Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max review

GSMArena team, 25 Sept 2019.

Apple A13 Bionic is in charge of everything

Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, as well as the cheaper iPhone 11, run on the latest Apple A13 Bionic chip. It has 8.5 billion transistors and is built on a 7nm+ process. The chipset is faster and more power efficient than the A12.

As the Bionic name suggests the A13 chip is more of an improved sequel, rather than a major chip redesign. That was to be expected - usually the Speed models are the bearers of new chip innovations.

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

The Apple A13 Bionic chip packs a hexa-core processor with 2x2.65 GHz Lightning high-performance cores and 4x1.8 GHz Thunder efficient CPU cores. The Lightning cores are 20% faster, 30% more efficient. Once again Apple has chosen some cool names for its processor cores.

The A13 SoC has a new GPU that keeps the 4-core design introduced with A12. But is now 20% faster and a whopping 40% more efficient when delivering the same performance as A12's GPU.

The third generation Neural Engine has 8 cores (20% faster, 15% more efficient) and is in charge of image processing features such as Deep Fusion and Night Mode. Deep Fusion will be released as a software update later this year and it's Apple's version of HDR+. It takes 4 photos before you press the shutter, 4 when you do and then 1 long exposure. Then it picks the best shots and fuses them together. Night Mode is available at launch.

Finally, all iPhone 11 devices come with 4GB of RAM. There are theories that the new ISP has a dedicated 2GB of RAM because it would be close to impossible to do what it does without, but it is integrated within the A13 chip and until someone reverse engineers its complex architecture, this will remain just a theory.

Apple Iphone 11 Pro and Max review

And now it's time to run some benchmarks.

We ran GeekBench first. Apple has been a leader in GeekBench charts, and with the A13 it continues to be the chart-topper. The Lightning core is much faster than anything the Android competition has to offer and 15% faster than the Vortex core within the iPhone XS and Apple A12.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    5483
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    5476
  • Apple iPhone XS
    4823
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4777
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    4544
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4541
  • Apple iPhone X
    4256
  • Apple iPhone 8
    4234
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    4232
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3503
  • Sony Xperia 5
    3493
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3459
  • Sony Xperia 1
    3447
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    3402
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    3323
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    3000

The multi-core performance is now 20% faster than the previous generation iPhone XS and their A12 processor. And much faster than any Android CPU.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    13870
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    13829
  • Apple iPhone XS
    11472
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    11432
  • Sony Xperia 1
    10985
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    10943
  • Sony Xperia 5
    10941
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    10684
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    10403
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    10353
  • Apple iPhone X
    10215
  • Apple iPhone 8
    10214
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    10037
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    10014
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    5956
  • Apple iPhone 7
    5831

Now, let's see if the new 4-core GPU will also live up to the promise of 20% performance upgrade. We know little about Apple's custom GPUs. The A11 had a 3-core one, the A12 had a 4-core, and the A13 also has a 4-core one. But that's pretty much it.

The best way to inspect the raw performance is to run some offscreen benchmarks. And the A13 GPU demonstrated chart-topping performance across the four offscreen tests we ran - Manhattan 3.0 and 3.1, Car Chase, and 3D Mark. It seems Apple has delivered once again on its promises.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    179
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    178
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    130
  • Apple iPhone XS
    114
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    112
  • Sony Xperia 1
    102
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    101
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    99
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    92
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    90
  • Sony Xperia 5
    88
  • Apple iPhone 8
    85
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    85
  • Apple iPhone X
    81
  • Apple iPhone 7
    61
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    60

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    120
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    118
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    99
  • Apple iPhone XS
    98
  • Sony Xperia 1
    71
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    71
  • Sony Xperia 5
    69
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    68
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    68
  • Apple iPhone X
    65
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    59
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    56
  • Apple iPhone 7
    43
  • Apple iPhone 8
    39
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    39

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    67
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    66
  • Apple iPhone XS
    60
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    43
  • Sony Xperia 1
    42
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    42
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    41
  • Sony Xperia 5
    40
  • Apple iPhone X
    37
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28

3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    6475
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    6093
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    6091
  • Sony Xperia 1
    5792
  • Sony Xperia 5
    5592
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    5287
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    5269
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    4850
  • Apple iPhone XS
    4818
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4315
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4102
  • Apple iPhone X
    3217

We also ran the Car Scene onscreen test with the iPhone 11 Pro (1125p) and 11 Pro Max (1242p) as all other onscreen tests of the GFX Benchmark reached 60fps - the maximum a 60Hz screen can display. We'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    57
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    57
  • Apple iPhone XS
    47
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    47
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    36
  • Sony Xperia 5
    33
  • Sony Xperia 1
    33
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    29
  • Apple iPhone X
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    24
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    19

Finally, we ran a couple of compound benchmarks such as AnTuTu 7 and BaseMark OS II. And the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max easily became the fastest devices we've tested so far, by a mile at that.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    460784
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    459713
  • Asus ROG Phone II (120Hz)
    398935
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    368846
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    364025
  • Sony Xperia 1
    356734
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    353210
  • Apple iPhone XS
    346379
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    344442
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    342208
  • Sony Xperia 5
    334809
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    316156
  • Apple iPhone 8
    237594
  • Apple iPhone X
    233100

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    6556
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    6353
  • Apple iPhone XS
    6060
  • Sony Xperia 5
    5097
  • Redmi K20 Pro/Mi 9T Pro
    5012
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4915
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
    4841
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    4797
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    4742
  • Apple iPhone X
    4708
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4675
  • Sony Xperia 1
    4211
  • Apple iPhone 8
    3934
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3796
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    3601
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3416

There was no doubt the Apple A13 chip would be the fastest smartphone SoC on the planet right now. It has been this way since Apple switched to inhouse designed chips and that was probably one of the best decision Apple could make since the first iPhone.

The A13 is a noticeable upgrade over the A12, and with the added graphene layers it offers better cooling and sustained performance for a very long time. The graphene disperses the heat equally over the frame and the glass back and instead of hot spots, the iPhone 11 Pro and Max just get warm all over the back. And we didn't observe much throttling even after consecutive benchmark tests.

The Apple A13 Bionic chip is once again way ahead of the Android gang, which by the way finally managed to match the A11 chip performance from 2017. Of course, this doesn't really matter as A13, or any other Apple chip, will never see the light of day running under Android.

So, long story short, the A13 is the promised upgrade over the A12 chip, and also - the new king in smartphone markets and we bet it will keep topping charts until Apple's A14 comes next year.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Judging by the username, I'd go with the 12

  • Anonymous

"Finally, the sharpening is a bit excessive and overall, the photos came noticeably oversharpened." Couldn't agree more. The XS/XS Max, also with Smart HDR turned ON, looks miles better than this 11 Pro/Pro Max.

  • Anonymous

Yeah, but to some, having larger batteries, smaller Notch, x60 5g, great cameras, and etc are probably more than enough, so I don't think that the iphone 13 pro max would be a disappointment, it looks like a refined version of the 12 pro max, wh...