Apple is reversing course with its iPhone 11 Pro family – which was announced yesterday -- and we're actually seeing some pretty substantial gains in battery life compared to iPhone XS family. When Apple launched the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max in 2018, it said that battery life had improved by 30 minutes over the iPhone X for the former, and by one hour and 30 minutes for the latter.
In the case of the iPhone XS, this slight improvement in runtimes came from the more efficient 7nm A12 Bionic processor and optimized software in iOS 12. That's the only explanation that can be deduced given that the battery size in the iPhone X was actually larger than the one in the iPhone XS (2716 mAh versus 2658 mAh). The iPhone XS Max is a physically larger device with a larger battery (3174 mAh) which explains its longer runtimes.
But with the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple is stating that runtimes are four hours longer than the iPhone XS. On the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple is quoting runtimes that are five hours longer. Those are substantial gains that cannot just be chalked up to just the second-generation 7nm process tech used in the new A13 Bionic SoC and iOS 13 optimizations. There has to be something more lurking under the hood.
It doesn't take long to see where that change came from if we look at the dimensions for the iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max compared to the iPhone XS/XS Max:
iPhone XS: 5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches
iPhone 11 Pro: 5.67 x 2.81 x 0.32 inches
iPhone XS Max: 6.20 x 3.05 x 0.30 inches
iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 inches
Dimensions have increased in all directions and the device is now a tad bit thicker than before, bucking previous trends. Weight is also up, with the iPhone 11 Pro increasing to 6.63 ounces (versus 6.24 ounces) and the iPhone 11 Pro bulking up to 7.97 ounces (versus 7.34 ounces). The only logical explanation is that the increased dimensions and weight gain are to fit larger batteries inside. Bigger batteries combined with iOS 13 optimizations and the A13 Bionic would most definitely account for up to a five-hour endurance gain.
In fact, previous rumors have suggested that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max feature batteries coming in at 3100 mAh and 3500 mAh respectively, which are roughly 10 percent larger than their predecessors. Of course, we'll have to wait until we see the first teardowns of the new phones (which should come next weekend) to get confirmation on those battery capacities.
Whatever the case, for now at least, it looks as though Apple has answered its critics and is abandoning its thin crusade. After all, we doubt that many will complain about a slightly thicker and heavier device in return for these big runtime gains.