This is likely one of the easiest critiques I’ve ever needed to write: the iPhone 11 is the telephone most people who find themselves upgrading to a brand new iPhone this 12 months ought to get. It’s a wonderful telephone, with the most effective cameras I’ve ever seen on a smartphone and terrific battery life. Apple’s additionally dropped the worth by 50 bucks: the iPhone XR began at $749, however the iPhone 11 begins at $699.
None of this implies the iPhone 11 is an ideal telephone or that it has all the finest specs and options you will get. It doesn’t. However it’s nice the place it counts, and it’s completely superb all over the place else. If you wish to stay on the bleeding fringe of tech, you’ll be able to spend $300 extra and get an iPhone 11 Professional, which I additionally reviewed this week, or have a look at one of many many high-end Android choices accessible. However most individuals don’t must overthink it: simply get an iPhone 11. You’ll be comfortable.
Right here’s why.
The iPhone 11 is principally an S replace to final 12 months’s very talked-about iPhone XR. From the entrance, it seems precisely the identical. It has the identical design, the identical 6.1-inch 720p LCD with fancy rounded corners, the identical big bezels, and the identical aluminum physique.
However that design has been made barely higher: the water resistance is a little bit higher, and Apple says the glass on back and front is a little bit stronger. The digital camera bump on the again is now milled proper into the glass, which is form of neat, however it’s nonetheless a digital camera bump. The entire design stays a little bit surfboard-y, and it’s positively not small. For those who’re trying to improve from an iPhone SE, this factor goes to really feel big.
For those who’ve been holding off upgrades and aren’t conversant in the iPhone XR, right here’s a fast catch-up: the iPhone XR was the lower-cost mannequin in Apple’s 2018 line of iPhones, swapping in an LCD display screen for the OLED within the iPhone XS. It additionally had one fewer digital camera, however, critically, Apple didn’t skimp anyplace else — plus the battery life was stellar. Regardless of not having the perfect specs, it was the perfect iPhone for most individuals, and it shortly grew to become Apple’s best-selling mannequin. That’s most likely why this 12 months’s XR improve is simply known as the “iPhone 11.”
The one main variations between the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11 are the cameras, the marginally higher battery life, and the processor. There’s a bunch of different little issues we’ll get to, however that’s what you really want to know. Let’s begin with the battery.
Apple says the iPhone 11 will final for an hour longer on its battery than the iPhone XR, which already acquired large battery life. However the one onerous battery life numbers Apple publishes now are fastened checks of single actions, like video and audio playback on a loop. That’s not how anybody actually makes use of a telephone, and Apple’s claims of improved battery life over the earlier telephone aren’t actually based mostly on these checks. As a substitute, the corporate takes an enormous dataset of real-world iPhone utilization and runs it towards a mannequin of the brand new telephone that accounts for the varied processor, chipset, show, and OS energy enhancements and the bigger battery capability.
It’s intelligent, however there’s no method for reviewers to repeat and confirm that check. However in our checks, the iPhone 11 simply lasted a full day at a time after which some. It’s attainable you could possibly handle to kill this battery in lower than a day, however you’d have to essentially attempt. The battery life is nice, identical to the iPhone XR’s battery life was nice.
Final 12 months, the iPhone XR commonly beat out the XS fashions in battery life, however this 12 months, that hole has closed a bit with the iPhone 11 Professional fashions. The iPhone 11 remains to be on par or higher, however it didn’t get as massive of a leap in battery life because the Professional fashions did.
What’s much less nice is the truth that Apple remains to be placing its historical 5W charger within the field, although the iPhone 11 Professional has an 18W USB-C quick charger. If Apple isn’t going to replace the complete line to a quick charger, it ought to simply do the surroundings a favor and cease placing the 5W charger within the field solely; there are actually billions of them on this planet, and odds are, you may have multiple in a drawer already. I’d have fairly seen a 3.5mm to Lightning headphone adapter within the field as a substitute.
The opposite significant replace to the iPhone 11 from the iPhone XR is the digital camera, and I feel it’s an enormous step ahead. I used to be not a fan of Apple’s Good HDR cameras on the iPhone XS and XR, however the iPhone 11 is a large enchancment, and it makes older telephones just like the iPhone X and iPhone 7 look downright dangerous.
Apple added an ultra-wide f/2.4 digital camera to the again of the telephone, improved the sensor for the primary f/1.8 digital camera, and up to date the entrance digital camera to a 12-megapixel sensor with a barely wider subject of view in panorama and the flexibility to take 4K60 video. Apple’s Good HDR system has additionally been improved, and there’s a brand new Evening mode. These are all the identical cameras and options because the iPhone 11 Professional, minus a telephoto, and the outcomes are simply nearly as good. (I’ve used photographs from the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Professional interchangeably for these comparisons; Apple tells me that they need to carry out precisely the identical.)
These picture sliders are all cropped in to point out element within the pictures — there are some minor variations to get the sliders to align. You may take a look at a a lot deeper digital camera comparability in our iPhone 11 Professional evaluation as effectively — the digital camera methods are similar aside from the tele lens on the Professional.
I began the iPhone 11 Professional evaluation with a simple shot in brilliant daylight, so let’s begin this evaluation with a torture check: right here’s the iPhone 11 and Pixel 3 in evening modes and zoomed in (although neither has a zoom lens). The iPhone XR would principally fail at taking this photograph, whereas the iPhone 11 holds its personal towards the Pixel 3.
Right here’s one other photograph that the XR would fail to seize effectively. The iPhone 11 captures the precise gentle and element so significantly better than the Pixel. And the Pixel typically seems unnatural by making issues a lot brighter than actuality, which occurred once more right here.
Apple’s Good HDR system is so much smarter this 12 months. It’s extra prepared to blow out highlights, it retains shadows darkish, and it may acknowledge faces and hair and apply totally different processing to them — a function Apple calls “semantic rendering.” There’s additionally clearly much less noise discount occurring. I feel this shot of Mariya actually tells the entire story: have a look at how blurry and gentle the XS photograph is in comparison with all of the element for the 11 Professional.
Oddly, the iPhone XR did a greater job in some portrait mode conditions, although the iPhone 11 has a second lens to generate an actual depth map, whereas the XR has to do all of it in software program. The iPhone 11 simply straight up whiffed on Dieter’s glasses right here, however the XR is ok. I requested Apple about it, and the response was shock. I used to be informed the workforce spent loads of time on glasses this 12 months. We’ll must see if this improves over time.
Generally, I feel extra folks will certainly admire the addition of the ultra-wide lens over a tele lens. It’s only a actually enjoyable factor to play with. However the ultra-wide sensor is smaller and it has a slower lens, so it takes far worse pictures (particularly in low gentle) than simply backing up and utilizing the primary digital camera. So whereas Apple’s digital camera app makes each cameras really feel equal, I’d nonetheless suggest utilizing the primary digital camera and simply backing up if attainable. You’ll get a higher-quality photograph ultimately. As a substitute, consider the ultra-wide as extra of an inventive alternative, one thing that can provide you a unique or extra fascinating look, however not essentially a “higher” photograph.
I used to be additionally extraordinarily impressed with the iPhone 11’s video capabilities. All three cameras can take 4K60 now, and for those who report in something lower than 60 frames per second, you’ll be able to change between the huge and ultra-wide lenses with no colour shifts or publicity adjustments, which is spectacular. The one Android telephones that compete with Apple in video are from Samsung. However Apple’s nonetheless forward, and the hole is getting wider.
As talked about, we spent a ton of time testing photograph and video in our iPhone 11 Professional evaluation, together with a deep dive into video, so if you would like extra, go test it out there. However I feel the iPhone 11 cameras are so good that they’re value a year-over-year improve from the XR; I don’t normally say that.
There’s actually not that a lot to say concerning the iPhone 11’s show: it’s the identical Liquid Retina LCD as final 12 months, with the identical specs, the identical off-axis colour shift, and the identical thick bezel. “Liquid Retina” is simply Apple’s fancy title for the way it curves LCD corners with microscopic apertures. This can be a 326-dpi 720p LCD, and it seems like one. It merely doesn’t have the deep blacks of an OLED show, which suggests the brand new darkish mode in iOS 13 doesn’t look nearly as good because it does on the iPhone 11 Professional, and it’s positively decrease decision than the Professional telephones.
The excellent news is that Apple makes nice LCDs, and this LCD is nice. Except you actually, deeply care about shows, it’s greater than superb. Final 12 months, I mentioned the one purpose to spend $250 extra on the iPhone XS over the XR was the show, and I really feel the identical method this 12 months — solely now, it’s a $300 leap. It’s positively value it to me, however I like to recommend them to resolve for your self. I’d wager most individuals received’t be capable of see a significant distinction.
The iPhone 11 now has “spatial audio,” which Apple tells me is a digital encompass decoder that principally helps Dolby codecs, though it looks as if video games can use it with out Dolby encoding as effectively. Spatial audio helps 5.1 and seven.1 encompass — Netflix will play in Dolby Digital 5.1 — and it additionally helps Dolby Atmos in motion pictures from the iTunes retailer, which is a little bit foolish for stereo audio system, however it’s there. I don’t know if any telephone will ever ship precise encompass sound, however the iPhone 11 is unquestionably attempting. And for those who actually wish to imagine sound is coming from throughout you whilst you watch Netflix in mattress, who’s to say it’s not? Look into your individual coronary heart and resolve.
Just like the iPhone 11 Professional, the iPhone 11 additionally has Apple’s new A13 Bionic processor, which is each extra highly effective and environment friendly than the A12 Bionic within the iPhone XR. It’s a lot quick. Though the A12 Bionic was a lot quick, too, and I couldn’t let you know I observed some big efficiency distinction between the 11 and the XR. I believe iPhone 11 house owners will seemingly dangle on to their telephones a little bit longer than individuals who rush out and purchase the Professional telephones, and that’s the place all this additional processor efficiency will actually come into play. These telephones have sufficient headroom to final and run the most recent software program for a very long time, if Apple’s earlier historical past is any information.
Face ID is barely improved from the iPhone XR, however it’s one other factor you may not even discover. It’s just a bit quicker than earlier than, and it really works from a barely bigger vary of angles. I’ve come to essentially like Face ID, so any enchancment is welcome, particularly if it encourages folks to safe their telephones.
The iPhone 11 additionally has Apple’s new U1 positioning chip in it, which makes use of an ultra-wideband radio to exactly find the telephone in relation to different U1 units — ultimately. The one promised use of this chip is that it’s going to ultimately AirDrop a little bit simpler, however it doesn’t do something proper now. That function will include iOS 13.1, which is scheduled to ship on the finish of the month.
And that brings me to iOS 13, normally, which… is fairly buggy on all my iPhone evaluation items thus far. Verge govt editor Dieter Bohn says he’s had issues on his iPhone 11 evaluation unit as effectively. I’ve seen some bizarre glitches and app crashes throughout my testing, and I’ve needed to restart a few instances to get issues again on observe. Apple informed me a few of these issues will get cleaned up in iOS 13.1. However for those who’re presently comfortable together with your telephone, I’d not rush out to improve till we all know iOS 13 has settled down, which must be quickly sufficient.
Assuming Apple cleans up the tough edges of iOS 13, it’s principally a bunch of small updates to iOS 12 that make issues a little bit cleaner and easier: there’s a darkish mode now, the share sheet is a little bit nicer, the pictures app is a bit more participating, Reminders has been redesigned, and you’ll swipe to sort on the keyboard now.
It’s a bunch of stuff like that. However when you’ve got every other latest iPhone, you’ll be getting all of it shortly as effectively. We’ll have a full iOS 13 evaluation when it arrives, so hold a watch out for that.
So, is it value upgrading to the iPhone 11? For those who’ve acquired an iPhone older than the XR and also you’re trying to improve, I feel the reply is sure. The digital camera is considerably improved, and you’ll get vastly higher battery life than something except for a XR. That’s what most individuals care about, and Apple has actually delivered right here.
I’d solely spend the additional cash on the iPhone 11 Professional for those who actually care concerning the show. I don’t suppose you’re lacking out on a lot by not having a telephoto digital camera lens, to be sincere. I personally care fairly a bit about shows, so I’m getting a Professional, however I feel most individuals shall be very proud of the iPhone 11.
That’s, after Apple cleans up iOS 13.
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