Max.
The same story stands true for the display. The iPhone 8 Plus comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display that’s not bad by any means. In fact, it is among the best displays around in a smartphone. And yet, it does not hold a candle against the 6.5-inch OLED display of the iPhone XS Max which features HDR 10, Dolby Vision, higher resolution, and improved contrast ratio and color reproduction.
This is one area where despite the iPhone XS Max being better thanks to its A12 Bionic chip, the iPhone 8 Plus can hold its own. The latter’s A11 Bionic chip is still plenty fast by today’s standards and the phone’s performance is only going to improve further once iOS 12 lands next week.
TrueDepth Camera, Face ID
While the iPhone 8 Plus comes with a regular FaceTime HD camera, the iPhone XS Max comes with a TrueDepth camera sensor. The latter is significantly more complex and consists of a bunch of sensors alongside a 7MP shooter. This allows the TrueDepth camera system to capture depth information. It also allows Apple to offer Face ID on the handset which is now even faster than on the iPhone X from last year.
In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus features Touch ID. While it is more reliable, fingerprint scanners are now a thing of the past in Apple’s world with the company now heavily pushing its Face ID technology as it is more convenient and futuristic.
The TrueDepth camera on the iPhone XS Max also allows it to offer features like Animoji, Memoji, and capture Portrait selfies with depth control. All these features are missing on the iPhone 8 Plus since it lacks the necessary hardware. While not an immediate reason to upgrade, there’s no denying the fact that Face ID is more convenient than Touch ID — at least when it works properly. And Memoji, Animoji are cool new ways to interact with your loved ones.
The iPhone XS Max and iPhone 8 Plus both feature a dual-camera setup at the rear. The primary 12MP camera of the iPhone XS Max features larger pixels and comes with Smart HDR which should help it in low-light scenarios and capture photos with more details and dynamic range.
While impressive, the improved primary camera is not a big draw in itself unless you are someone who clicks hundreds of photos from your phone on a weekly basis. The secondary telephoto sensor is slightly better on the iPhone XS Max since it features OIS and a wider aperture. But again, it does not make a world of difference and even when you add in the improvements to both sensors, the iPhone XS Max does not make for a compelling upgrade over the iPhone 8 Plus from a camera perspective.
If you are someone who carries two smartphones around because you have multiple numbers, you might want to consider upgrading to the iPhone XS Max from your iPhone 8 Plus since it has dual-SIM functionality. However, before making the jump, make sure to check that your carrier has support for eSIM. Unlike other dual-SIM phones, the iPhone XS features an eSIM slot. This means you will have to register on the second network from within the device. This feature is carrier dependent and right now, it has only been rolled out in nine countries.
As a bonus, the iPhone XS Max also offers Gigabit LTE support which means better network reception and data speeds.
The iPhone 8 Plus comes with a maximum storage of 256GB, while the XS Max comes with 512GB. If you already own a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus and are running out of space on it, you might want to look into buying the 512GB iPhone XS Max. That is unless you don’t want to delete some data from the handset to free up storage space on it. If you are unwilling to do that though, spending a bomb and upgrading to the 512GB iPhone XS Max is your only option.
The iPhone XS Max offers 90 minutes of better battery life than the iPhone 8 Plus. It also offers 4 hours more talk time and an hour of additional browsing time than the iPhone 8 Plus. While the iPhone XS Max does offer slightly better battery life than the iPhone 8 Plus, it is not a big difference. If you struggled to make it through a day with the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone XS Max is unlikely to change that.
You can probably buy a fast charger to reduce the charging times of your iPhone 8 Plus or keep a wireless charger on your desk so that the phone’s battery can top itself off while you are working.
While the iPhone XS Max does offer some key improvements over the iPhone 8 Plus in design and display department, it simply does not make for a compelling upgrade especially when you consider the fact that it is priced at $1,099. If you are someone who always wants the best iPhone that’s currently in the market though, the iPhone XS Max is what you need to go for.