Apple brought the iPhone XS Max with improved optics over what the last year's iPhone X offered. But despite the upgraded dual camera setup at the back, the iPhone XS Max hasn't emerged as the best camera smartphone if we look at the results published by camera testing portal DxOMark. According to the review by the DxOMark team, the latest iPhone model has received an overall score of 105, which is higher than the overall score of 103 achieved by the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 but lower than the Huawei P20 Pro that received an accumulated score of 109. DxOMark highlights that the software and image processing of the iPhone XS Max has "obvious improvements". The Cupertino giant has also offered features such as a Smart HDR and an Advanced Bokeh Depth to enhance imaging results, without any edits.
As per the results published by DxOMark, the iPhone XS Max has received an overall score of 105 along with a photo score of 110. The video recording capabilities of the iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, have got a score of 96. Notably, DxOMark's top-ranked Huawei P20 Pro, which debuted with a triple camera setup earlier this year, got a photo score 114 and video score of 98. The Galaxy Note 9 also recently passed through the DxOMark benchmarks and received a photo score of 107 and video score of 94. Last year's iPhone X, which was at the sixth place on the board of DxOMark rating — after the Huawei P20 Pro, HTC U12+, Huawei P20, Samsung Galaxy S9+, and Google Pixel 2, received 101 and 89 photo and video scores, respectively.
The testers at DxOMark Image Labs were "pleased by the still image quality" of the iPhone XS Max that is found to be "excellent all around" in bright light. The team specified that the exposure in outdoor images tends to be spot on with high levels of detail and pleasant colours. However, the zoom performance of the latest iPhone model is found to have some lags. The DxOMark team says that while zoom on the iPhone XS Max has been "slightly improved" from the iPhone X, the handset has "course luminance noise" and less detail in zoom shots when compared to competitors such as the Huawei P20 Pro and the Galaxy Note 9. The new iPhone is also found to deliver underexposure flash images and noticeable luminance noise in lower light and in the shadow areas of high-contrast images.
Having said that, the DxOMark team has found that the dynamic range on the iPhone XS Max has been improved noticeably over the iPhone X. It is also worth noting here that while the Huawei P20 Pro captures more highlight detail, it is claimed to render a flatter image overall with less contrast when comparing with the iPhone XS Max. "The iPhone XS Max captures noticeably better highlight detail in the bright background than last year's iPhone X. The current leader in the DxOMark ranking, the Huawei P20 Pro, captures a similarly wide dynamic range," the team wrote in its detailed review.
Results were also pleasing under a high-contrast environment and colour rendering of the two sensors available on the iPhone XS Max is also pointed out to be "fairly vibrant" when shooting outdoors in bright light or in typical indoor light conditions. However, some desaturation was noticed in low light. A slightly yellow cast when shooting outdoors in bright light or under an artificial indoor light was also observed, but it is found to be within acceptable limits.
The autofocus system of the iPhone XS Max has achieved a score of 100 points by the DxOMark team thanks to its fast speed and high accuracy level irrespective of lighting conditions. Artifacts are also found to be under control with the iPhone XS Max camera, though some colour flares surface occasionally in images captured with a strong light source inside or close to the edge of the frame. Further, the flash performance of the iPhone XS Max despite featuring a quad-LED flash isn't one its strong points. The handset resulted in underexposed shots when using the flash. Similarly, some colour quantisation and noticeable red-eye effect were spotted by the DxOMark team.
Bokeh simulation on the iPhone XS Max is found be one of the best in the business with improved segmentation of subject and background over the iPhone X. There is also better detail in bokeh images than rivals such as the Huawei P20 Pro.
On the video part, the iPhone XS Max is noted to have an "outstanding performance in bright light conditions" and wide dynamic range, vivid colours, accurate white balance, and high levels of detail. The image stabilisation system of the new iPhone is found to work "very efficiently" along with a fast and accurate autofocus. Some lag can be noticed in lower light videos and typical indoor lighting conditions, though.
The dual rear camera setup of the iPhone XS includes a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor along with an f/1.8 aperture and a 12-megapixel telephoto secondary sensor along with an f/2.4 aperture. The rear camera setup has a six-element lens on top that supports 2x optical zoom. There is also an improved TrueTone quad-LED flash.
It should be pointed out that the DxOMark team captures and evaluates over 1,500 test images and more than two hours of video in controlled lab environments and natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the default settings of the camera.