iPhone 11, Pro and Max hands-on: Apple bets big on the camera for new phones – are they worth it?

iPhone 11, Pro and Max hands-on: Apple bets big on the camera for new phones - are they worth it?

Let’s explore the features that make a difference for Apple’s three new iPhones.

Apple refreshed its line of iPhones for 2019 at an event on Tuesday, announcing the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

iPhone 11 line – the good and the bad

As was expected, the phones don’t come cheap starting at $699, $999 and $1,099, respectively — perhaps a surprising price in a world where we’re used to paying $1,000 for an iPhone. These new iPhones pick up a fresh palette of colors, longer battery life and a A13 Bionic processor inside that promises faster performance. But more than any other feature, it’s the camera hardware and software that take the headlining role. There are three cameras on the back of the Pro phones and two on the back of the iPhone 11.

This new crop of iPhones may wear different colors, but in terms of overall design, they look strikingly like last year’s iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR — notch and all. 

Those three cameras on the back of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are Apple’s biggest risks in a series that plays it safe this year. For many people, the iPhone represents the gold standard for smartphone design and cutting-edge features like Face ID unlocking, which Apple says is now faster than before. But despite bread-and-butter features, like support for Wi-Fi 6, the iPhone 11 trio fails to push the envelope, relying instead on the big camera change and smaller refinements to keep up momentum.

What improvements does the iPhone 11 bring to the table?

  1. Significant battery life improvements

One of the most crucial features of any new smartphone is improvements to battery life, and Apple has actually made quite a leap here with the iPhone 11 Pro. The device now lasts four hours longer than the iPhone XS from last year, with the Max variant getting an increase in battery life of five hours.

2. A triple camera system that has some impressive new features

While better battery life is a nice perk, Apple has increasingly leaned on its camera tech to market its newest and most expensive iPhones. That’s perhaps truer of the iPhone 11 Pro than any other mobile device in the company’s history. This go-around, the flagship iPhone has a triple-camera system compared to the standard iPhone 11’s dual-camera setup. You get one ultra-wide angle 12-megapixel camera, one standard wide 12-megapixel one, as well as a 12-megapixel telephoto.

The real advantage here is in the added telephoto lens, which the iPhone 11 does not have. That gives iPhone 11 Pro users 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, and up to 10x digital zoom. Those zoom advantages carry over to video, where the iPhone 11 Pro has 6x digital zoom and the same optical zoom over the standard 11’s 2x optical zoom out and 3x digital zoom. You also get dual optical image stabilization on the Pro, thanks to the telephoto lens working in tandem with the standard wide one.

3. A prettier, denser OLED screen

If having the best smartphone screen you can buy still matters to you, then good news: Apple is still using its flagship iPhones to offer the latest and greatest in mobile display tech. The iPhone 11 Pro will come with what Apple calls a Super Retina XDR display in either 5.8 inches or 6.5 inches for the Max. While there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference between the Super Retina XDR and the Liquid Retina HD on the iPhone 11, it remains an OLED versus LCD decision.

iPhone 11 downsides

  1. It doesn’t come with many “pro” benefits to help it stand out

This is perhaps a more controversial take on the iPhone 11 Pro, but its feature set and the differentiating factors that separate it from the standard iPhone 11 didn’t seem to scream “pro” to me. For one, it’s not even clear what a pro smartphone is supposed to look like. What does come to mind is an exorbitant Samsung device like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus that comes with a massive display, stylus support, and other features ostensibly marketed toward mobile power users.

2. It has a boring color options compared with the iPhone 10

It feels a bit unfair to gripe about color schemes as a “worst” feature of a new Apple product, but this is the second year in a row the company has offered up a range of colorful, eye-popping options for the standard iPhone and stiffed fans of its higher-end handsets by sticking with the same old space gray, silver, and rose gold variants.

There is a better side as those who buy the Pro do have the option of the new “midnight green” color, which looks much nicer in real-world photos than it did on the Apple live stream.

3. It doesn’t come with a USB-C this year

Considering the magnitude of iPhone leaks that now occur each and every month of the year, it was no surprise that Apple’s iPhone 11 arrived with the same, frustrating Lightning port. We knew back in February of this year that it was likely that Apple would stick with Lightning for its 2019 smartphones, and that was more or less set in stone by the summer via additional leaks and reports.

Sources: cnet.com