The good Speed even faster, better battery life. The iPhone 11 cameras get an excellent new night mode and an ultra wide angle camera that can add additional details in the photos. Fantastic video camera.
Bad Only Pro models get the 2x telephoto lens. The ultra wide angle camera does not add night mode. Without USB-C port. Pro phones have a faster 18-watt charger, but the iPhone 11 doesn’t. It still has a good screen (but not OLED).
The end result: Apple may have omitted flashy extras on this year’s phones, but the iPhone 11 is the best medium-sized model the company has ever made.
When you first hear the names of the new Apple iPhones, the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, you may have some questions. Where is the iPhone X ($ 899 on Amazon)? And what makes the iPhone Pro … Pro? What happened to last year’s XS and XS Max ($ 1,000 on Amazon)?
This year’s new phones are polished sequels (literally and figuratively) of the three we obtained last year. For some people, the iPhone 11 just needs to be better than the XS. And indeed it is.
But for others, it is good to know where Apple is in the wider picture of phones. There are wild speeds of 5G on the horizon, plus weird and expensive folding phones like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. And then there is the most expensive $ 799 Google Pixel 4, which actually makes the 288,000 naira iPhone 11 seem even better.
Buy Apple iPhone 11
Apple did a great job with new features, including some serious improvements to the camera, such as Night Mode for taking photos in low light situations and Deep Fusion, a new way in which the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro process the photos taken in situations where the lighting is bright enough to see, but nothing like being outside on a sunny day.
But there is a good reason why the company named its most expensive and elegant phones as “Pro” this year: Price. Apple is smartly targeting the $ 119 iPhone (£ 729, AU $ 1,199) as the phone for most people, in the same mold as the iPhone XR ($ 749 at Amazon) last year.
While the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max (left and top) have three 12-megapixel cameras, the iPhone 11 (right) only has two.
Essentially, the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are 85% exactly the same phone. If you want a dedicated telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom, different size options, a better screen and finish, you will pay 30% more.
That does not mean that the $ 1199 iPhone 11 Pro and the $ 1,099 11 Pro 11 Max are not excellent phones. It’s just that the iPhone 11 is really that good. And that is why Apple’s “value” phone with its wonderful cameras, solid construction (which survived the fall and water tests of CNET) and iOS 13.2 gives the iPhone 11 a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.
Apple’s new phones have more cameras, lower price
It still starts with 64 GB
The $ 699 iPhone 11 model has 64 GB of storage, which is probably fine for many people, and is a $ 50 price drop from last year’s iPhone XR base model. 128GB for $ 749 probably makes more sense if you are recording a video and 256GB for $ 849 should only be a consideration if you are recording a lot of video.
Pro phones add a level of 512 GB that you will not need unless you are recording in 4K for a living. See the chart at the end of this review for complete pricing details, including prices from the United Kingdom and Australia.
Apple iPhone 11, $ 600
Google Pixel 3A, $ 388Amazon
Samsung Galaxy A50, $ 258
Google Pixel 4 XL
Samsung Galaxy S10E, $ 650
For some reason, Apple is still manufacturing the lowest-priced iPhone 11, which comes in fun colors. There are two new colors, called green and purple, that look more like mint green and lavender. These new pastel colors replace the blue and coral options of last year.
I have the green iPhone 11. Its color is pleasant, and the color of the aluminum housing is much closer to perfection with the color of the glass. The shiny glass back feels the same as last year’s XR. The same goes for the rest of the phone, except for the dual cameras, which are lifted from the back and placed in a square of frosted glass chamber.
On the contrary, all iPhone 11 Pro models have metallic tones: silver, space gray, gold and a midnight military green. The three cameras seem more industrial (perhaps imposing). The back glass is matt, instead of shiny. They are made of steel instead of aluminum. And Pro phones feel significantly denser. They pack bigger batteries, and the steel adds weight.
I like the iPhone 11 to follow the steps of the iPhone XR and become the medium-sized phone with a 6.1-inch screen, compared to the two iPhone Pro models of 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches. I have come to favor the smaller iPhone 11 Pro, like the iPhone XS last year.
In recent years, Apple has made impressive advances in camera quality, but also many other phone manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei and Google. The arms race with cameras is something that expert photographers study closely, but I would say that it has surpassed what most people need. The iPhone 11 cameras are some of the best to capture photos and videos that you can buy today.
The iPhone 11 can switch between a wide angle and ultra wide angle lens. The iPhone 11 Pro can do the same, but it also offers a telephoto camera to get closer to your subject.
The 11 comes with a new ultra-wide-angle camera, night mode for low-light photography, Deep Fusion processing for better indoor shots, faster autofocus and sharper overall images with more accurate color reproduction.
For a deeper insight into the camera differences between this year’s iPhone and last year’s iPhone, read our comparison of iPhone cameras between the iPhone 11 with Deep Fusion and the iPhone XR. The ultra wide offers a radical change of perspective that can be vertiginously unique visually. This will not become your favorite camera, but it is simply a wonder to use.
This scallop plate really occupies a central place when it is photographed with the iPhone 11’s ultra wide angle camera.
Night mode is a key feature that helps Apple achieve similar capabilities from Google, Huawei and Samsung. And so far, the Apple version is impressive.
A photo of the Brooklyn Bridge Park at night, making the colors stand out. The most saturated colors are part of the night mode environment.
Night mode, how it works and when not
Like the Google Pixel 4, the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, taking amazing photos in low light now seems to be in the computer booth of all phone manufacturers. The Apple version illuminates the photos, captures less image noise and does all this automatically. The way it works is when you open the default camera application, the phone determines when it is dark enough to enter night mode. At this time, there is no manual way to activate the mode.
Night mode uses adaptive bracketing and takes a series of photos, some with a longer shutter speed and others with a shorter one. Then, the iPhone merges all photos to reduce motion blur and lighten shadows.
When I took photos in handheld night mode, the sequence would take between 3 and 5 seconds. When I put the iPhone on a tripod, I got a time of 10 seconds and I could even manually cancel it for a night shot of 28 seconds.
I took a picture of a tree in my backyard that was in complete darkness. Below is a photo with the iPhone 11 using night mode and another with the iPhone XS last year.
The HDR sensation of the photos maintains some of the night effects, but in other occasions the photos may end up looking like daylight. Night mode can be disabled by touching the icon and sliding the timer, but so far it has been an improvement in almost all cases.
It is not a perfect tool: faces can become blurred, details can be lost. But still, I was impressed. Night Mode effects work the same on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, but the Pro also has a telephoto camera that can use it.
However, you cannot use night mode in wide angle mode. That camera ends up looking much darker, and it doesn’t have optical image stabilization either. That is true in all models this year.
Frame the shots correctly, and the ultra wide angle camera can do fun things.
Ultra wide angle = dramatic camera
The newest camera has an equivalent 13mm ultra-wide lens that is simply fun to use. If the main wide camera is like a business suit and the “tele” lens is a sports jacket, then the ultra wide is the equivalent of a Hawaiian shirt.
It is obviously different and really changes the way you shoot. It won’t be great in all situations, but it can be useful in equal parts, such as when shooting in smaller spaces, and artistic, adding drama to a mundane scene.
Apple balanced the distortion, so there is a bit (which you want for that ultra-wide look) but it’s not horrible. I immediately found angles in my subjects that made them seem bigger than life. Best of all, you can use the ultra wide lens when recording videos. In fact, during a recording you can switch between cameras. Apple even put a great zoom effect for the transition between lenses.
Without a doubt, you can make awesome shots. Ultra wide cameras are another new trend in phone cameras. Apple promises some additional benefits here. The iPhone 11 has an enhanced Ultra Wide Angle Portrait mode that can work with your pets’ close-ups and other things. All phones have an expanded viewfinder that now shows a preview of what’s out of the shot, which can help you know when to use the ultra-wide lens.
The ultra wide camera works for photos and videos.
An extravagant extra also captures some ultra-wide camera data in a Quick Take video, when you press and hold the camera button in the Camera application. It seems to attract people who might be out of the picture. So far, I have not had this mode working for me yet.
Apple will also use multiple cameras for an upcoming Deep Fusion feature that will reach all phones next month. More on that below. He promises to deliver a superphoto taken from multiple shots. It is not entirely smart HDR, but it will work automatically. I remember the promises of the Nokia 9, which also aimed to combine photos in a superimage.
The new Deep Fusion processing of the iPhone 11 shines under an average amount of light. It is better to think of the average light as the lighting inside a room without natural light, or an office where your desk is far from the windows. The lighting is bright enough for you to see, but nothing like being outside on a sunny day.
Like Smart HDR, it takes several images and combines them. But unlike Smart HDR, Deep Fusion does an analysis and optimizes things at a pixel level so that the details stand out, capture less image noise and improve brightness. The differences between a photo of the iPhone 11 with Deep Fusion and one of the XR without the new process are subtle.
Keep in mind that Deep Fusion processing is not the only thing that improves the photos of the iPhone 11. There is an improved sharpness and focus of the new main camera of the phone. In general, your photos will look better without any additional effort on your part.
Below are photos of a public telephone at a BART station. The lighting was dim but did not activate the night mode of the iPhone 11. (Also, heck, they still make public phones!) Look at the text and scratches on the phone in the picture taken with the iPhone 11 compared to the one taken with the XR The details are much sharper.
You can also see how Deep Fusion of the iPhone 11 minimizes image noise on the wall behind the phone. The iPhone XR photo is treated as a smear for its noise reduction.
More stabilized video and better video in general
I already loved the video features of the iPhone. I recorded some test images on the new phones and was curious about the stabilization of additional processing. The iPhone X and XS were already good enough to walk and shoot in the Apple event demo room. The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro do better, but I discovered that the wide camera was a bit softer than the ultra wide.
The video does not use Night Mode, but the videos looked better in darker spaces. Still, video in very dark places is darker than photos (even without Night Mode). We use some video images in our review video, check it out.
Slow motion selfie and wider selfie camera
The wider angle front camera is welcome. You can zoom in or out digitally to accommodate a wider view that includes more people and background.
The 12-megapixel front camera looks better and I am happy with the results, but you must be ingenious with the wider camera. Sometimes it ended up looking like a little face on a mountain of shirts.
When the phone is held vertically, the selfie camera is zoomed in by default and “zooms out” when turned horizontally.
My siblings started playing instantly with the slow motion selfies feature. Yes, that’s it. However, it is not a live photo. It is just a video mode. That makes it difficult to do a lot, because file sizes become large. However, I have many extended scenes in slow motion of 120 fps of my children sticking out their tongues.
Speed, yes, but really, battery life
After performing our formal battery tests and living with the iPhone 11 for more than a month, we discovered that the battery life is almost the same as last year’s iPhone XR. In our video streaming tests, the iPhone 11 lasted 13 hours and 52 minutes compared to the time of the iPhone XR of 12 hours and 7 minutes in the same test. In daily use, the iPhone 11 has lasted about a day and a half.
The A13 processor and RAM are the same in all new iPhone models (4 GB of RAM, and a seemingly as fast processor by benchmarks). It is a little faster on individual tasks and a bigger jump on multiple tasks. The graphic performance, in theory, looks great, approaching the iPad Pro last year.
Some other things to keep in mind
The LCD screen is the same as last year, and is totally fine. Apple’s impressive XDR Super Retina display on iPhone 11 Pro models is technically of higher resolution, more vivid and brighter than the iPhone 11 screen. But when you compare them side by side, most people (including me) They are in a hurry to find a difference. Apple does a great job with its Liquid Retina LCD screen on the iPhone 11.
It doesn’t seem like a compromise, except when you see dark images with subtle light details. Oh, and the notch is exactly the same as before. I’d rather it wasn’t, but at least I’m used to it.
The iPhone 11 has an LCD screen and the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max have OLED screens. But it would be hard to tell the difference
It bothers me that these do not have USB-C charging, or a way to charge the Apple Watch or AirPods from the back of the way Samsung phones allow you to charge Samsung watches and Galaxy Buds. The iPhone 11 Pro now comes with a better 18-watt charger that includes at least one more useful Lightning to USB-C cable. But the normal iPhone 11 does not.
Wi-Fi 6: The new Wi-Fi standard is faster, but in my 100-megabyte home network I didn’t see any changes in the iPhone XS.
Faster cell phone (but not 5G): Gigabit LTE is on the iPhone 11, which the XR didn’t have. The iPhone 11 still has MIMO 2×2 antennas. You get 4×4 MIMO on the iPhone 11 Pro, which can improve signal strength and speed, but over time we will see what the differences are.
Better water resistance? (We’ll see)
The iPhone 11 has a water resistance of 2 meters for 30 minutes. The iPhone 11 Pro has a capacity of 4 meters, for 30 minutes. In our iPhone 11 and 11 Pro water immersion tests (with the help of an underwater drone), the phones showed that they were more than capable of diving beyond what they were designed.
Last year’s iPhone XS lasted surprisingly well in our drop test. The XR, not so much. All “11 phones” have improved glass, according to Apple. We performed a drop test on both the iPhone 11 and the Pro 11. We dropped each phone from four different heights: 3, 6, 8 and 11 feet. From 8 feet and below, both phones survived by falling on a concrete floor.
The iPhone 11 Pro is the only one that showed damage. A few pixels on the 11 Pro’s screen stopped working and there was a small scratch on the aluminum bumper and a cosmetic scratch on the upper lens housing. The camera itself still worked.
Starting at 11 feet, both phones still did not crack, but the iPhone 11’s rear camera stopped working and the iPhone 11 Pro SIM card tray came out. It was easily put back into play, but a small bump appeared along the seam where the screen joins the stainless steel frame. For more details, see this story about the CNET crash test of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.
Video: iPhone 11: How resistant is glass?
A U1 chip with spatial awareness
Ultrawideband (UWB) is a technology that can offer more precise location functions than Bluetooth. This year’s iPhones have a new U1 chip that could reach other devices or even rumors of Apple’s location tags later this year.
Apple promises that with the U1 chip, AirDrop will now work more accurately by pointing an iPhone 11 towards another iPhone 11. It could also improve AR by placing beacons in a space. The features of U1 will not arrive until September 30 with iOS 13.1, so we will review it at that time.
Choose the XR even less expensive?
The iPhone XR, the direct ancestor of the iPhone 11, now sells for $ 100 less, starting at $ 599. If you’re not interested in a wide-angle camera or night photos, I’d say go with that. If you got the XR last year, the iPhone 11 is definitely not a sufficient reason to update.
What does Pro do for you?
If you can’t say it, I think the standard iPhone 11 has everything you need for the price, except for that telephoto lens. Regardless of whether that additional camera lens, an additional increase in battery life, a more vivid OLED screen and a stainless steel body that add up to a valuable $ 300 upgrade depends on how much you value those features.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are smaller and larger, respectively, than the one-size-fits-all iPhone 11.
I lean towards the smaller iPhone 11 Pro as my favorite iPhone this year. But for most people who are looking for an iPhone update, I would recommend the iPhone 11. Or just wait.
You definitely agree with last year’s phone, and I would even sit still if you have an iPhone 8 or iPhone X. Next year’s iPhones could be part of a great update cycle that will probably include 5G. And the new Google Pixel 4 phones are another option.