Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Initial iPhone XS Max impressions

I was surprised how easy the preordering process was this year. The Apple Store app opened up right at 12:01am Friday, and within minutes I was ready with a launch-day delivery unit. A stark contrast to the previous few years where the app was unresponsive for a quarter hour, and mere seconds delay in decision bumped me off of first day delivery (last year).

Either Apple’s supply chain have improved immensely, or they’ve got plenty of iPhone XS on hand for everyone. Probably the latter because the line frenzies we are used to seeing in previous iPhone launches were few and far in between. I can walk into an Apple Store right now and buy a unit in any of the three colors.

Of course I’d rather not leave the house if possible, so I optioned for home delivery. Trouble is I didn’t get home last Friday until way late into the night, though I figured the setup process wouldn’t be too much of a hassle: backup iPhone X into iTunes, plug the new phone in, and step 3 profit. The plan was going great until I turned on the new iPhone XS Max for the first time and it ceremoniously failed at the Verizon authentication process.

Turns out Apple screwed up royally with their batch of Verizon phones. Their authentication system still has my old and out-of-date PIN and not the current one from Verizon. I was adamant my info was correct, not knowing it wanted the old PIN. Verizon couldn’t do anything about it, and the Apple tech support I talk to did not yet know the extent of the situation. After two hours of futility, I finally remembered my old PIN and I was home free.

The screen is massive and glorious.

The iPhone XS Max is about the size of the old ‘Plus’ phones, but the display dominates the entire frame. At 6.5 inches, it is desperately close to mini tablet territory, and I simply love the amount of real-estate. After nearly a year of using iPhone X I’ve gotten used to its screen size, but mere minutes of using the XS Max, the previous generation phone already feels uncomfortably small and cramped. I’m very glad I chose to go with the larger model: more text, more information; watching Youtube videos in landscape is a pleasure.

Unfortunately not many apps have been updated to utilize the newfound space. Native Apple apps obviously look great and sharp, but other apps are merely zoomed to acquiesce the new size. Just as we had to wait for apps to update and take full advantage of the iPhone X screen, I fear we may need to do the same for the XS Max. Tick tock, app developers.

Other than the extra screen size, operationally the XS Max is nearly identical to the X. It’s probably speedier and smoother, but I’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Even after a year in production, the X is not lacking in speed, especially after the update to iOS 12. The reason for upgrading to the XS Max was the bigger display, and the improved camera.

And what a sweet camera it is. I’ve only had a few days of shooting under my belt, but I can’t stop being impressed with the results. Smart HDR is simply magic, producing images in real-time that an equivalent DSLR camera would require multiple exposures and then combining them in software on a laptop. It’s awe-inspiring to see Apple continually attempt to overcome the limitations of sensor and lens physics with sheer computational might.

More to come on the iPhone XS Max as I get more familiar with its intricacies.

Straight off iPhone XS Max camera, unedited.

Straight off iPhone XS Max camera, unedited.

I'm getting the iPhone XS Max

So of course I am getting the new iPhone XS Max. Announced at the Apple event yesterday morning, the latest iPhone is an iterative improvement to the ground-breaking iPhone X: the screen got brighter and has more colors, the cameras got larger pixels and aperture, the glass and steel body is stronger, and the processor is incrementally faster. All is what’s expected from an “s” release, and as I’ve said previously, the iPhone X is still plenty competitive with the smartphones of 2018. Nobody has yet to even match its chipset speed.

Then why am I upgrading? First, because I can, and second, for the bigger screen. iPhone X have always felt a bit small after two years of using the ‘Plus’ versions of iPhone 6 and 7. The missing screen real estate isn’t too much of a bother because the edge-to-edge OLED panel is that good, but a size increase would make it perfect. As expected, Apple announced an iPhone XS model with a larger screen, though it’s not a ‘Plus’ anymore, it’s now a ‘Max’.

Anybody else think Apple have gone off the deep-end lately with their naming conventions (iPhone SE comes to mind)? The word ‘Plus’ is stamped in the consumer consciousness denoting the bigger iPhone model for years now, and Apple just tossed that brand value away in a flash. Curious, to say the least.

Alongside the new flagship, Apple also introduced the iPhone XR, the base model of the iPhone X(?) range if you will. It’s got the same computational innards as the XS, but it forsakes the intricate OLED panel for LCD, and the body is made of aluminium instead of stainless-steel. There’s only one camera module instead of two, though at least it’s the same wide lens as the XS. It comes in five vibrant colors, harkening back to the iPhone 5C, sparking the question why Apple didn’t call it the iPhone XC instead of XR.

Price at $750 to start, the cheapest new for 2018 iPhone is not exactly cheap at all. I’m old enough to remember flagship smartphones started in the $600 range; today that wouldn’t even get you the compromised version. It can’t be helped: suckers like me are gladly paying the $1K entry cost going on the second year like clockwork. Apple has zero incentive to change, especially with the U.S. government barring the the likes of Huawei from selling their lower cost flagship phones here.

Preorders for the iPhone XS starts at midnight Friday so let the annual ‘can you get your order in for launch day’ games begin. I’ll be there, man.

I reckon this is secured enough.

I reckon this is secured enough.