iPhone XS Max: Five days with Apple's most expensive iPhone yet

Another year, another iPhone that's bigger and better than ever. Think six-and-half inches of pure phone pleasure.

For the past few days, I've been testing the iPhone XS Max alongside its smaller sibling, the iPhone XS. Apart from size, both are the same inside and out. Tempted to buy?  First, some reasons why you should:

You're obsessed with taking photos

You're either really good or really bad (like me) at taking photos. Either way you'd likely be quite happy with the iPhone XS and XS Max set-up, which takes it all up a notch from last year's iPhone X with a new image sensor, new image signal processor and improved True Tone Flash.

The A12 Bionic chip, found in both phones, is at the bleeding edge of chipset technology and has an updated neural engine designed to handle AI tasks. In photography terms, it helps you take higher-quality videos and photos.

Take the Smart HDR feature - the best way to explain it is that it's like HDR on steroids. It takes even more images at different exposures when you snap a photo, figuring out all the things like highlights, shadows and background objects. It then chooses the best bits from all the images and stitches them altogether for that perfect shot.

Improving my photos with Smart HDR, which is automatically on.
Improving my photos with Smart HDR, which is automatically on. Photo credit: Emma Brannam

There's also the ability to adjust depth-of-field for portrait shots after the photo has been taken. Now, it has to be said that some competitor phones do this already, along with third-party apps, but having it as part of the Apple software is great.

Depth-of-field can now be adjusted after the portrait shot has been taken.
Depth-of-field can now be adjusted after the portrait shot has been taken. Photo credit: Emma Brannam

You're a gold digger

You dig the new gold colour, that is. Or maybe you are actually after a sugar mummy or daddy to buy you one of premium phones.

You're fond of swimming pools

Never mind the toilet or bath, with a rating of IP68 you can now drop both the iPhone XS and XS Max into a swimming pool for up to 30 minutes. I have to confess I didn't test this feature. I'm too chicken.

You're a battery drainer

This XS Max gives you another 90 minutes-worth of battery life. The XS gives you 30 minutes.

So those are the pros. There are also some cons, and you might choose to wait before upgrading if:

Your pockets aren't that deep

At $2799 for the iPhone XS Max, it is a lot of money in anyone's books. That's for the 512GB version, so if that hurts, maybe consider the 64GB or 256GB versions, which are a bit cheaper. The iPhone XS tops out at $2599 for the 512GB.

You've got little hands

My hands aren't that large and I couldn't actually get my thumb from one side of the screen to the other of the iPhone XS Max. But for some that's a small price to pay a beautifully large screen. You can also just buy the 5.8-inch iPhone XS instead.

You're hanging out for the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR had all the tech journalists and analysts raving at Apple's launch event last week, and for good reason. It's got the same A12 bionic chip, the same selfie camera, Face ID and Animoji. It doesn't have dual-lens, but that might not bother most people, and it's only got an LCD screen, though Apple says its version, "Liquid LCD", is still industry-leading. The final thing is what will win most people over. The iPhone XR comes in awesome colours.

So there you have it. Those with deep pockets, big hands and an old iPhone (older than iPhone 8 Plus) will be pleased with the iPhone XS Max.

It will suit both big phone lovers and business users, going head to head with the new Samsung Note 9 and probably Huawei's upcoming Mate 20. The same goes for the iPhone XS. It's perfectly suited for anyone with an iPhone 7 or less. Existing iPhone X owners probably won't bother, unless they need the latest and greatest. There are still plenty of people that fall in that camp.

The iPhone XS and XS Max are available for pre-order now, and they officially go on sale in New Zealand this coming Friday, September 21.