It’s September and the well-oiled Apple marketing machine is in full swing yet again. Apple’s iPhone event this fall brought us the iPhone 11 trio. And with that, we say goodbye to the iPhone XR that was replaced by the iPhone 11, and begone iPhone XS – enter iPhone 11 Pro.
The iPhone XS series, as any other S generation, brought new Bionic chip with a massive improvement in speed. Now, with the iPhone 11 Pro lineup, Apple is going after the camera and that’s what the Pro moniker really stands for.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are sequels to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max – if there was any doubt. They are just as big, with similar designs and screens, but come with improved performance, some big camera upgrades, larger batteries, and a new Apple U1 wideband chip. Indeed, there is a lot to explore, so don’t let the familiar looks fool you.
Indeed, the iPhone 11 Pro design stays the same, or at least that’s what the front suggests. There is a brand-new triple-camera setup on the back though, and the rear glass now has a frosted finish that we’ve grown to love since the OnePlus 6. The water-protection has seen some improvement too, and now the eleventh iPhones can endure submersion in up to 4 meters deep water.
The new A13 Bionic chip is an improved version of the last year’s A12. It sure packs even more punch, a new ISP and DSP, among other things, but it is mostly based on the A12 design.
The new triple camera is brand new, though. Now in addition to the wide and tele shooters, there is an ultrawide snapper. Night Mode finally makes it to the iPhones, and the 4K capture at 60fps gets the cool extended dynamic range as well. Probably the most awesome feature, showing off the power of Apple’s chip, is the option to shoot with all four cameras (incl. selfie) at once. At 4K at 60fps with no limits. Imagine that!
And the front camera has finally gotten its long overdue update – it is now a 12MP shooter that can shoot in all resolution and framerates as the rear snappers. Slow-mo, called slofies, is available to the front cam as well, but we are yet to see if these slofies will be become a thing or not.
Apple also integrated a new Apple U1 wideband chip, but its usage is yet to implemented fully within iOS.
And finally, the iPhone 11 Pro now has 20% larger battery than the XS, while the 11 Pro Max enjoys a 25% bump in the capacity over the XS Max.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max specs
- Body: Stainless steel frame, Gorilla Glass front with oleophobic coating, Gorilla Glass back with frosted finish, IP68 certified for water and dust resistance. Midnight Green, Space Gray, Gold and Silver color options.
- Screen (Pro): 5.8″ OLED screen of 1125 x 2436 px resolution, 458ppi, 800 nits, 120Hz touch sensing. HDR video support, wide color gamut. True Tone adjustment via a six-channel ambient light sensor.
- Screen (Pro Max): 6.5″ OLED screen of 1242 x 2688 px resolution, 458ppi, 800 nits, 120Hz touch sensing. HDR video support, wide color gamut. True Tone adjustment via a six-channel ambient light sensor.
- OS: Apple iOS 13
- Chipset: Apple A13 Bionic chip (7nm+) – Hexa-core (2×2.66 GHz Lightning + 4×1.8 GHz Thunder) Apple CPU, four-core Apple GPU, 8-core Apple NPU 3-gen
- Memory: 4GB of RAM; 64/256/512GB of internal storage
- Camera: Triple 12MP camera: 26mm main wide-angle, F/1.8, OIS, Dual Pixel AF; 52mm telephoto, F/2.0, OIS, 2x zoom; 13mm ultra wide-angle, F/2.4, 120-degree field of view; quad-LED flash with slow sync
- Video recording: 2160p@60/30fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps video recording with wider dynamic range and spatial sound, OIS + EIS
- Selfie: Dual camera – 23mm 12MP F/2.2 front-facing camera with HDR mode + 3D TOF camera; 2160p@60/30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps video recording with wider dynamic range and spatial sound, EIS, depth detection for Portrait mode
- Connectivity: Dual SIM, 4G LTE (1 Gbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax; Bluetooth 5.0; Lightning port; GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS; NFC; Apple U1 chip ultrawideband
- Battery (Pro): 3,046 mAh battery, 18W fast charging, Qi wireless charging
- Battery (Pro Max): 3,969 mAh battery, 18W fast charging, Qi wireless charging
- Misc: Face ID through dedicated TrueDepth camera, stereo speakers, Taptic Engine
The iPhone 11 Pro phones put an end to Apple’s 3D Touch era and the Taptic Engine has assumed its role, too. Once full of potential, the 3D Touch tech was failed by Apple itself and from innovation it had become more of a burden, so we can’t blame Apple for retiring it. Plus, it made some space for something more meaningful – a larger battery, so we’d say it’s a win-win actually.
The iPhone 11 trio premieres running on iOS 13, but at the time of writing this review an update to iOS 13.1 was seeded and we’ve installed it on all three of them. It adds some new options that use the U1 chip among other things.
Unboxing the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
The first iPhone launched back in 2007 in a stylish black box and its retail bundle included a 5W charger, a USB cable, and a pair of Apple headphones. And while Apple did change the design of the Pods, and the type of connector, the contents had no meaningful updates in over 11 years. This changes now.
For the first time ever, Apple bundles an 18W fast charger within an iPhone retail box and obviously the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are the first beneficiaries. The charger is rated 18W with 5V/3A and 9V/2A outputs. It has a USB-C port at the top and so the Pro models are also the first iPhones to ship with a USB-C to Lightning cables.
Finally, the last thing inside the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max boxes is the familiar EarPods which come with a Lightning Connector.
The 3.5mm adapter has been excluded from the iPhone bundle since the iPhone XS lineup and it is just as missing here in the iPhone 11 boxes.
No, seriously, the first batch of the iPhone 11 series is already in the hands of a lot of people around the world and the phones are already on backorder in these first markets. This Friday the second batch is going to ship, but we can safely bet most of these orders will be fulfilled in October, too. Because the satisfied iPhone users don’t need any reviews to tell them the new iPhones are amazing.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, 11 Pro, and 11
And they are. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are faithful sequels and meaningful updates over the XS iPhones. And while we can always argue the XS users should wait off this generation, this is probably a must buy for any owner of an older iPhone.
The iPhone 11 Pro duo focuses on camera and battery life, two features where Apple has been consistently lacking. And the Cupertino company definitely took its time catching up with the Android gang, but it is finally there, and the wait seems to be worth it. The main camera gets a third ultrawide snapper, Night Mode has arrived, and the batteries grew in size. That’s what many hoped for.
Luckily Apple did manage to sneak a few software tricks that sprinkle some of that magic the maker is known for. You can shoot 4K videos at 60fps with all four cameras at once. The Crop Outside Frame is very cool feature and it surely required some proper camera calibration to work that good. The expanded dynamic range across all videos is pretty impressive.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, 11 Pro, and 11
The battery enlargements are very welcome, and our tests showed massive improvement in the endurance. But we were most delighted to see those 18W fast chargers bundled with the new iPhones. It was about time. No, it was long, long overdue.
And surely the new iPhones brought refinements to the already 2-year old design and those made them tougher and even better water-resistant. The A13 chip is the fastest in the world, the screens got better with XDR (no $999 stand required), iOS 13 is better, there is a new green color, the sky is blue, the water is wet. All of these are indeed great achievements, it’s just that these improvements became expected instead, the market demands them, and the element of surprise was lost. We suppose we as consumers are all responsible for that.
So, the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are the best iPhones Apple has ever made. The fastest, with the longest battery life, the best screens, and the best (and most) cameras. And if you think something is missing, we are sure it will come in a generation or two.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max aren’t that worthy upgrades over the XS and XS Max. Just because Apple added an extra rear camera, it doesn’t mean you need to jump this year. It’s a good idea to wait for the 11S models, but who are we to stand in the way of the Night Mode and slofies?
Frankly, the new iPhone 11 Pro duo is expectedly great and even pulled off a couple of surprise moves here and there. We wished for a lot of things with the new generation and we got almost all of them. Sure, the prices are steep, and they skyrocket if you go for more gigabytes, but that’s Apple and many will convince you the premium warranty, seamless and hassle-free experience, variety of apps, blazing performance, great camera skills and about 5 years of major updates are worth every penny. Well, we are not going to deny it.
- Tougher and waterproof design, matte back
- The XDR screens are the brightest OLEDs around, excellent contrast and color accuracy
- Apple A13 Bionic is the fastest smartphone chip on the planet
- Excellent battery life, fast charging
- Stereo speakers with class-leading quality
- iOS provides smooth user experience
- The main and zoom cameras produce very good photos, Night Mode works as advertised
- Amazing video quality and stabilization across the board
- Excellent selfie photo and video quality
- The calibration between the three snappers is excellent and allows for Crop Outside Frame, simultaneous video capturing, and smooth switching during recording
- The notch is still enormous
- A high-refresh rate screen would have made it more competitive.
- No 3.5mm jack or audio adapter in the box, limited NFC usage
- The file management and transfer in iOS isn’t that easy to understand
- The camera photos come out bland
- Ultra-wide camera lacks autofocus and Night Mode
- Telephoto cam is 2x while competitors are already at 3x and even 5x.
- The camera options MUST BE INSIDE the Camera app, c’mon Apple!
- Expensive. Very Expensive.