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Apple iPhone XS Max review: Flagship imaging power

Apple iPhone XS Max review: Flagship imaging power

Apple’s brand-new iPhone XS Max options the corporate’s largest smartphone show ever — a 6.5-inch Tremendous AMOLED variant — however in any other case comes with digital camera specs that on the floor look just about equivalent to final yr’s iPhone X. A better look reveals necessary modifications, nevertheless. For instance, the 12MP sensor within the dual-camera setup’s wide-angle module is now bigger than earlier than, that includes 1.Four µm pixels in comparison with 1.22 µm on the iPhone X. However just like the earlier model, the brand new lens channels mild onto the sensor by means of a 6-element lens with an f/1.Eight aperture, and as earlier than, the 2x tele-camera comes with 1.0µm pixels and an f/2.Four aperture in a six-element lens. Each lenses are optically stabilized.

On the software program and picture processing aspect of issues, the enhancements are extra apparent. Throughout nonetheless picture seize, the digital camera constantly captures a multi-frame buffer at totally different exposures, permitting for simultaneous zero shutter lag and HDR processing, one thing that’s distinctive to the brand new iPhone at this level. This additionally means the iPhone XS Max is able to displaying HDR pictures in real-time within the preview picture, so what you see is what you get. Once more, to our information, this preview perform is just not presently out there from any of the brand new iPhone’s shut rivals.

In video mode, the iPhone XS Max can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second and 1080p Full-HD at as much as 240fps. The quicker sensor readout permits for higher video stabilization and a lowered jello impact. As well as, the digital camera can shoot footage with expanded dynamic vary when the body price is restricted to 30 fps

The brand new iPhone’s hardware and software program specs make for spectacular studying. Learn our full report back to learn how all the brand new tech interprets into nonetheless picture and video outcomes.

Please observe: The smaller iPhone XS comes with equivalent digital camera hardware and software program because the XS Max, so will possible obtain the identical or very comparable check outcomes and scores because the latter. Nevertheless, our testing was undertaken on the iPhone XS Max solely.

Key digital camera specs:

  • Twin-camera setup
  • 12Mp essential digital camera with half.55″ sensor (1.4µm pixels) and six-element f/1.Eight-aperture lens, 26mm equal focal size
  • 12Mp secondary 2x tele-camera with 1/three.Four″ sensor (1.0µm pixels) and six-element f/2.Four-aperture lens, 52mm equal focal size
  • Optical picture stabilization on each lenses
  • Part-detection autofocus (PDAF)
  • Quad-LED dual-tone flash
  • 4K video at 30/60 fps, 1080p at as much as 240 fps

About DxOMark Cellular exams: For scoring and evaluation in our smartphone digital camera evaluations, DxOMark engineers seize and consider over 1500 check photographs and greater than 2 hours of video each in managed lab environments and in pure indoor and outside scenes, utilizing the digital camera’s default settings. This text is designed to spotlight crucial outcomes of our testing. For extra details about the DxOMark Cellular check protocol, click on right here. Extra particulars on how we rating smartphone cameras can be found right here.

Check abstract

The Apple iPhone XS Max delivers wonderful picture high quality in most mild circumstances.

With a DxOMark Cellular general rating of 105, Apple’s iPhone XS Max achieves a superb second place in our smartphone rating and is at present surpassed solely by Huawei’s triple-camera juggernaut P20 Professional. The digital camera’s spotlight is its excellent video high quality in brilliant mild. Footage recorded outside on a brilliant day exhibits a very extensive dynamic vary, vivid colours, and excessive ranges of element. As well as, a really efficient picture stabilization system retains digital camera shake to a minimal, making the brand new iPhone an attractive choice for any cellular video shooter.

Our testers have been additionally happy by the nonetheless picture high quality in shiny mild, which is superb throughout. Publicity in outside photographs tends to be spot on, ranges of element are excessive, and colours are nice.

If we needed to decide one facet of the digital camera that might be improved, it’s zoom efficiency. Whereas zoom has been barely improved in comparison with final yr’s iPhone X, iPhone XS Max zoom pictures present coarse luminance noise and fewer element than some high-end rivals, such because the Huawei P20 Professional and the Samsung Galaxy Word 9.

This Apple iPhone XS Max mid-range zoom picture has lots of noise and low ranges of element.

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

General, nevertheless, nonetheless picture high quality is excellent, and the iPhone XS Max achieves a superb Photograph rating of 110 factors. Along with capturing nice picture high quality in shiny mild, the iPhone XS Max digital camera can also be very dependable, persistently capturing good outcomes shot after shot. The autofocus system is among the many greatest we now have examined, and pictures recorded in Apple’s Portrait mode present excellent topic isolation.

Alternatives for enchancment (along with the noisy zoom photographs talked about beforehand) embrace underexposure in flash photographs, and fairly noticeable luminance noise in decrease mild and within the shadow areas of high-contrast photographs.

Its Video rating of 96 shouldn’t be fairly as excessive as for stills, however per above, the iPhone XS Max nonetheless performs very nicely, with a really extensive dynamic vary, wonderful picture stabilization, and quick and correct autofocus. Element is sweet in vibrant mild, however drops noticeably in decrease mild, the place we will additionally see barely elevated ranges of luminance noise.

Photograph scores defined

The Apple iPhone XS Max’s Photograph rating of 110 factors is calculated from sub-scores in checks that look at totally different points of its efficiency underneath totally different lighting circumstances. On this part, we’ll take a better take a look at these picture high quality sub-scores.

Publicity and Distinction (93)

Apple’s new Sensible HDR function does an amazing job, and iPhone XS Max photographs present excellent goal publicity and a large dynamic vary in shiny mild and indoor circumstances alike. Additionally it is value mentioning that, because of the beefed-up processor, the iPhone XS Max is able to displaying HDR photographs in real-time within the preview picture, so what you see is what you get. So far as we’re conscious, this function is just not presently obtainable from any of the system’s shut rivals.

Within the samples under, you possibly can see that dynamic vary has been improved noticeably over the iPhone X in each shadow and spotlight areas of the body. In our comparability, the Huawei P20 Professional captures a contact extra spotlight element, however renders a flatter picture general with much less distinction.

Apple iPhone XS Max, publicity in shiny mild

Apple iPhone X, publicity in brilliant mild

Huawei P20 Professional, publicity in vibrant mild

The development in dynamic vary is much more apparent within the backlit portrait scene under. The iPhone XS Max captures noticeably higher spotlight element within the shiny background than final yr’s iPhone X. The present chief within the DxOMark rating, the Huawei P20 Professional, captures a equally broad dynamic vary.

Apple iPhone XS Max, backlit indoor scene

Apple iPhone X, backlit indoor scene

Huawei P20 Professional, backlit indoor scene

Within the high-contrast scene under, the iPhone XS Max once more does an excellent job at preserving spotlight clipping within the shiny elements of the body to a minimal and at revealing lots of element within the shadows. The publicity of our studio check chart captured at a really low mild degree (1 lux) could be very barely underexposed however completely usable. The iPhone XS Max is just about according to most of its high-end rivals on this check.

Apple iPhone XS Max, high-contrast scene

Apple iPhone XS Max, publicity at 1 lux

Colour (84)

The Apple iPhone XS Max performs properly when it comes to colour, and as with most smartphone cameras, its shade rendering is pretty vibrant however nice when capturing outdoor in brilliant mild or in typical indoor mild circumstances.

Apple iPhone XS Max, colour rendering

Apple iPhone X, shade rendering

Huawei P20 Professional, shade rendering

Nevertheless, our testers observed a slight desaturation impact when capturing in low mild. That is fairly seen within the night time scene comparability under. Each the Huawei P20 Professional and Samsung Galaxy Word 9 colours are little extra vibrant and saturated than the colour rendering of the XS Max.

Apple iPhone XS Max, night time colour rendering

Huawei P20 Professional, night time colour rendering

Samsung Galaxy Notice 9, night time shade rendering

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Samsung Galaxy Notice 9, crop

From time to time we now have additionally seen a barely yellow forged when capturing outdoor in vibrant mild or beneath synthetic mild indoors. We beforehand noticed this impact in our check of the iPhone X, nevertheless it tends to be a bit of stronger with the XS Max. That stated, the forged is usually not too problematic and nicely inside acceptable limits.

Apple iPhone XS Max, indoor shade rendering

Apple iPhone X, indoor colour rendering

Huawei P20 Professional, indoor colour rendering

Autofocus (100)

The iPhone XS Max autofocus system performs very properly, attaining an outstanding rating of 100 factors. Autofocus could be very quick and correct in all mild circumstances and persistently supplies good focus. The graph under exhibits autofocus efficiency at 1000 lux. As you’ll be able to see, the main target system persistently produces sharp pictures with a brief delay of 500ms after defocusing the digital camera.   

After defocusing the digital camera, the Apple iPhone XS Max persistently discovered focus after a brief 500ms delay earlier than triggering the shutter.

Texture (74) and Noise (68)

The Apple iPhone XS Max digital camera achieves good scores for Texture and Noise, because of a well-balanced strategy to those two strongly-interdependent picture high quality attributes. This strategy works particularly nicely for photographs captured in brilliant mild. As you possibly can see within the samples under, the XS Max properly renders such nice particulars because the mannequin’s hair and the feel of the wall, and it controls noise nicely, outperforming the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 by a small margin.

Apple iPhone XS Max, texture in brilliant mild

Apple iPhone X, texture in shiny mild

Google Pixel 2, texture in vibrant mild

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Element continues to be good in typical indoor mild circumstances, however not fairly as crisp as with the class-leading Huawei P20 Professional. Some luminance noise begins creeping in as nicely in these lighting circumstances, additional decreasing element. The Google Pixel 2 can also be able to producing a crisper image than the XS Max in these mild circumstances.

Apple iPhone XS Max, noise in indoor circumstances

Huawei P20 Professional, noise in indoor circumstances

Google Pixel 2, noise in indoor circumstances

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

The variations among the many units grow to be much more apparent when capturing in low mild. Taking a look at our night time scene comparability under, the degrees of captured element are comparable on all three units, however the Huawei P20 Professional and Samsung Galaxy Observe 9 are higher capable of cope with picture noise. The iPhone produces significantly extra grain than its rivals.

Apple iPhone XS Max, noise at night time

Huawei P20 Professional, noise at night time

Samsung Galaxy Notice 9, noise at night time

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Samsung Galaxy Notice 9, crop

The observations concerning the real-life check scenes above are confirmed by our testing and measurements within the DxOMark lab. The crops under from our studio check scene present that the iPhone XS Max digital camera is able to capturing ranges of element just like these of its high-end rivals in shiny mild (1000 lux). The Apple system nonetheless retains up when it comes to element in low mild (20 lux), however its picture output is visibly noisier than that of the Huawei P20 Professional and the Galaxy Observe 9.

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop at 1000 lux

Huawei P20 Professional, crop at 1000 lux

Google Pixel 2, crop at 1000 lux

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop at 20 lux

Huawei P20 Professional, crop at 20 lux

Google Pixel 2, crop at 20 lux

Artifacts (86)

Artifacts are usually very nicely underneath management with the iPhone XS Max digital camera, leading to a great Artifacts rating of 86 factors. The XS Max incurred probably the most penalty factors for lens flare, which is sometimes seen in pictures captured with a robust mild supply inside or near the sting of the body, comparable to within the pattern under. This stated, the impact is usually fairly delicate and never too intrusive. We additionally noticed some aliasing and moiré patterns in shiny mild, however identical to with flare, you’d should look intently to identify any of these imperfections.

Sometimes some lens flare is seen in iPhone XS Max photographs.

Flash (74)

Flash efficiency isn’t one of many new iPhone’s robust factors. Goal publicity for our studio check scene could be very low, leading to severely underexposed topics. When zooming into the picture, we will additionally see some shade quantization on the pores and skin tones of the topic’s face and a fairly noticeable red-eye impact.

Apple iPhone XS Max, flash shot at 5 lux

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Away from the studio, the iPhone XS Max is able to attaining usable flash outcomes. Within the scene under, the flash achieves a very good publicity of the topic’s pores and skin tones whereas additionally retaining some background element.

Apple iPhone XS Max, flash shot at night time

Zoom (59)

Like these of a few of its direct rivals, the iPhone XS Max’s twin digital camera includes a devoted 2x tele-lens. Regardless of the optical zoom functionality, nevertheless, the outcomes lag a bit behind the perfect in school. Zoom picture output in shiny mild is barely improved over final yr’s iPhone X, however we truly measured a slight discount intimately in low mild.

Within the long-range (roughly 8x magnification) comparability photographs under, you possibly can see that the iPhone XS Max zoom pictures present much less element and much more very coarse luminance noise than the Samsung Galaxy Notice 9. We additionally observed a slight desaturation of some finer textures and element in some zoom photographs.

Apple iPhone XS Max, long-range zoom

Samsung Galaxy Notice 9, long-range zoom

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Samsung Galaxy Word 9, crop

The scene under was captured at a mid-range zoom issue (roughly 5x) and confirms the outcomes from above. The iPhone XS Max is able to capturing marginally higher ranges of element than the iPhone X, however can’t fairly sustain with the triple-lens Huawei P20 Professional. At this zoom issue, the latter produces a cleaner picture with much less luminance noise and extra element.

Apple iPhone XS Max, mid-range zoom

Apple iPhone X, mid-range zoom

Huawei P20 Professional, mid-range zoom

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

Bokeh (60)

The iPhone XS Max comes with among the best bokeh simulation modes within the enterprise. On shut inspection, some depth estimation errors are nonetheless seen, however the segmentation of topic and background has improved because the iPhone X, as you’ll be able to see within the samples under. The brand new iPhone’s bokeh pictures additionally present higher element within the face and hair of portrait topics than some direct rivals, such because the Huawei P20 Professional. As well as, our testers favored the great rendering of sunshine spots within the background.

Apple iPhone XS Max, bokeh shot

Apple iPhone X, bokeh shot

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

In trickier scenes, such because the one under, depth estimation errors could be a little extra apparent. As with the Sensible HDR picture output, bokeh simulation photographs are displayed in actual time within the preview. That is fairly a helpful function for framing photographs when capturing in Portrait mode.

Apple iPhone XS Max, bokeh shot

Apple iPhone XS Max, crop

The Apple iPhone XS Max can also be able to producing good bokeh simulation photographs in decrease mild conditions, just like the night time shot under, making it a great choice for portrait capturing in dimly lit areas, similar to bars or eating places. Topic segmentation on this pattern is excellent and the sunshine sources within the background are rendered properly.

Apple iPhone XS Max, bokeh shot at night time

Video scores defined

The Apple iPhone XS Max achieves a superb Video rating of 96 factors, because of an impressive efficiency in brilliant mild circumstances. The general rating is derived from a variety of sub-scores in the identical means because the Photograph rating: Publicity (88), Colour (88), Autofocus (91), Texture (58), Noise (75), Artifacts (84), and Stabilization (94).

At its default settings (1080p, 30 fps), video mode produces wonderful leads to brilliant mild, with large dynamic vary, vivid colours, correct white stability, and excessive ranges of element. As well as, the picture stabilization system works very effectively, and the autofocus is quick and correct.

A drop-off is noticeable in decrease mild in some areas, nevertheless. We noticed some white stability instabilities in typical indoor lighting circumstances, together with some slight publicity stepping — for instance, when panning. Element additionally suffers and luminance noise turns into extra seen when capturing indoors or in low mild. There’s additionally a slight lack of sharpness when utilizing the monitoring autofocus in dim circumstances. Stabilization works properly in all mild circumstances, although, and is particularly efficient in counteracting high-frequency movement, reminiscent of hand shake.

The iPhone XS Max video mode provides yet one more power that isn’t examined inside our protocol, however which was very seen in a few of our check footage: because of improved sensor readout velocity, the rolling-shutter impact that may happen when panning is far much less intrusive than for some rivals — for instance, the Google Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Notice 9. You’ll be able to see that vertical strains are rather more “leaning” on the latter two units within the pattern clips under.

Apple iPhone XS Max, 1080p/30fps video

Samsung Galaxy Word 9, 1080p/30fps video

Google Pixel 2, 1080p/30fps video

When capturing at 30 frames per second, the brand new iPhone delivers noticeably higher dynamic vary than the iPhone X, and this has additionally resulted in decreasing the cyan-shift artifact (when blue skies flip cyan earlier than clipping). As in nonetheless imaging, some shade flares are sometimes seen in video clips.

We additionally had a take a look at the digital camera’s 60 fps footage and located stabilization to be simply as efficient as for 30 fps. This stated, you don’t get the good thing about expanded dynamic vary at 60 fps, and can merely have to simply accept some cyan-shift artifacts. You’ll be able to see the latter at zero:06 sec within the pattern clip under.

Apple iPhone XS Max 1080p/60fps video


The Apple iPhone XS Max comes with among the best cellular cameras we now have ever examined, and in lots of areas gives noticeable enhancements over final yr’s iPhone X. Each nonetheless and video picture high quality in shiny mild are wonderful, with a really vast dynamic vary and good element. Autofocus and picture stabilization work swiftly and effectively, and the digital camera could be very dependable general, persistently delivering good outcomes.

In decrease mild, luminance noise turns into slightly extra intrusive than with different high-end telephones, and the iPhone’s zoom mode lags considerably behind the competitors (particularly, the Huawei P20 Professional) as nicely. Nevertheless, if that doesn’t hassle you an excessive amount of, the brand new Apple gadget is a surefire choice for any cellular photographer.



Apple iPhone XS Max








  • Excellent goal publicity and dynamic vary in brilliant mild and indoor circumstances
  • Good element in all circumstances
  • Vivid and nice colours in most conditions
  • Quick and correct autofocus
  • Excellent topic isolation and nice highlight impact in bokeh mode


  • Very vast dynamic vary
  • Excellent picture stabilization
  • Quick and repeatable autofocus
  • Good picture element, particularly when capturing outdoor


  • Flash photographs typically underexposed
  • Luminance noise is noticeable in decrease mild and the shadow areas of high-contrast scenes
  • Coarse luminance noise and a scarcity of element are noticeable in zoom photographs


  • Typically unstable white stability when capturing beneath indoor lighting
  • Luminance noise in decrease mild

A observe about picture codecs for this evaluation: The iPhones XS Max and XS report pictures within the DCI-P3 colorspace, which their shows additionally use. DCI-P3 is newer and bigger than the sRGB colour area that the majority units use and most net browsers assume. So to make sure that the pictures we used within the assessment show correctly on all kinds of browsers and units, we transformed the originals from DCI-P3 to sRGB utilizing Photoshop (which is why the revealed check photographs present Photoshop because the creator). This will barely scale back the richness of colour in some instances from what you’d see when viewing the unique photographs on a DCI-P3-calibrated show with applicable software program. We additionally captured the unique pictures utilizing the brand new HEIF (Excessive-Effectivity Picture Format), however then transformed them to very high-quality JPEGs for viewing in normal browsers and picture modifying software program. (HEIF is similar to JPEG, however offers higher compression for comparable picture high quality, so the conversion makes the pattern picture file sizes bigger than they have been when shot.) Please word, nevertheless, that in contrast to our check pictures, a number of the comparability pictures used on this assessment have been shot in JPEG and are used as-is for illustrative functions; they weren’t used to compute scores.

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