iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max | Specs, Size & Features Compared

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 12/12/19 •  9 min read

Wondering how the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max compare in size and other metrics? Let’s dive into our iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max faceoff!

Apple’s newest flagship is the iPhone XS. But the iPhone XS range comes in two models. You have the regular iPhone XS and then there is the iPhone XS Max. As you can probably tell from the name, the Max has a bigger display. But is that the only difference? Let’s take a look and find out.

iPhone XS & iPhone XS Max In 2021

Before we get into the breakdown, just a note to say this original comparison is from 2018. Now that it’s 2021 (or later, depending on when you’re reading this–hello future!), what many people want to know is if the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are still worth getting now.

Both phones are now three years old, and technology has advanced a lot in that time. Both phones are also no longer sold by Apple, so if you want to get an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max you’ll need to buy one online from a reseller or used from a previous owner.

The good news is, as long as you can get either for a pretty cheap price, both phones are still great devices in 2021. They run iOS 14–the latest iOS operating system–and they’ll both support iOS 15 later this year. Matter of fact, they should support iOS 16, too–and maybe later as well.

Of course, if you’ve got a little more money to spend, it’s probably worth going with the iPhone 12 (not the 12 Pro, if you are looking to keep costs down. The iPhone 12 has much the same features as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max: Face ID, dual-lens cameras, all-screen design, an OLED display. PLUS the iPhone 12 has the MUCH faster A14 chipset.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max Specs – Quick Comparison

iPhone XSiPhone XS Max

Display: 5.8-inch OLED display with a 2436x1125-pixel resolution at 458ppiDisplay: 6.5-inch 1242 x 2688 OLED 
Dimensions: 143.6mm x 70.9mm x 7.7mm (177g)Dimensions: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm (208g)
Storage Options: 64, 256, or 512GBStorage Options: 64/256/512GB
RAM: 3GBRAM: 4GB
Camera: Dual-lens 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K videoCamera: Dual-lens 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K video
Battery Size: 2658mAhBattery Size: 3174mAh
CPU: A12 BionicCPU: A12 Bionic
Wireless Charging: YesWireless Charging: Yes
Water Resistant: NoWater Resistant: Yes - IP68
Price: 
Price: 

Design

iPhone XS
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Obviously, the Max is physically larger, but what’s a first is both screen sizes are exactly the same thinness–7.7mm. Both phones are also waterproof, rated IP68, which means they can stay submerged for 30 minutes up to two meters deep.

Winner? Draw – Both phones look identical, besides their sizes.

Displays

iPhone XS
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Okay, the main difference between the two phones is the screen size. The iPhone XS is a 5.8in OLED display, while the iPhone XS Max is a 6.5in OLED display. The Max, by the way, is the largest display ever on an iPhone.

The Max does have a higher resolution due to the fact that it is physically larger, but both the XS and XS Max has the same pixels per inch at 458ppi. This means the pixel density is EXACTLY the same on both devices.

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

CPU/Processor

As far as the CPU is concerned, both sport the A12 Bionic chipset–and upgrade over last year’s 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 XS Max and Machine Learning run nine times faster on 1/10th the energy. In other words, the A12 Bionic absolutely flies.

Winner? Draw – Both have the exact same CPU.

Camera

iPhone XS
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There is literally no difference between the camera systems on the XS and XS Max. Both the front and rear are identical. The front features a 7MP TrueDepth camera for Face ID. The rear is a dual-lens system including wide-angle and telephoto cameras. The rear camera in the iPhones also sports dual optical image stabilisation and optical zoom.

Winner? Draw – Both have the same camera setups.

Storage Options

As for storage, both come in three sizes: 64, 256, or 512GB.

Battery Life

The iPhone XS Max a much larger battery than the iPhone XS, simply because it has a larger body and Apple can put in a physically bigger battery. But that larger battery also has to power that massive, higher resolution display, which means you won’t see that much better battery life in the Max. Overall, in mixed usage, you’ll get an hour more battery life. 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. So which wins here?

Winner? iPhone XS Max – It has just a bit more battery life than the iPhone XS.

Price

And then there is the cost. The iPhone XS Max will be available on September 21 and cost £1099 (64GB), £1249 (256GB), or £1449 (512GB). The iPhone XS will be available on September 21 and cost £999 (64GB), £1149 (256GB), or £1349 (512GB). That £100 Max premium over the iPhone XS gets you the bigger display and not much more.

Verdict?

The only reason to go with the iPhone XS Max is if you want the bigger display. Otherwise, the phones are nearly identical. So, if you want a bigger, more detailed display go with the iPhone XS Max but if you want a more portable experience, go with the iPhone XS. 

Another option worth considering, however, is picking up a newer refurbished iPhone – something like the iPhone X or iPhone XR, which you can get for 40% less than retail via Gazelle, our #1 pick for refurbished iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and iMacs.

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max (Full Comparison)

iPhone xs max sideways
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Apple has introduced its newest flagship phones, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS is the successor to last year’s iPhone X, while the iPhone XS Max is a completely new model of the iPhone XS series. The Max replaces the “Plus” moniker that Apple previously used for its largest phones.

I’m going to be honest, this VS is going to be VERY, VERY easy. That’s because there is hardly any difference between the two phones besides screen size. We’ll start by running through the specs below and you’ll see just how similar the devices are.

iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max: Specs

Here are the specs for the iPhone XS:

And here are the specs for the iPhone XS Max:

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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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