Apple has released its latest iPhone handsets, Huawei followed shortly after with its Mate 30 line, and there isn’t long left to wait now for Google’s Pixel 4. There is no current shortage of flagship smartphone releases, but new research shows that consumers are losing their appetite for new devices.
According to Gartner, worldwide smartphone shipments declined for the first time ever in 2018, falling by 1.7% in the second quarter. The market is set to continue to stall, dropping by 3.2% this year as consumer technology markets reach their “tipping point”.
To add to Apple’s problems, a recent survey by global consultancy company Prophet recently announced that UK consumers are losing faith in the tech giant.
Apple had previously ranked top of Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index, which is calculated based on more than 50,000 consumer surveys, for three consecutive years. However, it slipped down to fifth in the 2019 list due to a “dip in consumer trust”, according to Prophet.
Slowing innovation in the market is believed to be the cause of declining sales, with an increasing number of consumers seeing little value in upgrading their devices each year.
Apple in particular is known for being a little behind other brands, preferring to wait until a new technology is perfected until it introduces it to its handsets. It’s for that reason that Apple customers won’t get their hands on a 5G device until 2020, while their competitors race to be the first to hit next-gen milestones.
Can the iPhone 11 Pro Max put Apple back on its pedestal?
With the release of its iPhone 11 line, Apple had a chance to restore some of that lost faith.
The iPhone 11 starts at $699 (£729 in the UK) for the basic model, $999 (£1,049) for the iPhone 11 Pro, and $1,099 (£1,149) for the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Those prices all but confirmed that Apple is focused on creating luxury products, but consumers will have been expecting more than a minor upgrade on last year’s iPhone XS and XR devices.
Verdict was given an iPhone 11 Pro Max by UK-based telecommunications provider Vodafone to review. Vodafone says that its plans are the perfect partner for the new generation of iPhones. It’s Unlimited business plans are available from £19.17, with its Unlimited Max Plan offering roaming in 77 destinations for £25/month. Likewise, new for iPhones, Vodafone is offering unlimited MMS for £2.50/month.
After a week with the handset, does Apple’s latest creation live up to its price tag?
iPhone 11 Pro Max cameras: Apple’s main focus
With the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei having made huge advancements in smartphone camera technology in recent years, the 11 Pro Max’s four camera setup puts the iPhone back among the best camera phones currently available.
The Pro models feature a triple-lens rear camera array, all of which are 12MP. The wide-angle lens and telephoto lens from last year’s devices return, while Apple has also introduced a new ultra-wide 120-degree field of view lens. This has been added to allow users to capture more of a scene, and is great for capturing those city skyline shots.
Compared to my iPhone 8, which up until this point I thought was adequate, the difference in quality is significant. Images are far more detailed, less grainy and brighter.
Then add in the Pro Max’s additional features, such as the automatically adjusted night vision mode, which helps to reduce the amount of detail that smartphone cameras previously lost to the dark. It doesn’t always take the perfect picture, but it does offer significant improvement on past model.
There’s also the Smart HDR feature, which uses machine learning technology to “finesse highlight and shadow detail in your image” and “recognise faces in your shot and intelligently relight them”. Essentially, it makes sure that each photo looks its absolute best even if you’re not a great photographer. As you can probably tell from the comparison photos below, having AI to assist me significantly improved my photography skills.
iPhone 11 Pro Max screen: Better, but nothing special
The iPhone 11 Pro Max features a 6.5-inch OLED display made up of 458 pixels per inch. Likewise, it offers as many as 16 million different colours and up to 800 nits, making it easier to view when you’re under bright light. And this comes at a cost of 15% more efficiency, meaning you get a clearer, crisper image that uses up less battery than previous iPhone models.
Honestly, the display is a slight boost on its predecessor, and a definite improvement on older iPhone models… But not significant enough to make it the Pro Max’s main selling point. Other smartphones offer the same, if not more, at a better price.
iPhone 11 Pro Max design: More of the same from Apple
Above even usability, a luxury product must be aesthetically pleasing. Its early innovations aside, Apple has amassed a cult following by offering simple, yet beautiful products.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t fall short there. It has Apple’s standard glass back and stainless steel frame. The Apple logo has been centred this time around and the “iPhone” text has been removed, adding to its simplicity.
Like its premium predecessor the XS Max, the 11 Pro Max doesn’t feature any buttons on its front. In fact, the design is almost identical the XS Max. There is a small notch for the front speaker and camera and a slight bezel framing the screen. The Pro Max’s 6.5-inch, 2436 x 1125 display is almost entirely screen.
There were some concerns about the three-camera array prior to the device’s launch, which were made to look particularly bulky by Apple’s reveal images. However, while there is a slight bump, I didn’t experience any issues with it.
My one issue was largely a personal one — the device felt overly large in my hand. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of plus-sized smartphones as my hands are small. It didn’t cause discomfort, but I did occasionally hand to shift the device in my hand to reach certain buttons. The glass back is quite slippery too, which wasn’t ideal. I wouldn’t brave using it without a sturdy case.
iPhone 11 Pro Max performance: Better, with few problems
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple’s most powerful device to date. Featuring Apple’s new A13 Bionic processor, benchmark tests show that the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers slightly performance boost over the standard iPhone 11 and a fairly significant improvement on last year’s XS.
The difference is very slight, and you likely won’t really notice unless you’re trying to. However, apps do load slightly faster, and everything just feels a little smoother. However, if performance is what you value most, then an iPhone 11 Pro is probably offers better value for money.
Running Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 13, I encountered very few problems. I did experience a slight glitch with the camera app, which began to lag and showed glitched boxes dotted around the screen. However, this didn’t persist.
There is now dark mode, which can be switched on or off, or set to change automatically between sunset and sunrise. Likewise, there are some slight changes to the volume animations and the way you move apps around on the dashboard. Overall, the new OS provides much of the same.
iPhone 11 Pro Max battery: A noticeable improvement
Apple has been keen to push the iPhone 11’s improved battery too, which it claimed would last up to one hour longer than last year’s XR thanks to its bigger capacity and numerous software and hardware optimisations.
According to Apple, the device offers up to 17 hours of video playback and 65 hours of audio playback on a single charge. I don’t have any exact figures to give you, but I can confirm I spent a lot less time worrying about keeping my phone alive long enough to find a charger than I usually do.
One charge a day was more than enough even when regularly firing up Spotify and Netflix during my commute.
The iPhone 11 Pro models are the first Apple devices to ship with a fast charger, which it usually charges upwards of £20 for. According to Apple, the 18W charger offers up to 50% battery life in 30 minutes. Our test found that the Pro Max charges from 0 to 100% in around 75 minutes.
Verdict’s iPhone 11 Pro Max verdict
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones that Apple has released in a long while, mainly due to the significant improvements to its camera array and improved battery life.
That does come at a significant cost though, and not one that I’m sure can be justified by somebody with last year’s iPhone XS, or even the XR. However, jumping from an iPhone 8 (released in 2017) to the iPhone 11 Pro Max was a vast improvement.
I was quite content until testing the Pro Max, now I’m not quite so sure.