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Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs XS Max: Is The XS Max Good Enough?

author Luis Silva (April 2020 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The iPhone XS Max isn't that affordable, but it's the best of the two.

You'll get better glass protection and a better display.

Are there other things worth mentioning?

The iPhone XS Max also comes with an AMOLED, larger (+1.0") display, and more RAM (4GB vs. 3GB).

How much more are you willing to spend on the iPhone XS Max?

If you're not considering going for a carrier subscription, you'll have to spend approximately $260 more.

Is it worth buying the iPhone 8 Plus in 2021?

Overall, you'll still get a pretty decent smartphone if you go for the iPhone 8 Plus in 2021, even more so if you can find it with a great deal. Having said that, the iPhone 12 has better performance, better cameras, more security updates, faster charging, more RAM, and better display.

Is it still worth buying the iPhone XS Max in 2021?

For a phone introduced in 2018, the iPhone XS Max still has good cameras. That's why I'll continue to recommend it in 2021, but note that (again) the iPhone 12 features better performance, better cameras, more security updates, and faster charging.

Keep reading for answers to all your questions about their differences, how they differ from their competition, and how the tech industry is evaluating their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus, Apple iPhone XS Max

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

CONTENTS

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Introduction

If you're upgrading from the iPhone 8 Plus, the XS Max may not be the best iPhone to go, but if you're coming from an older one, then that's a whole new story.

Either way, let's go.

In September of 2018, Apple started selling its iPhone XS Max, while Apple's iPhone 8 Plus hit the stores one year sooner.

Here you can look at the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone XS Max, compare each other's features, and decide which one is best for you. Let us delve into the finer details.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Release Date 2017, September 2018, September 1y.
OS Updates 6 years 6 years 0y.
Security Updates 6 years 6 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

About performance: Geekbench 5 scores the iPhone XS Max 14% ahead of its sibling in the multi-core ranking. Overall, you wouldn't feel that much of a difference between them.

Performance*
vs.
Features iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
SoC Apple A11 Apple A12
Graphics Apple GPU Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 2332
2655
323
OS iOS 11 iOS 12
Tek-Score
5.9
6.4
0.5

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Apple iPhone 8 Plus front transparent png Apple iPhone XS Max front transparent png

The iPhone XS Max has a better display, and that's as clear as glass.

Are you looking for small screens? Then, the iPhone 8 Plus is your holy grail. There are just not that many choices in its class.

Be aware that anything less than 500 nits just can't do true HDR, nor is that great on a sunny day. So what about HDR?

About the iPhone 8 Plus, 81% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and 94% have an AMOLED screen. But only 23% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Concerning the iPhone XS Max, as a reference, 89% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 93% have an Always-On display.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Size 5.5
6.5
1.0
Screen Type LCD AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x1920
1242x2688
1264896
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 400.53
455.55
55.02
Always-On-Display No No
Notch - Wedge
Peak Brightness 530 nits
530 nits
0
HDR - HDR10
Sub Tek-Score
1.4
2.7
1.3
Protection Ion-strengthened glass Corning toughened glass
Tek-Score
2.9
5.8
2.9

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Apple iPhone 8 Plus back transparent png Apple iPhone XS Max back transparent png

Be aware that the iPhone XS Max's picture quality is, on average, 33 points above its rivals in its class. And that's enough to beat the iPhone 8 Plus too.

About the iPhone 8 Plus: DXOMARK gave this shooter a score of 104. If you also consider its telephoto lens, that will go up to 112**. For an in-depth review, click here.

I hope this helps: you'd probably like to know that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens.

About the iPhone XS Max: DXOMARK's gurus gave this shooter a score of 118. And if we consider its telephoto lens, that score goes up to 126**. If you want to know more about it, check it here.

Last (but not least), just like the other device, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Additionally, only 15% of them feature a macro lens.

**Consider this as an estimative, at least for phones with no zoom and up to 35 to 40MP. They moved to a better camera test protocol, and I need more reviewed devices to fine-tune older scores.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.8
1.8
0.0
Lens 28mm
26mm
-2
Lens Type Regular Wide-Angle
Flash 4 4 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 112
126
14

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max vs.
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 2.8
2.4
-0.4
Lens 57mm (2x zoom)
52mm (2x zoom)
-5
Lens Type Telephoto lens Telephoto lens
Score 8 8 0
Selfie Camera iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max vs.
Megapixels 7
7
0
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 32mm 32mm 0
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max vs.
Tek-Score
6.6
7.4
0.8

Who has the best frame?

The iPhone XS Max does win some points here, mainly for its water resistance and looks.

The iPhone XS Max is 6 g. (0.24 oz) heavier than its sibling, which sits at 202 g. (7.13 oz). If you want a big screen in a lightweight phone, I've come up with an adapted "display size to phone weight ratio" score. The iPhone 8 Plus got 0.7, and that's another way of saying it's one of the heaviest phones for its screen size. The iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, has 3.2, which suggests it's considerably hefty.

The iPhone 8 Plus is resistant to water up to 1 meter, while the iPhone XS Max can dive in up to 1 to 3 meters. That should be for up to 30 minutes, in standby mode, so no underwater photos.

Looks*
vs.
Body iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Size 158 x 78 x 7 mm
(5.57 x 2.75 x 0.25 in)
157 x 77 x 7 mm
(5.54 x 2.72 x 0.25 in)
-1645
Weight 202 g. (7.13 oz)
208 g. (7.34 oz)
6
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Gold, Silver, Space Gray, and Red Space Gray, Gold, and Silver
Screen To Body Ratio 67.67%
85.85%
18.19
Disp.Size To Weight Score 0.7 3.2 2.5
Looks 5.5/10
8.9/10
3.4
Waterproof IP67 IP68
Biometrics Front Fingerprint Face ID
Tek-Score
4.7
6.7
2.0

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

The iPhone 8 Plus does have a smaller battery, with 2691 mAh, while the iPhone XS Max has 3174 mAh. But as claimed by GSMArena, you shouldn't expect any real contrast here.

So, the iPhone XS Max doesn't have the best battery life out there. Apple should've put a bigger battery and/or energy-efficient hardware on it. That's the conclusion that we take from its "battery to phone size" rate of 2.1. But the iPhone 8 Plus only achieved 1.9.

Battery*
vs.
Features iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Capacity (mAh) 2691 3174 483
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 79% left
78% left
-1
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 63% left
60% left
-3
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 65% left
64% left
-1
Bat. To Phone Size Score 1.9 2.1 0.2
Sub Tek-Score
6.9
6.7
-0.2
Fast Charging 15w
15w
0
Wireless Charging 5w
5w
0
Tek-Score
6.2
6.0
-0.2

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them.

The iPhone 8 Plus features 64GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM. Also, similarly priced adversaries usually have more RAM and more storage. They're closer to 122Gb of storage and 7GB of RAM.

On the iPhone XS Max, you'll find 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM. Again, you can effortlessly get the majority of its rivals with more RAM and more storage. 8Gb/135Gb. That's the average.

Most people should be OK with their internal storage. However, if you plan to store some movies or record tons of videos, 64 GB alone won't get you there.

Storage*
vs.
Features iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
RAM (GB) 3GB
4GB
1
Internal (GB) 64GB
64GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
2.8
2.8
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

They also do have a resemblance here.

You can find these two in the LTE variant. Do you want 5G on your next phone? Then, you should also check the iPhone 12.

Connectivity
vs.
Features iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Network LTE LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
3.6
3.6
0.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are the prices that we've come across recently:

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Reference: $390

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone XS Max

Reference: $650

Apple iPhone XS Max

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max VS
Amazon 2.30 ! 1.33 ! -
eBay 1.23 0.83 -0.40
Best Buy - - -
Walmart - - ! -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Are you also considering other options? The global score can help. For reference purposes, I'll tell you where most of its rivals average. The iPhone 8 Plus class is at 6.2, and the iPhone XS Max 7.0.

Verdict: What Makes the Apple iPhone XS Max Stand Out?

The iPhone XS Max has a tremendous benefit over the 8 Plus, as, at approximately the same physical size, it offers an additional full inch in screen space. But that's about it.

You do get a small improvement in performance and cameras.

The XS Max is a pale upgrade for the iPhone 8 Plus. That's why I don't see a reason for you to do it. If you valued a bezel-less screen, you would've gone with the iPhone X instead of the 8 Plus.

On the other hand, if you're coming from an older model, you should decide based on the bezels alone. The iPhone XS Max indeed is quite pleasing to look at, but it may also be more fragile, so it's really up to you.

Pros iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
#1 Cameras Performance
#2 Fast Charging AMOLED
#3 Wireless Charging Cameras
#4 Fast Charging
#5 Wireless Charging
#6 Glass Protection
Cons iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
#1 AMOLED Always-On-Display
#2 Always-On-Display MicroSD Slot
#3 MicroSD Slot Weight
#4 Weight 3.5mm Jack
#5 3.5mm Jack Price
#6 Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score iPhone 8 Plus iPhone XS Max
Gaming Score
3.7
5.6
1.9
Tek-Score
4.81
5.62
0.81
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Apple iPhone 8 Plus Related Comparisons


Apple iPhone XS Max Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Apple iPhone 8 Plus 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 8
    $370
  • ApplerivaliPhone XR
    $344
  • OnePlusrival7
    $388
  • XiaomirivalMi 9T Pro
    $385
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 8
    $419
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e
    $428
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e EX
    $428
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ SD
    $359
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $329
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 EX
    $429
  • OnePlusrival7T
    $329
  • OnePlusrival7 Pro
    $429
  • HuaweirivalP30
    $400
  • GooglerivalPixel 4
    $386
  • HuaweirivalMate 20 Pro
    $436
  • XiaomirivalMi 9
    $400
  • XiaomirivalMi 9 Lite
    $317
  • ApplerivaliPhone SE 2
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A71
    $400
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10 Lite
    $425
  • OnePlusrivalNord
    $410
  • GooglerivalPixel 4a
    $350
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE
    $359
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 4G
    $463
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 5G
    $359
  • OpporivalFind X2 Neo
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M51
    $396
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Lite
    $325
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Lite
    $399
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Lite
    $349
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A52
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A72
    $445
  • XiaomirivalMi 9t Pro
    $385

 Apple iPhone XS Max 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $729
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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