John Gruber reviews iPhone Xs/Max: Upgrade for the photo and video quality, even from iPhone X

“Coming from any previous iPhone from the Plus era, if you preferred the Plus size, I can’t see why you wouldn’t prefer the XS Max now. It’s almost exactly the same height and width as the 6-8 Plus devices, but about a millimeter smaller in both dimensions. That shouldn’t make much of a difference, but I swear, in my hand, it actually somehow feels more comfortable than an iPhone Plus. I don’t know if that’s a steel vs. aluminum thing or just the reviewer’s placebo effect,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “Personally, I prefer the XS. But it was a closer call for me than in previous years. For the remainder of this review, I’m mostly going to talk about the ‘iPhone XS,’ but everything I say pertains to both sizes.”

“Take a look at Apple’s nifty three-column iPhone Comparison web page. It defaults to comparing the XS, XS Max, and XR.3 Change that third column to last year’s iPhone X, and the differences from top to bottom mostly look rather mild. Part of that is that most of the year-over-year improvements are rather mild. Water resistance, for example, went from IP67 to IP68 — from 1 meter for up to 30 minutes to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes,” Gruber writes. “Nice, but not wow.”

Apple's all-new 5.8-inch iPhone Xs starting at $999 and 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max starting at $1099
Apple’s all-new 5.8-inch iPhone Xs starting at $999 and 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max starting at $1099

“But there is one wow factor comparing the iPhone XS to last year’s iPhone X: photography. But the reasons don’t show up in Apple’s comparison spec list (even though some of them could). I’ve focused nearly the entirety of my testing on taking photos and videos side-by-side against my 10-month old iPhone X,” Gruber writes. “Overall, I’m simply blown away by the iPhone XS’s results. Sometimes the difference is subtle but noticeable; sometimes the difference is between unusable and pretty good. The iPhone XS can capture still images and video that the iPhone X cannot.”

“For anyone upgrading from an older iPhone, the iPhone XS and XS Max should seem amazing in every regard. Compared to last year’s iPhone X, the XS and XS Max are solid refinements across the board, but deliver a dramatic year-over-year step forward in photo and video quality. If you care about the image quality of the photos and videos you shoot with your phone, it’s hard to resist.”

Tons more in the full review – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: The photo samples in the full article each speak a thousand words amidst some 5,000 actual words.

Tom’s Guide reviews Apple’s iPhone Xs Max: You won’t want to put down; it’s like a pocketable mini movie theater
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

NYT reviews Apple’s iPhone Xs and Xs Max: Bigger is now definitely better – September 18, 2018


  1. The only thing I am super disappointed about with John Gruber is his extreme leftism.

    His brain is a Mac Pro on steroids, but his political brain runs Dos 4.0 or Windows 3.11 or the Sony Ericsson featurephone OS.

    It’s a real shame, Gruber is such an incredible Mac brain, but politically, he’s an absolute moron.

    He loves Hillary and had her logo up. He’s a Democrat through and through. It’s a bit the same with Apple itself, so very smart and cool, yet has a global warming hypocrite like Al Gore in the board

    Wake up Apple and Gruber, capitalism and free market principles are what helped Apple become the biggest company in the world, not socialist eff-wits who want to regulate you and surveil you and eff you over out of existence.

      1. You have obviously never read Gruber’s site. His review is great but his smug liberalism oozes out of his every pore. It’s a poor act and Gruber should be ashamed of his politicial bias.

        1. Bias means one has an opinion, possibly an agenda. He is not in a position that requires political independence, so why should he be ashamed for espousing an opinion? Sounds more like your bias coming through. Of course, I also am biased: against the uneducated masses that proudly elected an incompetent; against those who because of agendas / pecuniary gains deny science; against those who proffer industry and market regulations to curb abuses as somehow equating to socialism / surveillance. And FWIW if Apple ever supports the illiterates that are currently in power and their racist, misinformed policies, they and their products will become as inconsequential as the GOP is soon going to be. Cheers!

          1. I assumed that using the word bias, in this context, implied looking at the world through a particular lens, not as it is. Looks like that was an optimistic assumption. Of course he is entitled to have any opinion or bias that he wants, I’m just lamenting that fact that it is so erroneously slanted to one side of the ideological spectrum.

            Now, if you want to get into details, you seem to have a similar level of bias in your extreme and unfounded assumptions. Lets just look at a couple examples:
            Trump is incompetent. Really? How is that so, when we have the best economy in decades?:
            -the jobs that Obama said required a ‘magic wand’ to bring back, have been brought back, and in less then two years..
            -lowest minority (black, Hispanic) unemployment in US history
            -wages rising
            -middle class median income at an all time high
            -# of job openings exceeding the number of unemployed for the first time in US recorded history
            -400% increase in black-owned small businesses
            -steel industry growing tremendously
            -tax cuts.. *plus* record tax revenues
            -highest stock market surge in history
            -on and on…
            How is he incompetent when:
            -ISIS (created/facilitated by the recent administration) has been nearly destroyed in only two years
            -peace on north korean peninsula, more promising then ever before: testing stopped, long range missles excluded from parades, met with US president, meeting with south korean presidents, returning of hostages, returning of US vet remains…
            -US leads world in reduction of CO2 emissions
            -US now has lowest CO2 output per capita in 67 years
            -US hosting world cup in 2026
            -US hosting 2028 olympics
            -Trump pushed for and signed into law strong anti child sex trafficking legislation resulting in shutdown of backpage dot com, and is cracking down on pedophilia at a rate several times higher than his predecessors
            -space force
            -on and on…

            ‘Those in power’ are racist? How so? I don’t see any examples. In fact:
            -Trump was the first pro gay marriage US president
            -Trump has denounced kkk (created by democrats) and supemecist leaders numerous times
            -Trump was the first country club owner in palm beach to allow black and jewish members (and in the face of significant resistance)
            -Lowest minority unemployment in US history, etc.

            You proudly claim to be biased against ‘uneducated masses’? The arrogance of that statement clearly shows you have very poor character. Since you feel it is important, perhaps you’d like to compare education with me? I’m sure you’re sooo super educated you won’t hesitate to defend your credibility. And perhaps you might want to counter my points, or maybe come up with points of your own that are based on some sort of fact, rather than petty ad hominem statements. Your call.

          2. “I also am biased: against the uneducated masses that proudly elected an incompetent”

            Incompetent? Deplorables? Read PatchyThe Pirate post and let us know the exact incompetence of President Trump…

    1. Same. It’s so frustrating bc I love him as an Apple pundit, but his politics are insane. He has zero insight into the confirmation bias and logical missteps that he uses to rationalize his ridiculous political positions. And the amount of pettiness, to focus so much on inane and ad hominem content, reached pathetic levels a long time ago.

      It doesn’t look likely that he’s ever going to come to a sensible position. The silicon valley echo chamber will just continue to feed his quixotic self-righteousness.

      1. Just checked out df for the first time in a long time. Excellent iPhones Xs review. Looks like he may have dialed back somewhat on the political ridiculousness. Hard to say which direction he’s going. On the one hand, there’s blatant, blind bias in his ridiculous post about being “intolerant of intolerance,” which is a wrong point on several levels, but which also ignores the incredible hypocrisy in the lack of tolerance from the modern left regarding alternative viewpoints. On the other hand, he does note that the NFL ‘painted itself into the wrong corner’ vis a vis the whole kapernick thing, which is exactly the right take to have on that ridiculous (on both sides) issue.

    2. Leftism is tied to vulgarity and low impulse control. He can’t help but use the word „fu*king” multiple times in the span of a few sentences like a child with Tourettes. Complaints about MDN being „political” by not screeching bloodly murder in stories referencing Trump are a joke compared to Gruber’s sick rants against the President. A person that demented isn’t a reliable source of information on any topic.

  2. Ever since Apple added the S and R to iPhone X, I can’t help but read it as “iPhone Ex-Es” and “iPhone Ex-Are.” I had no problem properly calling it the iPhone Ten before then.

  3. Used to like Gruber’s tech info, but then he had to shove his idiotic liberal politics down reader’s throats. Haven’t been to his site nor care what he says in more than a year. You’re a tech blog – worry about tech, not alienating half of your potential readers because – like most liberals – you just can’t resist being smug and injecting your politics into every damn facet of your life.

    1. Dont understand why you need to childlessly demean someone and the views they espouse? Last time I checked the sign of maturity was the ability to make conscious choices germane to one’s life while respecting the rights of others to do the same. To act otherwise…well you can do the math.

      1. All Democrats oppose Trump’s legislative agenda, therefore all Democrats suck, according to this emotional outburst from President Trump:

        Democrats “don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything. All they do is say, ‘Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.’ Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing.

        “And they generally stick together. I respect them for that. That’s about it. Their policies stink. They’re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing – the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct, and stay together, and vote against, and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.”

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