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.


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.

promaxxsmaxday1
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.

promaxvsxsmaxday2
Deep Fusion uses machine learning for pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, optimizing for texture, detail, and noise.

promaxvsxsmaxdaytime3
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.

iphoneportraitcomparison
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.

portraitcomparison2
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.

ultrawideangle1
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.

ultrawideangle2
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.

widevsultrawide1
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.

widevsultrawide2
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.

nightmode1
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.

nightmode2
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.

nightmode3
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.

nightmode4
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.

promaxvssmaxselfie
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.

Top Rated Comments

jclo Avatar
22 months 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.



Attachment Image

Attachment Image
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
frumpy16 Avatar
22 months ago
I actually prefer the XS Max in the majority of the comparison shots.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Taipan Avatar
22 months 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)
lozion Avatar
22 months ago
That's ALOT of chemtrails..
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freida Avatar
22 months ago
Only a crazy person would upgrade from XS to this unless a filmmaker :)
Anyway, nice improvements.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
frumpy16 Avatar
22 months 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

iphone12protriplelenscamera

Apple's Orders for Key iPhone 13 Camera Component Expected to Outstrip Entire Android Market

Wednesday June 9, 2021 12:47 am PDT by
Major camera upgrades coming to the iPhone 13 series are putting increased pressure on suppliers to meet Apple's demand for key lens components, according to a new DigiTimes report. Apple has reportedly put Taiwan-based makers of voice coil motor (VCM) components on notice to increase their capacity by 30-40% in order to meet the company's demand, which is expected to outstrip the entire...
live text macos monterey

Several macOS Monterey Features Unavailable on Intel-Based Macs

Wednesday June 9, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
While there are many great new features in macOS Monterey, several of them are not available on Intel-based Macs, according to Apple. On the macOS Monterey features page, fine print indicates that the following features require a Mac with the M1 chip, including any MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac model released since November 2020:Portrait Mode blurred backgrounds in...
m1x mbp tags feature

Apple Lists 'M1X MacBook Pro' in YouTube Tags for WWDC Keynote Video

Wednesday June 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
Before WWDC, rumors largely driven by leaker Jon Prosser suggested that Apple would announce redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros during the conference. Those rumors, however, did not come to fruition. Interestingly, though, Apple lists "m1x MacBook Pro" as a tag for the WWDC keynote uploaded on YouTube. The tag, first spotted by Apple YouTuber Max Balzer on Twitter, is among other...
macos monterey setup assistant

macOS Monterey Allows You to Erase a Mac Without Needing to Reinstall the Operating System

Wednesday June 9, 2021 4:41 pm PDT by
It's been a few days since Apple announced macOS Monterey, and we continue to dig through new features that weren't mentioned during the WWDC keynote, including a much more convenient way of erasing a Mac. Following in the footsteps of the iPhone and iPad, the Mac has gained an "Erase All Content and Settings" option on macOS Monterey. The option allows you to erase all user data and...
apple repair service expansion iphone repair 07072020 big

Apple Agrees to Multimillion-Dollar Settlement After iPhone Repair Technicians Post Customer's Private Photos Online

Monday June 7, 2021 2:44 am PDT by
Apple has paid a 21-year-old millions of dollars in a legal settlement after photos and videos from the customer's iPhone, sent in for repair, were uploaded to Facebook, leading to "severe emotional distress," according to a new report from The Telegraph. The incident occurred in 2016 at a repair facility run by Apple supplier Pegatron in California. The 21-year-old college student sent her...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

New MacBook Pro Shipments Forecasted to Begin in Third Quarter

Tuesday June 8, 2021 8:28 am PDT by
While leaker Jon Prosser claimed that a new MacBook Pro was coming at WWDC, Apple's keynote did not include any new hardware announcements. Instead, it is looking increasingly likely that redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models powered by a faster iteration of the M1 chip will be released in the third or fourth quarter of the year. A paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With iOS 15: See Apple's New Operating System Update in Action

Tuesday June 8, 2021 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple yesterday unveiled iOS 15, the newest version of the iOS operating system that runs on the iPhone (and the iPad with iPadOS 15). iOS 15 is a significant update that introduces many important new features, and we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a first look at the new software. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Not everything that was announced yesterday is...
imac macbook pro macos monterey

Newer Macs Can Use Another Mac as an External Display on macOS Monterey

Wednesday June 9, 2021 2:10 pm PDT by
One of the key new features of macOS Monterey is the ability to AirPlay content to a Mac from other Apple devices, such as an iPhone, iPad, or another Mac. According to the macOS Monterey features page, AirPlay to Mac works works both wirelessly or wired using a USB cable, with Apple noting that a wired connection is useful when you want to ensure that there's no latency or don't have access to a ...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky iOS App, Website, and API Now Scheduled to Remain Available Until End of 2022

Thursday June 10, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Last year, Apple acquired the weather app Dark Sky, and shortly after its purchase, Apple shut down the app for Android. Despite the revamped iOS 15 Weather app taking heavy inspiration from Dark Sky, the weather's app standalone iOS app, web app, and API will remain available until the end of next year, compared to the end of this year, as previously planned. Dark Sky announced in an update ...
photos app remove from featured

iOS 15 Finally Lets You Block Your Exes From Ruining Your Photo Memories

Wednesday June 9, 2021 12:37 pm PDT by
With iOS 15, Apple is introducing more granular control over the people and places that show up in your Photos Memories, letting you fine tune just who makes random appearances in the Photos app and the Photos widget. In iOS 14, the option on the right was available, but in iOS 15, the person-specific option is new You've already been able to select "Suggest Fewer Memories Like This" when...