Julian Chokkattu/Digital TrendsApple positioned an emphasis on the cameras in its new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphones, including an additional ultra-wide-angle lens whereas additionally radically enhancing the picture processing expertise, in addition to including options like an evening mode for higher low-light images.
How a lot of a distinction is it over final 12 months’s iPhone XS and XS Max? To discover out, I put the iPhone 11 Pro Max in a head-to-head digital camera shootout in opposition to the iPhone XS Max. These outcomes apply to the smaller iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone XS as a result of they’ve the very same cameras as their bigger counterparts.
Camera specs
On paper, the specs for the cameras on the brand new iPhone 11 Pro Max aren’t too completely different from final 12 months. The most important lens and telephoto lenses pack the identical 12 megapixels every on each telephones, although the telephoto on the newer iPhone has a wider f/2.0 aperture than the f/2.4 on the XS Max; meaning higher low-light pictures. The 2019 iPhone has an additional 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, which provides a 120-degree discipline of view so you possibly can seize a brand new perspective.
Over on the entrance, the TrueDepth digital camera system now makes use of a 12-megapixel sensor over final 12 months’s 7-megapixel sensor on the iPhone XS Max. Then there are the enhancements to Smart HDR on the iPhone 11 Pro vary, night time mode, improved focusing pace, and semantic rendering, which altogether improves picture high quality.
These photographs had been inspected on a professionally-calibrated monitor, however on the finish of the day, images is subjective. Your favourite footage won’t be those I picked, and that’s okay.
Now, onto the exams!
The High Line
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxOur first comparability is taken on The High Line in New York City, overlooking 10th avenue. The iPhone XS Max picture is brighter, however you possibly can simply see the iPhone 11 Pro Max captures fantastic colours, from the wealthy pink bricks on the constructing to the fitting to the extra vibrant inexperienced on the leaves of the timber. There’s extra distinction, which helps add depth to the picture, whereas the XS Max’s picture seems to be flat, a bit of overexposed, and light.
Zoom in and you may see related ranges of element, and virtually the identical quantity of grain in darkish areas on each images. The iPhone XS Max does brighten up some darkish spots, however the total picture from the iPhone 11 Pro Max is just superior.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Amor
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxWe’re nonetheless strolling on The High Line right here, however this comparability is an effective instance of the refined adjustments you’ll see in daytime pictures. The element is nearly the identical on this shot, however the colours throughout the board are boosted, leading to a barely extra dynamic picture.
Those darker colours imply deeper blacks, once more including extra depth to the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture, which is a bit of hotter too. These are all tweaks I’d in all probability make to the iPhone XS Max’s picture, however with the Pro, it’s a photograph that’s able to be shared proper after it’s captured.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Telephoto lens: empty road
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxThe iPhone XS Max typically makes an attempt to brighten up an entire picture, and that’s greatest seen right here. It’s a pleasant picture, however evaluate it with the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture and you may see precisely how a lot it has stripped away the shadows. These shadows assist make the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture look extra attention-grabbing, capturing extra distinction, whereas the iPhone XS Max’s shot is flat.
Details are possibly a hair stronger on the Pro’s picture, and colours are a bit of extra pure too, with much less of a hotter tone. You may see a little bit of the blue sky on the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s shot, whereas it’s blown out on the XS Max.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Night Mode: the canine park
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxLow gentle is the place we begin to see extra dramatic adjustments, and that’s due to the brand new automated Night mode that kicks in on the iPhone 11 vary when the digital camera detects poor lighting. It’s a protracted publicity, and infrequently you’ll see the digital camera advocate a 3- to 2-second publicity, which does imply you’ll want to remain as nonetheless as attainable to keep away from a blurry shot. You can flip Night mode off and it’s also possible to go for a most long-exposure, which varies primarily based on the lighting you’re in. There’s no such Night mode on the iPhone XS Max.
In this picture on the canine park, you possibly can see the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture is impressively brighter, exhibiting off the twilight blue colour of the sky, which is nearly invisible within the iPhone XS Max’s picture. Everything within the scene is illuminated extra, and the timber, fences, buildings within the background are seen.
You can see that as a result of it’s a long-exposure the husky operating on the fitting is a blur, and when you zoom in intently on the bench, you possibly can see it’s ever-so-slightly blurry. The iPhone XS Max’s {photograph} is sharper, and that’s as a result of it’s taking pictures sooner. My arms can solely be so nonetheless, which implies you’ll see higher-quality pictures when you use a tripod and use Night mode on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Still, even with it being a bit of blurrier than the iPhone XS Max picture, I’d share the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture as a result of it’s brighter total and extra visually attention-grabbing.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Night Mode: Doorway to the bar
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxRight here’s one other good instance that showcases the enhancements Night mode brings to low-light images. The iPhone 11 Pro Max’s picture is brighter total, sustaining a number of colours, making for a extra attention-grabbing picture than the one from the iPhone XS Max. Zoom in on the door and also you’ll see much less grain, too.
Perhaps extra stunning is that I used to be capable of maintain the iPhone 11 Pro Max with out shaking a lot as a result of it’s sharper and extra detailed than the iPhone XS Max’s picture (which took a very long time to correctly autofocus). Look intently on the pink signal in the back of the bar, and it’s far simpler to learn “No smoking, no vaping,” than on the iPhone XS Max.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Telephoto lens: Zooming at the hours of darkness
iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone XS MaxSadly, Night mode solely works on the primary digital camera, although if the primary digital camera thinks digitally cropping a picture with the primary digital camera as a substitute of utilizing the telephoto lens at night time will internet you a greater picture, then it is going to use it (and Night mode) while you faucet on the 2x signal. That being mentioned, the telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro Max does provide up extra detailed and colourful images at night time as a result of it has a wider aperture, permitting the lens to absorb extra gentle.
This zoomed-in picture of Gimbel’s Bridge in Midtown Manhattan exhibits the distinction. Look intently on the copper construction, and also you’ll see particulars proper all the way down to the fantastic strains. It’s a blurry, grainy mess on the iPhone XS Max’s picture. The colours are bolder, making the picture pop extra, and the leaves within the foreground are literally individually seen, slightly than the garbled mess on the XS Max.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Portrait Mode: More choices
iPhone 11 Pro Max, 2XiPhone XS MaxiPhone 11 Pro Max, 1XPortrait Mode has additionally improved on the iPhone 11 Pro, however maybe most vital is the truth that now you can take Portrait Mode pictures with the primary lens as a substitute of getting to depend on the telephoto lens (faucet the 2X button on the left while you go to Portrait within the digital camera). By switching to the primary lens, the digital camera isn’t so zoomed into the topic, nevertheless it additionally means you possibly can benefit from the broader aperture, leading to a brighter picture that’s much less grainy.
The first picture on the high is Portrait Mode on the iPhone 11 Pro Max with the usual 2x possibility, utilizing the telephoto lens. It’s good, capturing good particulars and colours. The iPhone XS Max picture comes subsequent, and it’s not unhealthy, however you possibly can see extra grain on the lady’s face, and the setting within the background is way darker. The final picture is from the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and it’s utilizing the primary digital camera. It allowed me to seize the lady’s outfit extra than simply her face (with out shifting positions), and all the things seems to be sharper, brighter, and colours look positively wonderful. It’s a unbelievable shot.
It ought to be famous that the blur high quality is impeccable on all these images, as is the accuracy of the impact across the topic; there are hardly any errors. But the iPhone 11 Pro Max takes the cake for its extra pleasing images, and the additional versatility.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Portrait Mode: Ultra-low gentle
iPhone 11 Pro Max, 2XiPhone XS MaxRight here’s a extra drastic instance. The backside picture has been my expertise utilizing Portrait Mode on the iPhone XS Max in low-light conditions; the standard has all the time been poor. You can barely see something on this picture, and it’s not value speaking about way more. The iPhone 11 Pro Max’s portrait mode picture isn’t excellent, nevertheless it’s immensely higher and shareable.
Colors are distinctive, regardless of the general heat tone, the blur impact seems to be actually good and hair isn’t lower off wherever. Sure, the lady’s face is grainy, however that is nonetheless a surprising picture for Portrait Mode at night time and a drastic enchancment over final 12 months’s iPhone.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Selfies: Portrait Mode

1.
iPhone 11 Pro Max
2.
iPhone XS Max
The 12-megapixel digital camera on the entrance is healthier than the 7-megapixel selfie digital camera on the iPhone XS Max. Do word, that by default capturing selfies in portrait orientation will internet you a 7-megapixel cropped picture; you possibly can take a full 12-megapixel shot if you would like a bunch selfie or extra of the background by tapping the zoom out button above the shutter.
The comparability above is with Portrait Mode on the entrance digital camera, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max simply takes the cake. Zoom in towards the nostril and you may see it’s simply so much sharper, brighter, and extra detailed. My face virtually seems to be squished on the XS Max’s picture.
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Video enhancements
There are video enhancements on the iPhone 11 Pro Max as nicely. Both can shoot at 4K 60 frames per second for high-quality footage, however stabilization is a bit of higher, and the prolonged dynamic vary on the iPhone 11 Pro Max permits for better-exposed movies.
Ultra wide-angle digital camera

And that is all with out even speaking in regards to the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s ultra-wide-angle digital camera, which permits for lots extra artistic pictures. It’s not possible to check it to the iPhone XS Max, which doesn’t have an ultra-wide-angle lens, however check out among the images above to see what you are able to do with it.
Wrap-up: and the winner is…
The iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s hardly a shock {that a} new telephone takes higher images than its predecessor, however there are some substantial adjustments right here that warrant these feeling hampered by the digital camera on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max to improve to Apple’s newest, significantly with low-light images, which matches if not surpasses the competitors.

Editors’ Recommendations

Shop Amazon