The Martians are coming!

With the news of a brand new BBC adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds by Peter Harness (who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – also for the BBC), I thought I’d pay a visit to the H.G. Wells statue in my hometown of Woking, where Wells wrote (and set the beginning of) War of the Worlds.

All photos were taken by the iPhone XS Max – and it did a particularly excellent job given that it was super windy and raining heavily at the time, and I was trying to balance an umbrella, a bag and the phone simultaneously and was shaking the phone about like a good ‘un.  But thanks to the iPhone’s computational photography and ability to start storing frames in a buffer before I’ve even pressed the shutter button, and along with taking a whole slew of photos – overexposed, underexposed and everything in between and combining them – I think they came out just great.

(I’m assuming the ball that Wells is holding relates to the space capsule from The First Men in the Moon)

Wells moved to Working in 1895 and lived here for about a year and half.  During that time he wrote War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. 

Woking’s science fiction connections were also recently bolstered by the Phillip K. Dick (Blade Runner) anthology TV series, Electric Dreams (produced by Channel 4 in conjunction with Amazon Prime Video) which had set an episode at Woking train station and told of a railway worker who journeys to a mysterious, unmarked town called Macon Heights.

Meanwhile, much closer to where I live, we had The End of the F***ing World shoot some material for the first episode.  The series was recently nominated for a BAFTA and Emmy and has been renewed for a second season.

Sample iPhone XS Max images

Well, I must say, I’m not disappointed!  Definitely much sharper when examining at 100% resolution.

So here are a few photos I’ve taken – original files in JPG format (exported from Photos app on iOS to Google Drive and uploaded here).  Just click on an image to expand to full size.  Remember: the copyright on these photos belongs to me.  If you’d like to use them, just ask.

The Apple iPhone XL (iPhone XS Max)

Update: See this post for sample photos taken from the iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XS Max is a bit of a mouthful to really be considered a serious product name.  I’d have called this the iPhone XL (for Extra Large) and kept iPhone XS for (Extra Small) – not that the regular iPhone XS is small – definitely not as small as the iPhone 5 was (4″).  This monstrosity has a 6.5″ screen.


However, as it was my annual upgrade with EE, I decided to go large, as it were, and ordered the iPhone XS Max as a replacement for my iPhone X (and subsequently before that the Google Pixel 2 XL and iPhone 8).  I really did go XL with the storage – a whopping half a terabyte – 512Gb – which matches that if my iPad Pro 10.5″ and half of that of my 2018 MacBook Pro 15″ which has 1Tb.  Call me mad, but even in the age of the cloud, I do prefer to keep data locally wherever possible.

The only downside?  EE provided me with the wrong colour – I wanted the gold edition but ended up with Space Gray.  That’s fine.  It’s going in a case anyway, so it really doesn’t matter in the long run.


As practically everybody who has already unwrapped and unboxed their new Apple toy has already said, given the overall cost of the device, why did Apple forgo the usual Lightning to 3.5″ headphone converter, and not provide a faster charger with the phone?  Also, I’m not best pleased with the cost of the privilege of using an official Apple phone case – though I consider them to be far superior to some other cases.

That said, I hope that the unit itself will prove itself worthy.  I’m particularly keen on the improved camera system.  Having examined photos between the iPhone X and iPhone XS/XS Max, there is definitely a marked improvement in quality – both in terms of colour reproduction and noise reduction.  The fake-bokeh is a nice have, but not essential in how I use the camera – but it’s clear that computational photography is clearly the future of integrated devices.  Google’s Pixel 2 XL has clearly demonstrated this.  While I don’t think the photos from the iPhone XS/XS Max is quite as good as the Pixel 2 XL, Apple is certainly playing catch up.  But from what I’ve seen, this is definitely the best camera Apple has created yet.  That’s good enough for me.

I’ll post a review within a week or so of having used the device.  There is some worry of reports that the iPhone XS and XS Max have been having Wi-Fi and 4G signal problems, but equally many reports of increased performance thanks to its gigabit modem.  The Wi-Fi issue can be dealt with easily if I do encounter it, but I guess it will probably be up to both EE and Apple to fix any 4G related issues.  I have 14 days before I can return the unit, so we’ll see what happens in the meantime.

Also coming up: the Apple Watch series 4.  EE are dealing these out like hot cakes, so there’s a potential 30 day wait before my unit arrives.