iPhone XS Max

iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max was one of Apple's two 2018 flagships. It continued with the full-screen design and Face ID sensors that had debuted the previous year in the iPhone X. It was the first plus-sized iPhone with a full-screen design. As the first iPhone with finer Portrait Mode controls and Smart HDR, its camera was one of its selling features. Apple discontinued it in 2019.

● Apple's 2018 flagship
● 6.5-inch edge-to-edge display
● Face ID
● A12 Bionic chipset
● Bokeh and depth controls
● Smart HDR
● Started at $1,099

Page last updated: 16 hours ago

The iPhone XS Max was the larger of Apple's two 2018 flagship phones. It was the first plus-sized model in Apple's all-screen phone line. Compared to the previous-generation iPhone X, the iPhone XS included a faster A12 Bionic chip and better cameras. Apple discontinued the device the following year when the iPhone 11 Pro Max replaced it.

iPhone XS Max Pricing

iPhone XS Max Trade In Deals imageBest iPhone XS Max Prices image

Apple no longer sells the iPhone XS Max. Some retailers still have stock, but it's now a two-generation-old flagship. The iPhone 12 series offers significant improvements across the board, so the iPhone XS Max is only likely to appeal to shoppers today at a highly discounted price.

When it was still on sale, the iPhone XS Max started at $1,099 for 64GB of storage.

iPhone XS Max Features

The iPhone XS Max with its smaller sibling, the iPhone XS The iPhone XS Max with its smaller sibling, the iPhone XS

Apple positioned the 2018 handsets less as a must-have upgrade for iPhone X owners and more as an entry point for owners of older Touch ID-based iPhones. The iPhone XS series gave those customers the new full-screen design while adding incremental processor and camera bumps over its predecessor. The iPhone XS Max offered those same features for the first time in a larger handset.

The 2018 iPhones marked the first generation where all of Apple's new handsets had the redesign, including full screen, Face ID, notch, and new home and multitasking gestures.

The phone launched alongside the iPhone XS, its smaller but otherwise identical sibling. The following month, Apple released the cheaper iPhone XR, which had the same A12 chip but a lesser display, camera, and build quality.


The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch display The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch display

The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch edge-to-edge display, Apple's biggest-ever iPhone screen at the time it launched. The lack of a home button required first-time users to learn swipe gestures for multitasking and returning to the home screen. Like the full-screen iPhones before and after it, it includes a notch that houses the front camera and Face ID sensors.

The iPhone XS Max has 2688 x 1242 resolution at 458 PPI, a 1,000,000:1 typical contrast ratio, and True Tone. It supports the P3 wide color gamut.


Phil Schiller introducing the A12 Bionic chip powering the iPhone XS Phil Schiller introducing the A12 Bionic chip powering the iPhone XS

Powering the phone is the A12 Bionic Apple Silicon. In addition to general speed improvements, it included an update to Apple's Neural Engine. The eight-core portion of the chip focuses on machine learning, handling up to eight times more operations-per-second than the previous Neural Engine.

The chip's processing portion is a six-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores. The performance cores are up to 15% faster than the A11, while the efficiency cores handle lower-intensity tasks using 50% less energy.

The A12 Bionic has a four-core GPU that's 50% faster than the A11's graphics. The iPhone XS Max's chip also included a faster Secure Enclave that speeds up Face ID recognition compared to the iPhone X.


The iPhone XS series introduced Smart HDR and Portrait Mode bokeh and depth controls The iPhone XS series introduced Smart HDR and Portrait Mode bokeh and depth controls

The iPhone XS Max's camera specs were virtually identical to those of the iPhone X, but the dual-camera system offered subtle improvements over its predecessor. While it stuck with a wide-angle lens and a 2X telephoto lens, they had larger and faster sensors, bigger pixels, and an improved image signal processor (ISP).

The iPhone XS was the first generation to support Smart HDR. It rapidly fires off multiple shots unseen to the user, applying machine learning through the Neural Engine to keep each image's best portions. The result is a single photo with a wider spectrum of light and dark areas than any single picture could have provided. All of this happens in the background at close to real-time, taking a few seconds at most.

The handset was also the first to include bokeh and depth controls for Portrait Mode. After taking a Portrait Mode shot, you can adjust the background-blur level and apply portrait effects like studio light and contour light.

Improved Portrait Mode shooting on the iPhone XS (left) vs. the iPhone X Improved Portrait Mode shooting on the iPhone XS (left) vs. the iPhone X

The primary wide-angle camera had a 20% larger pixel depth that provided better light sensitivity for low-lit shots.

The following generation, Apple added Night Mode for much better shots in poorly lit environments. Similar to Smart HDR, it takes multiple photos and uses machine learning to create a single image. Night Mode doesn't work on the iPhone XS Max or its smaller companion.

The iPhone XS Max's rear cameras are both 12MP. The wide lens has ƒ/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto lens is ƒ/2.4. It can record video in up to 4K resolution at up to 60fps.

The TrueDepth front-facing camera is a single 7MP lens with ƒ/2.2 aperture. It supports HDR and Portrait Mode with bokeh and depth control. 

Initially, the iPhone XS series sparked a minor controversy dubbed "Beautygate," where customers noticed a strange beauty-filter type of appearance in their selfies. The front camera was over-applying noise reduction to Smart HDR shots, creating the appearance of excessively soft skin. Apple eventually fixed this in a software update.

iOS 12

Apple introducing iOS 12 Apple introducing iOS 12

The handset shipped with iOS 12, the company's 2018 mobile software update.

The initial release added some new augmented reality functionality, including the Measure app, which allows rear cameras to measure real-world items in 3D space. It also added Screen Time, which provides multiple tools to monitor device and app usage. 

Other additions included MeMojis, which allow users to use the TrueDepth camera to map their faces, animating a personalized digital character. iOS 12 also added Siri Shortcuts, letting users create or install customizable macros, linking multiple tasks and apps.

Notifications were also updated to allow groups of notifications to be collected together, tidying up sometimes lengthy lists of updates.

Today, the iPhone XS Max runs the latest version of iOS 14.

Other iPhone XS Features

  • Up to 1.5 hours longer battery life than iPhone X
  • Dual-SIM support
  • Stainless-steel and glass build
  • Available in space gray, silver, and gold
  • 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage tiers

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