Now that the latest and greatest iPhone has started shipping, I wanted to see if there was justification for the price tag of the iPhone XS Max. I’m more of a “does it have a good camera?” than “how fast is it?” person, so when the claims came out of the best camera to date, I wanted to put it to the test. These photos were taken almost side by side with the two-year-old iPhone 7 Plus and the new XS Max while walking through Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Trader Sam’s, and the Magic Kingdom. The pictures were taken with no extra set up and have not been enhanced or altered via any photo apps.
Starting at the Great Ceremonially House of the Polynesian Village Resort, you can see the colors and details in the distance of the XS Max pictures start to really pop.
Heading into the low light of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the details on lamp stand out with the Goddess Ua Oh being a bit darker in the background on the XS Max. But with the better aperture, any type of adjustment would bring it out without the light blowing out the lamp like it already is in the 7 Plus.
Behind the bar is where the XS Max really stands out with true colors and much less loss of details.
Heading outside, the colors on the XS Max really stand out in the background with shadows being more detailed but more balanced.
Taking pictures directly into the sun, as you can see, works well with both iPhones but with the XS Max it is more confined – giving more detail to the clouds in the sky and the color balance is much superior on the XS Max.
Away from the sun the shadowing of the XS Max really gives a crisp feel to it and the details on the trees in the foreground really stand out.
The biggest test for me was the Haunted Mansion, the darkest attraction was the true test to the low light. This picture was quickly snapped at a time when the attraction came to a standstill and you can tell that while the 7 Plus looks good, the detail in the XS Max is perfect.
High Dynamic Range, which was introduced way back in the iPhone 4, automatically blends the best parts of three photos taken quickly at different exposures—one at normal exposure, then one each of the brightest and darkest parts of the scene to make the best photo possible. I have found that in dark settings, especially like a moving attraction a normal photo from the iPhone 7 Plus will be blurry and an HDR photo will just be a mess. This new Smart HDR (SHDR) is the next step in iPhone photos, using a lot of technical talk to tell us it takes more detailed photos.
This next photo from the Haunted Mansion really shows why the new iPhone XS Max is where my money is going. The iPhone 7 Plus picture was taken without HDR to try and capture a faster photo where the XS Max was taken with SHDR and zoomed in.
The last two comparisons are taken at night with low lighting and show that the SHDR really does a better job bringing out the colors without drawing too much light into the picture.