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iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max: Which Should You Buy?

Tom's Guide 2019-09-11 06:45:02

A new trio of iPhones is coming soon to an Apple Store near you. Are you able to tell the three iPhone 11 models apart?

Don't worry if you haven't committed to memory the different features and enhancements Apple brought to each new iPhone. We've had a chance to go hands-on with the iPhone 11, as well as spend some time with both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. And while we'll have more to say when we get the chanced to thoroughly test these new models, we have spotted a few differences — as well as many similarities — between Apple's latest iPhones.

Here's what you get from the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, as you try to decide which new Apple phone fits your needs.

iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max: The specs

ModeliPhone 11iPhone 11 ProiPhone 11 Pro Max
Starting Price$699$999$1,099
Screen Size (Resolution)6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD (1792 x 828)5.8-inch Super Retina XDR (2436 x 1125)6.5-inch Super Retina XDR (2688 x 1242)
CPUA13 BionicA13 BionicA13 Bionic
Storage64GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear Cameras12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP ultra wide (f/2.4)12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP ultra wide (f/2.4), 12-MP telephon (f/2.0)12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP ultra wide (f/2.4), 12-MP telephon (f/2.0)
Front Camera12-MP (f/2.2)12-MP (f/2.2)12-MP (f/2.2)
Battery Life1 hour longer than the iPhone XR4 hours longer than iPhone XS5 hours longer than iPhone XS Max
Water Resistance RatingIP68 (2 meters up to 30 minutes)IP68 (4 meters up to 30 minutes)IP68 (4 meters up to 30 minutes)
Size5.9 x 3 x 0.33 inches5.7 x 2.8 x 0.32 inches6.2 x 3.1 x 0.32 inches
Weight6.84 ounces6.63 ounces7.97 ounces
ColorsBlack, Green, Yellow, Purple, White, Product REDGold, Space Gray, Silver, Midnight GreenGold, Space Gray, Silver, Midnight Green

Pricing and Availability

A year ago, the iPhone XR introduced a price gap between Apple's entry-level smartphone and its more feature-rich models, and that gap only widens in the iPhone 11 family. Thanks to the iPhone 11's starting price of $699, there's now a $300 gap between it and the base model iPhone 11 Pro, which starts at $999. Even the most expensive iPhone 11 model — one that comes with 512GB of storage— costs $150 less than the cheapest iPhone Pro model.

(Image credit: Apple)

In a break with Apple's practices the past two years, all of its new iPhones will arrive at once. The iPhone X nearly eight weeks after the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in 2017, while iPhone XR shoppers had to wait a month after the iPhone XS and XS Max came out last year. This time around, the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max all arrive in stores Sept. 20, with preorders for all three models starting a week earlier on Sept. 13.

Design and size

You definitely won't confuse the iPhone 11 with its Pro counterparts. The iPhone 11 features an aluminum and glass body and comes in a rainbow of colors — purple and green are the newcomers, joining the black, yellow, white and red variants that are held over from the iPhone XR. 

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max opt for a more sophisticated look. These phones use stainless steel for their frame, and the glass has a matte finish to it. Your color options are more staid here, though Apple does include a Midnight Green version alongside more traditional choices like Space Gray, Silver and Gold.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple emphasized the durability of the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max when it introduced those phones, something we hope to text for ourselves to see how well they stand up to drops. All three new iPhones boast IP68 dust- and water-resistance ratings, though not all IP68 ratings are apparently created equal. The iPhone 11 can survive a 30-minute dunk in up to 2 meters of water, while the Pro models can go a bit deeper to 4 meters.

No matter which model you pick up, you're going to get a noticeable camera bump. It's precision milled to fit in with the rest of the phone, whether you've got an iPhone 11 or one of the Pro models in your hand.

The same dimensions you saw with the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR are back with this year's models. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is the tallest and widest of Apple's new phones, and it weighs the most. The next tallest phone, the iPhone 11 is also the thickest, though only by a fraction of an inch. The iPhone 11 Pro is the most compact model. As with recent iPhones, there's no headphone jack to be found on any of member of the iPhone 11 family.


It's once again a tale of two displays for Apple's different smartphones. Like the iPhone XR before it, the iPhone 11 makes do with an LCD panel, while the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max feature an OLED screen. In fact, little has changed about the 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display that graces the iPhone 11, from its 1400:1 contrast ratio to its max brightness of 625 nits.

The same can't be said for the display on the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, which has gotten a serious upgrade from last year's iPhone XS panel. Apple has given the display a new name — it's the Super Retina XDR display — and it boasts features like a 2 million:1 contrast ratio and max brightness of 1,200 nits in HDR. Like the Liquid Retina display on the iPhone 11, the Pro series screens feature Haptic Touch, instead of 3D Touch.

(Image credit: Future)

Expect the same screen sizes we saw on last year's phone. The iPhone 11 features a 6.1-inch panel, which is smack dab in the middle of the iPhone 11 Pro's 5.8-inch display and the 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.


This probably stands out as the big differentiator between the new iPhone models. The iPhone 11 features two rear cameras — a 12-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a 12-MP ultra wide lens with an f/2.4 aperture. The dual lenses brings a 2x optical zoom to Apple's entry-level flagship iPhone, and the 120-degree field of view on the ultra wide angle lens means you can capture more of your surroundings in images.

(Image credit: Future)

Those two cameras return on the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, but they're joined by a third 12-MP lens. This telephoto lens features an f/2.0 aperture, letting in 40% more light than the telephoto lens Apple included on last year's iPhone XS.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Despite the extra lens on the Pro models, the three phones support many of the same camera features. Whether you have an iPhone 11 or one of the Pro models, a new Night Mode should mean better pictures in low light. All three new phones offer QuickTake, a new camera function where you can capture video while also shooting still images just by long-pressing on the shutter. Even the upcoming Deep Fusion feature, which combines nine different shots for a more detailed image, will work on the iPhone 11 just as it does on the iPhone 11 Pro.

All three phones also sport the same 12-MP front camera and offer the ability to take slow-motion videos — a feature that Apple has dubbed "slofies" to the rest of the world's apparent amusement. Those front cameras can also shoot 4K video at 60 fps, too.


On paper, there's little to separate the iPhone 11 from the Pro models, as all three are powered by Apple's new A13 Bionic processor. Considering that the A12 Bionic in last year's phones outperforms more recently released Android flagships, we'd expect the gap to widen even further with this newer chip.

(Image credit: Apple)

How much further? When introducing the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple told us to expect 20% performance improvements from the CPU, GPU and neural processor contained within the A13. And the newer chip is more energy efficient, too, with Apple touting a 40% improvement in power consumption just for the A13's GPU.

The difference between the different iPhone 11 models will likely come down to RAM. Apple never discloses just how much memory it packs into its phones, but last year, the iPhone XS and XS Max both had more RAM than the the XR. We imagine that's not going to change this year, and as a result, both the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max will be a little zippier than the iPhone 11, particularly when it comes to multitasking.

Battery Life

Last year's iPhone releases introduced us to an upside-down world where Apple's least expensive flagship, the iPhone XR, also had the longest-lasting battery. Apple says the XR was the longest lasting iPhone it ever built, and the company wasn't kidding — it turned in a time of 11 hours, 26 minutes on our battery test, which was nearly an hour better than the iPhone XS Max's result.

The iPhone 11 should last even longer than the iPhone XR, according to Apple, which is promising an hour more battery life from its newest phone. But the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are getting battery boosts, too. Apple says the iPhone 11 Pro will improve on the iPhone XS's battery life by 4 hours while the iPhone 11 Pro Max will last 5 hours longer than the XS Max did.

On paper, that means the Pro models will be the longer lasting Apple smartphones. Apple says the iPhone 11 Pro Max can deliver up to 20 hours of video playback, beating the iPhone 11 by 3 hours. We'll know for certain if the Pro phones can outlast their cheaper sibling once we have the chance to thoroughly test the new iPhones.

We do know that the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max will charge faster out of the box. Those models ship with an 18-watt charger which should provide up to a 50% charge after 30 minutes. The iPhone 11 supports faster charging, too, though you'll have to buy your own 18-watt adapter.


We'll have a more definitive verdict on what each iPhone 11 model brings to the table once we spend more time with each of the phones. But at this stage, it seems that the same dynamic from last year's iPhones is at play here. The iPhone 11 promises a more affordable phone with most of the features everyday users want, while the iPhone 11 Pro series hopes to power users you to pay up for some higher-end features — particularly the iPhone 11 Pro Max's larger display.

Stay tuned for more analysis on what separates these different iPhone 11 models.