Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review
Apple has packed so many features into its new iPhone it’s decided to use the “Pro” branding for the first time on one of its smartphones.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max was revealed last week alongside the Apple iPhone 11 at the US firm’s keynote in Cupertino, California and it arrives with a number of features that have never been seen before on an Apple handset.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max boats a triple-camera on the back – up from a dual-camera set-up on the iPhone XS Max last year, an 18W fast charging plug in the box, plus a battery and redesigned processor that offer more power than anything that’s gone before.
However, all these improvements come at a cost. And what a cost it is!
iPhone 11 Pro Max is the most expensive iPhone to ever launch in the UK, with the maxed-out model costing a cool £1,499 – that’s £50 more than the best iPhone XS Max and about £200 more than most people spend on their first car.
So, is it really worth all that money? Should you consider making the switch to this Pro model?
To find out, here’s our full iPhone 11 Pro Max review…
PROS – Unrivalled power from the A13 Bionic processor • Triple camera boosts the photography credentials • Never-ending battery life • Improved Retina display • Face ID still leads the way
CONS – Even more expensive than before • No reverse wireless charging or Apple Pencil support
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max features an improved display
DESIGN AND DISPLAY
Over the last few months, we’ve been bombarded by an endless stream of concept pictures of the iPhone 11 and most of them made this new handset look pretty terrifying. The triple-camera looked like it would stick out like a very sore thumb and the refreshed design looked less than appealing.
Thankfully, the design cooked-up by Sir Jony Ive and co. doesn’t look anything like as unsightly as the leaks suggested. Although the design rumours were fairly accurate, they failed to show how slick the iPhone 11 Pro Max feels when you get it in your hands.
Apple has opted for a sleek new matt finish for the glass case and it’s stunning.
The model we’ve been testing is Midnight Green, which has an almost military and industrial feel to it. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but we were pretty impressed with the look.
If you’re less keen, there are three other colour options to choose from including Space Grey, Silver, and Gold. These are mostly unchanged from the colours on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, although the frosted glass does alter the shade a little, so you might want to have a wander into your local Apple Store before picking a colour.
Despite the sizeable new camera array, Apple has worked hard to make the design look as seamless as possible.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max features three rear cameras
The three lenses are colour matched to the stainless steel sides of the handset, and the square camera bump is part of the same glass sheet found on the back of the phone – helping it all blend in remarkably well.
Having had the iPhone 11 Pro Max in our hands for the past week we honestly have no concerns about the aesthetics of this phone. In fact, we’re actually quite smitten with it.
The only issue with this seamless approach is the cost if you drop the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the glass on the back shatters. Since it’s a single piece of glass, it’ll cost you a princely sum of £596.44 to replace. So, you might want to invest in a protective case.
Along with the new matte glass finish and triple-camera, the most noticeable tweak is the iconic Apple logo, which has been moved down to a lower position on the rear-case. The word “iPhone” has also been removed, which gives this new device a very minimal look.
Apple also says this is their toughest iPhone to date, with the 11 Pro Max covered in glass that has been strengthened through a dual ion-exchange process. Fortunately, we’ve not dropped our review unit on the floor (yet) so can’t back up these claims. However, those prone to butterfingers will likely be glad of the improvements on last year.
iPhone 11 Pro Max is capable of withstanding up to four meters underwater for as long as 30 minutes – that’s double the depth of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review
Although there are some considerable design changes to the back of this phone, things look identical when staring at the screen of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. And yes, that means the controversial notch at the top of the display is back again.
This black bar packs all of the clever tech used for Apple’s market-leading facial security – known as Face ID. Unfortunately, until Apple finds a way of slimming down the sensors needed for Face ID to fit them into the bezel, or bury them underneath the screen it’s one of those things that you’ll simply have to accept if you want this superior sensor.
And Face ID remains superior to every other facial recognition system on the market. It’s fast and convenient, and is secure enough to authenticate banking apps and contactless payments. That’s something that can’t be said of a lot of its rivals on Android phones.
But while the design of the display hasn’t changed there’s plenty of new technology inside this 6.5-inch display, which Apple has branded as Super Retina XDR. The screen is now brighter which not only makes colours and content pop but also improves the viewing experience in bright daylight.
In fact, it’s so bright that pumping the screen brightness to 100 percent in the evenings can make for a pretty painful experience. So, we’d recommend reserving that setting for daylight hours only.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max’s OLED panel is definitely the best to ever ship inside an iPhone, with everything looking pin-sharp – packing extra definition and fine detail. Apple continues to include its True Tone settings which changes the colour based on the light conditions around you. It’s a nice effect, although rivals have successfully copied it – so it’s not the differentiator it once was.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro continues with the notch
There’s also Haptic Touch, which allows you to interact with apps without actually opening them – you simply long press to get access to a small menu of commonly-used settings and features, without having to launch the app itself. Think of it like right-click on your Windows or Mac computer.
Haptic Touch replaces the 3D Touch technology found on older phones and it works just as well.
One of the most vital updates heading to this display is the fact that Apple has managed to make it so much brighter and better without it chewing through your battery life. In fact, the Super Retina XDR screen is now15 per cent more efficient giving you more plenty of extra time to enjoy it.
Overall, the design and display are excellent, although it’s a shame Apple hasn’t managed to include the faster 120Hz ProMotion technology found on its iPad Pro line-up, which definitely makes scrolling through content and iOS animations appear much smoother.
One final thing to consider is the weight of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. This upgrade is heavier than the iPhone XS Max, adding 16g of extra of bulk over Apple’s last flagship.
Whilst it’s not a deal-breaker you will notice that added mass in your pocket day-to-day.
iPhone 11 Max camera
One of the most monumental changes to the iPhone is the inclusion of a triple rear camera – a first for the Apple smartphone line-up that brings it on-par with most of its Android-powered competitors.
Apple’s latest camera system includes an Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, which are capable of producing a stunning array of different shots. Once the camera app is launched, you’ll find a setting in the main viewfinder to quickly flick between a wider field of view and an optical zoom that lets you get closer to your subject without losing any quality.
While Apple was the first to introduce multi-camera systems to achieve this level of zoom, some of its rivals have taken the concept much, much further in recent years. iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a respectable two-times optical zoom, which should be enough for most gigs and tourist shots – it’s nowhere near as impressive as the five-times, 10-times and 50-times options available elsewhere.
Along with being able to shoot ultra-wide shots, the new triple-camera includes a very clever Night Mode which can shoot some pretty incredible images without using the flash. In our tests, we’ve found the new mode works incredibly
Test shot from the iPhone 11
Night mode switched on
Night mode switched off
The iPhone automatically switches to the setting as soon as it detects that you might be struggling to find your subject in the gloom. That’s different from many Android rivals, which make users search through a dizzying array of menus to find the Night Mode setting.
However, to get the ultimate Night Mode shot your subjects will need to stay pretty still. And in the toughest conditions, you’ll want to keep the lens open for as long as possible – so you’ll want to invest in a tripod for the best possible results.
But it’s not just photographs that enjoyed some upgrades, Apple has also made its latest flagship much better at shooting video footage. The Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras now all support high-quality 4K video up to 60 frames-per-second.
With extended dynamic range, you get more highlight details in your videos as well as cinematic stabilisation to create smoother video content – even if you’re walking, or running behind your subject.
A wide-angle shot from the iPhone 11 Max
You can also now long-press the shutter when in photo mode, with the iPhone instantly switching to video until you release the button again. It’s a handy shortcut that makes video more accessible at the drop of a hat from the lockscreen.
The iPhone continues to be one of the most popular ways of snapping shots for the family album and this update is certainly taking things to a new level.
iPhone 11 night mode on
iPhone 11 night mode off
iPhone 11 Pro Max zoom sample
iPhone 11 Pro Max wide
As well as the rear-camera getting a boost, there’s a couple of nice additions to selfies too.
This includes the ability to get more people into your shots with the new wide-angle lens, which is instantly enabled when you hold the phone in a landscape orientation. It’s really handy and should mean the friends or family on the edge of the group selfie don’t get unceremoniously cut, but it doesn’t quite match the truly ultra-wide selfie offering on Google’s latest phones.
Another fun extra is the addition of slo-motion selfies, or “slofies” as Apple is keen to name them… something we desperately hope doesn’t catch-on.
These comical slow-motion selfie videos are sure to prove popular and is the first time iPhone fans have been able to use the front-facing camera to record video at these reduced speeds.
The iPhone includes wide-angle selfies
The iPhone XS Max was already leading the way when it comes to raw power but things are being pushed to another extreme with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The handset features the A13 Bionic which is not only blisteringly fast but also far more efficient.
As such, you shouldn’t see any slowdown while performing heavy-duty tasks on your iPhone – loading massive documents, editing videos, recording 4K video, and playing games – without impacting battery life either.
A13 Bionic features two performance cores that are up to 20 per cent faster and use up to 30 per cent less power than the performance cores in the A12 Bionic chip.
From what we’ve seen so far from our review device, the 11 Pro is an absolute beast when it comes to performance. In fact, you’ll probably find there’s more power than you’ll actually ever need. Although that should future-proof you for iOS updates for years to come.
The new A13 Bionic processor
BATTERY AND CHARGING
The epic battery life might be our favourite change in the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
During its keynote, Apple made the bold claim that iPhone owners can expect five hours more battery than with the previous flagship iPhone. That seemed too good to be true, but the iPhone 11 Pro Max more than lives up to these claims.
We’ve been using the phone for the past week – checking emails, texting, scrolling through social media and making FaceTime calls – and we’ve always had plenty left in the tank at the end of the day. With light usage, we reckon you’ll easily get two full days without any problems.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro has much-improved battery life
When things do run dry, Apple now includes a fast-charger in the box.
This 18-watt wall plug can refill the new iPhone to around 50 per cent in just 30 minutes. This was possible with the iPhone XS Max too, but you’d have to cough-up for the correct cable and wall plug separately, which seemed like a lot to ask when the handset starts from £999.
It is worth noting this new charger uses a USB-C to Lightning cable so your old USB-A cables won’t be compatible. Although, you can still slow charge with these older accessories.
Some might be annoyed that Apple hasn’t moved fully to USB-C – the same connector it uses to power the MacBook and iPad Pro ranges. However, it does mean lots of Lightning-style accessories – such as speakers, charging docks and stands – will continue to work with your new iPhone.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review
FEATURES AND WHAT’S MISSING
The new iPhone 11 Pro Max comes packed with plenty of extra features, including Apple’s excellent Face ID security sensor which is now even faster than before. In fact, it’s so seamless you won’t even notice this clever system has scanned your face and unlocked the screen when you pull the handset out of your pocket.
Apple is steering clear of embedded fingerprint scanners for now and, having used some of its rivals that include this new type of biometric sensor, we think it’s definitely the right call.
These hidden fingerprint sensors inside the screen are gradually getting better but they still can’t match the speed, security, and ease of use that Face ID offers. Not to mention AniMoji.
Along with that improved face unlock scanner, you’ll also find wireless charging tucked inside this phone and it now offers faster downloads via Gigabit-class LTE and Wi-Fi 6.5.
There’s also Apple’s Dual SIM which features a standard nano-SIM and an eSIM so you can run two separate numbers on the same device – perfect for frequent flyers.
But while there’s a lot of new features, there are still some additions we would’ve loved to have seen make the cut in this new iPhone model. Ahead of the launch event, rumours were rife the iPhone 11 Pro would include reverse wireless charging… but this hasn’t appeared.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Both Huawei and Samsung support this feature, which lets you quickly refill wireless earbuds and smartwatches using your smartphone – so you only have to pack a single charging cable on weekends away from home. It’s a shame Apple hasn’t followed with its own version of this technology, especially since the iPhone 11 Pro Max has battery life to spare and the latest AirPods boast a charging case that can be wirelessly refilled, too.
Sadly, we might have to wait until next year for such a feature to appear.
As we’ve mentioned above, while it might have the Pro moniker, the new iPhone doesn’t share the USB-C connector seen on the iPad Pro – so those hoping to plug their DSLR cameras and the like directly into the handset to edit pictures on the move will have to cough-up for an adapter.
Finally, you won’t get support for the Apple Pencil on the new iPhone 11 Pro, which isn’t a surprise but we know some were hoping this rumour would turn out to be true. Those who want to doodle, or annotate emails on-the-move with the Apple Pencil will have to buy an iPad Pro instead.
iPhones have always been expensive, but this model pushes things to a bank-busting new level.
When Apple announced US pricing on stage at its launch event last week, it didn’t sound too shocking as costs stayed the same as last year. Sadly, those prices haven’t been matched in the UK with prices going up across the board on this side of the pond.
That means the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max now starts from £1,149 for the 64GB version and rises to £1,499 for the 512GB model. Even the smaller 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro starts from £1,049 – that’s an extra £50 on its predecessor.
Of course, there are ways to reduce this cost with Apple offering money off your new handset when you trade-in an older iPhone, as well as zero per cent APR repayment options and the iPhone Upgrade Scheme – that lets you repay the cost of an iPhone over 20 months, with the option to upgrade to a new model every 11 months. Despite these, this is still a very expensive gadget and many fans may be put off spending so much on a smartphone.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review
There’s absolutely no question the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best smartphone Apple has ever built.
Sure, it’s an incremental upgrade and not an all-new design, like the introduction of the iPhone X two years ago. But this new handset is packed with genuinely useful features, like the faster Face ID unlock, brighter Retina Display, and brilliant triple rear camera.
This photography boost means users finally get the ability to shoot images with an ultra-wide angle camera on their iPhone without buying one of those naff third-party lens attachments. There’s also optical zoom and that mind-boggling Night Mode that stands toe-to-toe with anything on Android.
If it’s sheer power you’re looking for, then you won’t be disappointed with iPhone 11 Pro Max either as the new A13 Bionic processor not only makes the phone seriously slick to use, but also brings hugely improved battery life.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
We’ve been staggered by just how long this new iPhone lasts. If you’re running a four or five-year-old iPhone and constantly carrying an external battery pack and charger, the battery life of the iPhone 11 Pro Max alone could be a reason to consider an upgrade.
Although there’s plenty to like about the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the price isn’t for the faint of heart and we can’t help feeling the price could a big factor for some Apple fans not making the switch.
Paying over £1,100 for a smartphone clearly won’t be for everyone and many may be tempted by the much cheaper iPhone 11, which has many of the same features, including the speed of the A13 Bionic chipset, the Ultra-Wide rear-camera and wider-view selfies.
That said, if you want the ultimate smartphone that Apple sells, then you cannot go wrong with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s the most complete iPhone yet and, if you can stomach the price, you’re in for an absolute treat.