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iPhone XS Max destroys Galaxy Note 9 in first real-life speed test

Published Sep 24th, 2018 8:46AM EDT

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Apple’s new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max were finally released this past weekend after what seemed to some people like an impossibly long wait. Considering details surrounding the new XS and XS Max first started leaking before last year’s iPhone X was even released, it’s not exactly a surprise that the wait felt so long for Apple fans. The phones are now here though, and Apple fans seem to be quite happy with them overall. The iPhone XS marks what is undoubtedly the smallest year-over-year upgrade compared to the iPhone X from 2017, but “S” phones are typically designed for people who upgrade every two years or even every three or for years. For them, the iPhone XS and XS Max will be a complete reimagining of the iPhone experience. For people who do have an iPhone X from last year, all the iPhone XS really has to offer is a new gold color, a new option with a bigger display, and improved performance. The good news, however, is that the aforementioned performance improvements are massive.

The iPhone 4S had Siri, the iPhone 5s had Touch ID, and the iPhone 6s had 3D Touch, which took Apple five years to develop behind closed doors. The iPhone XS doesn’t have any exciting new showcase features like those, but it did launch with something last year’s iPhone X didn’t have: iOS 12. The iPhone X was a fantastic phone, but there’s precious little doubt that it never reached its full potential while running iOS 11. The software was plagued with bugs, security holes, and other issues that held it back. Despite being far more powerful than any other smartphone in the world over the past 12 months, it was regularly bested by Android flagship phones in speed tests.

Thankfully, iOS 12 is a different story entirely. It doesn’t have the RAM management issues and other performance issues we saw with iOS 11. As a result, iPhone XS has come screaming out of the gate. Performance in paper is off the charts, with benchmark results that we’ve never seen before on a smartphone. But how does the phone and its new A12 Bionic processor perform in real life?

YouTubers love performing “real-life speed tests,” which are unscientific tests that look to compare how fast two smartphones are when performing real-world tasks. This is much different from benchmark tests, which only show how phones handle being pushed to their limits. Since people don’t actually spend much time pushing their phones to the limits, these real-life speed test videos give people an idea of how a phone will perform while they’re using it. And what to people do most on their phones? Open apps, use apps, and switch apps.

YouTube channel SuperSaf TV pitted the new iPhone XS Max against the 128GB Galaxy Note 9 with Samsung’s Exynos SoC in what the narrator calls a “SuperSaf style” speed test. The format copies similar speed tests we’ve seen in that it involves opening the same apps in the same order on two different phones, but SuperSaf doesn’t measures full “lap times.” Instead, he shows how each individual action compares on the two phones. As a result, there’s no firm winner and loser overall. That said, the video makes it beyond obvious which phone handled the tests better.

Despite having 6GB of RAM compared to 4GB in the iPhone XS Max, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 really struggled with this test. Things started out fine, but after the first few apps it became all too apparent how much faster Apple’s new iPhones are than the Note 9. Equally unsettling is the fact that the Note 9 seemed to have trouble registering taps and swipes, which is something we should never see on a 2018 flagship smartphone.

The full YouTube video is embedded below, and we’ve set the video to begin playing when the test starts.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.