iPhone XS Max - Worth The Upgrade?

Pro photographer, Sam Elkins, took the iPhone XS Max to the streets of LA to test the camera. Here's what we found.

The All New iPhone Xs Max

Worth The Upgrade?

Moment filmmaker, Niles, pranced under the California sunshine with professional photographer and friend — Sam Elkins. Sam ain’t a rookie when it comes to visual expression and cameras; he knows how to take a stellar photograph with anything from a phone to a DSLR to a medium format film camera. We were stoked to hear an outsider’s perspective on the new iPhones Xs Max and his overall take on its improved camera specs.

Below are side-by-side images of both the edited and unedited images taken by Sam himself. You’ll be able to visually see the high contrast in dynamic range, tack sharp details, and excellent color retention in low light. By shooting on a camera with a wider sensor and improved ISO settings — his images confirm Apple’s dedication to high quality. And just look at those rad cars!

Oh yeah, we also hung out with Rachel and Daniel from Mango Street. They’re pretty cool, too.

iPhone Camera Hardware Specs To Consider:

Improved Wide Angle Lens: With an overhaul of a new and improved 26mm equivalent focal length (a 2mm difference from the X's 28mm length), this completely re-engineered the image processing that automates exposure settings.

Improved Sensor: Because the camera posses a bigger sensor (1.4µm), this makes it almost 30% larger than the previous X model.

Wider ISO Range: A wider ISO means a higher sensitivity to light, but can still operate under harsh low-light conditions. We found this as a significant improvement from the iPhone X.  The Xs is now from 24 ISO to 2304 ISO.

Long Exposure: A longer exposure settings up to 1 full second.

Minimum Exposure Changes: We read much longer minimum exposures on iPhone XS: wide angle and telephoto go from 1/91000th of a second to 1/22000th and 1/45000th.


Yep, The Dynamic Range is Excellent

The dynamic range in photography refers to the range of light intensities from the shadows to the highlights. It is — by far — one of the most important aspects to consider when searching for a good camera. With the iPhone Xs’s new “Smart HDR” function, its entire purpose is to retain the detail and soften skin tone to portray a more pleasing effect on faces.

But even with the Smart HDR turned off, the Xs appears to still retain a high volume of detail. Now that’s impressive.

Unbeatable Low Light Capabilities

It’s no doubt the XS holds a ton of value in its ability to shoot dark, moody scenes. Thanks to the larger range in ISO (24 ISO to 2304 ISO) and wider pixel size (1.4 microns), the phone proves to have a better advantage in low-light situations than most smartphones on the market. Huge plus!


Vibrant Colors

Crimson reds, sparkly golds, and emerald greens so creamy and wild — LA’s Silverlake neighborhood is a gorgeous path for colorful discovery. Sam’s known for his unique use of color to tell a story in his portfolio, so the ability to retain these details in his images are very important. Folks, we can confidently say that the Xs did the job well. Just see for yourself:


Safe to say, the XS proves wonders. We’ll let you decide if the pictures from the camera alone are worth the upgrade or not. Huge thanks to Sam for testing the phone and to our buddies, Rachel and Daniel, for being super cute models. We love our friends!

Did ya’ check out our comparison of the X vs. Xs, yet?

iPhone XS Max

See Ya' Next Time!

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