iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Is It Worth Buying In 2023?
Find out if the iPhone 11 Pro Max holds up in 2023 with our in-depth review. Compare features, performance, and value against the latest iPhone models to make an informed decision before you buy
Key Takeaways: 🗝️
- 5G Connectivity: 📶 The iPhone 11 Pro Max lacks 5G, which is a significant drawback as we move towards faster network standards.
- Performance Power: 💪 With each new series, the iPhone’s performance gets a boost. The A15 and A16 chips in the iPhone 14 and 15 series outperform the A13 in the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
- Camera Capabilities: 📸 The camera systems in the newer iPhones are more advanced, offering better low-light performance and features that cater to both amateur and professional photographers.
- Design and Durability: 🛡️ The newer models come with Ceramic Shield and are designed to be more durable against drops and scratches.
- Battery Life: 🔋Advancements in battery technology mean that the newer models have longer battery life and faster charging.
If you’re looking to score a Pro Max iPhone on the cheap, we’d recommend you skip the iPhone 11 Pro Max (it doesn’t have 5G) and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (the battery life isn’t great) and go with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The average cost of an iPhone 13 Pro Max at Gazelle is approximately $624.99, making it cheaper than both the base model iPhone 14 and iPhone 15. Is it worth buying in 2023? I’d say yes, and you can find out why inside our iPhone 13 Pro Max review.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy iPhone 11 Pro Max In 2023
When considering a smartphone purchase, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits of the latest technology against the cost. The iPhone 11 Pro Max, released in September 2019, was once the pinnacle of Apple’s smartphone technology.
However, with the advent of the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 15 series, the tech landscape has shifted significantly.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max lacks 5G capability, a standard feature in newer models starting from the iPhone 12 series. The absence of 5G means slower data speeds and potentially less future-proofing in the rapidly evolving digital world.
|Specification||iPhone 11 Pro Max||iPhone 14 Series||iPhone 15 Series|
|Chip||A13 Bionic||A15 Bionic||A16 Bionic|
|Display||Super Retina XDR||Super Retina XDR||Super Retina XDR with ProMotion|
|Camera||Triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras||Advanced dual-camera system||Advanced Pro camera system|
The iPhone 14 and 15 leap ahead with the A15 and A16 Bionic chips, respectively, offering more power and efficiency than the A13 Bionic chip in the iPhone 11 Pro Max. This translates to better performance in applications, gaming, and overall user experience.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max was lauded for its triple-camera system at launch, featuring a 12MP ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses. It introduced Night mode and Deep Fusion technology, which were significant advancements at the time, offering better low-light performance and improved texture and detail processing.
Enhanced Photographic Capabilities
However, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 series have taken these features to new heights:
- Photonic Engine: This is Apple’s latest leap in computational photography, debuting in the iPhone 14 series. It dramatically improves mid to low-light performance across all cameras by optimizing the photo pipeline. The iPhone 15 series is expected to refine this even further.
- Night Mode: While the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s Night mode was impressive, the newer models offer a more advanced version, allowing for brighter images with less noise and more natural colors in dimly lit environments.
- Smart HDR: The Smart HDR feature has been upgraded in the subsequent series, enabling the camera to capture more frames at different exposures and blend them for the most detailed highlights and shadows.
Video and Cinematic Features
- Cinematic Mode: Introduced in the iPhone 13 series and enhanced in the iPhone 14, this feature allows users to record videos with a shallow depth of field and add elegant focus transitions, akin to professional filmmaking.
- ProRAW and ProRes: For the enthusiasts and professionals, the iPhone 14 and expectedly the iPhone 15, offer ProRAW for photos and ProRes for videos, providing higher quality output with greater editing flexibility.
Future-Proofing with Advanced Technology
- Sensor Upgrades: Each new iPhone iteration typically brings improvements to the sensor size and capabilities, allowing for better image quality and performance in various lighting conditions.
- Optical Zoom: The telephoto lens on the newer iPhones offers higher optical zoom capabilities, which means clearer zoomed-in photos without relying on digital zoom.
For the everyday user, these advancements mean that capturing moments in less-than-ideal lighting conditions becomes more forgiving, with the camera doing the heavy lifting to produce a great shot. For the photography enthusiast, the newer models offer a playground of professional-grade features to explore and create content that stands out.
In summary, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max still takes commendable photos, the iPhone 14 and 15 series offer a quantum leap in camera technology, providing tools that cater to both casual and serious photographers alike. If camera capabilities are a priority, the newer models are a worthy investment.
Design and Durability
The newer models boast a Ceramic Shield front cover, which is touted as having 4x better drop performance. The design has also been refined over the years, with the iPhone 15 series expected to push the envelope even further.
Battery technology has improved, with the newer models offering longer battery life and faster charging capabilities. This is a key consideration for users who rely on their phones for extended periods throughout the day.
Value for Money:
|Model||Starting Price||Notable Features|
|iPhone 11 Pro Max||Lowered since release||A13 Bionic, 4G LTE|
|iPhone 13 Pro Max||More than 11 Pro Max||A15 Bionic, 5G, Cinematic mode|
|iPhone 15 Pro Max||Highest||Latest A16 Bionic, 5G, Best camera system|
The iPhone 13 Pro Max offers a balance between cost and cutting-edge features, making it an optimal value for money. For those seeking the latest and greatest, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the frontrunner, albeit at a higher price point.
In 2023, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, while still a capable device, falls short in terms of connectivity, performance, and future-proofing. For those looking for a cost-effective yet powerful option, the iPhone 13 Pro Max stands out as a smart investment.
iPhone 13 Pro Max Price In 2023
Here’s a breakdown of the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s price in 2023:
|iPhone 13 Pro Max Model||Storage||Carrier||Colors Available||Price|
|128GB (Unlocked)||128GB||Unlocked||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$594.99|
|256GB (Unlocked)||256GB||Unlocked||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$599.99|
|512GB (Unlocked)||512GB||Unlocked||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$649.99|
|128GB (T-Mobile)||128GB||T-Mobile||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$594.99|
|1TB (Unlocked)||1TB||Unlocked||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$684.99|
|128GB (AT&T)||128GB||AT&T||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$594.99|
|256GB (AT&T)||256GB||AT&T||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$599.99|
|512GB (AT&T)||512GB||AT&T||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$649.99|
|1TB (AT&T)||1TB||AT&T||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$679.99|
|256GB (T-Mobile)||256GB||T-Mobile||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Alpine Green||$599.99|
However, if budget allows and having the most advanced technology is a priority, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the undisputed choice.
Before making a decision, consider your specific needs, budget, and the longevity of the device. Remember, the right phone for you is one that aligns with your lifestyle and usage patterns.
iPhone Buying Guides 🤷♂️
Need an assist choosing your next iPhone? Check out the buying guides below – they cover everything a new iPhone user needs to know:
- iPhone 13 Pro Max Buyer’s Guide – This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know about Apple’s exceptional 2021 flagship model, the iPhone 13 Pro Max. If you want the best of the best but you don’t want to pay for the latest model, the 13 Pro Max is well worth a look.
- iPhone 14 Pro Max Buyer’s Guide – The iPhone 14 Pro Max is Apple’s 2022 flagship phone, and it is still well worth a look in 2023. This guide covers everything you need to know before buying this phone.
- iPhone 15 Series Buyer’s Guide – Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s iPhone 15 series before you commit to buying one.
- A Beginner’s Guide To Apple’s iPhone – If you’ve never used an iPhone before, this is the guide you’ve been looking for. We explain everything you need to know about making the switch to Apple’s iPhone, including all the PROS and CONS.
Or, if you’d like to save around 40% on your next iPhone, check out the best refurbished iPhone deals right now.
You can read our original iPhone 11 Pro Max review from 2019 below…
iPhone 11 Pro Max – Full Review
It’s the worst-kept secret in tech that Apple’s 2020 iPhone range is going to be very, very different from what has gone before, promising a new design, new screen, and (perhaps!) USB-C – finally. With that in mind, is there any reason to get excited about the iPhone 11, which has just hit the market and, at first glance, looks a lot like the iPhone X, XS and XR?
The answer to that question is yes because although this is very much an incremental upgrade on last year’s model, it brings a lot of new features to the table which you won’t be able to live without.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Design
From the front, you’d easily mistake the iPhone 11 Pro Max for last year’s iPhone XS Max. The same basic design is in place, complete with those rounded edges, antenna lines and – of course – the famous notch that inspired a smartphone design trend that is only just dying down. However, turn the handset over and you’ll realize things are slightly different this year.
Not only does the iPhone Pro Max – which, by the way, is the largest and most expensive model in the iPhone 11 range – have a frosted glass back panel which is fantastically resistant to fingerprints, it also showcases three cameras, arranged in a triangle formation in the top-left corner of the phone. These sit on a slightly raised bump which initially looks quite awkward, but we’d imagine every other smartphone handset maker will be copying this design in the next 12 months. Mark our words on that one.
On the bottom edge, things look very much the same as they did last year. Two speaker grilles are present (only one is an actual speaker, however) and there’s the trademark Lightning port. Given the rumors that Apple intends to embrace USB-C next year, could this be the last time we see this bespoke connection on an iPhone? The company has already switched to USB-C on its iPad Pro range, so it would seem likely; we shudder to think of all the Lightning cables that are going to end up in the landfill over the next few years.
On the left-hand edge of the device, you’ll find the volume buttons and silence switch, while on the opposite side there’s the power button and SIM card tray. Because this is an iPhone you’ve only got room for a single SIM, and you naturally can’t add any additional storage space using the tray (the iPhone 11 Pro Max comes in 64, 256 and 512GB storage options, by the way). The bodywork is also water and dust resistant.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Display
That massive 6.5-inch OLED screen has a resolution of 1242×2688 pixels and offers support for Dolby Vision-certified content. Apple says it has done its usual tinkering with the OLED panel this year, and it does seem to be a fine screen, offering bright colors, convincing contrast and fluid performance. It’s a shame that Apple couldn’t have included a 90Hz screen, given that many of its cheaper rivals are packing in panels with higher refresh rates but this is a minor grumble.
Indeed, when compared to pretty much any other OLED panel in the smartphone market, it’s clear that Apple has created something quite special here. Photos really pop, and movies look utterly stunning on this display.
It’s worth noting that none of the iPhone 11 family come with 3D Touch screens. Given that many iPhone users ignored the feature, it’s not a massive loss, but it did have its fans, and it’s a shame that Apple has turned its back on what was a pretty unique innovation in the smartphone space.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Software
iOS 13 is included right out of the box, which means that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is running the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS. It’s very much an incremental update, with little tweaks like different volume indicators and a few extra animations making the whole thing feel a little bit slicker.
Outside of that, there’s no escaping the fact that iOS is perhaps the best smartphone OS available if you favor consistency and simplicity. Sure, Android may offer more in the way of granular access to settings and deeper customization, but iOS just works – and it’s clean, easy to navigate and slick as you like.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Performance & Battery Life
Apple’s home-grown Bionic chipsets have been setting the pace in the smartphone arena for years now, and the A13 Bionic which beats inside the iPhone 11 Pro Max (and its siblings) is predictably the fastest silicon money can buy at this present moment in time. Amazingly, it’s only aided by 4GB of RAM – that might not sound like much but iOS is more efficient than Android when it comes to dealing with memory (although that does often mean that apps are shut down quicker than they would be on an Android phone with 8GB of RAM).
We’re at a point in the industry now where it’s hard to make even an entry-level phone stutter under pressure, so it goes without saying that the iPhone 11 Pro Max didn’t even break a sweat during our review period. It’s super-fast and silky-smooth and can handle even intense 3D games with ease.
The phone’s 3,969 mAh battery is good for well over a day of use, and Apple has finally bundled a fast charger in the box so you don’t have to buy one separately.
iPhone 11 Pro Max Review: Camera
You only have to take one look at that triple-camera cluster on the back of the iPhone 11 Pro Max to realize that Apple has made some pretty big strides when it comes to photography this year – in fact, we’d argue that this is the one area where the most progress has been made.
The phone’s three cameras are all 12-megapixel snappers, which might sound rather disappointing but we’d argue that’s the perfect sensor for a smartphone. The main camera is your typical wide-angle lens, while the second is a telephoto lens for close-up shots. The third camera is an ultra-wide-angle lens that allows you to fit more information into the frame. Samsung has included one of these on its flagship Galaxy devices, and it’s a genuinely useful feature to have – especially when you’re trying to take a family photo and fit all of your uncles, nephews and distant cousins into the shot.
Images taken with all three cameras are impeccable, and it felt like a challenge to actually take a bad image with this phone. Portrait mode is aided by this triple-camera setup and it’s possible to take snaps which look like they’ve been captured on a DSLR by an award-winning celebrity photographer. That might sound like hyperbole, but we’re not kidding; we were constantly amazed by the effortless quality the iPhone 11 Max Pro can produce, often with little manual input from us. You just point, shoot and then marvel at the results, which is very Apple.
This is, of course, not really headline news when it comes to an Apple phone; in fact, the company has prided itself on creating good camera phones for years. The really big news with the 2019 iPhone is that Apple has finally achieved parity with Google and Huawei when it comes to low-light photography – and we’d even go as far as to argue that it has actually surpassed its rivals in this regard.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max’s Night Mode is nothing short of revolutionary, even more so than the equivalent modes on Google and Huawei’s handsets. It almost feels like the iPhone 11 Pro Max is literally turning night into day; some of the images we snapped were taken in almost complete darkness but the resultant photo made it looks like it was an early evening at worst. In one shot, we took a photo in an almost complete darkened room and it still managed to produce a photo that was of decent quality, although in these situations a small amount of fuzziness is introduced.
The only drawback of this incredible system is that you need to keep the phone as still as possible, with the waiting time ranging from 1 to 5 seconds, depending on the darkness of the location. Even so, it’s a remarkable feat of technical magic and we feel the results eclipse what the Pixel 3 is capable of (the Pixel 4 is another matter, of course).
Apart from slow-motion selfies, there’s not a lot else to write home about. The iPhone 11 Pro Max can record 4K video at 60fps, and the quality is stunning.