iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus | What’s The Difference (Besides Price)

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 09/03/19 •  10 min read

Apple is a phablet phone company now. Last September Apple introduced three new iPhones, all with screens 5.8in or larger. The biggest of which, the iPhone XS Max goes to 6.5in.

But Apple has kept some of its previous phablets on sale too, including the year-old iPhone 8 Plus. So just how does this older phablet stack up against Apple’s newest, phablet, the iPhone XS Max? Let’s take a look.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus Quick Comparison

iPhone 8 PlusiPhone XS Max

Display: 5.5in Retina HD display with 1920x1080 resolution at 401ppiDisplay: 6.5-inch 1242 x 2688 OLED 
Dimensions: 158.4mm x 78.1 mm x 7.5 mm (202g)Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm (208g)
Storage Options: 64 or 256GBStorage Options: 64/256/512GB
Camera: 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K videoCamera: 12MP + 12MP, OIS, Wide-Angle Lens
Battery Size: 2900mAhBattery Size: 3174mAh
CPU: A11 BionicCPU: A12 Bionic
Wireless Charging: NoWireless Charging: Yes
Water Resistant: NoWater Resistant: Yes - IP68


Winner? iPhone XS Max – It’s a work of art compared to the 8 Plus.


Winner? iPhone XS Max – Its Display Is Bigger And More Beautiful.

iPhone XS
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Winner? iPhone XS Max – It’s 50% More Powerful Than iPhone 8 Plus.


iPhone xs max iPhone 8 plus
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Winner? iPhone XS MAX – it has the best camera of any iPhone right now. 

Storage Options

Battery Life

Winner? iPhone XS Max – It Has Better Battery Life Than iPhone 8 Plus, but just barely.



Apple introduced the new iPhone XS Max not too long ago. The phone is Apple’s latest, biggest flagship device. And as with all new iPhones, once it comes out, it pushes previous iPhones down the rung. While the iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone for the price, it really can’t compete with the iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XS Max is the pinnacle of Apple’s innovation. It has the best camera, the best performance, and the best operating system. It also features the company’s FACE ID and it looks totally stunning. If you want the best of the best, Apple’s iPhone XS Max is what you go for.

The iPhone 8 Plus, while good in its hay day, is now pretty old. It’ll still work OK, but if you’re after a cheaper iPhone you are 100% better off going the reconditioned route via Gazelle – you can get iPhone 8 and iPhone X handsets for 40% less than from Apple.

For a full breakdown on how they compare, read on for our full comparison of the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone XS Max…

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus Full Comparison (More Details)

iPhone 8 plus silver
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For years the Plus line of iPhones was Apple’s largest, topping out at 5.5in. That all changed last year when Apple introduced the iPhone X with its 5.8in screen. But now that screen looks tiny compared to Apple’s latest and greatest flagship, the iPhone XS Max.

This 6.5in beast is MASSIVE–the biggest iPhone Apple has ever made. You have major updates to the phone’s internal specs and features, as well as Apple’s blazingly fast A12 chipset, which is one of the first 7nm CPUs to hit the market.

Competition is stiff right now; you have the prospect of the Galaxy S10 in Q1 2019, as well as Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and the Huawei Mate 20 PRO. Never before have punters had so much choice when it comes to high-power handsets. In addition to this, Apple’s got three phones on the market instead of its usual two.

But Apple has decided not to do away with the Plus entirely. It’s still keeping the iPhone 8 Plus available for sale. So how do the two models compare? Let’s take a look.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Specs

Here are the specs for the iPhone XS Max:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 8 Plus:

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Display & Design

The most obvious difference between these two giant phones is in their display and design. The resolution of the iPhone XS Max’s screen is a massive 6.5in 2688×1242-pixels at 458ppi edge-to-edge. Compare that to the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5in display with a 1920×1080-pixel resolution at 401ppi–and of course, that’s not an edge-to-edge display like the iPhone XS Max has. What’s even more impressive is that though the iPhone XS Max has a larger display, the device actually has a smaller physical footprint than the iPhone 8 Plus (but not by much). Why that is, of course, is because the iPhone XS Max has the edge-to-edge display, while the iPhone 8 Plus still has its thick bezels.

iPhone xs max gold
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The other obvious difference is that the iPhone XS Max lacks a Home button. It jettisons it in favor of a gesture-based Home control. The iPhone 8 Plus still has the Home button we all know and love. This means the iPhone 8 Plus also still has Touch ID. The iPhone XS Max lacks Touch ID and replaces it with Apple’s new Face ID facial recognition system.

And while both phones are waterproof, the iPhone XS Max is rated IP68, which means it can stay submerged for 30 minutes up to two meters deep. The iPhone 8 Plus is rated IP67, which means it can stay submerged for 30 minutes up to one meter deep.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Battery, Storage, and CPU

The iPhone XS Max has just a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 8 Plus. Will you see any difference because of it? A bit. But as you can see from the battery life specs below, each device is very similar. Another similarity each device has is that they both offer wireless charging. Here’s how the battery life compares between the two in Talk Time, Standby Time, Internet Use, Video Playback, and Audio Playback:

Both devices also feature wireless charging.

As for storage, the XS Max offers three sizes: 64, 256, or 512GB. The iPhone 8 Plus only comes in 64 or 256GB. As far as the CPU is concerned, the new XS Max has a better processor than the iPhone 8 Plus. The XS Max features the A12 Bionic chipset–and upgrade over the 8 Plus’ A11 Bionic. The new A12 is a 7nm chip with 6 cores. The CPU is 15% faster and 40% more energy efficient than the previous A11. The GPU now has 4 cores and is 50% faster. Finally, the Neural engine now has 8 cores for machine learning and is almost 10x faster. Apps launch 30% faster on the XS and Machine Learning runs nine times faster on 1/10th the energy. In other words, the A12 Bionic absolutely flies.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Camera

Best iPhone
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Where cameras are concerned, the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 8 Plus are nearly identical. Let me caveat that by saying both front cameras are 7MP and feature Retina Flash. However, the front camera on the XS Max is a True Depth camera, meaning it supports Face ID. Also, the iPhone XS Max’s front camera has a few more tricks. It can use Apple’s Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Animoji features of iOS. The iPhone 8 Plus’ camera doesn’t have access to those.

On the rear camera, both models feature a 12MP wide-angle and telephoto dual-lens rear camera that offers dual optical image stabilisation and optical zoom. Both also record 4K HD video.

iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Cost & Verdict

Unlocked the 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus will cost £699 (64GB) and £849 (256GB). The iPhone XS Max will be available on September 21 and cost £1099 (64GB), £1249 (256GB), or £1449 (512GB). That £400 premium for the iPhone XS Max does get you a lot more, primarily a bigger display and a sexy new design. If that appeals to you, the answer of which to buy is clear.

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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