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Apple iPhone X vs XS Max in 2021: Is The XS Max Good Enough?

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

The iPhone XS Max may cost you a few bucks more, but it's the best of the two.

You'll get better battery life.

What else sets them apart?

The iPhone XS Max also gives you a larger (+0.7") display and more RAM (4GB vs. 3GB). But the iPhone X will give you better outdoor brightness and a lightweight body (34 g./1.20 oz less).

Keep in mind that these are both great devices because they ended up with similar scores.

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're not considering going for a carrier subscription, you'll have to spend approximately $71 more.

Is the iPhone X still worth buying in 2021?

Overall, you'll still get a pretty decent smartphone if you go for the iPhone X in 2021, and while it isn't the best device out there, at least it's more affordable now. However, you should also consider other phones like the iPhone 12 because it has better performance, better cameras, more security updates, faster charging, and more RAM.

Is the iPhone XS Max still worth getting in 2021?

The iPhone XS Max continues to be a rock-solid smartphone because of its 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 fare against their competition, and how the industry is scoring 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 X, Apple iPhone XS Max

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

CONTENTS

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Introduction

Is the iPhone XS Max the true X successor?

Let's find that out.

In September of 2018, Apple started selling its iPhone XS Max, while Apple's iPhone X hit the stores in October 2017.

With this article, you'll be able to compare every feature of the iPhone X and the iPhone XS Max. Then, you can decide what model better suits your needs. Let's start.

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 X iPhone XS Max
Release Date 2017, October 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 12% ahead of its sibling in the multi-core ranking. In real-world usage, the difference between them isn't significant.

Performance*
vs.
Features iPhone X iPhone XS Max
SoC Apple A11 Apple A12
Graphics Apple GPU Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 2372
2655
283
OS iOS 11 iOS 12
Tek-Score
6.0
6.4
0.5

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Apple iPhone X front transparent png Apple iPhone XS Max front transparent png

The iPhone X has the best screen, but it shouldn't be that noticeable.

If you're trying to keep your phone's display small, don't waste your time searching for other devices, and go for the iPhone X. It really is short compared to most similarly priced phones.

Most phones from this price range max at 743 nits, but the iPhone XS Max can only go 213 nits below that.

If your next device can't do at least 450 nits, it isn't your best option for HDR content and outdoor readability. Now about the HDR feature:

Considering the iPhone X, you should know that 89% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and 96% have an AMOLED screen.

Regarding the iPhone XS Max, I should say that 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 X iPhone XS Max
Size 5.8
6.5
0.7
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1125x2436
1242x2688
597996
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 462.63
455.55
-7.08
Always-On-Display No No
Notch Wedge Wedge
Peak Brightness 726 nits
530 nits
-196
HDR HDR10 HDR10
Sub Tek-Score
3.1
2.7
-0.4
Protection Corning toughened glass Corning toughened glass
Tek-Score
5.9
5.8
-0.1

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Apple iPhone X back transparent png Apple iPhone XS Max back transparent png

Be aware that the iPhone XS Max's picture quality is, on average, 40% above other smartphones from its price range. And that's enough to beat the iPhone X too.

About the iPhone X: DXOMARK gave this shooter a score of 109. If you also consider its telephoto lens, the final score goes up to 117** points. If you click here, you can check what they think of it.

To put things in perspective: all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Nevertheless, only 19% of them feature a macro lens.

About the iPhone XS Max: On DXOMARK's reviewing article, they gave this shooter 118 points. And by adding its telephoto lens, we end up with a score of 126** points. For an out-and-out review, check their article.

Finally, 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. Still, only 15% of them feature a macro lens.

**Consider this as an estimative, especially with cameras with less than 40MP and no telephoto lens. They moved to a new camera test protocol, and I need more reviewed devices to fine-tune older scores.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera iPhone X 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 117
126
9

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) iPhone X iPhone XS Max vs.
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 2.4
2.4
0.0
Lens 52mm (2x zoom)
52mm (2x zoom)
0
Lens Type Telephoto lens Telephoto lens
Score 8 8 0
Selfie Camera iPhone X iPhone XS Max vs.
Megapixels 7
7
0
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 32mm 32mm 0
iPhone X iPhone XS Max vs.
Tek-Score
6.9
7.4
0.5

Who has the best frame?

There isn't a clear winner, so there is no wrong choice here.

Remember that the iPhone X is around 12% smaller than other phones at nearly the same price.

The iPhone X weighs 174 g. (6.14 oz), while its sibling is 34 g. (1.34 oz) heavier. If you're looking for a lightweight device, the "weight to display size" score of the iPhone X is 4.5, meaning it has an acceptable score for its display size. The iPhone XS Max, in its turn, has 3.2, which suggests it's considerably hefty.

The iPhone X is rated IP67, which means it's water-resistant in up to 1 meter, while the iPhone XS Max can be immersed in 1 to 3 meters. That shouldn't last over half an hour, in standby and freshwater only, so no saltwater or pools here.

Looks*
vs.
Body iPhone X iPhone XS Max
Size 143 x 70 x 7 mm
(5.04 x 2.47 x 0.25 in)
157 x 77 x 7 mm
(5.54 x 2.72 x 0.25 in)
14553
Weight 174 g. (6.14 oz)
208 g. (7.34 oz)
34
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Space Gray and Silver Space Gray, Gold, and Silver
Screen To Body Ratio 82.53%
85.85%
3.33
Disp.Size To Weight Score 4.5 3.2 -1.3
Looks 8.1/10
8.9/10
0.8
Waterproof IP67 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Tek-Score
6.3
6.7
0.5

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

Which has the best battery?

The iPhone X does have a battery capacity of 2716 mAh versus the 3174 mAh of the iPhone XS Max. And as claimed by GSMArena, the latter is the winner here.

OK, it still isn't winning any battery contest. Apple should've put a bigger battery and/or energy-efficient hardware on it. Its "battery to device size" rate is 2.1.

The iPhone X's battery is well below the average in this price range. These numbers show that it is 12% below the rest.

Battery*
vs.
Features iPhone X iPhone XS Max
Capacity (mAh) 2716 3174 458
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 76% left
78% left
2
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 54% left
60% left
6
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 60% left
64% left
4
Bat. To Phone Size Score 6.3 2.1 -4.2
Sub Tek-Score
6.3
6.7
0.4
Fast Charging 15w
15w
0
Wireless Charging 5w
5w
0
Tek-Score
5.7
6.0
0.3

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

There isn't a winner here.

Apple put 3GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage on the iPhone X. Also, similarly priced adversaries usually have more storage and more RAM. They're around 8GB of RAM and 145Gb of storage.

The iPhone XS Max offers 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Again, you can effortlessly get more RAM and more storage from most of its opponents. They'd give you around 135Gb of storage and 8Gb of RAM.

Both phones have more than enough storage and RAM for the average consumer. However, if you can't get enough of the record button, 64 GB will be a problem sooner than later.

Storage*
vs.
Features iPhone X 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.

They both run on LTE networks. Do you want 5G on your next phone? Then, you should also consider the iPhone 12.

Connectivity
vs.
Features iPhone X 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 X

Reference: $579

Apple iPhone X

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 X iPhone XS Max VS
Amazon - 1.33 ! -
eBay 0.68 0.83 0.16
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)

Want to know about that global score? Let me point out the average of its competitors. They usually sit close to 6.9 (for the iPhone X) and 7.0 (for the iPhone XS Max).

Verdict: Does any of them really stand out?

If you think the iPhone XS Max isn't too big for you, then great: you've just found an excellent replacement for your X.

You'll get a small increase in performance (it isn't that noticeable), an improvement in the quality of your photos, and also more battery juice for your daily needs.

If you're a gamer or a heavy user, you'll find the extra GB of RAM a pleasant bonus.

Unfortunately, you'll be going to have to get used to carrying a pretty heavy device.

Pros iPhone X iPhone XS Max
#1 AMOLED Performance
#2 Cameras AMOLED
#3 Fast Charging Cameras
#4 Wireless Charging Fast Charging
#5 Glass Protection Wireless Charging
#6 Glass Protection
Cons iPhone X iPhone XS Max
#1 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#2 MicroSD Slot MicroSD Slot
#3 3.5mm Jack Weight
#4 Price 3.5mm Jack
#5 Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score iPhone X iPhone XS Max
Gaming Score
5.6
5.6
0.0
Tek-Score
5.40
5.62
0.22
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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If you want to know more about them, click here:

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 X 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 X 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e SD
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 SD
    $499
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $503
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8
    $480
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Pro
    $480
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554

 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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