Apple is synonymous with perfection. The iPhones have been the beacon that illuminated Apple's logo all these years. With each passing year, the iPhones have gotten better in their own sense, and 2019 changed things in a big way. For the first time ever, Apple chose to use the "Pro" moniker from its MacBooks and iPads in this year's iPhones and it set some high expectations for consumers as well as critics.
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are the only two iPhones to bear the "Pro" signature ever. This ought to be a special case, so special that Apple wanted to change the naming scheme once and for all. From the presentation, it was pretty clear that the use of "Pro" in the new iPhones was in relation to the impressive photo and video capabilities. But there's more to the new iPhones than meets the eye.
After having spent some quality time with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which only differs in size and battery capacity from the iPhone 11 Pro, I'm sold in many ways that the "Pro" moniker is well justified here. Let me explain.
Design and Display: Perfection
Apple products have always stood apart for their exemplary design and iPhones haven't been an exception. Jony Ive was credited with some incredible iPhone designs over the years. This year's iPhones have undergone some major tweaks in terms of design, which at first drew criticism. Several leaks had shown the square camera module on the back, which didn't get any brownie points from the critics. But once the iPhone 11 series was launched, the overall form factor and the square camera module didn't seem out of place.
Remember the times when Apple made some big changes in iPhones, like removing the Touch ID, 3.5mm jack, and embraced the notch. All those changes have now been well accepted and embraced by the industry, so much so that they set their own trend. We won't be surprised the new design of the iPhone 11 Pro models will become the new trend. Google has already followed its path, and it's only a matter of time before others join the bandwagon.
Moving on, the overall form factor of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is beautifully carved and designed to perfection. The display design with the wide notch remains the same as its predecessor, but Apple has made some useful upgrades. No, not the 90Hz refresh rate, but something equally worthy.
First of all, the wide notch is no longer bothersome. It has effortlessly become a part of the display design in recent iPhones. But what really matters is the Super Retina XDR OLED display of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is freaking beautiful. The display offers 2688x1242 pixel resolution, 458ppi and 1,200 nits of brightness, which is pure class. The True Tone display makes necessary adjustments in tandem with auto-brightness, and you'll hardly notice the fluctuations, it is so seamless.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max has the best display you'll find on a smartphone, ideal for binge-watching shows in their best resolution - all thanks to HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and playing graphics-intensive games like Asphalt 9, PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile.
The dark mode is the icing on the cake as those blacks are so easy on eyes, you won't feel the burn even with such high nits of brightness.
Overall, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the best viewing display in the industry right now and the rear design will grow on you pretty quickly. On the downside, the display glass gets scratched, so you'd either want to use a screen protector or keep it separately from the keys and coins in your pocket. The rear glass turns out to be tougher.
Cameras: Pushing the boundaries
The cameras on the iPhone 11 Pro Max are the best ones out there. Considering Google's Pixel 4 series isn't coming to India, Apple is winning big on this front while throwing stiff competition to Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. The triple camera setup on the new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max was everything Apple could talk about, and after using the flagship, it makes sense.
The top camera sensor is the wide-angle 12MP f/1.8 26mm OIS lens followed by a 12MP ultra-wide f/2.4 13mm lens below it and finally a 12MP telephoto f/2.0 52mm lens at the bottom. As impressive as the setup sounds, it delivers beyond that.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a Night Mode, which identifies a dark scene and automatically activates the feature. There's no way to manually turn it on, but you will be able to turn it off. The night mode works pretty impressively, adjusting the exposure and capturing a scene in the perfect sense. It won't turn the night scene to a bright day, but it will restore the low-light element while bringing out the details of each subject in the frame. It's actually quite brilliant. Apple might not be the first one to bring night mode on a phone camera, but it certainly is one of the best. Check out some sample shots straight from the camera roll:
But the iPhone 11 Pro Max cameras are not just about night mode. Everything from portraits, landscapes, videos are brilliant. In daylight, you'll hardly find photos as good as iPhone 11 Pro Max, but the video is where the new iPhone crushes the competition. Be it stills or videos, you can use individual lenses, which I think is a boon for cinematographers and photographers.
The videos shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max are stable, so much so that at times a carefully handheld clip will look like it was taken using a gimbal or a tripod. I personally loved shooting in the ultra-wide setting as it gave a dramatic effect to a shot. The camera UI is simplified to everyone's ease and you'll rarely be lost in operation. Although, I still wish the camera settings had been moved somewhere inside the camera app.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max can shoot 4K at 60fps on both cameras. And how can we not talk about the slow-mo support on the front camera, simply put slofie. We can already see how slofies are going to be the next big thing in smartphones. If you do a lot of video recording on phone, iPhone 11 Pro Max is the ultimate choice. Not only does the new iPhone shoot professional-grade videos, but the large screen real-estate also makes it so much easy for some quick edits on-the-go.
Coming back to the photos, the new iPhone 11 Pro Max is great. It can capture portraits with great depth effect, even though at times we found the outlining of the subject wasn't perfect on the front camera. The rear camera setup is the new iPhones' biggest strength. The colours are well balanced, have excellent dynamic range and true tone colours. The images produced are sharp, have deep blacks, and the shadows and highlights are perfectly restored. Overall, the iPhone 11 Pro Max can you go "wow" with its photos.
In low light, you'll find the details are off and portrait shots are not as sharp. For that, you'll have to wait until the night mode kicks in to save the day. I took the iPhone 11 Pro Max for a spin during my recent visit to London and here are the samples: (include wide-angle, normal, portrait, selfies)
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is by far the best camera phone Apple has ever produced and clearly the top choice in 2019.
Battery: The one which refuses to die
iPhones haven't really impressed in the battery department, but things change with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. In fact, my only recommendation to go for the iPhone 11 Pro Max over the iPhone 11 Pro is the battery life. It simply refuses to die, even after a full day worth of use, which is quite brilliant.
I was concerned that the XDR OLED display could strike a challenge in extending the battery life, but Apple has done wonders with the iPhone 11 Pro Max battery. On a busy day, which involves constant use of IMs (WhatsApp, Hangouts, Messenger), mild music, streaming and gaming, GPS navigation, calls, extensive camera use, always-on 4G and Wi-Fi (at home), the iPhone 11 Pro Max easily lasts a day and a half. If I binge watch some shows for 2-3 hours straight or spend more time gaming than usual, the battery still lasts a full day.
iPhone 11 Pro Max not only refuses to die on you mid-day but it also charges so damn fast.
Once the iPhone 11 Pro Max was fully charged at around 11 am, I didn't have to worry about looking for a plug point until midnight. With minimal use, usually over the weekends, when it's only personal calls, camera use, music and some streaming, I managed to go two days on a single charge. The iPhone 11 Pro Max battery is as good as it gets on a smartphone. The on-screen time was consistently 5+ hours between charges.
Moreover, for the first time ever, Apple finally introduced an 18W fast charger in the box. It was a sigh of relief when announced on stage and a life-saver in real-life use. That's more than 3 times faster than previous-gen iPhones, so it is kind of a big deal for iPhone users. And it would take an hour and half to fully charge the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is not too bad. But still hate the fact that there's no USB Type-C port on the iPhone.
Performance: Naturally seamless
Of all the phones I've used today, I found the iPhone 11 Pro Max to be one of the fastest. It's as good as the OnePlus 7T Pro, which runs 8GB RAM with Snapdragon 855+ chipset. I didn't have any lags, crashes or frozen screen issues with the new iPhone, although I didn't expect it. But I've noticed some old iPhones go unresponsive while incoming calls or heat up pretty badly on constant use. Gladly, that wasn't the case with iPhone 11 Pro Max.
So, I not only did a lot of binge-watching on the iPhone 11 Pro Max but also indulged in game-play sessions. Since I've reduced my PUBG Mobile game time recently, I've developed an interest in Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile. Both these games worked perfectly on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. So, if you love gaming with high graphics, the new iPhones won't let you down.
The Face ID on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is flawless, but the claim that it works at better angles doesn't really mean you can unlock the phone without lifting it or putting out your head for the sensors to catch a glimpse. The Face ID is secure no doubt, but it is just as fast, even in pitch dark rooms.
iPhone 11 Pro Max can neutralize its competition in a performance race.
As great as the performance of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is, I found the iOS 13 is a work in progress. There aren't any major red flags, but optimizations are certainly necessary to squash some bugs, but that is not a deal-breaker. I've already received a couple of updates and the software is only getting better from here.
The nifty features in iOS 13 are why you shouldn't care about certain bugs. The system-wide dark mode is a boon. Everything from the wallpaper, settings, system apps and beyond have been treated with dark mode and everything looks brilliant. The little things like double-tap on video playing on Prime Video to switch to full screen is pretty useful. And a lot of features like copy-paste files using gestures, full webpage screenshot, create folders in Files app and more have been borrowed from the Android world.
Should you buy?
Spending over a lakh on a smartphone is not an easy decision. So if you're looking for a reason to upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, there are more than one. The cameras are absolutely brilliant and the most convincing reason for you to go for the iPhone 11 Pro Max (or even the iPhone 11 Pro if you love the compact screen size).
The battery on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is so good, you'll finally be able to give a piece of your mind to those who criticize iPhone's battery life. Everything on the iPhone 11 Pro Max will compel you to upgrade to this beast of a smartphone and it is highly recommended for Apple fans who wouldn't mind the cost.
Speaking of cost, the 64GB model costs Rs 1,09,900, which is outrageously expensive on many counts. But the iPhone 11 Pro Max has got the features to defend its price. There's no 128GB model, so the next one in line is the 256GB and 512GB for Rs 1,23,900 and Rs 1,41,900, respectively. It's quite the difference in price, which is why I wish the 128GB model had replaced the 64GB variant at the same cost.
That said, upgrading to the iPhone 11 Pro Max from an iPhone X or older variants makes so much sense. If you skipped the iPhone XS for a better iPhone, this is it. And if you're looking to switch from an equally expensive Android smartphone to an iPhone, the iPhone 11 Pro Max makes so much sense for its cameras, battery, performance and everything "Pro" it has to offer.