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Apple iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max: A summary of initial reviews

The iPhone 11 series has already been covered extensively, despite only being announced a few days ago. (Image source: Apple)
The iPhone 11 series has already been covered extensively, despite only being announced a few days ago. (Image source: Apple)
The first reviews of the new iPhone 11 series have gone live, so before we have finished with ours, we thought it would be apt to summarise the prevailing views of Apple's new babies. Camera innovations like the new ultra-wide sensor and night mode feature heavily, as do Apple's new comically named "Slofies".

While we may have already seen our iPhone 11 Pro Max review online, we also have iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro reviews too. These will also be live reviews, which generally take a week for our editors to finish. We would recommend taking these early reviews as an insight into the iPhone 11 series before more publications publish more detailed reviews having spent longer with each of the three devices.


The general feeling from Engadget is that the iPhone 11 is enough for most people, with Chris Velazco titling his iPhone 11 review "So good you (probably don't need the Pro". Likewise, he claims that the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are "better, but not groundbreaking". The latter have some advantages of the iPhone 11 though, not least because of their higher resolution and technologically superior displays. However, Engadget points out that the steep pricing of the iPhone 11 Pro series puts a spotlight on the features it offers over the iPhone 11. Moreover, Velazco feels that the telephoto and ultra-wide-angle cameras do not meet expectations, with both unable to capture scenes in as much detail as the main camera can. He praises all three devices for the flexibility of their cameras though, along with their battery life and performance.

Wall Street Journal

The WSJ took a different approach to many outlets and reviewed their iPhone 11 handsets from a renaissance fair in the state of New York. The result is more entertaining than most, in our opinion, the video for which we have included below. The WSJ focused on the cameras of the three new iPhones too, but in terms of photos and video. Joanna Stern, Personal Tech Columnist at the company, remarks that while the iPhone 11 series takes better photos than its predecessors, there remains room for improvement. Specifically, Stern noticed problems with portrait mode during her tests and took issue with the cumbersome operation of the new night mode. The latter struggles pick out moving objects as well as the automatic mode, while there were stabilisation issues when filming from a galloping horse too.

Der Spiegel

By contrast, Der Spiegel, a German website and newspaper for the uninitiated, is not as convinced by the battery life that other outlets have praised. Its tests determined that the iPhone 11 and Pro Max generally lasted between thirty minutes to an hour longer on a single charge than their predecessors, well below the expectations that Apple set at its launch event. The new night mode and slow-motion selfies that Apple nicknames "Slofies" were also not well received, as was the absence of quick charger with the iPhone 11. Despite this, Der Spiegel recommends buying the iPhone 11 of the three, principally because of price. We have included the video below, although please keep in mind that it is in German.

Pocket-lint: Night mode comparison

Setting its main reviews aside, Pocket-lint has published a night mode comparison review, pitting the iPhone 11 Pro Max against the Pixel 3 XL and Huawei P30 Pro. The website considers the latter the best camera smartphone that money can buy, especially in terms of its low-light capabilities. We expect Google to up its game for the Pixel 4 too, though. Overall, Pocket-lint considers all three devices excellent for night shots, with the P30 Pro even taking convincing photos with its regular automatic mode. The iPhone 11 Pro Max keeps up with the competition using its special night mode, albeit with a slightly darker result.

TechCrunch: Disneyland in the dark

Meanwhile, TechCrunch returned to Disneyland for its iPhone 11 series reviews, where it also took the iPhone XS series. The website focused on the new automatic night mode, hence our subtitle. Essentially, TechCrunch provides a side-by-side comparison for the whole video, which we would recommend playing in 4K if possible, as this was the resolution in which the videos were shot.

In contrast to Der Spiegel, TechCrunch achieved almost identical run-times with its iPhone 11 handsets to those that Apple specified in its launch event. The website states that Face ID is now easier to unlock too, and they point out that the night mode does not work with the ultra-wide-angle cameras in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. However, it praises the ultra-wide-angle sensors for their videography, which you can see below. The new iPhone also score points over its predecessor with the quality of its portrait photography. Incidentally, TechCrunch concludes, like Engadget, that the iPhone 11 is probably best for most people.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > Apple iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max: A summary of initial reviews
Alex Alderson, 2019-09-19 (Update: 2019-09-19)