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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max vs 12: Which iPhone Should You Buy?

author Luis Silva (October 2020 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The iPhone 11 Pro Max won't cost you that much more, but it isn't the better device of the two considering their specs.

It comes with better battery life. But the iPhone 12 will deliver a better display.

What else do they have to offer?

With the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you'll also get a larger (+0.4") display and a telephoto lens (+39 mm). But the iPhone 12 also brings a lightweight body (62 g./2.19 oz less) and faster wireless charging (15w vs. 5w).

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're not considering subscribing to a service provider, since it is more affordable, you can end up saving up to about $20.

Is it still worth buying the iPhone 11 Pro Max in 2021?

Overall, you'll still get a pretty decent smartphone if you go for the iPhone 11 Pro Max in 2021, as it still retains its value. However, you should also consider other phones like the iPhone 12 Pro because it has better performance, more storage, more security updates, and more RAM.

Is the iPhone 12 still worth buying in 2021?

The iPhone 12 remains a great smartphone in part thanks to its good performance, good cameras, and excellent glass protection. It holds up pretty well in 2021, but a fantastic device like the iPhone 12 Pro Max does have more storage and more RAM.

Read on and find out more about them, how they fare against their competition, and how other specialists evaluate them.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple iPhone 12

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

CONTENTS

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Introduction

So, you're looking for an upgrade but don't want to go all the way up? Or are you considering both because they should be about the same price?

Either way, let's find out what's the perfect iPhone for you.

Apple introduced its iPhone 12 model in October 2020. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max started to sell in September 2019.

We are looking at how the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 compare to each other to help you decide which might be the right one for you.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Release Date 2019, September 2020, October 1y.
OS Updates 6 years 6 years 0y.
Security Updates 6 years 6 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

About performance: Geekbench 5 scores the iPhone 12 18% ahead of its sibling in the multi-core ranking. On a day-to-day basis, it won't be that noticeable.

They're both top performers for their price range.

It's safe to say that both of them can be tagged as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
SoC Apple A13 Apple A14
Graphics Apple GPU Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 3435
4067
632
OS iOS 13 iOS 14.1
Tek-Score
7.7
8.8
1.1

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max front transparent png Apple iPhone 12 front transparent png

There isn't a winner here, so you can pick any of them. Although the iPhone 12 has better glass protection.

If you're into small displays, the iPhone 12 is your holy grail. Other similarly priced smartphones just aren't that short.

Related-priced rivals stay in the ballpark of 810 nits, while the iPhone 12 can only do 21% less.

Bearing in mind the iPhone 11 Pro Max, 83% of its rivals can play HDR content, 96% have an AMOLED screen, and 88% have an Always-On display. On the other hand, only 25% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

For the iPhone 12, as a reference, 96% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 81% have Gorilla Glass 6 or better.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Size 6.5
6.1
-0.4
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1242x2688
1170x2532
-376056
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 455.55
457.25
1.71
Always-On-Display No No
Notch Wedge Wedge
Peak Brightness 811 nits
639 nits
-172
HDR HDR10 HDR10
Sub Tek-Score
3.2
2.9
-0.3
Protection Corning toughened glass Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
5.9
7.5
1.6

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max back transparent png Apple iPhone 12 back transparent png

You should note that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is in the neighborhood of 68% above other competitors at about this price tag. But between these two, it doesn't matter.

About the iPhone 11 Pro Max: This camera came out of DXOMARK's labs with a score of 132. Then, if you consider the telephoto and wide-angle lenses, you'll end up with a score of 143. For an in-depth review, click here.

Before moving on, keep in mind that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 92% feature Optical Image Stabilization.

About the iPhone 12: DXOMARK has rated this camera with a score of 132. By adding its wide-angle lens, we get a score of 139 points. If you want to know more about every tidbit, check it here.

Finally, just to let you know, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. Additionally, only 4% of them feature a macro lens.

We can classify these two as high-end.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.8
1.6
-0.2
Lens 26mm
26mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 4 4 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 143
139
-4

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12 vs.
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 2.0
2.4
0.4
Lens 52mm (2x zoom)
13mm -39
Lens Type Telephoto lens Ultra-wide-Angle
Megapixels 12 -
Aperture 2.4 -
Lens 13mm -
Lens Type Ultra-wide-Angle -
Score 11 7 -4
Selfie Camera iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12 vs.
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 23mm 23mm 0
iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12 vs.
Tek-Score
8.4
8.2
-0.2

Who has the best frame?

The iPhone 12 does stand out because of its weight.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is 62 g. (2.19 oz) heavier than the other, weighing about 164 g. (5.78 oz). If you're looking for a lightweight device, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a "weight to screen size" score of 1.7, which means it's one of the heaviest phones for a 6.5 inches screen. The iPhone 12, on the other hand, has 6.9, which is pretty nice.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is resistant to water up to 1 to 3 meters, just like the iPhone 12. But remember: it's for a maximum period of half an hour, in standby mode, so no underwater photos.

Looks*
vs.
Body iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Size 158 x 77 x 8 mm
(5.57 x 2.72 x 0.28 in)
146 x 71 x 7 mm
(5.15 x 2.50 x 0.25 in)
-24766
Weight 226 g. (7.97 oz)
164 g. (5.78 oz)
-62
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Space Gray, Gold, Silver, and Midnight Green Black, Red, White, Green, and Blue
Screen To Body Ratio 85.31%
88.18%
2.87
Disp.Size To Weight Score 1.7 6.9 5.2
Looks 9.6/10
10.0/10
0.4
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Tek-Score
6.4
8.6
2.2

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 3969 mAh battery, and the iPhone 12 has a 2815 mAh. And GSMArena did test them out, and the former is the winner here.

On any of the new iPhone 12 siblings, wireless charging is also magnetic. That's handy if you do have the charger nearby.

Battery*
vs.
Features iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Capacity (mAh) 3969 2815 -1154
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 83% left
79% left
-4
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 69% left
64% left
-5
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 73% left
64% left
-9
Bat. To Phone Size Score 3.6 6.4 2.8
Sub Tek-Score
7.5
6.9
-0.6
Fast Charging 18w
20w
2
Wireless Charging 5w
15w
10
Tek-Score
6.5
6.6
0.1

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them has.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM. Furthermore, other devices from this budget usually have more RAM and more storage. They're around 8GB of RAM and 147Gb of storage.

The iPhone 12, in its turn, also has 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Again, you can get more storage and more RAM on most of its rivals. 9Gb of RAM and 150Gb of storage: that's the average, not the best you can find.

Both phones have more than enough storage and RAM for the average consumer. However, if you can't get enough of the record button, 64 GB alone won't get you there.

Storage*
vs.
Features iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
RAM (GB) 4GB
4GB
0
Internal (GB) 64GB
64GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
2.8
2.8
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

You can only get 5G with the iPhone 12.

You can find the iPhone 12 in the (LTE and) 5G variant.

Connectivity
vs.
Features iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Network LTE 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
3.6
4.6
1.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are the best prices that we've found:

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Reference: $900

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12

Reference: $880

Apple iPhone 12

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12 VS
Amazon 0.56 ! - ! -
eBay 1.22 0.76 -0.46
Best Buy - 0.85 -
Walmart - ! - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Are you also considering other options? The global score can help. Just so you have an idea, take a look at where its adversaries average. They're in the ballpark of 6.6 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max and 7.3 for the iPhone 12.

Verdict: What Makes the Apple iPhone 12 Stand Out?

Have you made up your mind already?

If you're picking up the iPhone 12, it won't be based on performance alone. Maybe it's for its retro-futuristic looks (that I kinda like)? Perhaps it's the upgraded glass protection?

At least it has better battery life and charges way faster if you prefer to wirelessly charge it.

It shouldn't be about its cameras, because you'll lose the telephoto lens. But if you prefer a lightweight device, the iPhone 12 can be described as a feather compared to the 11 Pro Max.

All in all, the iPhone 12 is a cute baby step in the right direction.

Pros iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
#1 Performance Performance
#2 AMOLED AMOLED
#3 Cameras Cameras
#4 Battery Life Fast Charging
#5 Fast Charging Wireless Charging
#6 Wireless Charging Glass Protection
#7 Glass Protection
Cons iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
#1 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#2 MicroSD Slot MicroSD Slot
#3 Weight 3.5mm Jack
#4 3.5mm Jack Price
#5 Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 12
Gaming Score
6.2
6.3
0.1
Tek-Score
6.12
6.76
0.64
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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If you want to know more about them, click here:

About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max Related Comparisons


Apple iPhone 12 Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max 
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $574
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $564
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10
    $409
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e EX
    $428
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $596
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $566
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $566
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 EX
    $429
  • OnePlusrival7 Pro
    $429
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $515
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $589
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $579
  • HuaweirivalMate 20 Pro
    $548
  • OnePlusrival8
    $480
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10 Lite
    $425
  • OnePlusrivalNord
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 4G
    $511
  • OpporivalFind X2 Neo
    $415
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Pro
    $480
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $561
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A72
    $445
  • OnePlusrival9
    $469
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $503

 Apple iPhone 12 
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $949
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $700
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $749
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $795
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 20 U.SD
    $949
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $749
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalMate 30 Pro
    $849
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 20 U.
    $949
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Ultra
    $846
  • OpporivalFind X2 Pro
    $950
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $682
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Ultra
    $949
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $658
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9 Pro
    $909
  • VivorivalX60 Pro
    $900
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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