The iPhone XS Max does not have a spot focus setting or small dots marking where you are focusing in either the regular Apple camera app or the Adobe Lightroom iPhone camera app that I can find. It has a fairly large square box instead. This works well if you are shooting a subject that takes up a large enough area of the image, but does not work for images like this.
The California poppy bloom is not in sharp focus. This is a problem for me. I like flowers in sharp focus. With any of my larger cameras or my Sony pocket camera focus on this type of subject is very easy.
The very good Adobe iPhone XS camera app allows manual focus when in “pro” mode. I used that when shooting the above photo. The subject I focused on is in fairly good focus when you look at it closely but certainly not what I consider sharp focus. Again, any of my larger cameras or the Sony pocket camera would have easily done a much better job.
Here is a shot of the same bush using auto focus. The results are similar to the manual focus.
I have been able to get many very sharp focus shots with this smartphone. Here is one from yesterday.
This focus and image quality from the same iPhone using the same Adobe camera app is so good it challenges my Sony full frame mirrorless A7iii with very sharp Zeiss lens. BUT if you cannot reliably get sharp focus when you need/ want it then the camera is less useful. I take lots of flower & plant shots all the time. I need sharp focus when I ask for it not maybe. Same thing with smart HDR and flash. When I turn them on I expect them to work. All of these problems can be fixed with software changes.
But while I am waiting for Apple to fix this I am going to go out and buy another compact digital camera. I sold my Sony HX 80 super zoom last October because I could not get raw out of it. The jpegs out of that little camera were great. But you just get better details and more latitude on adjustment when you have raw files. I was also not really happy with the tiny viewfinder that you needed to manually pull out when you wanted to use it.
Sony has an update to the HX 80 called the HX 99 which adds raw image capability, 4K video and eye auto focus. Unfortunately the new one still has the tiny viewfinder with manual pull up. Nikon is bringing out a similar compact that also has raw & 4K with a fixed electronic viewfinder with double the pixels of the Sony. The Nikon is called the A1000 and it has a zoom from 24-840 compared to the Sony 24-720. Max f stop is nearly identical. When the Nikon is available to hold and touch I am going to check it out to see if I like it better than the Sony.
Who knows maybe Apple will fix these problems in the mean time.