Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max review

GSMArena team, 25 Sept 2019.

The Super Retina XDR OLED - same but different

We won't blame you if you still can't figure what's the big deal with these new XDR screens. After all the iPhone 11 Pro has the same 5.8" OLED of 458ppi as the one on the XS and X, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the same 6.5" OLED of 458ppi as the XS Max. But there is this XDR in the name, and it makes you wonder whether this is another marketing ploy or a real thing.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max review

The XDR stands for eXtreme Dynamic Range, which is what Apple calls its advancements in HDR. Basically, the new screens are brighter at 800 nits and when necessary they can light up to 1200 nits. The XDR OLEDs also double the contrast from 1,000,000:1 on the XS models up to 2,000,000:1 on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.

So, long story short the new XDR screens are much brighter and offer double the contrast over the OLEDs we saw on the iPhone XS and XS Max. They have better dynamic range that goes beyond the established HDR standard, just like Samsung's latest Dynamic AMOLEDs.

Both displays offer excellent pixel density at 458ppi, and just as before the 5.8" iPhone 11 Pro screen has 1125 x 2436 px resolution, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max 6.5" panel offers 1242 x 2688 px. Both OLEDs support the widespread HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max reviewApple iPhone 11 Pro Max, 11 Pro, and 11

The proprietary True Tone adjustments are here to stay. This is an automatic white balance correction using a six-channel ambient light sensor. The algorithm corrects the white balance according to the ambient light making the whites and grays rendition more accurate.

Finally, the touch input stays with the same 120Hz high refresh rate for zero-like touch latency and adding a sense of fluidness. The screen refresh rate is still capped at 60Hz though and we are yet to see when and if Apple will take the step OnePlus and Asus have already taken.

Apple promises a maximum brightness of 800 nits, and 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. We measured 811 nits of brightness with the slider at the farthest. This is even higher than promised, higher than the maximum Galaxy Note10+ can do and it only works in Auto mode for the Samsung.

Apple says the screen can do more, a lot more actually, and it can be as bright as 1200 nits when necessary. That's a double of what the iPhone XS and XS Max could do and we guess this confirms the promised doubled contrast. Apple is probably taking about local brightness in HDR movies and we just couldn't get this measurement with our tools and apps.

Still, with a maximum manual brightness of 811 nits, the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max OLEDs are currently among the brightest smartphone screens on the market.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 0 820
Apple iPhone 11 Pro 0 805
Apple iPhone 11 0.428 644 1505
Apple iPhone XS 0 660
Apple iPhone XS Max 0 653
Apple iPhone X 0 679
Apple iPhone XR 0.425 700 1647
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 0 381
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ (Max Auto) 0 794
Samsung Galaxy Note10 0 366
Samsung Galaxy Note10 (Max Auto) 0 789
Huawei P30 Pro 0 571
Huawei P30 Pro (Max Auto) 0 605
Sony Xperia 5 0 353
Sony Xperia 5 (Max Auto) 0 574
OnePlus 7 Pro 0 436
OnePlus 7 Pro (Max Auto) 0 616
Sony Xperia 1 0 391
Sony Xperia 1 (Max Auto) 0 665

The display on the iPhone 11 Pro Max has an excellent color accuracy - we measured an average DeltaE of 2.4 and a maximum deviation of 5 against sRGB. The screen on the iPhone 11 Pro is even more accurate against sRGB as we measured average deltaE of 1.6 and maximum deviation of 2.3. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max fully support DCI-P3 and they automatically switch to this gamma when DCI-P3 content is sent to the screen.

And the amazing thing is that these displays get to keep such a level of accuracy even while you are lowering the brightness all the way down to 1.9 nits.

Battery life

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is powered by the largest battery Apple has put in an iPhone to date - a Li-Ion cell of 3,969 mAh capacity - that's 25% larger than the one inside the XS Max.

Both iPhone 11 Pro models ship with an 18W fast charger. If you charge your dead iPhone 11 Pro Max with the said charger it will refill 50% of its battery in 30 mins. If you do the same with the regular iPhone 11 Pro - the charger will replenish about 58%.

A full charge on both phones takes about 2 hours. If that's too long, you can disable the newly introduced battery-aging optimizations that limits the charging beyond 80%. By doing so you will get faster recharging times, but your battery will supposedly age faster.

The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max support 10W wireless charging. Those phones were rumored to support reverse wireless charging, too, for charging them AirPods, but the latest reports suggest Apple disabled the tech shortly before launch due to overheating issues.

The recent teardowns revealed that the battery has two connectors, and this is a major requirement for bilateral charging. But Apple's latest support documents reveal new hardware that monitors and controls the battery performance, so maybe this is the answer and the rumors were false. Who knows?

We concluded our battery test on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and it simply aced it. The Max can do about 21 hours of 3G calls, 15 hours of web browsing on a single charge, or you can watch videos for about 19 and a half hours. Adding the frugal standby to the mix returned an outstanding battery endurance rating and the first to cross the 100h mark in our test.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max review

The iPhone 11 Pro posted some very good scores across the board. It did great in web and video playback tests, but somewhat average in call and standby.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance ratings above denote how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Speakers

The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max both have stereo speakers, just like the iPhone XS, the iPhone X, and the iPhone 8 series. The first speaker is at the bottom of the phones, while the earpiece acts as a second one. The output is very balanced and the only thing we noticed was the earpiece lack a little bit in bass compared to the bottom primary, but its loudness seemed on par.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max review

Apple says these speakers support spatial audio and subjectively the sound indeed seems less directional and more, well, spatial when compared to other phones.

Indeed, it turned out Apple is using a full-blown loudspeaker for the earpiece and it is quite loud. The Max model offers a bit more bass from its top tweeter and that makes it even more balanced than the regular Pro model. The sound is very rich, the bass is deep enough, and after playing multiple songs, videos, and games, we consider the Pro and Pro Max speakers among the better ones you can have in a smartphone today.

All three iPhone 11s pulled a Very Good mark in our loudspeaker test, just a couple decibels shorter of the Excellent mark. But having this spatial audio do make the new iPhones sound (subjectively) louder than this test suggests.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 68.3 72.2 72.9 Good
Apple iPhone 11 70.8 72.3 76.0 Very Good
Apple iPhone X 68.9 74.0 76.2 Very Good
Sony Xperia 5 68.1 73.8 79.5 Very Good
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 71.3 74.3 79.7 Very Good
Sony Xperia 1 69.8 74.5 81.0 Very Good
Apple iPhone 11 Pro 71.2 73.8 80.7 Very Good
Apple iPhone XS 71.5 75.7 78.9 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 9T 70.6 74.8 81.2 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 68.4 73.7 86.3 Excellent
Samsung Galaxy Note10 70.1 72.8 85.7 Excellent
Apple iPhone XS Max 70.5 74.0 84.7 Excellent
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 76.0 74.6 79.0 Excellent
Apple iPhone XR 76.9 74.8 79.3 Excellent
Huawei P30 Pro 70.9 73.8 90.9 Excellent
OnePlus 7 Pro 79.6 77.7 87.2 Excellent

Audio quality

Apple no longer includes a Lightning to 3.5mm audio adapter in the retail package of its iPhones, which means that the quality of the audio output you will be getting is entirely dependend on the adapter you get or the DAC built into your headphones if they are of the Lightning port type.

We performed the test using the official Apple adapter, so our findings will only be relevant if you go with that one. Clarity turned out excellent with an active external amplifier, although stereo separation is not ideal. However, there's virtually no degradation with headphones, meaning that you'd be getting some of the most accurate output in that case.

Loudness was only average though and some way behind the flagship standard these days. Still that would make little difference to anyone but those with super high impedance headphones and a taste for deafening volume levels.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Apple iPhone 11 Pro +0.05, -0.16-94.293.90.00160.016-81.0
Apple iPhone 11 Pro (headphones) +0.14, -0.04-94.293.80.00100.018-78.9
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max +0.05, -0.16-94.393.90.00160.016-81.5
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (headphones) +0.14, -0.04-94.494.00.00100.018-76.8
Huawei P30 Pro +0.04, -0.02-90.590.40.00140.013-93.0
Huawei P30 Pro (headphones)+0.14, -0.23-90.490.30.00460.211-47.0
Samsung Galaxy S10+0.03, -0.04-92.292.00.00150.0079-92.7
Samsung Galaxy S10 (headphones)+0.06, -0.03-91.991.70.00200.037-77.0
Sony Xperia 1+0.02, -0.01-93.693.50.00100.007-85.2
Sony Xperia 1 (headphones)+0.31, -0.26-92.191.90.00600.302-55.1
OnePlus 7 Pro +0.03, -0.01-93.092.60.00230.021-89.6
OnePlus 7 Pro (headphones)+0.10, -0.05-92.091.40.00340.106-74.8

Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max frequency response
Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

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