I took my daughter on a California road trip the other week – five days we’ve been walking around and seeing the sights. Since we were abroad during that time, I made sure to stress the importance of carefully packing for my daughter. “Be sure to bring everything you need,” I told her, drawing on decades of wisdom and experience. “You don’t want to travel only to find out that you’ve left something essential behind.”
Naturally, I forgot to pack a charging cable for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
This was a potentially huge oversight. The iPhone was going to be the only form of communication with people who stay ahead of the house. It also happened in the place where all the tickets to the various attractions were stored – “Who needs paper tickets when you have a fully charged smartphone?” I may or may not have said it at some point – and Apple Maps has emerged as our best hope for navigating these attractions. Yes, it’s a good idea to separate our devices, especially when traveling with family, but not when the device is the itinerary and navigator.
So yeah, there were some worrisome moments when I realized a few hours into our flight that we’d be on the road without minimal resources to keep the iPhone charged. I say minimal because at least my car had a built in charger. That would take care of us when driving back and forth, but charging the phone overnight was spot on. I was having an unplanned side trip to the Apple Store or a week of nervously checking the iPhone battery between car trips.
In the end, I didn’t need to spend much time worrying. It turns out that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is excellent when it comes to carrying a charge.
How did the iPhone 11 Pro Max perform
I certainly knew that on some level. When we tested the phone to review the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it lasted 11 hours and 54 minutes in our battery test. (We have phones constantly surfing the web via cell phone until the power runs out.) That would put the iPhone 11 Pro Max at the top of our phone battery life list, if we didn’t turn the devices off after 18 months.
And this is the thing I found most remarkable about the iPhone 11 Pro Max battery life on my trip — this phone is over two years old, still lasts all day and then fully charged.
Even with the phone only charging during driving time, my iPhone 11 Pro Max held up for the better part of our trip. Only once did I have to go into power saving mode, and it was on our last night away from home when I realized my iPhone wouldn’t run out of gas, and I indulged in a round or two of PUBG Mobile after my daughter went to bed. Other than that, I had all the strength I needed to answer emails, check on my wife on nightly phone calls, share photos from the trip and plan our travel for the next day.
The nature of reviewing phones is to extensively evaluate the device when it first arrives, and then, when you reach your judgment, move on to the next thing. If we’re lucky, we can go back in a few months and revisit particularly popular devices. We rarely get a chance to check in on the phone more than two years after it arrived to see how it holds up. In the case of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, let me confirm that it works fine.
This can help make future buying decisions when it’s time to upgrade your phone. Apple has a pretty good track record when it comes to taking care of battery life, with every iPhone 12 model except the iPhone 12 Pro Max. For the iPhone 13 release last fall, the company increased the battery size, resulting in sweeping improvements for all four models in our battery test. You’d expect similar attention to be given to future phones, whether it’s the iPhone 14 due this fall or the iPhone SE 3 expected to arrive as soon as next week.
Why battery life matters, now and later
Things can change of course. Some software updates may be particularly demanding when it comes to battery power. But in general, between Apple’s chips and its iOS updates, you have to give the company credit for managing the battery life of its devices over time. My experience with the iPhone 11 Pro Max is proof of that.
Making sure phones keep working over time is becoming increasingly important now that more people are spending more time between phone upgrades – a trend that smartphone makers have now recognized as they add features meant to extend the usability of their devices. Long battery life is part of that equation, not just when the phone comes out but also how it will charge after a year or two.
Having a phone that’s long lasting at first can help avoid battery depression down the road, but it’s just one part of the picture. You should consider other power management features as well, like the improved charging feature that Apple added to its phone software with iOS 13. With improved charging, your phone is smart enough to detect when it will be connected to a charger for an extended period of time; In this case, exceeding 80% will be delayed to reduce the wear and tear on the phone’s power pack. The end result should be a phone with a battery that doesn’t degrade quickly.
I can’t say for sure how much of a role features like those played in the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s battery life, which is still great after all this time. But I’m sure it helped a lot. And it gives me confidence going forward that Apple puts a lot of thought into how well its devices can withstand charging — not just now, but in the future.