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iPhone 11 Pro Max review: salvaged by epic battery life

Guardian Technology 09 Oct 2019 06:00
If you buy the iPhone 11 Pro Max, be prepared for serious hand gymnastics and the constant fear of dropping it like a slippery bar of soap. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The biggest, most expensive new smartphone from Apple is the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and you’ll need a small fortune to buy it.

The new 6.5in iPhone 11 Pro Max costs from £1,149 and is in effect its smaller 5.8in iPhone 11 Pro sibling put in a photocopier with a 12% magnification applied.

It has the exact same aluminium and glass design, the same notched screen with Face ID, the same camera arrangement on the back and the same Lightning port in the bottom. It is the same phone. Except that enlarging everything (apart from thickness) by 10%-12% creates a very different experience.

iPhone 11 Pro Max review
The frosted white back of the silver iPhone 11 Pro Max is the nicest of all the available colours. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Like the iPhone XS Max it replaces, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is really difficult to use with one hand. At 77.8mm it is hand-stretchingly wide, wider still than the already massive OnePlus 7 Pro (75.9mm) and even the positively gigantic Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (75.9mm), and at 226g it is heavier than competitors by a full 20g. But more than that, the rounded stainless steel sides provide no grip at all, meaning your fingers simply slip off them when you stretch across to reach the other side of the screen or the top left corner, which you frequently need to do in iOS.

A13 Bionic

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has the same A13 Bionic chip, 4GB of RAM and at least 64GB of storage as the rest of the iPhone 11 line, and performs similarly. Everything happens promptly, including intensive tasks such as video editing and gaming, and it should be a top performer for years to come.

The iPhone 11 Pro shipped with iOS 13 but was quickly updated three times to iOS 13.1.2, following the same issues suffered with the iPhone 11.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has Apple’s new triple 12-megapixel camera setup – the same as the smaller iPhone 11 Pro. The combination of ultrawide, wide and telephoto cameras gives you the ability to shoot at 0.5x, 1x or 2x optical zoom, then up to 10x digital zoom.

  • The iPhone 11 Pro Max is water resistant to IP68 standards of up to 4m for 30 minutes – which is 2m deeper last year’s iPhone XS Max

  • Bluetooth performance is much improved, with stronger connections to even the weakest of headphones

  • Face ID is still best-in-class, now slightly faster and working at slightly wider angles

  • The new U1 chip enables enhanced location abilities, but so far it’s only used for directional AirDrop file sharing

  • The highly polished stainless steel is easy to mark and dull in even careful general use

  • The pressure sensitive screen of previous iPhones is gone and with it 3D Touch, so you can’t press harder on things any more

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