The brand new iPhone Xs Max. Apple’s latest attempt at selling the same thing over and over again, is here…this time with a couple new backgrounds, and a slightly larger screen size. Is it worth your money? I’ve systematically durability tested about 100 different flagship phones over the past few years, and it’s time to see if Apple’s gold Xs Max is durable. Let’s get started. So far, things look pretty much the same, just a larger iPhone X, which is cool. Screen real-estate is important. Inside the box we get our usual lightning port headphones, and a short lightning to USB charging cable. But this time around, Apple has decided not to include any dongles in the box. Why though? It’s pretty simple actually. When comparing 2 dongles side by side, if I wanted to bulk manufacture a USB-C headphone dongle, it would cost me about $each – super cheap.
It would be pretty safe to assume that the Apple dongle costs about the same, since they have the same materials and do basically the same thing…but, it doesn’t. Apple gets massive royalties from third party manufacturers because their lightning port is proprietary. So, why would Apple include a $accessory in the box when they can bleed a $5 royalty out of you later…even if you don’t buy from Apple directly? Last year, Apple sold over 2 million iPhones. That’s a lot of potential dongle sales. The reason Apple removed all the ports from their phones and laptops is because the 23 different dongles they sell on their website are basically pure profit, and everyone still needs to buy them. Apple claimed that the iPhone Xs has the most durable glass ever in a smartphone. Let’s see if the scratch resistance has changed at all. It’s pretty safe to assume that glass is glass, and glass breaks. My Mohs scale of hardness will let us know how scratchable it is. We’ve seen plastic phone screens scratch at a level 3. Glass phones would start scratching at a level 6. And sapphire crystal displays start scratching at a level 9.
No surprises here when the glass starts scratching at a level 6 with deeper grooves at a level 7. It’s important not to trust Apple’s marketing jargon. This new iPhone screen will scratch just as easy as your last iPhone. Grab a screen protector. There is a thin layer of plastic between the glass and the metal frame of the phone, which is a nice little impact absorption layer. I’ll do a drop test later, but glass is glass, so I’m pretty sure we all know how that video’s going to end up. There’s no home button or fingerprint scanner on the phone this time around.
The front facing 7 megapixel camera and face ID are both protected by the same front glass. The earpiece grille is made from metal and it’s not going anywhere. It’s pretty secure and won’t fall out on it’s own. One thing I am a huge fan of is Apple’s stainless steel frame. Gold coloring might not be your thing of course, but the weight of stainless steel and the durability that comes with it is impressive. Stainless is harder than aluminum and more difficult to scratch. It can still get scratched of course, but the sound, and the damage inflicted will be less on a steel iPhone than an aluminum iPhone…which is a good thing.
Apple has included a dual SIM card tray with a little rubber ring around the top to keep water out for that ip68 rating. Still no expandable memory slot, but Apple’s never had one, so iOS users don’t know what they’re missing. The buttons are also made from metal and can’t be removed from the frame. Stainless steel also conducts less heat than aluminum, so it’ll usually feel cold to the touch every time you grab it. It’s good for that premium external feel, but bad for the internal processor heat dissipation.
I’m still a huge fan of the mute switch. I feel like every phone needs one of these. The volume buttons are also made from metal. Down at the bottom of the phone we still have no headphone jack. Apple owns both wireless AirPods and Beats, so of course they would prefer if you went wireless. Apple kind of creates a problem and then charges you for the solution…incredibly good business plan, but bad news for your wallet. Apple didn’t become the first trillion dollar company by being generous. Speaking of lack of generosity, if you crack the back glass on your iPhone Xs Max, it will cost a whopping $599 to replace. That risk, for something as fragile as glass, makes Apple’s glass phones the most cosmetically fragile and delicate pieces of technology on the planet. A replacement back glass for a Samsung phone is around $30 – huge difference. If you’ve already given Apple all of your money, I’d dbrand the phone with a case. No reason to give them free advertising as well.
Now for my favorite part…Apple says they’re all about those premium materials, which is great, and for the most part they do a pretty good job. But Apple is still bragging on their website about using sapphire crystal on their camera lens to protect the dual 12 megapixel cameras. Sapphire crystal would be extraordinary if it was pure sapphire Remember, glass scratches at a level 6. Sapphire should resist scratching until a level 8 or 9, just shy of diamonds at a level 10. Apple’s impure sapphire, as you can see, starts scratching at a level 6, the same as glass. This Tissot watch though, built with a pure sapphire face, does not scratch at a level 6. Back to the iPhone Xs Max camera lens, we see more scratching with a level 7 pick.
Also in line with what glass would be doing. The sapphire Tissot though, is still scratch proof, even at that same level 7. On the Max camera lens using a level 8 pick where sapphire should start scratching, we see another mark. Taking that same level 8 pick back to the Tissot, we finally see some face scratching. In my opinion, if Apple’s impure sapphire isn’t doing what sapphire is expected to do, they shouldn’t be calling it “sapphire”. Let me know what you think in the comments. At least the Tissot watches are always consistent. As long as Apple keeps using their inferior sapphire, I’ll keep buying more watches to show what premium actually looks like. Now for the burn test. Apple’s a pretty fascinating company to watch. They get away with making beautiful, yet cosmetically fragile and super expensive to repair smartphones, where you have to buy back basic functionality like some EA Game Loot Box.
You’re like, ‘Whoa, Jerry, tell us how you really feel.’ Alright. I will. It’s like Tim Cook walked on stage with a fully functional Galaxy Note 9, snapped his Thanos fingers to remove half of the cool features, raised the price, and we got left with an iPhone Xs Max. Maybe next year Apple will start leading an innovation again, but I’m not getting my hopes up. There are better profit margins with dongles. The inch super retina display lasted over a minute on my burn test, which is pretty cool – just like the Galaxy S8 a few years ago. And now for the bend test. Every phone is not created equally. Some snap in half and end up on my Shelf of Shame. Apple has done an incredibly good job of making structurally sound phones the last couple of years.
And as much as I would like to see this phone snap in half…it does not. Apple has once again constructed an incredibly solid and structurally sound device…unless you end up cracking the back glass of course. That extra $600 charge will test anyone’s sanity, so be ready. The iPhone Xs Max passes my durability test. But, is it the cure to unhappiness? Probably not. I’d say skip this one and spend your extra cash on memories and experiences. Your current phone is probably fine, and it’s not worth the marginal upgrade. I do have an extra Xs Max though, and I definitely don’t want it for myself. I’ll give it away over on my Twitter, so come hang out with me over there.
You can slap a skin on it and pretend it’s an Android. Or just sell it to a poor soul who doesn’t know better things are out there, and keep the money for yourself. Hit that subscribe button. Thanks a ton for watching, and I’ll see you around. .
As found on Youtube