iPhone XS and XS Max deemed impressive in Consumer Reports testing, but Galaxy Note 9 is still king

iPhone XS and XS Max deemed impressive in Consumer Reports testing, but Galaxy Note 9 is still king
Are Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max the best mobile devices money can buy right now or does Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 manage to beat them both in terms of real-life system speed, battery life, camera performance, and overall durability?

That’s an almost impossible question to answer for reviewers without fear of bias accusations, and even nonprofit organization Consumer Reports found it tricky to separate the latest flagships from the top two smartphone manufacturers in the world.

Ultimately, while the consumer advocacy association discovered Apple made important progress in its in-depth, 100 percent impartial iPhone XS and XS Max testing, the two high-performing iOS handsets were edged out by the Note 9 for the world heavyweight title.

Compared to the iPhone X, which Consumer Reports rated surprisingly poorly last year, the XS and XS Max are praised for substantial battery life improvements, subtle camera upgrades, and faster performance.

Unfortunately for Apple, device durability remains a major weakness, especially when pitted against Galaxy Note 9’s resilience in brutal tumble tests. Still, the iPhone XS Max can be impressively tough, with one model withstanding 100 drops from different angles without breaking, but all in all, it’s probably a good idea to buy a decent protective case.

Circling back to CR’s battery life evaluation, it’s worth pointing out that the results don’t exactly align with those yielded by our own benchmarks, as well as others across the web, which is obviously a matter of methodology.

The robotic finger used by Consumer Reports found that both the iPhone XS and XS Max are considerably better than their now-discontinued forerunner at continuously browsing the internet, taking pictures, and making phone calls. On the not so bright side of things, charging times are still modest.

As far as cameras are concerned, independent testers were slightly more impressed by the clarity and resolution of the stills captured by the iPhone XS duo than those produced by the Galaxy Note 9 and S9+. These differences are naturally hard to notice, while Portrait mode upgrades over the iPhone X are described as “more evident.”

All in all, Consumer Reports is certainly happy about Apple’s tweaks in “all the right places”, but the Note 9 (narrowly) retains its crown.

Related phones

iPhone XS
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 2659 mAh
iPhone XS Max
  • Display 6.5" 1242 x 2688 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 3179 mAh

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27 Comments

1. Phonehex

Posts: 713; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Nothing can match the Note 9 in terms of all round productivity and media consumption . That display , speakers and the battery .

2. Papa_Ji

Posts: 759; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

Note 9 can replace each and every apple device. Galaxy Note >>all apple devices

3. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

Oh you'll never stop, will you?

4. DolmioMan

Posts: 289; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

I’ll give you that the Note 9 beats the Xs Max in niche productivity workflows like signing documents and doodling but tests on the display, speakers and battery have all come back as a Xs Max win.

7. limporgyuk

Posts: 348; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

How did you work out the display is better? The xs max has a much lower resolution and a horrendous notch,

13. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

Have you, though? I have 2 coworkers that have the XS Max & they both had to adjust their brightness when compared to my Note 8. Yes, 8.

6. nodes

Posts: 1133; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Galaxy Note9 > all electronic device. it's the king of everything. even if someone asks me a recommendation for ultrabook i would suggest just get the Note9. long live the king of portable productivity instrument.

28. KakashiHatake4444

Posts: 70; Member since: Jul 30, 2018

Lool this comment tho..

5. DolmioMan

Posts: 289; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

Consumer reports really underplayed the improvements in camera quality in their article. “Slightly improved camera”, while that’s true in normal lighting, the Xs camera has improved in tricky lighting scenarios, so low light and HDR shots.

9. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1074; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Slightly improved seems pretty accurate based on the samples I've seen. Can still easily pick them out of a line up and that's not a good thing.

8. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

Understandable results, considering the fact that this is easily one of the best phone from 2018. Kudos to both Apple and Samsung for leading the market as always!

11. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

The only market that Apple leads is the one with profits. They literally do not lead in anything else, not in features, not in innovation, not in software, nothing literally. They had a whole year and a "trillion" dollars behind them to make a top camera phone and they still got beaten by a year old Pixel 2. If anything Apple has finally shown us that they do not care at all to be the best.

16. midan

Posts: 2469; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"They had a whole year and a "trillion" dollars behind them to make a top camera phone and they still got beaten by a year old Pixel 2" C'mon pixel 2 doesn't even have zoom. And yes iPhone XS camera is very top of the market and definately beats Pixel 2. https://www.phonearena.com/news/iPhone-Xs-Max-vs-Galaxy-Note-9-Pixel-2-XL-camera-comparison_id109227 it wasn't even close Results from their smart HDR is something which we haven't seen before from smartphones. The harder the photograph situation gets the better results iPhone shows. If someone thinks pixel 2 has better camera, he doesn't know much about photography.

18. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Pathetic statement. Do you not see how awful is your note 9 and pixel 2 cameras compared to Xs Max. Don’t get butthurt on how apple should price or do with their phones. They will not profit if people is not satisfied with their phones. Your android garbage are good enough for a year. That’s the plan of obsolescence.

19. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

Pixel 2 has a better camera than iPhone XS? That's a ridiculous statement to make. Sure, it may produce more contrasty and eye-pleasing images than iPhone XS(only in daylight though), but in low light it's simply not up to the level of iPhone XS, Note 9 nor P20 Pro. Also it cannot record video in HDR, cannot shoot in 4K 60fps/FHD 240fps, heck it doesn't even have a telephoto lens for optical zoom. So again, how can you say it's better? iOS is great on its own and for many people that alone(and the fact that it's part of Apple's strong ecosystem) can be the reason to buy this phone. iPhones have great performance too, and don't forget 5 years of OS update support. I might sound like an Apple fanboy but this is coming from the user of both Android and iOS.

22. midan

Posts: 2469; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

It's second best mobile phone camera in the market "DxOMark today published the results of its in-depth analysis of the iPhone XS Max's rear camera. Apple's flagship smartphone achieved an overall score of 105 points, trailing only the Huawei P20 Pro at 109 in the site's all-time rankings. "

27. RoyalMike unregistered

What did you achieve in real life? Nothing

12. VasiliS7

Posts: 188; Member since: Jan 10, 2017

I have the Note 9 and it's the first time I can't find one deslike!! In any single device I had some disappointments but with Note 9 I feel like I am 110% pleased with that device.

14. aries.phills

Posts: 159; Member since: May 17, 2011

And PA rated Note 9 "9.0" while the Iphone Xs and X Max are rated "9.3". That's .03 points ahead. Hmmmmm.

17. baldilocks

Posts: 1422; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

No, that's 0.3 points ahead. :shakes head:

15. slim3bdo

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

One thing made me laugh The author of this article says the battery tests don't align with PA tests , and adds a huge lie about CR test don't align with other tech sites battery tests Wake up Adrian Only PA battery tests shows iPhones to have better battery endurance compared to other phones Check all iPhones models in GSMarena to see how much PA tests are flawed and biased towards apple iPhones CR did great job in rating iPhone Xs and Max

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 30653; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

As an owner of both, I can honestly say, the Note 9 is clearly the better phone. Apple needs to take better advantage of the Max screen size, but they elected not to.

23. gamehead unregistered

What's so impressive about a phone that's slighty upgraded from the one we got last year?

24. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

Obviously enough to rate it better than one that was launched a month & a half later. Also, you're on a tech blog. Use the search bar.

25. alaw.14

Posts: 408; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

They can't take that the iphone xs being beaten. Also just drop your battery life test, it is not something to rely on as a source.

26. janis

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

i cant see myself spending over 1k for specific brand if i can get same stuff done with different device for half the price or even more.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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