8 ways the iPhone XS Max helps you have more fun and get more done

A bigger screen means a bigger canvas, so here's how to increase your productivity or fun levels with the iPhone XS Max

Apple iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is the biggest screen Apple has ever put in a phone. In fact, at 6.5 inches, it's only a little smaller than the iPad mini.

This might make it a little harder to use with one hand, but it comes with some massive advantages: that screen is a canvas, and a bigger space means the ability to do more.

If you've been wondering which iPhone is the best choice for you from the iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS or iPhone XR, these eight ways you can work harder and play harder with the XS Max might help you make up your mind.

1. Make the most of that giant HDR screen

The 6.5-inch OLED screen on the iPhone XS Max is great for productivity, as we'll come to, but it's also incredible for movie lovers. Seriously, this thing is better than the average TV. It's got a better than Full HD resolution that makes movies look sumptuously detailed, but the best part is the support for Dolby Vision HDR.

HDR (high dynamic range) video has a bigger difference between the darkest images it can show and the lightest compared to regular video, making images look much closer to how the human eye could see them in real life. It's what makes movies on high-end TVs look so good, and it's all yours on your commute.

Dolby Vision is the most advanced form of HDR, helping to provide the maximum amount of detail in dark areas of every shot. You can watch Dolby Vision movies and TV through the iTunes Store and Netflix, and regular HDR is available through YouTube and Vimeo.

We know you'll mostly watch movies on your iPhone XS Max with headphones for the full effect, but an added bonus is that it's impressive stereo speakers really do offer full left and right separation, so the sound truly seems to surround you.

iPhone XS Max split pane

2. Use apps in landscape

The iPhone XS Max has a handy productivity trick that the 5.8-inch iPhone XS doesn't feature: a split-view pane for certain apps in landscape mode. This is more like how apps present themselves using the extra space on iPad, and takes advantage of the space of the 6.5-inch display. 

In the Mail app, for example, you can only view either an email message or your inbox – you have to flick back and forth between them. But in landscape, you can tap the arrow in the top-left to bring up your inbox (and any other mailboxes you want) in a quick slide-over view, with your email still visible underneath.

This makes it much easier to keep an eye on new messages while you're writing one, or to flick between a couple of different email conversations for reference.

In Calendar, turning sideways gives you a month view on the left, and a list of appointments on the right, which updates to show the relevant entries for any day you tap.

Safari has a clever landscape mode, too – it makes all your tabs visible if you tap near the top of the screen, just like on iPad. This makes them much easier to switch between or rearrange than in portrait mode.

iPhone XS Max

3. Play beautiful, high-end games

We've already talked about how good the screen makes video look, but the same applies to games as well – everything is gorgeous, and the space makes it easy to control and interact with games.

The extra-wide screen means that games with controls on the edges have more space to see what you're doing in the middle, and everything is generally easier to see without obscuring anything when tapping and swiping.

It's also capable of some intensive graphics too – the likes of Fortnite, Asphalt 9: Legends, and The Elder Scrolls: Blades (coming in December) all show seriously pretty stuff that's close to console level.

Apple is big into augmented reality too, and the iPhone XS is equipped for responsive AR games, including multiplayer, so two people can be looking at the same virtual battlefield that sits on top of the real world through their phones. Check out The Machines and Knightfall AR for top-tier AR play.

4. Gigabit 4G and super-fast Wi-Fi

The iPhone XS Max (and the iPhone XS) are the first iPhones to have Gigabit-capable 4G antennas and modems, so if your carrier rolls this out to your area, you could potentially benefit from fibre-like speeds while on the move. 

Gigabit 4G is exactly what it sounds like – you can get mobile data speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, meaning you could download huge videos or massive games in seconds to keep you going on the train. It'll be brilliant for work, since you'll be able to download and upload files of any size you want without hitting a bottleneck.

Several big cities are in the process of having this tested or even beginning to roll out from different carriers, though it's still early days.

That's not its only super-fast networking, though. Until Gigabit 4G is available everywhere, you'll still want to use Wi-Fi for your big files, and the iPhone XS Max is well-equipped there, too – it uses the latest multi-stream tech for huge theoretical speeds there too. 

Of course, it depends on whether your internet is fast enough to provide data at high speeds, but with many business now equipped with speeds of hundreds of Mbps, the iPhone XS Max can keep up.

Apple iPhone XS Max

5. The bigger battery

Having the biggest battery that Apple has ever put into an iPhone means the iPhone XS Max is unparalleled in Apple's line-up for work and play.

It's got enough juice to get you to the end of day even with intense use, so on days when you have to tether your laptop to your phone for a while to do some emergency work, the iPhone won't give up the ghost immediately afterwards.

That makes it great for keeping going with videos and games too, of course. You'll get much, much better battery life if you watched video downloaded on YouTube or Netflix rather than streamed, keep in mind.

iPhone XS Max screen time

6. Screen time locks

The various social media apps sitting temptingly on your phone, it's easy to take a little dive in and then get a bit distracted while at work, or even to just feel like you're spending too much time there in the evenings. If that's you, the Screen Time tool in the iPhone XS Max could help.

By default, it sits quietly and just keeps track of how much time you spend in different apps, and you can review it if you want. But you can also set time limits in there for specific app types, so you could allow yourself 30 minutes of social network time in a day. Once you hit the limit, it blocks your app use with a message (which you can override if you need to). 

It's not meant to be some kind magical nanny that makes you never waste time again, but it might help you just keep a bit of a focus in a world that's pulling you in all directions at once. 

Hey, you could even set if for your email apps, if what you often need a break from is work communications so you can focus on your tasks.

7. Dual-SIM flexibility

People who use their phones for both personal and work like to have the option of dual SIM cards, so that they can have different phone numbers for both, and can know if a call is personal or not. 

The iPhone XS Max has only one regular SIM slot, but it has Apple's eSIM tech built in, meaning that you can have a separate number on it entirely digitally. When you've set this up, you'll see two sets of signal bars at the top of the screen, and for any incoming calls, iOS will tell you which number you're being contacted on.

8. Document scanning

Despite how deep we are in the digital age, there's a lot of paperwork that still seems to float around. If you need scans of receipts for expenses systems, or you just want digital versions of important forms, the iPhone XS Max has the ideal built-in tool. 

The Notes app has a document scanner built-in – create a new note, tap the plus sign above the keyboard, and choose Scan Documents. A new camera view will open, and it will automatically detect the edges of any paperwork it's pointed at, cropping out anything else and straightening things up. 

You can add multiple scans to a single note, and share them all together, or individually, for making use of elsewhere. And they're all stored in one easy-to-search place.

Get more from the latest iPhones at our iPhone Upgrade hub, which is brought to you in association with Vodafone.

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.