iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

When it comes to size, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max both have pretty big screens — 6.1 inches and 6.5 inches respectively — but there's no denying the iPhone 11 Pro Max OLED screen is brighter, has a higher contrast, and deeper blacks compared to the iPhone 11's LCD screen. Of course, the slightly smaller size of the iPhone 11 screen does make it a little easier to use one-handed, which some may prefer over the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The biggest difference you'll notice is with the camera set up. The iPhone 11 Pro Max has three cameras — wide-angle, telephoto, and ultra wide-angle — while the iPhone 11 is only sporting the wide-angle and the ultra-wide-angle. This means the iPhone 11 Pro Max is going give you a wider range of shooting options. The good news is that the iPhone 11 can still do Portrait mode, Night mode, and still has access to the whole new suite of editing features in iOS 13. In fact, other than missing the telephoto lens, the iPhone 11 has all the same camera specs that the iPhone 11 Pro Max does.

The nitty-gritty details

Other than a few very obvious differences, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max are more similar than you may think. In terms of the TrueDepth camera, for example, they're identical in specs, including 4K video support and those super fun "slo-fies." Here's a breakdown of the major specs for each model. You can see how many features the iPhone 11 Pro Max has that the iPhone 11 has too, for $300 less, even!

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro Max
CostStarts at $699Starts at $1099
Screen size6.1-inches6.5-inches
ColorsWhite, Black, Green, Yellow, Purple, (PRODUCT) RedMidnight Green, Space Gray, Silver, Gold
DisplayLiquid Retina displaySuper Retina XDR display
Screen resolution1792-by-828-pixel resolution at 326 ppi2688‑by‑1242-pixel resolution at 458 ppi
Dimensions5.94-by-2.98-by-0.33 inches6.22-by-3.06-by-0.32 inches
Weight6.84 ounces7.97 ounces
Storage capacity64GB/128GB/256GB64GB/256GB/512GB
Battery lifeUp to 17 hours of video playbackUp to 20 hours of video playback
Charger5W charger18W Fast Charger
Water-resistanceIP68 max depth 2 meters up to 30 minIP68 max depth 4 meters up to 30 min
ChipA13 BionicA13 Bionic
CameraDual Lens (Wide and Ultra Wide)Triple Lens (Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto)
Video4K up to 60fps4K up to 60fps
AudioSupports Dolby AtmosSupports Dolby Atmos
TrueDepth Camera12MP with wide-angle and slo-mo video12MP with wide-angle and slo-mo video
Face IDYesYes

Many of the features are the same between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Max, and a lot of the differences are minimal, especially when you look at the internals that powers them both. There are a couple of interesting differences that are harder to catch just by glancing at the phones.

First, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max are both IP68 water-resistant; however, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is rated for a depth of 4 meters (13.12 feet), whereas the iPhone 11 is only rated to a depth of 2 meters (6.56 feet). This may not matter much to most people, but if you're a bit clumsy and are worried about getting your new iPhone wet, it's good to know that the iPhone 11 Pro Max goes twice as deep.

The charging adapters are different, too. Both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max are capable of fast charging (about 50% charge in 30 minutes) but only with a charger that is 18W or higher. Interestingly, the iPhone 11 Pro Max ships with an 18W charger in the box, so you can take advantage of the fast-charging capabilities; however, the iPhone 11 still comes with the same old 5W charging brick that the iPhone has always come with.

Which iPhone should you get?

In the end, which phone you pick mostly comes down to how you're going to use it. If you love the idea of having a big phone with a massive screen that takes advantage of the OLED display offering superior brightness and contrast get the iPhone 11 Pro Max. If you're a photography fiend and want all the options you can possibly have when going shooting, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is for you. Of course, if you have the money and just want to have the newest and best that Apple has to offer, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is it.

So here's the good news: the iPhone 11 is a great phone for most people. If you don't care about the OLED screen, and you don't find yourself longing for a third camera lens, the iPhone 11 has the same internals starting at $400 less. Its 6.1-inch screen is a little easier to use with one hand, and it's still an upgrade over last year's iPhone line up, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a little more power and speed in their daily carry.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.