Full Review: iPhone 11 Pro Max Isn’t Just A Small Upgrade

This review is based on the iPhone Pro Max (Green, 256GB) on Sprint. It costs $1249.

2019’s  iPhone 11 Pro Max may look just like 2018’s iPhone XS Max, but there are some important differences. Let’s take a look:

Build and Design

The Pro Max design looks the same as its predecessor, but you notice a difference when it’s in your hands, especially due to the matte finish on the back. The green unit, which is being used for this review, is especially gorgeous.

Then, there is the triple-lens bump on the upper-left of the iPhone’s rear side, which looks more protruding in pictures than it does in person. Both the upgraded camera and more powerful battery make the Pro Max the heaviest iPhone yet, but the extra perks are worth the slightly added weight.

Screen

The 6.5-inch 2436 x 1135 (458 PPI) pixel resolution screen is arguably just as good as the 6.8-inch screen is on the Galaxy Note 10+, which some may find a little too large for a smartphone. Apple has made a slight improvement to the contrast ratio, which was already just about perfect in the first place.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max screen is perfect for watching videos.

Apple has also improved the maximum brightness level, which is 800 nits. You’ll barely need to turn the brightness all the way up unless you are in direct sunlight. In my tests, the 11 Pro Max screen performed better in direct sunlight than any smartphone I have ever tested.

Performance

Now this is one area where you can tell Apple definitely upgraded their new flagship device. The new A13 Bionic chip, used along with iOS 13.1, moves things along rapidly, although — as usual — I’ve had some issues with the screen turning to the proper orientation.

You can see the difference in power the most when you use processor-heavy applications such as Photoshop Express and various video applications. Games also run smoother with Apple’s new chip.

There is either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on which source you believe. Apple doesn’t disclose the exact RAM, and some may scuff at the iPhone having much less than the 12GB of RAM that the Note 10+ has. However, it’s a poor comparison because iOS uses RAM a lot more efficiently than Android does. What’s important is that the 11 Pro Max can run any app very well, even if there are several others open in the background.

Camera

This is the star of the iPhone Max Pro, and it is even better in person than reading about it online. The triple-lens camera on back includes a 12MP telephoto lens, a 12MP wide lens, and a new 12MP ultra-wide lens. This allows for fantastic pictures during the day or at night.

Speaking of night, it’s the Night Mode on the iPhone 11 Pro camera that earns all the “wows.” This picture of a stuffed Nintendo Koopa Troopa was taken in pitch black, where my eyes could barely make out the famous Nintendo character.

This picture was taken in pitch black.

Here is another picture that shows off the 11 Pro Max’s camera:

Santa Clarita, CA Skyline

I haven’t taken a lot of videos with the iPhone 11 Pro Max yet, but I do notice that the video camera lights up dark scenes and stabilizes videos better. Then, there is the stereo sound, which works well but doesn’t sound as wide as videos taken with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+.

Phone

It’s almost difficult to remember that the original purpose of smartphones is to make phone calls. I didn’t notice any difference between the call quality on the 11 Pro Max when compared to the previous generation iPhone. And that’s not a bad thing. The mic quality in both speaker mode and regular mode is great, even though your mouth needs to be positioned as close to the mic as possible to ensure you are heard well.

Battery

The 11 Pro Max’s (nearly) 4,000mAh battery might make the iPhone a little heavier but provides battery life like no other smartphone has ever done before. Yesterday, I used Google Maps for an hour while streaming podcasts from Spotify. A couple hours later, I played a couple shows on Hulu. Then, I used FaceTime to talk to a friend for a half hour. In between all of this, I checked my mail and did some web surfing. And I still had 15 percent left at the end of the night.

I haven’t done exact battery tests yet, but some studies show that the iPhone 11 Pro Max can last through 10 hours of screen time at high brightness. Since most people don’t spend the whole day on their iPhone, this means that most can easily get two days of use without having to charge the phone.

An 18W USB-C charger that comes with a Lightning to USB-C cable is included with the Pro 11 Max, and it charges the phone almost instantly. I have gone from 11 percent to 62 percent in just a half hour. It almost sounds too good to be true.

Conclusion

If you have an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, there may not be a lot of reasons to upgrade to the new iPhone Pro 11 Max. However, if you have some extra cash lying around (the cheapest version with 64GB costs $1099), you’ll definitely notice the improvements. For people who have the 2017 iPhone or earlier, the iPhone 11 Pro Max will feel like a smartphone user’s dream come true.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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