Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The iPhone Xs Max

The Philippines is part of the third wave of release of new iPhones. So, by the time we receive our iPhones, there are already as many reviews as iPhones out there in the wild. So, it is a bit pointless, in my opinion, to make a review of it. But, I can still gush about it! And its beauty and its magnificence and its luster and...


Before the XS Max (pronounced TEN S max), my latest iPhone had been the iPhone 7. I like big smartphones (though I would be the first in line if ever Apple releases a flip phone...) and I am actually wondering why I didn’t opt for the 7+. But anyway, I skipped the 2017 release models of the iPhones because,

  • The iPhone X wasn’t exactly a big screen phone - not considering the notch area, the iPhone 6s+ effective screen area is actually bigger than the X;
  • I felt it too soon to upgrade the iPhone 7 to last year’s 8+.

So, after two years of waiting, I decided to go for the XS Max. It’s effective screen size is bigger even if you disregard the notch. Also, considering that the actual size of the phone is no bigger than the 6s+, I feel that the Xs Max’s display is an engineering marvel! Or something…

Yes, the OLED screen is very beautiful. Yes, the camera is great (except for the beautifying effect caused by an aggressive HDR system). Yes, it is fast!

But the thing that really wowed me was the Face ID. It’s fast, it’s consistent. It’s secure. I tried unlocking it by facing the phone on towards an iPad with the selfie camera on - it didn’t work. I tried using a photo of mine - it didn’t work. I tried unlocking the phone with my eyes closed - it didn’t work. I tried unlocking the phone while I was looking away - it didn’t work.

The Face ID technology of the iPhone X and XS/Max is the only face-related phone unlock technology I will trust - for now.


The reason I say this is because people, and most reviewers, put Apple to a different standard. When the Face ID on the iPhone X came out, a lot of people tried to fool the TrueDepth technology. They made masks, hired special effects companies, etc. The only thing that can fool the Face ID was if you have an identical twin!

Also, as a personal anecdote, when I had my accident and my face got severely swollen, my iPhone Xs Max couldn’t recognize me. But, as the swelling went down, about 4 or 5 days after, the phone started recognizing me again!

But when other face unlock technologies from a different OS phones came out, I don’t know if they underwent the same scrutiny... I could be wrong and I would love to know more about such endeavors if it happened.

Anyway, Face ID, for me, made the upgrade worth it. You can unlock the phone, auto-fill passwords and user names, make purchases on iTunes (Apple Pay is not yet available here in the Philippines), etc. It is such a convenient new way of interacting with the phone. I just wish you can unlock the phone from any angle just like on the 2018 iPad Pros...

So, even if, for the price of a maxed out iPhone XS Max, you can treat 94 of your friends to an all-you-can-eat buffet here in the Philippines (link), for me, the iPhone XS Max is Highly Recommended!

Check out these YouTube videos showing what the Face ID of the iPhone X/Xs can do. The first one is narrated by Joanna Stern. Also, note that in one of the latest Android devices, in 2019, in the second video at the 5:22 mark, Android’s face ID version can still be fooled by a video…

The iPhone Xs Max, despite the price, is Highly Recommended!

Photos shot with an iPhone 7.

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