Long-term Field Test: 20.09.2019 to 19.09.2022
I am actually very satisfied with the iPhone Xs. As a hobby photographer, I like to use my iPhone as an always-on camera. Since I very rarely take my compact camera with me on walks, excursions etc. and even the pictures for articles like this one are taken at home with the iPhone, the picture quality of the iPhone camera is very important to me.
After watching Apple's keynote, where the advantages of the new camera were also presented, the decision to buy was made and I was one of the first pre-orderers for pick-up on the first day of sale …
This is my sixth iPhone test. Enjoy reading!
Photo: the new Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max in case colour gold, lying on the original box
13.09.2019: Pre-ordered an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512 GB storage in gold colour online at noon for pick-up on first day of sale 20.09.2019
Pick-up time slot: 18:30-19:00.
19.09.2019: Receive pick-up information by email. This email contains a QR code to add to the Apple Wallet app for even faster pick-up.
20.09.2020: Big rush at the Apple Store! It quickly becomes clear to everyone: the pre-allocated time slots are untenable! This is also due to the fact that many foreign tourists without pre-orders simply push their way in and are served preferentially, although it was actually communicated that only customers with pre-orders can be served on the first day of sales!
Despite such incidents, everyone remains relatively calm and tries in his or her own way to somehow endure the long wait in the queue. Shortly before 8 p.m. I also get my new iPhone and the manager of the Apple Store apologises for the long wait. I understand and am not angry because everyone has done their best.
Photo: opened box with Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Photo: opened box. Underneath the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max are the USB power adapter, Lightning cable and EarPods.
Colour: Gold (also available in space grey, silver and night green)
Storage capacity: 512 GB (also available with 64 GB and 256 GB)
Dimensions and weight: 158.0 × 77.8 × 8.1 mm, 226 g
Super Retina XDR display with Haptic Touch
6.46-inch All-Screen OLED Multi-Touch (14.7 cm diagonal)
HDR display, resolution: 1242 × 2688 pixels; 458 pixels per inch
Typical contrast ratio: 2,000,000:1
Maximum typical brightness: 800 nits. Maximum brightness: 1200 nits (HDR).
Colour standard: P3
Grease-repellent coating, display zoom, one-hand mode, true tone display
Supports display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously
A13 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, neural architecture, integrated M13 motion coprocessor
Processor architecture: ARMv8.4-A
Microarchitecture: 2×2.65 GHz Lightning + 4×1.8 GHz Thunder
Main memory (RAM): 4 GB (type: LPDDR4X)
12-megapixel camera with ultra-wide, wide-angle and telephoto lenses
Ultra-wide angle: f/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
Wide-angle: aperture f/1.8
Telephoto lens: aperture f/2.0
2x optical zoom, up to 10x digital zoom
Portrait mode with bokeh and depth control
Portrait light with 6 effects (natural, studio, contour, stage, stage mono, high-key mono)
Dual optical image stabilisation for wide angle and telephoto
Lens with 5 elements (ultra wide angle), lens with 6 elements (wide angle and telephoto)
True-tone flash with long-time synchronisation
Panorama recording up to 63 megapixels
Sapphire crystal lens cover
Body and face detectionNext generation Smart HDR for photos
Advanced red-eye correction
Geotagging for photos
Automatic image stabilisation
Continuous shooting mode
HEIF and JPEG image formats
Frequency bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 66
Frequency bands 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 46, 48
UMTS/HSPA+/DC‑HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Frequency bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 66
Frequency bands 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
UMTS/HSPA+/DC‑HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Gigabit-capable LTE with 4x4 MIMO and LAA
802.11ax WLAN 6 with 2x2 MIMO
Ultra-wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC with reading mode
Express Cards with power reserve
FaceTime audio calls
Voice over LTE (VoLTE)
Calls via WLAN
FaceTime video calls via WLAN and mobile phone
Supported audio formats: AAC‑LC, HE‑AAC, HE‑AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E‑AC‑3), Dolby Atmos and Audible (Formate 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX und AAX+)
Spatial audio playback. User-definable maximum volume
Supported video formats: HEVC, H.264, MPEG‑4 Part 2 and Motion JPEG
High Dynamic Range (HDR) with Dolby Vision and HDR10-contents
AirPlay Mirroring, Photos and Video output on Apple TV (2. Generation or newer)
Video Mirroring and Video output: Support for up to 1080p via Lightning Digital-AV-Adapter and Lightning-to-VGA-Adapter (Adapter available separately)
Use your own voice to send messages, make calls, create a reminder and more.
Get predictive suggestions, hands-free calling, listen to and recognise songs.
Source: Apple (see Reference Source at the end of this review)
Talk time (wireless): not specified
Internet usage: not specified
Video playback (wireless): up to 20 hours
Audio playback (wireless): up to 80 hours
Fast charge: up to 50% in 30 minutes
Built-in lithium-ion battery: 3969 mAh
Charging via USB port on computer or mains adapter
Very individual, difficult to compare. Everybody defines infrequent users and frequent users differently, not to mention the term normal user.
Little use: 2 days (Siri Assistant, a few emails, a few iMessages, calendar, notes, 3 h listening to music, minimal web).
Heavy use: 1 day (reading a book [Apple Books app], Siri, some emails, iMessages or SMS, calendar, notes, calls, 5 h listening to music, 3 h web).
In order to protect the battery, which cannot be changed by the user, I rarely push it to its limits, as this wears it out unnecessarily.
With about 30% remaining charge, it is charged up to about 70%. Deviations only occur when I check on the iPhone too late.
If you let the battery get almost empty and charge it up to 100% (e.g. overnight), you stress it and use up a full charging cycle.
Modern lithium-ion batteries can withstand 300 to 500 charging cycles. In practice, these are achieved within 2 to 5 years, depending on the treatment.
Sorry, this has become too labour-intensive for me. Almost no one reads it anyway and it takes an enormous amount of time if you do it properly.
And I do everything here properly or not at all.
Hobby should be fun and bring something, also for the reader.
I continue to enter the data for my three iPhones using screenshots and a calendar template for CalenGoo, which takes a minute each.
But preparing a series of these values for the website takes hours.
Therefore, I ask for your understanding that I no longer want to offer this as a standard for every smartphone test.
If I ever have the time and inclination, I'll transfer a few values from my calendar. But then it will be time-consuming manual work.
Apple's iOS operating system automatically activates power-saving mode when the battery has 20% remaining charge and deactivates it when the battery reaches 80%. I will never let the battery run down like that without need (it's pure stress for the battery)! I normally charge from 30% to 70%. It has proven itself!
This is what Apple calls its rudimentary call filter.
This is configured in the DND/Allow Calls settings menu:
Favourites: Anonymous callers & troublemakers get busy signals or voicemail
Callers with a suppressed call number immediately receive a busy signal or are dropped on the mailbox if “DND” is switched on.
Stubborn acquaintances and relatives who do not want to have call number transmission switched on for free by the network operator can still reach you at certain times if you do not activate “DND” for the whole day, but e.g. only 20:00-18:00. In this way, everyone would be let through between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., even if callers with a suppressed call number cannot be assigned to an address book entry.
You could formulate the announcement text of your mailbox accordingly:
"... landed on your mailbox due to a suppressed call number, ... please always call with activated caller ID in future!"
If anonymous callers, stalkers, diallers and wrong-dialling fax machines are to be warded off, but otherwise every contact stored in the iPhone address book is allowed to call, you will find the ideal solution further down in the settings menu “DND/Allow calls”:
This option allows selection from contacts/groups
If you want to create Contact Groups and avoid the iCloud (protection of privacy/observance of EU-GDPR), you need an app for this.
Recommendation: Contact Groups App by Thomas Kroll.
As soon as diallers of dubious advertising callers start ringing at short intervals without interruption and suppress your own telephone number or display a fake, constantly changing telephone number, “DND” must remain active, otherwise you are no longer reachable for serious callers!
I bought a real call filter (Advanced Call Blocker by wahooka) for my Smartphone Samsung Galaxy Note (Android OS) on 12 December 2010.
Since 24.03.2011, I had already been using a location- and time-dependent profile control called “Llama” on the above-mentioned smartphone.
My switch to Apple was like a culture shock, as there wasn't even a proper call filter with this phone and only since iOS 13 (?) has there been the option to dedicate a busy signal to anonymous callers!
This year, the iPhone will become a full-fledged phone in autumn, because it will finally get location- and time-dependent profile control with iOS 15! Apple calls this “Focus” and integrates “DND” as a part of it. Apple's customers have been waiting for this feature since iPhone 1!
Since iOS 14.7 (?), unwanted phone numbers can be blocked directly from the call list, without having to save them in the address book!
If you make a mistake (e.g. slipped in a line, got the wrong contact), you can tap on “Unblock” immediately afterwards.
If you want to unblock the contact later or check all blocks already stored, you can do this via the settings menu:
Settings/Phone/Blocked contacts/Add contact. Search for names in the address book, select, done. While you're at it, you can also add annoying insurance agents, colleagues etc. When you are done, press Cancel in the top right-hand corner. This will take you directly back to the “black list” without selecting a new candidate and you can also undo blockings by swiping the name to the left. Then “Unblock” appears to the right of the entry, which you tap to confirm.
Most technology enthusiasts and sci-fi fans would like to operate their computers by voice like in the sci-fi series Star Trek.
Since then, the iPhone can be controlled by voice. Unfortunately, Steve Jobs had decided to let the very powerful software work online in a much slimmed-down way. The original software could run on the iPhone without an online connection to the data centre and would not be as restricted as we know it!
But that will change with iOS 15 in autumn: on newer iPhones with enough computing power, Siri will then run locally without a server connection!
I see the main purpose of a digital assistant as being to operate the smartphone without having to pick it up. Users of a Bluetooth headset are particularly happy about this possibility, because this way the iPhone can stay protected in the pocket as often as possible!
With most headsets, voice control is started with a long press on the answer button. If you use a headset on an Apple iPhone from version 4s upwards, the assistant Siri is also addressed via it and instead of saying “Hey, Siri!” you immediately state your wish. Siri answers questions about the weather, can send dictated messages, dial phone numbers, read out received messages, remind you of appointments, wake you up in the morning, play your own music, tell you the artist of a current music track and the scores of sporting events, etc.
A few practical Examples …
This way, you call the assistant and immediately attach the question or request to it when you hold the iPhone in your hand or have it on the table.
Siri understands freely formulated questions/instructions and also answers some questions with a comment …
Example: When asked “How cold is it now?”, Siri replied: “It's 6 degrees now, but I don't think it's cold at all, Michael”.
Siri finds less than 4 degrees bitterly cold, anything above that Siri comments with “... but I don't find it cold at all”.
There is a separate database for each language.
And from the time iOS 10 was distributed, Siri commented on all temperatures above about 20 °Celsius with “hot”.
So the question “How warm is it now?” was answered with “20 degrees, … hot!” (after a few weeks, Siri is no longer used to this).
When Siri wants to be funny, she answers questions about temperature: “No matter how warm it is outside – it's always room temperature inside. Just kidding”.
Screenshot: Import pictures and videos
After establishing the USB connection with a Windows computer, Windows asks the user whether the pictures and videos found on the iPhone should be displayed in the Explorer window or copied to the hard disk (see illustration above). Without iTunes, this is the only way to at least get pictures and videos from the iPhone onto the Windows computer.
By the way, this rudimentary backup function even works when connected to a Rasperry Pi. The editors of the computer magazine c't once presented such a solution for Linux. Better than nothing, but not a comprehensive backup.
To keep media content (books, photos, music, videos) on the iPhone in sync with a local computer, Apple's desktop software iTunes or a third-party solution is required.
Since macOS version Catalina (approx. May 2020), synchronisation or backup has been integrated into the Finder, i.e. Apple's file manager.
Only customers without a Mac, i.e. with a Windows computer, must continue to struggle with a not so smoothly running iTunes version. There is no comparable solution for Linux users.
For data protection reasons, German business people must avoid Apple's iCloud. Use iTunes or, even better, iMazing with USB cable or WiFi connection at home. Security-conscious private users should also do the same.
Illustration: Optimal backup setting for iTunes
When recharging the battery in the evening at the USB port of your PC, you can have iTunes create an encrypted backup on the hard disk or SSD (see illustration). It is also possible to synchronise your music collection on the hard disk with the iPhone.
An iCloud email account can, but does not have to be created!
PIM data such as email, addresses, tasks and notes can be easily synchronised with your existing email accounts.
For this purpose, the EAS protocol is also supported, which works with Microsoft's Outlook, but also with 1&1 Mail Business, for example.
Advantage of EAS: easy to set up and all data is available at all times while on the move (older mails are only reloaded from the server if required when “entire period” is selected for synchronisation).
Set transport encryption “SSL/TLS” with corresponding port!
Those who have Microsoft Outlook installed locally can keep it synchronised with the iPhone via iTunes (not tested myself).
I created a separate account for Posteo because I'm still using their calendar for a while (with CalenGoo).
I have uninstalled Apple's Mail app because I use Tutanota with their own Mail app.
I have never activated iCloud Drive and will never use it because American authorities can access it at any time for no reason.
I don't support mass surveillance because it's easy to become collateral damage: Backdoor keys are rarely carefully secured and are therefore very desirable targets for criminals.
However, iMazing, a Swiss quality product from the Geneva-based software company DigiDNA, is much better than iTunes. I already preferred it to iTunes on the Windows notebook and it is simply a dream. iTunes, on the other hand, was sometimes more of a nightmare on the Windows notebook.
iMazing automatically backs up the data from my iPhones to my MacBook Air via WLAN every day. Without a cloud. Works like a dream.
The feature-rich and user-friendly iMazing is the best manager for iOS devices on Mac and PC.
I have been using iMazing on my Windows notebook for years because Apple's patchwork iTunes is really no fun.
17.02.2020: Listening to my favourite album “The Best Of The Art Of Noise (1992)” again, 2nd track: Yebo (Mbaqanga Mix).
This is ideal for testing the low bass reproduction! Another tip: 7th track: Legacy.
This is synthesiser sound, which – taken on its own – is not objectively suitable for testing the sound quality of a music player. Electronic music sounds good on any device. But I know this album inside out and have listened to it very often on various MP3 players (constant quality encoding; dynamic data rate up to max. 320 kbit/s).
For a real objective test of the sound quality, I used music titles with acoustic instruments and very often heard musicians' voices.
The listening test CD of the hi-fi magazine Audio was also very helpful for the objective test of the acoustics.
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro can really show that it has a ruler-like frequency response down to the low bass range. Otherwise, the bass would not be so abysmally deep, undistorted and clear (unfortunately, I can't measure it).
Conclusion: one of the best high-end music players – but not with the included Apple EarPods!
They have too weak a bass response, but otherwise transmit quite neutrally (writes the press).
Since I don't think much of such gimmicks, I didn't even unpack the EarPods this time.
My audio test equipment: I use the Sony MDR-EX90LP as headphones.
These in-ear headphones in studio monitor quality offer a quite undistorted reproduction.
But as soon as you use iCloud for backups, end-to-end encryption no longer protects you because Apple adds the key for iMessage to every iCloud backup! Apple has the key for all iCloud accounts and has to hand it over to American authorities on demand (Cloud Act, GAG order etc.).
Those who observe the EU-DSGVO and respect the privacy of family, friends, colleagues, customers etc. avoid the iCloud!
Time and again one can read in the IT news that iPhones of journalists and other vulnerable persons have been spied on. Often the spy software got onto the iPhone unnoticed through a security hole in iMessage.
Cryptology professor Matthew Green now recommends Apple to rewrite the code base of iMessage completely. (see: Reference).
Apple had always closed the security holes relatively quickly, but as long as the code of iMessage is not significantly improved, there will always be successful attacks.
Threema is much more secure. It also works without personal data such as telephone number or email address. The Threema ID is sufficient.
With Threema you can chat end-to-end encrypted and make tap-proof phone calls. Please also read my article about instant messaging …
04.09.2022: Tonight my iPhone 11 Pro Max becomes my daily driver again. I export all chats from the Threema app from the Fairphone 4 as encrypted files and email them to myself via Tutanota, because I have extra storage space there and everything is end-to-end encrypted.
Then I install Threema from Apple's App Store on my iPhone. Unfortunately, you can't move the chats when you change systems, but if I want to look at an old chat, I can decrypt the archive file and read it on my MacBook. Thanks to Threema Safe, Threema ID (incl. public and private key), nickname, profile picture, contacts (incl. trust level) and group memberships are retained.
The Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max offers excellent sound quality and supports HD Voice (Plus) – even with Voice over LTE (VoLTE).
If the person you are calling is also using UMTS or VoLTE with HD Voice (Plus), you will experience much better sound quality than with ISDN in the fixed network!
You recognise callers (and their state of mind) immediately by their voice and conversations remain more relaxed because there is no more annoying background noise.
Apple iOS, formerly also known as iPhone OS
Stocks, App Store, Files, Settings, Reminders, FaceTime, Photos, Find Friends, Health, Home, Calendar, Camera, Maps, Compass, Contacts, Mail, Find My iPhone, Music, Messages, Notes, Podcasts, Calculator, Safari, Siri, Voice Memos, Phone, Tips, Clock, Wallet, Watch, Weather, iBooks, iCloud Drive, iTunes Store
Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, GarageBand, TV and Clips are pre-installed.
The list of all the apps I have personally tested you can find in my Software menu as submenu Mobile Apps. Motto: Quality, not quantity!
The acoustics are excellent! Thanks to high signal-to-noise ratio, good channel separation and low distortion, the fidelity is outstanding!
The excellently crafted case feels very good and is a pleasure to hold.
This OLED display shows photos and text sharply and in natural colours. The size of the screen is enough to be able to work on this website on the go. I even watch some episodes of TV series on this display.
I had read it before I bought the iPhone, but now I notice every day that it's true.
Normal “daily business” leaves it completely cold, everything runs smoothly and the case is never very warm.
It's a pity that Apple stopped providing an interface to evaluate the temperature of the processor or the battery in an app a long time ago.
Your face has been used to secure your personal data since the predecessor iPhone X. The fingerprint scanner of older iPhones does not recognise its user as reliably as the infrared camera in the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Depending on the weather (humidity?!) and the condition of my skin, my iPhone 6s Plus/7 Plus/8 sometimes did not recognise me and I then had to type in my very long password. My iPhone 11 Pro Max only fails to recognise me if I accidentally hold it too close or too low under my face. However, children and twins should do without Face ID because they could otherwise unlock each other's devices. Hand on heart: do children need such a sensitive iPhone with a glass casing? (No!)
Apple's designers ignore all criticism and continue to let the lenses of the main camera on the back of the device protrude a little from the housing. There is a reason for this: good optics consist of several lenses with the appropriate spacing and they need space!
For example, the Apple Leather Case provides a flat back. This has an opening for the lens bulge that fits exactly, making the back completely even. This camera really takes outstandingly good photos. In very low light, they are a little noisy, but in sufficient light, the quality corresponds to that of compact cameras.
Thanks to the use of four satellite systems, localisation is always possible, provided there is a clear view of the sky.
A Lightning plug can be easily and precisely inserted into the Lightning socket. Better than the Micro-USB socket that used to be common with other manufacturers.
This is as good as the USB-C sockets and plugs now common everywhere except iPhones.
If you don't care about detail and build quality, you won't miss the detail, I do.
Photo: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max Gold, left side
Photo: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max Gold, right side
When I buy a new smartphone, I always buy a black leather case from fitBAG (made in Germany) for it …
Photo #1: fitBAG leather sleeve with two types of leather: on this side nappa leather …
Photo 2: fitBAG leather sleeve with two types of leather: on the other side buckskin
Stainless steel and glass are susceptible to scratches. That's why I protect my iPhone with a black nappa leather case from fitBAG.
You want to protect an expensive iPhone from damage. Some use leather cases, others foils. Foldable flip cases made of genuine leather are also a popular solution. The disadvantage of these products is that you can hardly feel or see the beautiful case directly with your hands. Another solution are cases from which you take the smartphone out to operate it. I like such cases from fitBAG best and that is why I have been a regular customer there for years.
Bags from fitBAG are not expensive despite being made to measure!
If you want to feel naked glass with a stainless steel frame in your hand, you can save the money for Apple's leather case (a whopping €59 after all)! Instead, buy a fitBAG leather case for a third of the price. Specify the iPhone model and its case dimensions +3 mm so that it is not too tight and the iPhone can be removed comfortably. After a few weeks of use, the case will widen a tiny bit, but by then the outer buttons would be heavily stressed, which is too risky for me (I'm very fussy). From many years of experience, I can assure you that fitBAG's nappa leather cases are made exactly to customer specifications.
Apple's leather case makes a beautiful leather back without a protruding camera lens!
If you have the leather case made by fitBAG with the dimensions of Apple's leather case, you have a very secure transport protection for the valuable iPhone!
(1): Impractical workaround for this gross error: tap the dial, then it switches from 5-minute intervals to 1-minute intervals
(2): Just one of many practical NFC applications that are unfortunately not usable with the iPhone:
read out eTicket (local public transport time ticket) via the RMV app to check the expiry date of the ticket subscription.
Until Apple sees sense, this function will remain reserved for Android users. Even consumer protection in Canada could not prevail against Apple.
Some Apple peculiarities make a blanket recommendation impossible.
If you are willing to compromise and accept the disadvantages (maybe even because of the advantages), you will get a very nice and solid smartphone!
For me it is a very nice and reliable device. I love its rounded corners and the great photo quality.
Expanding the internal memory is impossible – a slot for a memory card is missing! 64 GB is a joke these days, because:
If you underestimate the amount of memory you need, you will not be able to use your iPhone as intended for long, then it will limit you and become practically unusable.
Only if you want to use an iPhone as a luxury phone without collecting pictures or music will 64 GB be enough in the long run.
If your interests change later and you do want to store music collections or photo albums, you're screwed …
Storage outsourcing to a cloud requires a reliably available data connection so that required data can be downloaded quickly at any time. Without a Wi-Fi connection, this will be more expensive in the long run than the additional price for an iPhone with enough memory, as real mobile flat rates are expensive in Germany. Talking about additional price: 5 GB
are free you have paid for with the price of the device – they are neither enough for backups nor for further data collections. 0.99 EUR/month (50 GB) or 2.99 EUR/month (200 GB) are not expensive, but that is to encourage the population to upload personal data (the NSA can hardly wait)!
You should care that the NSA has access to your iCloud at all times – for business use (EU-DSGVO) and to protect the privacy of your fellow human beings, the use of the iCloud is therefore taboo!
Also remember that iMessage conversations are only secure if no backup is made to the iCloud! As soon as the iCloud is used even for one backup, these iMessage conversations including the key are available to American authorities!
Specifications Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: Apple Support Website
iMessage: Code better be completely rewritten
heise online news 07/2021 (German-language)
Matthew Green: A case against security nihilism
Famous IT security researchers warn (German-language)