The CultCast
This week: BeautyGate—what it is, and why it’s undoubtedly the dumbest “gate” in the history of iPhone.  Plus: how have we liked our one week with Apple Watch 4 and iPhone XS?  WE’LL TELL YOU.  And the shockingly low production price of the XS Max proves the deadbeats at Apple owe us more storage space!
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On the show this week
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iPhone XS Max: A condensed review
iPhone XS Max is fast, fast, fast
  • Everything is very fast and responsive. Apps spring right open. Photos scroll without delay. Maps render without a hiccup. Everything is basically instantaneous, and it’s a joy.
  • It’s all thanks to the A12 Bionic chip. Apple is so far ahead in mobile chips, it’s head-spinning. One benchmark shows the iPhone XS is faster than the new iMac Pro, a $5,000-plus pro workstation!
It’s definitely not too big
  • For such big phone, it doesn’t feel too big. Having used an X all last year, and liking it, I thought the Max would be too big. But it doesn’t feel as big as the old Plus iPhones used to
  • iPhone XS Max camera
The camera is excellent 
  • Especially the new Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control. The Max is less a phone, and more an advanced, near-DSLR camera with a cellular connection.
The big screen is amazing
  • The screen is so big and clear, there’s no need to take your laptop or iPad on flights any more. The Max will do nicely.
It deserves to be caseless
  • Despite dropping my old iPhone X numerous times, it has just a few scuffs and no cracked screen (it was, however, often in a case). But this time, because the Max is so thin, I’m going to try it caseless for a while. I’d like to enjoy Apple’s design for a change, without a bulky wrapping. (I know; I may regret this later.)
iPhone XS selfie cam is so beautiful it spawned an ugly conspiracy theory
  • The iPhone XS and its front-facing camera are supposed to help its owners make better self-portraits. However, some think their iPhone selfies look better than they should
  • Lewis Helsenteger, aka Unboxing Therapy, is calling it beautygate
  • Users are taking to internet forums like Reddit to question whether Apple added an undisclosed beauty filter to the front-facing camera on the iPhone XS and XS Max. Some are even posting side-by-side selfies taken with an XS and older handset to make a case that the newest iPhone has more than deeper pixels and an improved portrait mode going for it.
iPhone XS Max production cost is shockingly low
  • Analysis firm TechInsights did a teardown of the an iPhone XS Max with 256GB of storage. That’s reportedly the most popular version of Apple’s best selling handset.
  • As part of its teardown, TechInsights estimated the cost for each component. The total? $443
  • Compared to the $1249 price tag for the product. So just 35 percent of the purchase price goes to pay for the actual hardware.
  • Of course, the remaining $806 isn’t pure profit. The bill of materials (BoM) doesn’t cover Apple’s employee salaries, advertising, and other costs. Also, the BoM doesn’t include software, and iPhone and iPad sales have to cover the cost of developing iOS and its bundled software.