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

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

The iPhone 11 Pro may cost you a few bucks more, but it also has better specs.

It gives you better performance (+29%) and better cameras.

Are there other things worth mentioning?

The iPhone 11 Pro also comes with better peak brightness. But the iPhone XS Max adds a larger (+0.7") display.

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're going off-contract, it'll cost you around $100 more.

Is the iPhone XS Max still worth getting in 2021?

The iPhone XS Max is holding up pretty well in 2021, even more so if you can find it with a great deal. However, you should also consider other phones like the iPhone 12 because it has better performance, better cameras, more security updates, and faster charging.

Is it worth getting the iPhone 11 Pro in 2021?

The iPhone 11 Pro isn't the latest release anymore, but you'll still be happy with its good performance. It indeed is on the recommended list for 2021, but (again) the iPhone 12 could give you better performance, better cameras, and more security updates.

Read on so you can learn more about their differences, how they stack up against their rivals, and how the tech industry is evaluating their specs.

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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 XS Max, Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

CONTENTS

Click on one of these
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Introduction

Are you considering an upgrade because the XS Max is too big for you? Or any of these will do because size doesn't matter at all?

Anyways, let's check them out.

Apple launched its iPhone 11 Pro in September 2019, while Apple's iPhone XS Max arrived at stores one year sooner.

With this article, you'll be able to compare every feature of the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone 11 Pro. Then, you can decide what model better suits your needs. Let's start.

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 XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Release Date 2018, September 2019, September 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?

As for performance, Geekbench 5 scores the iPhone 11 Pro 29% ahead of its sibling in the multi-core ranking. The differences are slight but still noteworthy between these two chipsets.

We can label the iPhone 11 Pro as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
SoC Apple A12 Apple A13
Graphics Apple GPU Apple GPU
Geekbench 5 Score 2655
3428
773
OS iOS 12 iOS 13
Tek-Score
6.4
7.7
1.3

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

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

The iPhone 11 Pro has a better display, but not by a significant margin.

If you prefer a smartphone with a small display, don't waste your time searching for other devices, and go for the iPhone 11 Pro. It really is short compared to most similarly priced phones.

Usually, devices in this price range max at 743 nits, but the iPhone XS Max can only go 213 nits below that.

Be aware that anything less than 500 nits just can't do true HDR, nor is that great on a sunny day. So what about HDR?

About the iPhone XS Max, just know that 89% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 93% have an Always-On display.

Considering the iPhone 11 Pro, just so you know, just like its competitor, 89% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 93% have an Always-On display.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Size 6.5
5.8
-0.7
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1242x2688
1125x2436
-597996
Refresh Rate 60hz 60hz 0
Dots per Inch 455.55
462.63
7.08
Always-On-Display No No
Notch Wedge Wedge
Peak Brightness 530 nits
811 nits
281
HDR HDR10 HDR10
Sub Tek-Score
2.7
3.3
0.5
Protection Corning toughened glass Corning toughened glass
Tek-Score
5.8
5.9
0.2

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

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

Considering their score, I think that the Apple iPhone 11 Pro has a more dependable camera.

About the iPhone XS Max: DXOMARK gave this shooter a score of 118. If you also consider its telephoto lens, that will go up to 126**. You can check their review if you click here.

PS: all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. On the other hand, only 15% of them feature a macro lens.

About the iPhone 11 Pro: I guess the gurus at DXOMARK labs skipped this phone, but we can place it at about 134* points. By adding the telephoto and wide-angle lenses, we get a score of 145** points.

Winding it up, just to let you know, just like the other device, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Regardless, only 11% of them feature a macro lens.

If you're not a numbers person, we can tag the iPhone 11 Pro as a high-end.

*DXOMARK is a world-known reference in the camera benchmarking department. Too bad some cameras don't have a chance to be tested. So what do I do? I consider every camera spec and give an approximated score. Our lastest test on our formula showed a deviation of up to 2 points.

**This score still needs improvement, particularly on mid-end cameras with less than 40MP and no zoom lens. These guys recently updated their test protocol, and there aren't enough reviewed cameras to extrapolate a backward-compatible score.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.8
1.8
0.0
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 126
145
19

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro vs.
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 2.4
2.0
-0.4
Lens 52mm (2x zoom)
52mm (2x zoom)
0
Lens Type Telephoto lens Telephoto lens
Megapixels - 12
Aperture - 2.4
Lens - 13mm
Lens Type - Ultra-wide-Angle
Score 8 11 3
Selfie Camera iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro vs.
Megapixels 7
12
5
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 32mm 23mm -9
iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro vs.
Tek-Score
7.4
8.5
1.1

Who has the best frame?

The iPhone 11 Pro does stand out because of its weight and the number of color options. But I don't see any meaningful winner here.

The iPhone 11 Pro weighs 188 g. (6.63 oz), while its sibling is 20 g. (0.71 oz) heavier. But because this is a bit relative, the iPhone XS Max has a "weight to screen size" score of 3.2, and that's another way of saying it's kind of weighty for its screen size. The iPhone 11 Pro, however, has 3.0, which suggests it's considerably hefty too.

You can drop the iPhone XS Max into the water, up to 1 to 3 meters deep, just like the iPhone 11 Pro. But remember: it's for a maximum period of half an hour, and it's in standby mode only. So don't take photos underwater.

Looks*
vs.
Body iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Size 157 x 77 x 7 mm
(5.54 x 2.72 x 0.25 in)
144 x 71 x 8 mm
(5.08 x 2.50 x 0.28 in)
-2831
Weight 208 g. (7.34 oz)
188 g. (6.63 oz)
-20
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Space Gray, Gold, and Silver Space Gray, Gold, Silver, and Midnight Green
Screen To Body Ratio 85.85%
80.80%
-5.05
Disp.Size To Weight Score 3.2 3.0 -0.2
Looks 8.9/10
8.5/10
-0.3
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Tek-Score
6.7
7.3
0.6

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

Which has the best battery?

The iPhone XS Max does have a battery capacity of 3174 mAh versus the 3046 mAh of the iPhone 11 Pro. But as reported by GSMArena, you shouldn't expect any real contrast here.

Battery life on the iPhone XS Max isn't anything to write home about. Apple didn't care that much about it. By doing some math, it got a "battery to physical size" rate of 2.1.

Battery*
vs.
Features iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Capacity (mAh) 3174 3046 -128
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 78% left
79% left
1
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 60% left
63% left
3
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 64% left
65% left
1
Bat. To Phone Size Score 2.1 6.7 4.6
Sub Tek-Score
6.7
6.9
0.2
Fast Charging 15w
18w
3
Wireless Charging 5w
5w
0
Tek-Score
6.0
6.2
0.2

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them has.

Apple put 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage on the iPhone XS Max. Also, similarly priced adversaries usually offer more RAM and more storage. They have 8GB of RAM and 135Gb of storage on average, but you can find better options.

On the iPhone 11 Pro, you'll also find 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM. Again, you can effortlessly get more RAM and more storage from almost all of their competitors. They usually get close to 8Gb of RAM and 139Gb of storage.

Both phones have more than enough storage and RAM for the average consumer. However, if you love to have or record tons of videos, you'll find out that 64 GB won't be enough for you.

Storage*
vs.
Features iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
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?

If you still don't know which to pick, you can skip this section.

You can connect them to LTE networks. Is 4G good enough for you? If you want 5G, you should look at the iPhone 12 instead.

Connectivity
vs.
Features iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Network LTE LTE
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
3.6
3.6
0.0

Which is more affordable?

Here's what we've found out:

Apple iPhone XS Max

Reference: $650

Apple iPhone XS Max

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Reference: $750

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

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 XS Max iPhone 11 Pro VS
Amazon 1.33 ! 1.01 ! -
eBay 0.83 0.89 0.06
Best Buy - - -
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)

Want to know about that global score? For reference purposes, I'll tell you where most of its rivals average. They're usually close to 7.0 for both iPhones.

Verdict: What Makes the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Stand Out?

The iPhone 11 Pro is indeed a better choice, but you'll also have to consider their price difference.

You do get a slightly considerable performance increase with the iPhone 11 Pro. Not only that, but you'll also get better outdoor visibility, better picture quality, and an Ultra-wide-Angle lens in a considerably lighter phone.

Battery life is pretty much the same on both of them, and nothing to write home about.

There's also nothing special on storage to talk about. It's the typically low 4GB of RAM plus 64GB of storage.

Pros iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
#1 Performance Performance
#2 AMOLED AMOLED
#3 Cameras Cameras
#4 Fast Charging Fast Charging
#5 Wireless Charging Wireless Charging
#6 Glass Protection Glass Protection
Cons iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
#1 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#2 MicroSD Slot MicroSD Slot
#3 Weight Weight
#4 3.5mm Jack 3.5mm Jack
#5 Price Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score iPhone XS Max iPhone 11 Pro
Gaming Score
5.6
6.2
0.6
Tek-Score
5.62
6.12
0.50
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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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 XS Max Related Comparisons


Apple iPhone 11 Pro 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 XS Max 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $729
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554

 Apple iPhone 11 Pro 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $789
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $729
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554
×

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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