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There’s nearly nothing wrong with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The screen is excellent, games run lag-free, and the triple-camera system is versatile and effective, but what I’ve been most impressed by is its battery life. I’ve had to force myself to use the phone even more than normal to hit 30 percent before midnight.
This isn’t just the best iPhone ever — it’s the best smartphone you can buy. Period.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is slightly taller and wider than its predecessor, but what you’ll notice the most is how it is 18 grams heavier. I quickly got used to it, but the added weight does make this already-expensive phone feel even more luxurious. This is still a large phone, given its 6.5-inch screen size, and it does require two hands to reach the top of the screen.
It remains one of the few phones made of stainless steel, and it feels just as high-end as that sentence felt to write. It’s more durable than the aluminum you’ll find on most smartphones (including the iPhone 11). The back and front are wrapped in “durable” glass, but what’s new here is the matte texture on the back. It’s fantastic. It doesn’t attract ugly fingerprints, so I’m not wasting half my day wiping it clean, plus I prefer matte aesthetics over the glossy kind. Apple’s not the first company to explore this type of texture; Google did it last year with the Pixel 3.
iphone 11 pro max review rear camera hero
The new midnight green color is a nice change of pace from the usual gold, silver, and space grey, though I’m a sucker for the more colorful options found on the more affordable iPhone 11 (lookin’ at you, purple).
While we’re on the back of the iPhone, let’s talk about the camera design. It’s not great, though it is growing on me. The holes are so huge that they stand out a little too much, as though Apple really wants you to show everyone that you have an iPhone 11 Pro Max — not an iPhone 11 or an iPhone XS. The lenses are raised and have a metal bezel around them, but then the square camera module around them itself is also raised. The raised glass is sharp and angular; it’s not a pleasant feeling running your finger on the back and hitting the camera module.
It doesn’t attract ugly fingerprints, so I’m not wasting half my day wiping it clean.
I don’t think the camera design is ugly, but I also think Apple could have done better. One thing to note, the camera module does collect a bit of dust around the rings (as you can see in the picture above), so this area does require a bit of cleaning now and then.
The front is another area where Apple could do bettr. The 6.5-inch screen is wrapped with bezels that appear slim when looking at the iPhone individually, but put it next to phones like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus or the OnePlus 7 Pro, and you’ll see a difference. Apple hasn’t slimmed these bezels down since the iPhone X, which was two years ago, whereas Samsung has been introducing a more svelte look every year. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s screen still looks modern and beautiful, but thinning out the edges a little more would have been nice.
I’m not going to complain too much about the notch, because it houses the tech necessary for Face ID, which remains the best biometric authentication technology available on a phone. It’s fast to unlock, works in any lighting conditions, and I’ll take it over an in-display fingerprint sensor any day.
The 6.5-inch size might be a bit unwieldy in the hand, but who cares about that when you have such a vast screen for watching videos and movies? I love the big OLED screen and the extra real estate it offers, especially when playing games.
Apple said it’s using a Super Retina XDR screen, which delivers impressive brightness, incredibly accurate colors, and a sharp 2,688 x 1,242 resolution. I’ve had zero trouble watching shows with a lot of dark scenes, like The Spy on Netflix, in bright sunlight — it helps that the brightness can go all the way up to 1,200 nits in HDR scenes (800 nits is typical brightness).
iPhone 11 Pro Max iOS 13
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Putting it side-by-side with the Note 10 Plus, scenes from Netflix movies, like the new film, Between Two Ferns, are brighter and easier to see on the iPhone. The Note often tends to show cooler tones too, whereas the iPhone has warmer ones with better white balance. Both these screens are excellent, but I’m enjoying the display on the iPhone a little more.
What are the speakers like? It’s a stereo setup with one at the top of the phone (the earpiece) and a bottom-firing one. The system doesn’t get as loud as phones like the Note 10 Plus, but music sounds a little richer. When listening to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow, his voice doesn’t sound as raspy as it does on the Note phone. Bass isn’t strong at all, but it’s a little more clear than Samsung’s phone. If you want the best smartphone speaker, check out the Razer Phone 2, but you’re better off buying a Bluetooth speaker.
The speakers support Dolby Atmos for a surround sound experience, which I’ve noticed more when playing games that rely on stereo sound.
iPhone 11 Pro Max camera ui
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Yes, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are among the best camera phones available. It’s not just the fact that Apple has added an extra lens — yes, it adds versatility — but that the improvements largely come from image processing.
Smart HDR is, well, smarter. There’s a Night Mode for superior low-light photos, and a new feature called semantic rendering that snaps several underexposed photos before you tap the shutter button, the photo you want when you tap the button, and an overexposed shot afterward to balance out the lighting and merge them together. The camera can also understand specific parts of the photo, like a face or a flower, and apply separate Smart HDR improvements to those areas rather than a blanket change to the whole photo.
All of this is viewed through the triple-camera system, which packs 12 megapixels per sensor. The main f/1.8 sensor is the standard wide-angle. Then there’s the telephoto lens, which now has a wider f/2.0 aperture for better low-light photography, and the new ultra-wide-angle lens, which has an f/2.4 aperture and a 120-degree field of view so you can take in more of a scene.
The new ultra-wide-angle lens isn’t entirely unique, but it’s still somewhat special among flagship phones. Google’s Pixel 4, the popular Android alternative won’t have a wide-angle lens.
iphone 11 pro max ultra-wide-angle lens dog
ultra-wide-angle lens iPhone 11 pro max farm trees
Photos snapped during the day deliver largely natural colors, sometimes with a bit of a warm tone. Details are impeccably strong, and switching between each of these lenses feels seamless and smooth.
The telephoto lens now offers up more detail in lower-light conditions, but I wish the same could be said for the new ultra-wide-angle lens. It takes fantastic daytime shots, but it doesn’t perform that well at night, as you can see in the below comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
iPhone 11 Pro Max ultra-wide-angle lens ktown
iPhone 11 Pro Max, ultra-wide-angle lens
samsung galaxy note 10 plus ultra-wide-angle lens ktown
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, ultra-wide-angle lens
I also wish Apple allowed autofocus on it. It’s fixed focus, which means you need to be 1 meter away from a subject for it to be in focus, so you can’t get super-close for some unique perspectives.
Finally, a Night Mode
Huawei and Google have pushed the needle with low-light photography after they introduced respective Night Modes on their smartphones, and Apple is playing catchup by finally adding it on the iPhone — except that the quality is a step above its competitors.
Night Mode triggers automatically when the camera deems there’s not enough light. You can either leave it in the default state, which usually snaps a 3- to 2-second-long exposure (that means you’ll need to keep as still as you can to avoid a blurry photo) or choose “Max” to force it to snap as many pictures as it can, but this also is up to the camera based on how much it thinks is necessary. Ten seconds seems to be the average in dark situations, but I’ve seen it go even longer. If you put it on a tripod, the camera can understand that it’s stable and can snap even more photos.
iphone 11 pro max night mode stars
iphone 11 pro max night mode dog park
There’s an option to turn it off, but why would you want to? If you’re trying to snap an image of a subject that’s moving a little, turning Night Mode off will allow you to capture the image faster and in focus, whereas a long exposure would just make the photo extra blurry. For the most part, it’s good to leave it on, as the camera’s decision is usually the correct one.
The gallery above has a collection of Night Mode photos and some photos of Night Mode turned off as a comparison. On the whole — permitted you don’t move your hands too much — Night Mode elevates the iPhone’s low-light photography game to the point where it can compete with, if not surpass, phones like the Google Pixel 3. The downside is that Night Mode does not work on the telephoto or wide-angle lens, so your versatility dips a bit in poor lighting conditions. furniture