Apple revealed its latest iPhones in the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone 11 at an event in September 2019, succeeding the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR - though XR is still available.

We've already compared the three new devices against each other, as well as the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR in separate features, but here we are looking at how the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max compare to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max to help you decide whether you should upgrade.

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Design

  • iPhone XS: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm, 177g
  • iPhone XS Max: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm, 208g
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 144 x 71.4 x 8.1mm, 188g
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 158 x 77.8 x 8.1mm, 226g

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max share several similarities in design compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max. They all have stainless steel frames, glass rears and a large notch at the top of their displays, though their colours differ and the iPhone 11 Pro models have a matte glass rear rather than glossy, which is beautiful in the flesh.

Naturally, the iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone XS Max are larger than the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone XS but there isn't much difference between the new and old models with the XS and 11 Pro similar, and the XS Max and 11 Pro Max measuring around the same too. The Pro models are a little heavier than the XS models though and the matte finish does make the Pro Max appear smaller than the XS Max did but it is of course just an illusion.

Where the main differences can be seen is the rear of the devices. The iPhone XS and XS Max both have a dual rear camera situated in the top left of the device, while the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have a somewhat polarising square camera housing sporting three camera lenses, also in the top left.

Display

  • iPhone XS: 5.8-inch, HDR, True Tone, 3D Touch, 625nits
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8-inch, HDR, True Tone, Haptic Touch, 800nits
  • iPhone XS Max: 6.5-inch, HDR, True Tone, 3D Touch, 625nits
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.5-inch, HDR, True Tone, Haptic Touch, 800nits

The Apple iPhone XS and iPhone 11 Pro both come with a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display that has a 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution, delivering a pixel density 458ppi. The iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Pro Max meanwhile, have a 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED display with a 2688 x 1242 pixel resolution, also delivering a pixel density of 458ppi.

The technology has changed for the Pro models though, despite them offering the same size and resolution. The screens are now much more efficient, offering big battery life improvements and they are brighter too, delivering between 800nits and 1200nits of brightness compared to the XS models that offer 625nits maximum brightness, which is apparent when placed side-by-side.

The Pro models also opt for Haptic Touch like the iPhone XR, rather than 3D Touch like the XS models. All four models have mobile HDR compatibility, coupled with Apple's True Tone technology and a P3 wide colour gamut however.

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Cameras

  • iPhone XS/XS Max: Dual rear (12MP wide-angle+12MP telephoto), 7MP front
  • iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max: Triple rear (12MP wide-angle+12MP ultra-wide+12MP telephoto), 12MP front

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max both offer dual rear cameras, comprised of two 12-megapixel sensors, one wide-angle and one telephoto. The wide-angle lens has an aperture of f/1.8, while the telephoto lens has an aperture of f/2.4. The two devices have 2x optical zoom and digital zoom up to 10x. 

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max both have a triple rear camera, made up of a 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor with an aperture of f/2.4, a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. The Pro models have dual optical image stabilisation, 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out and digital zoom up 10x.

On the front, the iPhone XS models have a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera, allowing for Face ID, and offering 1080p video recording at 30fps and 60fps. The iPhone 11 Pro models bump the front camera resolution up to 12-megapixels and offer 4K video recording at 24fps, 30fps and 60fps and they also feature a slow-motion video mode for what Apple calls Slofies. It's another gimmicky feature like Animoji and Memoji but they can be quite fun.

All four devices have Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, Portrait Lighting and they all have Smart HDR. The Pro models have an extra Portrait Lighting effect though, as well as a brighter True Tone flash, Night Mode and Auto Adjustments.

It's Night Mode that really sets the iPhone 11 Pro models aside from the XS models though - offering significant improvements in low light environments. The third ultra-wide angle lens is great too though, enabling you to get more in your shot.

Hardware

  • iPhone XS/XS Max: A12, 64/256/512GB storage models, wireless charging
  • iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max: A13, 64/256/512GB storage models, wireless charging

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max arrive with an A13 chip under their hoods, offering a power boost compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max that have the A12 chip. All four models come in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options and none of the devices have microSD for storage expansion.

Apple doesn't talk about specific RAM and battery capacities, but the iPhone 11 Pro models offer some great improvements on their predecessors in terms of battery. The iPhone 11 Pro is claimed to last up to four hours longer than the iPhone XS , while the iPhone 11 Pro Max will last up to five hours longer than the iPhone XS Max and we've found those numbers to be pretty accurate in our experience. 

Apple Pay is on board all four devices, as you would expect, and all offer dual-SIM capabilities with nano-SIM and eSIM. All four models are also 4G capable but none offer 5G capabilities. You can read about the rumours for a 5G iPhone in our separate feature.

Both the iPhone 11 Pro models and the iPhone XS models offer wireless charging and support for fast charging. Only the iPhone 11 Pro models come with an 18W fast charger in the box though.

Software 

  • All models: iOS 13

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max launch on iOS 13, delivering several new features including Dark Mode, changes to Messages and Photos, updates to Reminders and a new Find My app that combines Find My Friends and Find My iPhone in one, among plenty of other updates. You can read about all the main features in our iOS 13 review.

The iPhone XS and XS Max will both be updated to iOS 13 on 19 September, meaning the older models will deliver an almost identical experience to the new models in terms of software, though the new devices have a couple of extra features, such as Night Mode and Auto Adjustments.

Price

  • iPhone 11 Pro models: From $999/£1049
  • iPhone XS models: Likely cheaper

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999/£1049, while the iPhone Pro Max starts at $1099/£1149, which is similar to what the iPhone XS and XS Max started at when they launched in 2018.

The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max won't be available through Apple anymore - with the iPhone Pro and Pro Max taking their place - but you might find them cheaper elsewhere if you're considering these models over the new iPhones. 

Conclusion

The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max look similar to the iPhone XS and XS Max, at least from the front, but they offer big camera and processor upgrades, material upgrades, display and battery improvements and they trade 3D Touch for Haptic Touch.

The newest models are more expensive than last year's models though, starting at $999/£1049, while you should be able to find the XS and XS Max for less than their successors.

If you have an XS or XS Max, the upgrade to the respective Pro model will offer several improvements, especially in terms of camera, design finish and battery capacities, but you'll need to decide if these are enough to warrant the expense.

If you're making a choice between the iPhone 11 Pro models or XS models, you'll save some cash buying last year's models, but you'll miss out on a couple of the new features offered by Apple - predominantly camera and battery. It just depends how important these features are to you and your wallet.