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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: All about those cameras

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The most expensive new iPhone has some neat tricks up its oversized sleeves

iPhone launch day 2019 came and went this year without too many surprises being sprung. As expected, the new iPhones arrived sporting a controversial new look, a new name and one extra camera than the year before.
 
They also come with the latest, greatest Apple A13 Bionic chipset, too, but there’s not a huge amount of difference between this year’s handsets and last year’s aside from that confusing name change and the predicted additional features.

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Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: Specifications, price and release date

  • 6.5in 2,688 x 1,242 resolution Super Retina XDR OLED display
  • Six-core Apple A13 Bionic processor
  • Triple rear camera array: 3x 12MP cameras – ultrawide (f/2.4), wide (f/1.8, OIS), 2x telephoto (f/2.0, OIS)
  • Colours: Midnight Green, Space Grey, gold and silver
  • One year of Apple TV+ included for free
  • Price: 64GB, £1,149 inc VAT; 256GB, £1,299; 512GB, £1,499
  • Release date: Preorders from 13 September, in stores from 20 September

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: Design, key new features and first impressions

For starters, there are new colours, with a new “Midnight Green” colour to go with gold, Space Grey and silver, and the finish on the rear of the phone is now matte rather than gloss glass with the “toughest glass in a smartphone” according to Apple.
 

Nice though the new colours and finish are, however, the one big feature that will set tongues wagging is the iPhone 11 Pro’s new triple-camera array, so let’s start with that.
 
First, to the most controversial part of this: the design. As all the rumours all suggested, the new iPhone 11 Pro sees the three cameras arranged in a triangle, pointing sideways, within a square camera bulge at the top-left corner of the rear of the phone. In my opinion, this makes the new iPhones the ugliest yet, although the fact that the rear is built from a single sheet of glass means they don’t look quite as bad as I had first expected. 
 
However, in more bad news, Apple has stuck with the much-mocked notch at the top of the new Super Retina XDR 6.5in display, which now reaches 1,200 nits of brightness. As before, this houses the Face ID sensor and selfie camera; at least these are improved over the previous versions.

 
The best thing that can be said about the new iPhone is that it does at least look different from its rivals – just not in a good way. I much prefer the way Samsung’s Galaxy S10 strings its cameras across the centre of the rear and the vertical stripe of cameras in the top-left corner of the Huawei P30 Pro. I’m sure we’ll get used to the way the phone looks in time, though, and it may well be that it looks better in the metal than from a distance.
 
As expected, those three cameras constitute an ultra-wide-angle 0.5x camera, a primary camera and a telephoto camera. No surprises there, then. What sets the iPhone triple camera apart from its rivals is that, as it did before, Apple is using the same resolution across all three cameras. This makes it a lot easier to transition from camera to the next when you’re zooming in and out, especially in video, while maintaining consistent white balance and exposure control.
 
Most other manufacturers mix and match the resolutions, which means there’s always some element of compromise when you’re at one or other end of the zoom range.

As for the details, those cameras are all 12-megapixel snappers. The ultra-wide camera has an aperture of f/2.4 and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 13mm, the primary “wide” camera has an aperture of f/1.8 and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 26mm, while the 2x “telephoto” camera is an f/2.0 unit with a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 52mm. There’s optical image stabilisation on the wide and telephoto cameras but not on the ultrawide, presumably because it isn’t necessary.

 
Apple’s also teased it's new AI-drive “Deep Fusion” multi-frame noise-reduction HDR algorithm, due to arrive on the new iPhone later this year. It's set to capture nine frames whenever you hit the shutter button – four frames before the shot is taken, one long-exposure and another four frames after the button is pressed – with processing time taking around one second. It's a feature that Apple's Phil Schiller called "computational photography mad science".

The new night mode, though, will arrive on phones at launch and this will kick in automatically when the phone thinks it's needed. Apple didn't say, however, whether this feature can be disabled in settings.

That’s not all, though. Other features include improved water- and dust-resistance plus next-gen Wi-Fi 6 support and all the good stuff from the iPhone Xs Max, apart from (perhaps) one thing; there was no mention of 3D Touch. Apple didn’t say specifically that the feature had been dropped but one slide in the presentation briefly mentioned Haptic Touch. As predicted, there’s no 5G either. I’ll update this piece with more details as and when more information comes to light.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: Performance

As usual, Apple took the opportunity at its big launch event to talk up the benefits of its latest mobile processor, the Apple A13 Bionic. If I’m honest, it probably didn’t need to up the ante much on this front since the A12 was so much faster than everything else a year ago – and remains so to this day.
 
Nevertheless, we have a new chip here and it’s set to be an absolute rocket. New machine learning accelerators take pride of place, boosting machine learning tasks by “up to 6x” according to Apple.

 
It’s not only set to be fast, though. Apple also spoke extensively at the launch about increased efficiency. The A13 Bionic is built on a 7nm manufacturing process and helps the phone achieve five hours longer battery life than the iPhone Xs Max. That should just about bring it up to the same level as recent Android rivals, then.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro: Very early verdict

In all honesty, it’s rather difficult to predict how good the new flagship iPhone 11 Pro Max is going to be this early on but we should have a review sample in our hands very soon. 
 
While it doesn’t look all that great from a distance I’m sure it’ll look a lot nicer when we get our hands on one – and it’s bound to be a technical improvement on the Xs Max, too. 
 
Whether that’s enough for Apple, especially since the price has risen by £50, remains to be seen.

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