iPhone XS Max Blog Posts

April 3, 2019

Camera Lens Info

A few years ago I purchased the [Olympus XZ-2](https://www.dpreview.com/products/olympus/compacts/oly_xz2) camera to use as my primary video camera for low-light pictures. Since I got the iPhone XS Max, I haven't used the Olympus XZ-2 as much. I was thinking for my next trip, is it still worth packing the Olympus XZ-2?

A look at the specs between the two cameras. These are taken from the official spec documents from each manufacturer. (For the iPhone XS Max I am only focusing on the back lens.)

Olympus XZ-2

Product Type 1.7" CMOS sensor
Aspect ratio 1.33 (4:3)
Lens Olympus lens 6 to 24 mm, f1.8 to 2.5 (Equivalent to 28 to 112 mm on a 35 mm film)
Shutter Speed 1/2000-60 sec., Bulb shooting (Maximum 16 minutes at ISO 100)
Shooting Range 0.05 m (2 inch) to (W), 0.2 m (8 inch) to (T) (Normal/Macro) 0.01 m (0.4 inch) to 0.6 m (2 ft.) (super macro mode)
ISO sensitivity100-12800 (1/3 EV step)
Aperture '/1.8 -'/F2.5

iPhone XS Max

TypeBack-illuminated Sensor (1.4µm)
Aspect ratio4,032 x 3,024 (4:3)
Resolution7 MP Front Camera
Wide Lens12 MP, f/1.8, 4.25 mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, OIS, PDAF
Telephoto Lens12 MP, f/2.4, 6 mm, 1/3.4", 1.0µm, OIS, PDAF, 2x optical zoom
Lens Equivalent26 to 55 mm on a 35 mm film
ApertureWide-angle: '/1.8 and Telephoto: '/2.4
Shutter Speed1/22000 (Wide) 1/45000 (Telephoto)
Shooting Range2.87 mm to infinity (There are additional third-party kits to purchase micro mode.)
IOS sensitivity24-2304
Battery3174 mAh

Low Light Tip

The best night photos require the lowest aperture. So, while the iPhone XS Max may take great pictures, if I am taking night shots, I might be better packing the Olympus XZ-2 for better quality night photos. This is especially true for low light video photography.

The Olympus XZ-2 is just slightly better in low light conditions.

Any Surprises?

The Olympus XZ-2 was announced on September 17, 2012. The iPhone XS Max looks to be a good camera replacement. I think the nice thing about the Olympus XZ-2 is how the back screen can detach making it easy to see the screen when it is high or low.

March 27, 2019

Google Photos Depth Editor

Google Photo allows iPhone XS Max users to change the background depth of Portrait photos. This is great news because you don't lose that ability when you upload to Google. Allowing users to safely delete the file knowing that they can alter the background at a later point. Prior to Google's change - there was no way to modify the Portrait depth other than on the phone.

How to Change the Depth Mode in Google Photo

To change the background blur on a Portrait Mode photo, open the picture up in Google Photos, click the editing icon, then tap again on the editing icon to bring up the focus and depth editing options.

1217 Google Photos Depth2


  1. Open up a photo in Google Photos iOS App and Click on the edit icon on the bottom menu (second from the left)
  2. Click on the same icon again. (Should be the bottom middle icon now.)
  3. Now adjust the Depth meter.

Note if you're not seeing a change, make sure the white circle in the preview picture is center to your subject.

The feature works on all iPhones that shoot Portrait Mode photos: iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Google Photos already offered the feature on Android phones such as Pixel 2, Pixel 3 and the Moto G6.

March 20, 2019


The Compass application is one of many factory installed applications that people ignore on their iPhone. People don't really need a compass to figure out where they are. They simply using Google Maps or Apple Maps.

I thought I check out to see if there are any changes to the Compass application from previous iPhone models.

iPhone 5s, 6s Plus and Max

i Phone Max Compass Layout
iPhone 5s, iPhone 6s Plus and the iPhone XS Max in the same spot

The Compass functionality hasn't changed much between the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6s Plus, and the iPhone XS Max. The big change has been in the software - not much changed with the hardware.

I did notice that the latitude and longitude is different between the iPhone5s and the other models. (42°20'35" N 71°5'1"W) vs (42°20'50" N 71°4'53" W). The iPhone 6s Plus and Max is closer to the actual location to where I was testing.

Five Things I learned about the iOS Compass

  1. You have a choice between True North vs. Magnetic North. You should stick with the default settings of Magnetic North.
  2. If you click on the latitude/longitude you can copy the baring to the clipboard and then paste it in Google Maps or Apple Maps to see how accurate the location is.
  3. When I had the compass application open during a train ride, the location didn't change until I moved to a different app and the refocused on it. The only thing that changed when the application was open was the compass barring.
  4. The elevation feature was added as part of the functionality of the iPhone 6. The Altimeter tells you how high above sea level you are.
  5. Tap the compas baring to lock in that barring. The band will turn red if you are off track. (This helps keep you in a straight line and on track!)
March 13, 2019

iPhone Max Storage

One of the things Apple did with the iPhone XS Max launch is to increase the minimum space size.

Even with the "more disk space", there is still the need to monitor space to remove unused files and have space available. After all - you never know when you'll need to capture a video/photo at an event.

Information via Settings

You can find out how much space you have available on your phone:

Go to the Settings app, then select General, then select iPhone Storage

Hot Tip: If the Settings App is buried in some folder and will take many swipes to get to, simply type "storage" in the iOS Search Box, and scroll to see the results in the settings area.

Chances are the Photos/Videos are using the most storage on your phone - unless you're a huge fan of music or movies.

There is an option to "Review Personal Videos" this is where you can check out the videos that are taking up the most space on your phone. The information is sorted by size with a nice preview icon with the date.

The problem is that the only action that you can take is to delete the video. There's no option to move the video off the phone before deleting.

Graphic Converter to the Rescue

Graphic Converter has a great Browse feature which gives you the ability to look at all the files on the phone. You can select the files to back up to the computer and then remove them.

What separates Graphic Converter from Apple Photos is that Apple Photos doesn't give you the ability to sort the view of by file size. So you are left to download all the files or try to guess which ones are taking the most space.

Graphic Converter is simply a better way to clean up the phone when you don't want to download everything.

Graphici Phone Browserjpg

Five Tips Using Graphic Converter

Here are some of the things I learned using Graphic Converter to manage the multimedia on my phone.

  • The browse mode sorts by size, but you don't actually see the amount of space that the photos are taken.
  • It's easy to download the selected videos and then delete them once the copy is made.
  • You can change some of the Browse settings in the Preferences panel. There is a display size option but I haven't been able to see the size of objects on the iPhone. In addition the size doesn't appear in the info panel - perhaps this is a limit of the iPhone API?
  • There is a Sort by 'Size (Pixels) & Name'
  • Pictures taken with Live mode will have a picture and the movie format. So when you sort by size you may encounter the Movie version before the actual photo version.
March 6, 2019

Night Photos with the iPhone XS Max

Last week Samsung announced their next generation of cellphones. They certainly have some innovated features that are not available in the iPhone X Max.

Cool Camera Features

  • 5 Camera Lens (2 Front and 3 on the back)
  • Multi-Camera perspective
  • 10MP Selfie Camera
  • Dual Aperture lens self-adapts between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures.

and a lot more, see the Galaxy S10 Camera page.

Low-Light Capabilities

Someone posted this Tweet:

Twitter Posting Night

While it's true that Apple Camera doesn't take "awesome" night shots. It doesn't mean you can't take quality night photos with the camera. You need two things:

  • Software - ProCam or Slow Shutter are good options for night pictures
  • Tripod - The camera has to be steady for a long time, about 15-seconds to take a good quality shot.

Low Light Capabilities

The iPhone XS Max can take excellent night time pictures. Take a look at this photo that was taken at 8 pm at night:

i Phone Night Shot

This was done using ProCam Low light functionality. The trick is to keep the camera steady so that the iPhone Camera has time to collect as much light as possible.

February 27, 2019


Did you know that you can create your own Memoji on the iPhone XS Max? These are fun to create and to send to people in messenger.

Couple of examples

Hircocerf Emojis

Note: You can only create Memoji on Phone X or later, or iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation). However, anyone can receive it - even Android users.

Creating your Own Memoji

  • Open up Message and start creating a message.
  • Select the Monkey Emoji icon.
  • Scroll to the right until you see the '+' with the words "New Memoji" underneath.
  • Click on the '+' and start creating your own Memoji.

Have fun creating!

Using your Memoji Elsewhere

Here are the simple steps if you want to use your Memoji elsewhere - Slack Profile Picture or Jira Profile Photo. Unfortunately, there's no "export" Memoji process.

  • Open up Message and start creating a message.
  • Select the Monkey Emoji icon.
  • Find your personal Memoji and then click on the three dots on the bottom left. This will bring up the Memoji editor.
  • Take a screen shot and crop the image around the Memoji
  • Export the image to someplace (Email, Dropbox, or Airdrop to your desktop computer.)
  • Now when you go to the applications you can use that picture.
  • Optional: Use PhotoScape X, or other app, to remove the white background.

Perhaps in a future release of iOS Apple will make it easy to export the Memoji.

February 20, 2019

True Depth Camera

According to Apple Technical documents, the "backside" camera is simply called camera and the camera that is on the top of the screen is called "TrueDepth Camera." Some people may still refer to it as the FaceTime camera.

Knowing the "official" name is important when your searching Apple website for support help or information.

Apples True Depth- Camera
All the cool things at the top of your iPhone XS Max

TrueDepth Camera Main Use

The iPhone XS Max TrueDepth Camera is used for facial recognition. It's how the device tries to identify that you are a real person and not a picture. So someone can't fool the devices with a picture of you.

The dot projector throws up to 30,000 points on your face during a scan.

Apple hasn't given any specifics on the functionality of the Flood Illuminator. Some people believe helps the camera in putting together the background in Portrait mode. There is some speculation that it also helps with "Attention Aware Features" that is - make sure your actually looking at the phone before dimming the display to save power.

iPhone XS Max TrueDepth Camera Specs

Pictures taken with the TrueDepth camera have a dimension of 3088x2316, which is pretty good.

Here's a handy chart from PicMonkey on the best size for printing photos:

Pic Monkey Specs

As you can see, when taking pictures using the "True Depth" lens, the best printing size is 9x16. (Which really isn't all that bad of a size)

Four Tips and Tricks with the TrueDepth Camera

When taking Portrait Mode Selfies, you may find that Apple's Camera app has better results than Apps found in the Apple Store. This is because the third-party apps do not have full access to the full depth map that is used to create the Portrait Mode effects. The apps do have general depth information, but you may find that Apple's Camera may produce clearer facial pictures. (Try it out and see!)

Apple's Clips offers a cool Selfie background effect called Scenes. You can place yourself in places such as Municiberg Mayhem, Metropolis, Millennium Falcon, 8-Bit, Tea Garden and many more.

Games - There are some games that use the effect of TrueDepth camera:

  • Rainbrow, a game that you control with your Eyebrow.
  • Nose Zone, your face is the controller, and your expressions shoots lasers.
  • detune, make music with your face.

You can add a second face to the Face ID by setting up an "Alternative Appearance." Located in the Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Warning: if you don't want the second person to access the device anymore you have to reset both Face IDs.

February 13, 2019

iPhone Video Capture

One of the nice things about the iPhone XS Max is the video quality. Users have the ability to select from six different video quality:

  • 720p HD at 30 fps - Standard (1280 x 720 pixels)
  • 1080p HD at 30 fps - Default Section
  • 1080p HD at 60 fps - Produces Smoother videos. Better for Capture-to-Photo
  • 4K at 24 fps - Film Style
  • 4K at 30 fps - Higher Quality Film Style
  • 4K at 60 fps - Smoother Videos but takes a lot of disk space

Higher resolution means more detail in each frame

Good Video also Means good Photo Opportunity

The good thing about taking a high quality video is that you can get a high quality capture. So you can share a good frame.

A standard screen capture on the iPhone XS Max will give you an image dimension of 2688 x 1242, which isn't all that bad since a standard photo taken on the iPhone XS Max is 4032 x 3024.

Simply watch the video, pause it, wait for a few seconds for the pause icon to go away and do a screen capture.

Pro Cam Capturea
Combination of iPhone XS Max and Procam 6 produces very cool photos.

One Step Better

If you have ProCam 6, you can take a better picture because with ProCam you can take a snapshot of the video at 3840 x 2160 (4k).

Steps to Capture a Video using ProCam

  • Open up ProCam and click on the image on the bottom left
  • Find the Video that you want (Video folder is a good starting point.)
  • Click Edit on the bottom right - Don't worry your not editing the video
  • Now scroll or Play the video to the point you want to capture.
  • Click on the Down icon - to the right of the Play icon.
  • A new file was created in the Camera Roll

Pro Cam Screen

The nice thing about this is that you can do the photo creative on the iPhone. Previously I would have to download this to the computer and watch it full screen to get the best resolution.

This is a good technique to use when the subject matter is hard to capture. For example, taking a class picture of a bunch of school kids. You can search for the perfect shot.

In the above situation, I had my iPhone XS Max on a Monopod and was scanning the crowd. It would have been tricky to find the right time to take a picture.

February 6, 2019


One of the Location technology in the iPhone XS Max is iBeacon micro-location. It's been mention in the iPhone technical specification since 2013.

What is it? How has it gotten better in the iPhone XS Max?

What is iBeacon

The concept of iBeacon is to allow retail establishments to interact with your mobile device based on your location. There is a base station in the establishment that interacts with apps on your phone.

Example #1

Let's say you're in Target and looking at the TVs displays. Wouldn't it be great to know something more about the different models?

Well If you open up the Target App, it will load up the TV Spec page. This is because there's a nearby beacon that's informing the app that you're looking at the TVs.

Example #2

Your at the airport looking for something to eat. You get a notification that Legal Seafood got a large clam shipment and running a special.

This is because you have the airport app open, perhaps to find an eating establishment, and your nearby a Legal Seafood restaurant.

Some places that have installed Beacons: Walmart, Target, Rite Aid, Best Buy, Sports Stadiums - including Fenway Park. NFL Stadiums, NBA Arenas, and NHL arenas have them.

Note: Beacons only work when you use their apps, they can't spam your phone if you don't have the app open.

Getting Your Own iBeacon

If you're a developer, you can buy your own iBeacon base station to do all sorts of creative things to your own apps. iBeacon NYVIDA Bluetooth Beacon is one such device.

iBeacon is Dying?

It's very possible that the next version of iPhone may not include iBeacon technology. This is because some retail establishments are removing the Beacon stations as consumers have privacy concerns. In addition, the beacon signal has a limited range and can easily be interfered by people or objects.

Not dead yet

Just last week Waze announced that they are installing beacons inside NYC tunnels to help navigations - drivers can stay connected and make sure they take the right exit in the tunnel.

Hillsdale College announced the use of beacons to notify students of an emergency situation. Students and Faculty are notified if they are on campus - which avoids spamming people that may not be anywhere near campus.

Looking for Beacon Apps

BeaconStac has a list of the 5 Best iBeacon Apps that are leading the field. It's a good place to learn more about technology and other potential uses. The article is four years old, but I think it's still a good place to learn what cool functionality that developers are using iBeacon for.

January 30, 2019

iPhone XS Max Microphones

The iPhone XS Max now has the ability to record in stereo thanks to the many microphones that are included. The only way to enable the stereo microphones is to enable the "Record Stereo Sound” feature in the Settings > Camera. This appears to be a feature exclusive to Apple Camera.

Camera Settings

Not always in Stereo

In my testing I noticed that videos aren't always used stereo sound. I think this is because the iPhone determines if stereo needs to be enabled. So if I am talking in a room by myself the phone may not be enabled, but if I record the crowd at Fenway Park it will certainly be in stereo.

Third Party Apps Stereo Support

Developers haven't been able to add stereo sound support since Apple hasn't made that feature available in iOS API. Hopefully in a future update that developers will be able to use the feature available only in iPhone XS.

Where are the Microphones on the iPhone XS Max?

This diagram shows the location of the Microphones on the iPhone XS Max:

Mic Location

What about Audio files?

Apple’s Voice Memos app is still recording sound in Mono format. If your looking for a more powerful audio capture application try GarageBand.