The future of the iPhone is here. The home button, an iconic part of the iPhone’s design for the past decade, is no more. For at least the immediate future, the iPhone will feature a display that goes nearly edge to edge, broken up only by a notch at the top of the device.
The overall size of the iPhone has not increased, but the display size has increased. So too has the cost.
Also: Battle of the big smartphones: Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Apple announced a trio of new iPhone models this year, with the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max as modest upgrades from last year’s iPhone X. The iPhone XR looks similar to the XS, but incorporates different display technology and is the cheapest of the group.
For the past week, I’ve been using the iPhone XS Max; the biggest and most expensive iPhone ever. This is the phone I had said I was all in on. And you know what? It’s shaping up to be my favorite iPhone ever.
With the iPhone XS Max, Apple kept the same overall design as the iPhone X. A stainless steel housing band wraps the sides, broken up only by a new antenna band along the bottom. The front and back of the phone are covered in glass, once again allowing for Qi-standard wireless charging. The iPhone XS and XS Max come in three colors this year: Space gray, silver, and a new gold color.
The iPhone now carries an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, meaning it can withstand a dip in up to 2m of water for 30 minutes. Whenever this rating is mentioned,Apple has made sure to mix in references to testing the iPhone XS in other liquids such as beer. I opted to not test my iPhone XS Max in a pint of beer, namely because I didn’t want to waste a good beer.
The XS Max’s OLED display is a massive 6.5 inches, with a resolution of 2688×1242 and a pixel density of 458ppi. The Max’s display is slightly larger than Samsung’s Note 9, which measures 6.4 inches.
Also: iPhone XS Max teardown: Here’s what $1,249 flagship costs Apple in parts
As with last year’s iPhone X, the top of the display has a notch or cutout. In that cutout, Apple has placed one of the phone’s speakers, along with the various components for its True Depth camera system, which is a crucial part of its Face ID system.
The iPhone XS Max supports HDR, both Dolby Vision and HDR10. To sum up the display in a word: Stunning. Watching HDR-enabled YouTube videos, I was mesmerized by the saturation and clarity. Unlike Samsung’s Note 9 and its oversaturated color replication, the iPhone XS Max takes a more realistic approach.
In fact, DisplayMate’s Dr. Raymond M. Soneira recently tested the iPhone XS Max display and awarded it the “Best Smartphone Display” award, surpassing the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Despite the size of the display, the phone is actually smaller than Apple’s previous Plus iPhone model and the Note 9.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the dimensions in inches:
|iPhone 8 Plus||iPhone XS Max||Galaxy Note 9|
As you can see, the XS Max is the smallest of the group, even if it’s just barely so.
On the bottom of the XS Max, you’ll find a Lightning port to charge, sync, and listen to audio via Lightning compatible headphones. Yes, the headphone jack is still missing. Also missing this year is the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone plug adapter that Apple had previously included in the box with previous iPhone models after ditching the headphone jack.
Along the right side of the phone is where you’ll find the SIM card tray and the side button. On the opposite side is the traditional Ring/Silent switch, along with volume up and down buttons.
The back of the phone features a dual-camera system, complete with a camera bump. Both cameras are 12 megapixels and dual optical image stabilization.
Also: iPhone XS Max vs iPhone X: Apple’s latest flagship’s display sets new records
The only notable difference between the iPhone XS and XS Max is the size. The XS is nearly identical to last year’s iPhone X, save for a slightly bigger camera bump and the antenna band.
As I said in my first impressions of the XS Max, yes, the phone is big… but it’s not that big. Reading through a spec sheet, it’s easy to see the display size and figure the phone is unwieldily, but for me, that’s just not the case.
Again, I don’t have what I would consider large hands, and I’ve resisted the phablet trend by opting for the smaller iPhone and Galaxy devices over the past few years.
And yet, I’ve had no issues adapting to the XS Max. I’m able to use it with one hand when needed, thanks in part to Reachability.
The combination of more content on the screen, combined with the picture quality for my frequent YouTube binges and the overall comfort of using a phone I would have previously thought too big for me, the iPhone XS Max is a joy to use.
Powering the iPhone XS Max is Apple’s latest processor, the A12 Bionic. The 7-nanometer chip has six cores, two performance cores that are only used for resource-intensive tasks like gaming. The four remaining cores are used for more common tasks, like sending messages or checking email.
Another benefit of the new processor is the ability to handle storage of up to 512GB. Yes, that means that Apple now offers an iPhone with 512GB of storage, along with 64GB and 256GB.
According to iFixit’s teardown of the XS Max, it has a 3,174mAh battery and 4GB of memory.
Battery life for me has been nothing short of stellar. I routinely go the entire day and halfway into the next before I need to charge the XS Max.
Also: iPhone XS and XS Max reveals some battery surprises
I’m annoyed that Apple is still shipping a 5W wall adapter with all iPhone models, instead of a wall adapter that’s capable of fast charging the iPhone. And despite sticking to 7.5W wireless charging, the iPhone XS Max chargers faster thanks to a resigned wireless charging coil inside the phone. The coil is wound tighter, making it more efficient, and in turn capable of charging the phone faster via a Qi wireless charging pad. Another benefit of this year’s wireless charging redesign is that the coil is more forgiving in the phone’s placement on the pad.
As far as speed goes, apps open without hesitation, and there’s been no slowdown in my short time with the phone.
Thanks to the upgraded processor, Face ID is reportedly faster than it was with the iPhone X. If it is faster, it’s not enough for me to notice.
Let’s talk reception
Apple updates the processor and internals with every iPhone release, but this year there’s a notable change that could potentially impact all users. Instead of using Qualcomm modems in every iPhone model, Apple has fully switched to Intel modems. Previously, only GSM iPhone models (example: AT&T, T-Mobile) used Intel modems for connectivity.
Shortly after the iPhone XS launched, reports of reception and throughout issues began to surface. In some cases, users report the iPhone XS is unable to connect to an LTE network in an area with poor reception, despite other smartphones able to find and hold onto an LTE signal.
Also: New Apple connection problem? iPhone XS users report subpar cell and Wi-Fi reception
With an iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, and Galaxy Note 9 on hand, I decided to run some speed tests using an AT&T SIM card.
I checked the signal strength of each device, as measured in dBm, prior to running any tests. Using the Ookla Speedtest app, I ensured all three devices used the same test server and then I ran each test three times. The first series of tests were in an area of poor reception, and the second series ran outside where reception isn’t an issue. I then averaged the three tests. Download and update speeds are listed in Mbps.
|iPhone XS Max||9.41||0.48||-118|
As you can see, the iPhone XS Max performed very poorly, with the Note 9 coming out on top. Once I moved outside, however, the story changed a bit.
|iPhone XS Max||47.97||18.77||-98|
The iPhone X performed worse than the XS Max when reception improved, which is exactly what should happen despite both devices I have on hand using an Intel modem. With the XS line, Apple added an additional antenna that enables 4×4 MIMO and Gigabit-class LTE. The Note 9 still offered the best performance.
I also ran the same tests when connected to my Wi-Fi network, but all three devices performed the same, each reaching the speed limit provided by my ISP (125 Mbps down/10 Mbps up). I have experienced no issues with Wi-Fi on the iPhone XS Max.
As for why the iPhone XS Max struggled in an area with poor reception in my testing, I’m not sure. There are a number of factors that can go into impacting reception and throughput, not all of which are Apple or even a wireless carrier’s fault. I plan on continuing to test and monitor reports over the coming days and weeks.
A few years ago, it felt as if we reached a plateau when it came to camera performance. The picture quality from Samsung, Google, and Apple devices is nearly identical and boils down to personal preference.
The iPhone XS Max boasts a new sensor with enhancements to image fidelity, faster auto-focus, deeper pixels, and larger pixels. There’s even a new Smart HDR feature that goes beyond the precious HDR mode of combing three photos of varying exposure to capture more detail and light in a photo.
Also: Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR: Features and specs compared
All of that sounds fancy, but what does it mean exactly? For me, it means one of the best cameras I’ve used on a smartphone in recent memory.
The amount of detail captured in situations with low light, or with difficult shadows, has been impressive. Look at this photo:
I took this on an overcast day, in an alley, without much thought. After I took it, I zoomed in to see how much detail of the wall was captured in the shot. Every single bump and imperfection of the wall is there and properly lit. The only editing done on this photo was to crop it for Instagram. I did not adjust any colors or saturation.
Apple also made improvements to Portrait Mode on the XS Max. Specifically, Apple has added the ability to adjust the amount of blur — or bokeh — after the photo has been taken. Previously, when a photo was taken in Portrait Mode, you had to live with the amount of background blur.
I’m still not entirely sold on Portrait Mode, and honestly, it hasn’t been a feature I’ve used very often in the past. I need to test it out more, but so far the ability to adjust the background after the fact has been intriguing.
The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone Apple has ever made. Sure, that can be said about each year’s new iPhone crop, but the iPhone XS Max sets the bar for iPhone and Android smartphones.
The only downside to the XS Max is its price tag. It starts at $1,099 for the 64GB model and maxes out at $1,449 for the 512GB model. Those prices for a smartphone are insane, and yet Apple is confident that users are willing to pay a premium.
Also: iPhone XS Max: How much profit does Apple really make on each one sold?
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is arguably the XS Max’s biggest competition. In that regard, the decision comes down to which operating system you prefer and whether or not having a stylus is important to you.
Before writing off the size of the iPhone XS Max, I recommend visiting a store where you can spend a few minutes and get a better idea of what the XS Max is all about. If you recently upgraded to an iPhone X, or maybe even an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, don’t feel left out if aren’t ready to upgrade. It’s an expensive decision! The future of the iPhone is big and bright, and the iPhone XS Max is the embodiment of that future.
Previous and related coverage:
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Twitter bans James O’Keefe of Project Veritas over fake account policy – TechCrunch
Twitter has banned right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe, creator of political gotcha video producer Project Veritas, for violating its “platform manipulation and spam policy,” suggesting he was operating multiple accounts in an unsanctioned way. O’Keefe has already announced that he will sue the company for defamation.
The ban, or “permanent suspension” as Twitter calls it, occurred Thursday afternoon. A Twitter representative said the action followed the violation of rules prohibiting “operating fake accounts” and attempting to “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations through the use of multiple accounts,” as noted here.
This suggests O’Keefe was banned for operating multiple accounts, outside the laissez-faire policy that lets people have a professional and a personal account, and that sort of thing.
But sharp-eyed users noticed that O’Keefe’s last tweet unironically accused reporter Jesse Hicks of impersonation, including an image showing an unredacted phone number supposedly belonging to Hicks. This too may have run afoul of Twitter’s rules about posting personal information, but Twitter declined to comment on this when I asked.
Supporters of O’Keefe say that the company removed his account as retribution for his most recent “exposé” involving surreptitious recordings of a CNN employee admitting the news organization has a political bias. (The person he was talking to had, impersonating a nurse, matched with him on Tinder.)
For his part O’Keefe said he would be suing Twitter for defamation over the allegation that he operated fake accounts. I’ve contacted Project Veritas for more information.
Consumer groups and child development experts petition Facebook to drop ‘Instagram for kids’ plan – TechCrunch
A coalition of 35 consumer advocacy groups along with 64 experts in child development have co-signed a letter to Facebook asking the company to reconsider its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13, which Facebook has confirmed to be in development. In the letter, the groups and experts argue that social media is linked with several risk factors for younger children and adolescents, related to both their physical health and overall well-being.
The letter was written by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group that often leads campaigns against big tech and its targeting of children.
The group stresses how influential social media is on young people’s development, and the dangers such an app could bring:
“A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to adolescents. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers,” it states. “The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing. Younger children are even less developmentally equipped to deal with these challenges, as they are learning to navigate social interactions, friendships, and their inner sense of strengths and challenges during this crucial window of development,” the letter reads.
Citing public health research and other studies, the letter notes that excessive screen time and social media use can contribute to a variety of risks for kids including obesity, lower psychological well-being, decreased quality of sleep, increased risk of depression and suicide ideation, and other issues. Adolescent girls report feeling pressured to post sexualized selfies for attention from their peers, the letter said, and 59% of U.S. teens have reported being bullied in social media, as well.
Another concern the groups have is the use of the Instagram algorithm which could suggest what kids would see and click on next, noting that children are “highly persuadable.”
They also point out that Facebook knows there are already children under 13 who have lied about their age using the Instagram platform, and these users will be unlikely to migrate to what they’ll view as a more “babyish” version of the app than the one they’re already using. That means Facebook is really targeting an even younger age group who don’t yet have an Instagram account with this “kids version.”
Despite the concerns being raised, Instagram’s plans to compete for younger users will not likely be impacted by the outcry. Already, Instagram’s top competitor in social media today — TikTok — has developed an experience for kids under 13. In fact, it was forced to age-gate its app as a result of its settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which had investigated Musical.ly (the app that became TikTok) for violations of the U.S. children’s privacy law COPPA.
Facebook, too, could be in a similar situation where it has to age-gate Instagram in order to properly direct its existing underage users to a COPPA-compliant experience. At the very least, Facebook has grounds to argue that it shouldn’t have to boot the under-13 crowd off its app, since TikTok did not. And the FTC’s fines, even when historic, barely make a dent in tech giants’ revenues.
The advocacy groups’ letter follows a push from Democratic lawmakers, who also this month penned a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to express concerns over Facebook’s ability to protect kids’ privacy and their well-being. Their letter had specifically cited Messenger Kids, which was once found to have a design flaw that let kids chat with unauthorized users. The lawmakers gave Facebook until April 26 to respond to their questions.
Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook’s plans for an Instagram for kids at a Congressional hearing back in March, saying that the company was “early in our thinking” about how the app would work, but noted it would involve some sort of parental oversight and involvement. That’s similar to what Facebook offers today via Messenger Kids and TikTok does via its Family Pairing parental controls.
The market, in other words, is shifting towards acknowledging that kids are already on social media — with or without parents’ permission. As a result, companies are building features and age gates to accommodate that reality. The downside to this plan, of course, is once you legitimize the creation of social apps for the under-13 demographic, companies are given the legal right to hook kids even younger on what are, arguably, risky experiences from a public health standpoint.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also today launched a petition which others can sign to push Facebook to cancel its plans for an Instagram for kids.
Instagram Letter by TechCrunch on Scribd
Facebook to test new business discovery features in U.S. News Feed – TechCrunch
Facebook announced this morning it will begin testing a new experience for discovering businesses in its News Feed in the U.S. When live, users to tap on topics they’re interested in underneath posts and ads in their News Feed in order to explore related content from businesses. The change comes at a time when Facebook has been arguing how Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update will impact its small business customers — a claim many have dismissed as misleading, but nevertheless led some mom and pop shops to express concern about the impacts to their ad targeting capabilities, as a result. This new test is an example of how easily Facebook can tweak its News Feed to build out more data on its users, if needed.
The company suggests users may see the change under posts and ads from businesses selling beauty products, fitness or clothing, among other things.
The idea here is that Facebook would direct users to related businesses through a News Feed feature, when they take a specific action to discover related content. This, in turn, could help Facebook create a new set of data on its users, in terms of which users clicked to see more, and what sort of businesses they engaged with, among other things. Over time, it could turn this feature into an ad unit, if desired, where businesses could pay for higher placement.
“People already discover businesses while scrolling through News Feed, and this will make it easier to discover and consider new businesses they might not have found on their own,” the company noted in a brief announcement.
Facebook didn’t detail its further plans with the test, but said as it learned from how users interacted with the feature, it will expand the experience to more people and businesses.
Along with news of the test, Facebook said it will roll out more tools for business owners this month, including the ability to create, publish and schedule Stories to both Facebook and Instagram; make changes and edits to Scheduled Posts; and soon, create and manage Facebook Photos and Albums from Facebook’s Business Suite. It will also soon add the ability to create and save Facebook and Instagram posts as drafts from the Business Suite mobile app.
Related to the businesses updates, Facebook updated features across ad products focused on connecting businesses with customer leads, including Lead Ads, Call Ads, and Click to Messenger Lead Generations.
Facebook earlier this year announced a new Facebook Page experience that gave businesses the ability to engage on the social network with their business profile for things like posting, commenting and liking, and access to their own, dedicated News Feed. And it had removed the Like button in favor of focusing on Followers.
It is not a coincidence that Facebook is touting its tools for small businesses at a time when there’s concern — much of it loudly shouted by Facebook itself — that its platform could be less useful to small business owners in the near future, when ad targeting capabilities becomes less precise as users vote ‘no’ when Facebook’s iOS app asks if it can track them.
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