We’ve been playing around with Apple’s biggest ever iPhone, the XS Max, as we prepare to review it.

And by playing, well, I meant that literally: We played lots of games on it.

One thing that immediately struck me about the XS Max is how comfortable it is when playing games where you need to hold the phone horizontally.

I kinda hate games which try to replicate console-style controls on a touchscreen, including most battle royale games on smartphones like PUBG Mobile.

In particular, I struggle with three things:

  1. I don’t like the lack of physical feedback from the touchscreen
  2. I don’t like that my hands block the screen
  3. I don’t like that phones, designed to be thin and slip into a pocket, aren’t as ergonomic as console controllers

The XS Max can’t do much about point #1. But it’s #2 and #3 where the phone felt really good to me.

I felt like I had a much better view of the screen, and that my thumbs weren’t blocking as much. And the sheer size of it meant my hands felt a bit more spaced out. It felt a little like holding a console controller… a terrible one, but a controller nonetheless.

Not that any of that helped me in the game.

One thing you’ll notice is that PUBG Mobile remains… super ugly.

The XS Max comes with Apple’s new A12 Bionic chip, which is winning raves and stellar benchmark scores. But to be honest, while it will enable games to look great — games need to actually support it first. And as you can tell, PUBG absolutely does not.

Having said that, I did see a brief demo of the new mobile Elder Scrolls game, Blades, which looks spectacular on the XS. The level of detail and effects on show in that game is pretty spectacular. But again: That’s a game specifically designed for the power of Apple’s latest hardware. Most people will probably have the same experience we had with PUBG Mobile: It’s so ugly.

While I didn’t do well… it wasn’t the phone’s fault, because Josh and Xinmei did pretty well. And even though she thought it was pretty heavy, she liked the feel overall.

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