One month with the iPhone XS Max and why I returned it

The first five iPhones had the same screen size and they were designed to be comfortably held in one hand. Steve Jobs died in 2011 and he left projects for the following years. In 2012 the iPhone 5 featured a bigger screen, the 0.5-inch gain was obtained trough a taller screen. This meant that the 5 has the same width as the 4, and the one-hand usability was therefore mantained, the screen ratio changed due to the increased number of vertical pixels. So far so good.

In September 2014 the iPhone 6 was presented. Its design was plagued by huge antenna lines and a protruding camera. The screen was bigger and, unlike with the iPhone 5, they didn’t provide any reason for the screen size increase. It’s not difficult to guess they had to increase their market share and the market required big phones. The worst, however, was that the iPhone 6 was the “small” one. The iPhone 6 Plus was out too and the iPhone 5 format was abandoned, except for the beautiful iPhone SE (the device I’m typing from) two years later. The 6 plus format remained with those huge, useless bezels until 2018, when Apple came out with a phone with a similar size but with an almost bezel-less design (if we don’t count the infamous notch): the iPhone XS Max was born.

Over the last 11 years humans’ hands haven’t evolved and have maintained the same size. Therefore iPhone’s usability has been overhauled. I consider the iPhone SE the last compelling iPhone in terms of usability and that’s why I took these pictures of the Xs Max next to it.

The Xs Max’s size, at least, makes more sense because the front-screen ratio has dramatically increased. I decided to give it a shot and try the new flagship.

The phone is blazing fast, the Face ID’s unlock time has been reduced thanks to the new a 12 bionic chip, the screen is amazing in colors and details, the dual camera is even better than last year’s iPhone X.

However, here are several frustrating points: The Face ID works at the same angles and at the same distance, only now it’s even more difficult to orient it properly toward your face due to the dimensions; The phone is too thick, wide and heavy, there’s something that doesn’t feel right, it should be thinner; Calling someone without the speakerphone or the AirPods is annoying, holding the 208 grams next to the ear while you strain your fingers trying to not lose the grip is not natural, I drop my phone more or less once every two years, I dropped the Xs Max twice in one month; it’s impossible to fit this phablet in the pocket of a slim fit pant or jacket. Plus, the stainless steel frame makes a strident noise if rubbed against cotton.

What’s the point of a 208 grams 6,5 inches phablet? Self defense? What’s a phablet anyway? A device for people who can’t afford to buy a tablet or a pc to edit their pictures on a much bigger screen? Maybe the majority of very young people looking for basic functionalities have already transitioned in the post-pc era but a computer is still needed for many tasks.

I am disappointed because I think Apple is not doing products because they’re compelling but because they think they will sell. The sales, however, slumped in q4 2018 due to the super high prices and currency headwinds. The demand for big phones is very high especially in Asia, and Apple wants to expand in every possible market. But the point is that Apple was a company that used to make unpopular choices based on what they thought was right for the customer. Now the sizes are random, iPhone Xs Xr and Xs Max has three different sizes, which one is right for them? They seem not to care anymore.

The maturity of the Smart phones’ market is evident and that’s why they shifted to a less iPhone-dependent company trough the introduction of services like Apple Music, Apple Tv, Apple Arcade and Apple credit card among others. I see a bright financial future but I know that consumers now can’t just buy and trust them like before. The Mac area with faulty keyboards, thermal throttling, super slow hard drives and not updated components is the most affected. But there are traps everywhere in the Apple catalogue and we have to do our researches before buying.


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