They’re very different in some ways, exactly the same in others.
For years the Plus line of iPhones was Apple’s largest, topping out at 5.5in. That all changed last year when Apple introduced the iPhone X with its 5.8in screen. But now that screen looks tiny compared to Apple’s latest and greatest flagship, the iPhone XS Max.
This 6.5in beast is MASSIVE–the biggest iPhone Apple has ever made. But Apple has decided not to do away with the Plus entirely. It’s still keeping the iPhone 8 Plus available for sale. So how do the two models compare? Let’s take a look.
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Specs
Here are the specs for the iPhone XS Max:
Display: 6.5-inch OLED display with a 2688x1242-pixel resolution at 458ppi
Dimensions: 157.5mm x 77.4mm x 7.7mm
Weight: 208 grams
Storage: 64, 256, or 512GB
Processors: A12 Bionic
Front camera: 7 MP photos and 1080p HD video.
Rear camera: Dual lens 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K video
Battery: Up to 13.5 hours battery life mixed usage.
Other: Face ID, NFC, Wireless charging, 3D Touch, IP68 waterproof
Color options: Silver, Space Gray, and Gold
And here’s the specs for the iPhone 8 Plus:
Display: 5.5in Retina HD display with 1920x1080 resolution at 401ppi, 3D Touch enabled
Dimensions: 158.4mm x 78.1 mm x 7.5 mm
Weight: 202 grams
Storage: 64 or 256GB
Processors: A11 Bionic
Front camera: 7 MP photos and 1080p HD video
Rear camera: 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Dual optical image stabilisation, Optical zoom, 4K video
Battery: Up to 12.5 hours battery life mixed usage.
Other: Touch ID, NFC, 3D Touch, IP67 waterproof
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Display & Design
The most obvious difference between these two giant phones is in their display and design. The resolution of the iPhone XS Max’s screen is a massive 6.5in 2688x1242-pixels at 458ppi edge-to-edge. Compare that to the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5in display with a 1920x1080-pixel resolution at 401ppi–and of course, that’s not an edge-to-edge display like the iPhone XS Max has. What’s even more impressive is that though the iPhone XS Max has a larger display, the device actually has a smaller physical footprint than the iPhone 8 Plus (but not by much). Why that is, of course, is because the iPhone XS Max has the edge-to-edge display, while the iPhone 8 Plus still has its thick bezels.
The other obvious difference is that the iPhone XS Max lacks a Home button. It jettisons it in favor of a gesture-based Home control. The iPhone 8 Plus still has the Home button we all know and love. This means the iPhone 8 Plus also still has Touch ID. The iPhone XS Max lacks Touch ID and replaces it with Apple’s new Face ID facial recognition system.
And while both phones are waterproof, the iPhone XS Max is rated IP68, which means it can stay submerged for 30 minutes up to two meters deep. The iPhone 8 Plus is rated IP67, which means it can stay submerged for 30 minutes up to one meter deep.
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Battery, Storage, and CPU
The iPhone XS Max has just a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 8 Plus. Will you see any difference because of it? A bit. But as you can see from the battery life specs below, each device is very similar. Another similarity each device has is that they both offer wireless charging. Here’s how the battery life compares between the two in Talk Time, Standby Time, Internet Use, Video Playback, and Audio Playback:
Talk time: iPhone XS Max – 25 hours. iPhone 8 Plus – 21 hours.
Internet use: iPhone XS Max – Up to 13 hours. iPhone 8 Plus – Up to 13 hours.
Video playback: iPhone XS Max – Up to 15 hours. iPhone 8 Plus – Up to 14 hours.
Audio playback: iPhone XS Max – Up to 65 hours. iPhone 8 Plus – Up to 60 hours.
Both devices also feature wireless charging.
As for storage, the XS Max offers three sizes: 64, 256, or 512GB. The iPhone 8 Plus only comes in 64 or 256GB. As far as the CPU is concerned, the new XS Max has a better processor than the iPhone 8 Plus. The XS Max features the A12 Bionic chipset–and upgrade over the 8 Plus’ A11 Bionic. The new A12 is a 7nm chip with 6 cores. The CPU is 15% faster and 40% more energy efficient than the previous A11. The GPU now has 4 cores and is 50% faster. Finally, the Neural engine now has 8 cores for machine learning and is almost 10x faster. Apps launch 30% faster on the XS and Machine Learning runs nine times faster on 1/10th the energy. In other words, the A12 Bionic absolutely flies.
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Camera
Where cameras are concerned, the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 8 Plus are nearly identical. Let me caveat that by saying both front cameras are 7MP and feature Retina Flash. However, the front camera on the XS Max is a True Depth camera, meaning it supports Face ID. Also, the iPhone XS Max’s front camera has a few more tricks. It can use Apple’s Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Animoji features of iOS. The iPhone 8 Plus' camera doesn’t have access to those.
On the rear camera, both models feature a 12MP wide-angle and telephoto dual lens rear camera that offers dual optical image stabilisation and optical zoom. Both also record 4K HD video.
iPhone XS Max vs iPhone 8 Plus: Cost & Verdict
Unlocked the 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus will cost £699 (64GB) and £849 (256GB). The iPhone XS Max will be available on September 21 and cost £1099 (64GB), £1249 (256GB), or £1449 (512GB). That £400 premium for the iPhone XS Max does get you a lot more, primarily a bigger display and a sexy new design. If that appeals to you, the answer of which to buy is clear.