The iPhone 11’s weak spot continues to be its display but in every other aspect — design, performance, camera, and battery life — the phone is a winner. Its particularly the value the phone offers at $699 which makes it a very tempting device to have.
iPhone 11 Review Roundup
The iPhone 11 is basically an S update to last year’s very popular iPhone XR. From the front, it looks exactly the same. It has the same design, the same 6.1-inch 720p LCD with fancy rounded corners, the same giant bezels, and the same aluminum body.
But that design has been made slightly better: the water resistance is a little better, and Apple says the glass on front and back is a little stronger. The camera bump on the back is now milled right into the glass, which is kind of neat, but it’s still a camera bump. The whole design remains a little surfboard-y, and it’s definitely not small.
The iPhone 11 still offers incredible battery life but the improved battery life of the iPhone 11 Pro series means that the gap that existed between the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS is no longer there.
Last year, the iPhone XR regularly beat out the XS models in battery life, but this year, that gap has closed a bit with the iPhone 11 Pro models. The iPhone 11 is still on par or better, but it didn’t get as big of a jump in battery life as the Pro models did.
The camera performance is also a noticeable upgrade over the iPhone XR.
In general, I think more people will definitely appreciate the addition of the ultra-wide lens over a tele lens. It’s just a really fun thing to play with. But the ultra-wide sensor is smaller and it has a slower lens, so it takes far worse photos (especially in low light) than just backing up and using the main camera. So while Apple’s camera app makes both cameras feel equivalent, I’d still recommend using the main camera and just backing up if possible. You’ll get a higher-quality photo in the end. Instead, think of the ultra-wide as more of an artistic choice, something that can give you a different or more interesting look, but not necessarily a “better” photo.
This review also says the same thing — the iPhone 11 is the one for the masses.
The non-Pro 11 has the same processor as its more expensive siblings and has a camera that puts it on par with competing devices from other manufacturers. If you can manage to wade your way through the mucky waters of Apple marketing terminology and distinguish what it is from what it’s being positioned as, you too will find that the iPhone 11 is a very good phone.
The LCD display is definitely an Achilles heel of the iPhone 11.
It has a liquid-crystal display, which Apple calls Liquid Retina HD. Previously I’ve said that the visible differences between an iPhone with an LCD and an iPhone with an OLED were not enough to warrant spending extra bucks on the latter. This is probably still true. If you’re upgrading to the iPhone 11 from another phone with an LCD display, you won’t notice much of a difference. But after using a phone with an OLED display for several months and then switching to the iPhone 11, the LCD just doesn’t look as nice. It feels harsher on the eyes, and media looks different on it.
The camera on the iPhone 11 is a major step-up from the iPhone XS and definitely competes with the likes of the Pixel 3.
The iPhone 11 is a very good camera, and in a lot of situations it even performed better than last year’s top-of-the-line iPhone XS. But the iPhone 11 Pro takes noticeably better photos, whether standard photos, portrait images, or night mode pics. In Portrait photos of my colleague Lydia, the iPhone 11 Pro captured truer colors and more of the details of her face, like smile lines and freckles.
The highlight of the iPhone 11 is its improved camera performance. The design and longer battery life might sound tempting on paper but in the real world, its all about the improved camera performance.
Apple’s improved Smart HDR is a big help here too. This year, it does a better job of making sure different elements in your field of view, like faces and skies, are evenly and correctly exposed. It also gives your photos some slightly punchier colors and more-dramatic dynamic range, though it’s nowhere near as aggressive as Samsung cameras at tuning your images. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you, but I will say Apple’s approach leads to more-neutral photos that more accurately depict what’s in front of you.
The dual-camera setup means the iPhone 11 does not offer the same degree of flexibility as the iPhone 11 Pro.
Ultimately, the iPhone 11 Pros offer a better camera experience because that third telephoto sensor gives them more flexibility. The standard iPhone 11 gets very close, though, and I don’t think the average user will feel like they’re missing out.
It is clear from the reviews that if you already own an iPhone XR or even an iPhone 8, the iPhone 11 does not make for a compelling upgrade. For most people upgrading from an older iPhone though, the jump in battery life, improved camera performance, and a more modern design would be appreciable.
What are your thoughts on the iPhone 11 after reading the reviews?