This review comes with a big disclaimer.
Here it is: I stopped drinking coffee several months ago.
I know. It's sad, right? The magic elixir, gone for now.
It was hard to give up, and it was even harder to buy a cup of coffee recently solely for the purposes of shocking a few friends and family members.
The new Apple iPhone Xs Max I'm testing has a waterproof rating of IP68 (you can submerge it two meters for 30 minutes), which is reassuring and a spec you can mention at parties. Who knew? The previous iPhone X model had an IP67 rating which made it less water-resistant and a lot less fun. Here's how this turned into a shocking exercise.
With a cup of coffee in hand, I poured a little on the top of the iPhone Xs Max. The device can also withstand other liquids like tea and water. (By the way, the real disclaimer: Please make sure if you ever do this to thoroughly wipe down your iPhone before charging it. I'm putting the entire disclaimer from Apple at the bottom of this review. You're welcome.)
"Did you really just do that?" was the typical response.
Also: "Can I try that?"
It helps I had a review phone. After each test, I wiped off the phone and it worked perfectly fine. For those who worry about slips, spills, rain, or dark roast, this is your phone.
Many of my other findings with the iPhone Xs Max have to do with good steps forward, not leaps ahead. You can pour over the specs (pun intended) yourself if you want, but the main takeaways from my review are fairly straightforward.
For starters, the iPhone Xs Max did last longer. I found it didn't need a charge at all late in the day, and there were times when the iPhone X definitely did. (Make sure you remove Facebook from your phone if you can, and turn off vibration--your battery will thank you.) It was great to know I could skip a charger altogether on day trips.
The camera? It's also way better. An Apple spokesperson explained all of the nitty-gritty details to me, the fact that the Smart HDR automatically snaps a wider range of photos, helping improve shadow detail and highlights. Maybe a bit of a yawn if you don't care about photography, but my test photos all looked noticeably better than the iPhone X. The Max also snaps photos faster than before, and with better lighting effects.
What else? The Face ID worked faster, although it still didn't recognize me when I was wearing sunglasses. (Apple says this depends on the brand and the reflections.) Actually, I don't really like Face ID after all of this time, because I don't always want to look at my phone to unlock it. I know a few friends who have not upgraded simply because they prefer the Home button and the fingerprint reader. Go ahead and call them petty.
It's worth mentioning, too, that the bigger size is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you like Netflix, sure. But I'm 6-2 and have larger hands, and the Max didn't quite feel right. I couldn't always type with one hand, depending on the app and if I was at my desk or walking along a sidewalk. It's not that I prefer the iPhone X, because the massive 6.5-inch screen is great for games and movies. It simply changes how you use the device. I ended up typing texts with two thumbs at my desk more often.
So, in summary: It can withstand dark roast coffee. The Max is faster, bigger...but it's also expensive. The 64GB model costs $1,099, and if you splurge on the 512GB model it costs $1,449. Crazy to think we used to complain about a phone that costs $1,000.
Is it right for you? That depends on a few factors. I do know people who tend to drop their phone constantly, and the bigger size makes that more likely. The added water-resistance is a big plus if you tend to spill things or drop your phone around water. The biggest reason to consider the Max, which I've already mentioned previously, is that it's gargantuan. For movie lovers, it's a brilliant phone. It may be too much of a good thing for some.
In the end, it's an iPhone and it's now faster.
You have two main choices in size now. Choose wisely.
Here's the Apple disclaimer:
Splash, water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions, and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.