Camera Comparison: iPhone 11 Pro Max vs iPhone XS Max

Apple's new iPhone 11 Pro Max is similar in design to the previous-generation iPhone XS Max, with the exception of a significantly upgraded camera system.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with the triple-lens camera in the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and compared it to the dual-lens camera in the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max to see just how much of an upgrade it is.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

From a pure hardware standpoint, all of the cameras in the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ are better than the cameras in the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max. The main wide-angle camera has a larger sensor that lets in more light, the telephoto lens now features a larger f/2.0 aperture, and there's a new ultra wide angle camera (f/2.4) that didn't exist before.

In practice, though, there isn't a lot of difference between wide-angle camera comparison shots taken with the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max in good lighting conditions.


The ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ is sharper in some situations with more vivid coloring, but there are also instances where certain areas of the image get more blown out than with the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max. Image quality between the two phones may change later this year when Deep Fusion, a new iPhone 11 feature, comes out.


Deep Fusion uses machine learning for pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, optimizing for texture, detail, and noise.


When it comes to Portrait Mode, edge detection in the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ is also similar to edge detection in the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max, so for well-composed shots in good lighting, you're not going to see a lot of difference.


There are new portrait mode capabilities worth highlighting, however. You can now take wide-angle portrait mode shots with the 1x lens in addition to the telephoto lens, so you can get more in a shot if desired. The telephoto lens itself has also been improved, so Portrait Mode shots in lower lighting will turn out better.


The ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ has the ultra wide-angle camera, which is entirely new and allows you to take wider shots than were possible with the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max. For comparison's sake, the ultra wide-angle camera offers a 13mm equivalent focal length, while the wide-angle camera is 26mm and the telephoto is 52mm.


The new 13mm focal length makes a world of difference for landscape and architecture shots, plus it can be used creatively for closer shots with unique perspectives. An ultra wide-angle lens is an excellent addition to a smartphone and is perhaps more useful than even a telephoto lens.


The ultra wide-angle lens has an f/2.4 aperture and no optical image stabilization like the other lenses in the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌, so it doesn't do quite as well in lower lighting conditions and images aren't quite as crisp, but it's great in the proper lighting, such as outdoors.


All three cameras are available for both photography and video recording, and you can switch between them at will with a new toggle in the camera app.


Along with the wide-angle lens, the real difference between the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and the XS Max is the new Night mode and the low light capabilities of the 2019 iPhones.


The ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌'s Night mode uses machine learning and multiple shots to create usable photographs even when it's close to pitch black outside, while still preserving the color and the feel of a night time photo.


Night mode is drastically different than even the best low light shots from the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max and it allows iPhone users to capture shots that just wouldn't have turned out on the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max.


Night mode exposures range from 1 seconds to 10 seconds, based on the ambient lighting conditions, how still you hold your ‌iPhone‌, and more, and the feature basically uses multiple combined shots to create one image so you need to make sure you're holding the ‌iPhone‌ steady or using a tripod.


Shots taken this way aren't great for moving objects like pets or kids, and Night mode photos aren't always as crisp especially when it's close to pitch black, but you can get some amazing looking images when using it.

As for the front-facing camera, it's also been improved. There's a 12-megapixel lens (up from 7-megapixels) and Apple is using next-generation Smart HDR (this is available for the rear camera too), so that "beauty filter" that people disliked in the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max has been toned down. In good lighting, though, there's not a ton of difference between front-facing shots from the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and the XS Max.


The front-facing camera supports 4K at 60 frames per second and slow motion 120fps video at 1080p, allowing for slow motion selfies, aka "Slofies." The other major change to the front-facing camera is an option to get a wider shot, so you can zoom in or zoom out as desired, which is perfect for group selfies.

All in all, most ‌iPhone XS‌ Max users may not want to upgrade to the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌, but the exception is people who love taking photos with the ‌iPhone‌. The cameras are dramatically improved with the ultra wide-angle lens and the new Night mode, letting users capture shots that were not possible with the previous-generation device.

For more on the differences between the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and the ‌iPhone XS‌ Max, make sure to check out our comparison guide. We also have more info on the iPhone 11 Pro Max in our roundup, and we'll have more ‌iPhone 11‌ and iPhone 11 Pro camera coverage and comparisons coming in the near future.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone 11 Pro

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
27 weeks ago


Any iPhone 11 will blow away past models in low light environments. The cat photo is a great example.

My cat photography is already 100% better.





Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
I actually prefer the XS Max in the majority of the comparison shots.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago


I actually prefer the XS Max in the majority of the comparison shots.

That's what I thought. Pretty much all of them except the low-light ones.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
That's ALOT of chemtrails..
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago
Only a crazy person would upgrade from XS to this unless a filmmaker :)
Anyway, nice improvements.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 weeks ago


That's what I thought. Pretty much all of them except the low-light ones.

Yep exactly.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Acquires Weather App Dark Sky

Tuesday March 31, 2020 10:22 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has acquired weather app Dark Sky, Dark Sky's developers announced today. Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps on the App Store, known for its accuracy and storm warnings. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no ...

Zoom Accused of Misleading Users With 'End-to-End Encryption' Claims Amid Other Security Issues [Updated]

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:47 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Zoom is facing fresh scrutiny today following a report that the videoconferencing app's encryption claims are misleading. Zoom states on its website and in its security white paper that the app supports end-to-end encryption, a term that refers to a way of protecting user content so that the company has no access to it whatsoever. However, an investigation by The Intercept reveals that...

Case for Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Shows Up at Best Buy With Alleged April 5 Stock Date

Monday March 30, 2020 4:25 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has a new low-cost iPhone in the works, which is supposed to be launching sometime in the first half of 2020. Given the ongoing situation in the United States and other countries, it's been unclear if the device is going to launch within the planned timeline, but there are signs that it could be coming soon. We started seeing cases for the new low-cost iPhone back in early February,...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Testing Brydge's New Pro+ Keyboard With Trackpad for iPad Pro

Monday March 30, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Well ahead of when Apple introduced trackpad support in iOS 13.4, Brydge announced an iPad Pro keyboard with a built-in multi-touch trackpad. We have one of Brydge's new Pro+ keyboards on hand, and thought we'd check it out to see how it works with Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Brydge Pro+ keyboard is similar in design to...

Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Monday March 30, 2020 11:58 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg. Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...

Apple Configurator 2 Updated With New Features, Including Support for Restoring Firmware on 2019 Mac Pro

Tuesday March 31, 2020 5:34 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple Configurator 2 has been updated to version 2.12 with several improvements, including support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro. The release notes:• Added support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro • Allow access to websites using TLS 1.0 and 1.1 • VPN: Configure Provider Designated Requirement for Custom SSL connection type • VPN: Configure network options for ...

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Apple's 2020 MacBook Air vs. 2020 iPad Pro

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple in March updated both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, and with the iPad Pro increasingly positioned as a computer replacement, we thought we'd compare both new machines to see how they measure up and which one might be a better buy depending on user needs. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We're comparing the base model 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the base model...