Bigger is now absolutely better

So it is humbling to come to you with a new confession: the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max may make me convert to larger smartphones.

Last week I started testing both new iPhone models. I had predicted that the larger screen on the XS Max would be impractical in my pocket and would make the phone difficult to hold with one hand while typing and reaching buttons in apps.

There were other things that I thought I would not like. For example, the prices of Apple & # 39; s phones have increased. The XS starts at $ 999 and the XS Max at $ 1,099 when both are available Friday, compared to $ 699, $ 799 and $ 999 for new iPhones last year. The iPhone XR, released on October 19, starts at $ 749.

None of the new phones also made huge technological leaps from last year. The iPhone XS and XS Max have a dual-lens camera, while the XR has a camera with one lens. All three iPhones contain Face ID, the phone unlock feature with face recognition.


But after I had driven the 6.5-inch XS Max alongside the 5.8-inch XS for several weeks due to different situations and circumstances, I was surprised by my reaction. Far from being disappointed by the supersized devices, I was happy.

The trade-offs of the new jumbo model felt less important. By removing the edges, which are the edges of the screen, Apple has done a great job to increase the screen size without adding bulk or endangering the usability of the XS Max. I still think that the smaller XS is a better fit for most people, but many would enjoy the XS Max.

Here is how all tests have failed.

The iPhone XS Max

I started testing the iPhone XS Max, because why not start with the biggest device? I have moved my SIM card and all my data from an older iPhone to the new gadget and taken to dinners, bars, meetings and the gym.

After three days I was surprised by how good it felt to use the XS Max with one hand. An important factor was how Apple could have crammed a larger screen into a slightly smaller body. (The body of the Plus phones was 6.24 inches by 3.07 inches, while the body of the XS Max is 6.2 inches by 3.05 inches.)

These changes amounted to meaningful improvements in ergonomics and general ease of use. I could keep the XS Max in one hand and easily type messages. My thumb, on the other hand, could not reach keys on the sides of the older iPhone 8 Plus, such as the shift key or the backspace key, because of the space that the edge takes up.

And I found the jumbo-screen XS Max particularly favorable in several cases. It was easier to read maps while driving. The larger screen made writing longer e-mails – a task I usually do on a laptop – more pleasant. The display was also fun to read recipes in the kitchen.

While browsing Instagram alongside my partner, I said to her: "If you can use this thing with one hand, who would want the smaller phone if you only have to pay $ 100 more for this huge screen?"


"But does it fit in your pocket?" she asked.

The iPhone XS

That brings me to the iPhone XS. After I had taken the bigger XS Max with me for three days and felt good about it, I switched to the iPhone XS – and immediately got a feeling of relief.

I noticed that I simply preferred the smaller body of the XS for the most basic task of moving around. Having the smaller phone in my pocket felt less intrusive during dog walks, long walks and gymnastics sessions.

I also found that the XS was easier to use as a camera. Although the XS and XS Max share identical camera systems, which produce excellent, clear photos with natural-looking colors in normal and low light conditions, the smaller phone worked better in a pinch because it was easier to pull out of a pocket and quickly stabilize to make a good photo.

As a self-diagnosis phone addict trying to shorten the screen time, I decided that the XS was also healthier for me. The XS Max screen looked so good that I wanted to keep reading articles and wanted to view photos on Instagram. When I used Apple's new Screen Time feature to check my use of each device, I discovered that on average I spent about 5 1/2 hours per day on the XS Max, 2 hours more than on the XS.

Where is that going? I concluded that I had no real objection to the larger version of the iPhone XS Max, but found that the smaller XS was still a better mobile phone because it was just as capable, but also portable and in storage.

That means that if you are a more casual technology user who wants a fantastic smartphone that is comfortable to wear, I advise you to go for the XS. If you plan to treat your phone as a primary computer, choose the XS Max.

What about the iPhone XR?

So who should get the entry version of the iPhone XR? Apple has not provided an evaluation unit for the XR because it will be released next month, so I can not say with permission.

But I suspect it will largely depend on whether you can live with a camera with one lens, which is not as good a job as taking DSLR-like photos with a blurred background and a sharper foreground. The XS is about $ 250 more than the XR, but I am sold on dual lens cameras.

For years, Apple customers have been given the habit of buying a new iPhone face unseen. But now that there are different sizes for different prices, I advise you to try before you buy. It does not hurt to wait for the release of the XR next month, so you can test all three in a store. Play with the camera & # 39; s and pay attention to how each phone feels in one hand and in your pocket.

It is important that you find the right fit: since you have to pay so much for your next iPhone, you will probably live with it for a long time. And who knows? You could assume that you do not like a larger screen and then change your mind – just like I did.

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