Upgrading to the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The new Apple iPhone 11 Pro's three lenses

By Jeremy Del Nero on 30 September 2019
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The question of an iPhone upgrade is one that is always fraught with peril.  If you’ve already decided to move up to the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, you need read no further, but if you are on the fence, please carry on.

The iPhone 11 product line – which includes the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, have significantly better battery life and more camera tricks up their sleeves than their respective immediate predecessors, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS (pronounced “tennis” by some, “excess” by others), and the iPhone XS Max.

The phones continue the design language introduced with the iPhone X – i.e. the notch, stainless steel frame, and overall form factor – and add improved battery life, a faster processor, and improvements to Face ID, improved chassis rigidity, among other changes.

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Apple says the phone’s reinforced glass back is the strongest on the market, a claim I can’t vouch for as I haven’t yet dropped the phone, but we have seen some evidence of that in widely-published drop tests in which the iPhone 11 doesn’t even get a scratch on it, let alone shatter.

It’s doubtful that you, dear reader, are holding an iPhone 4 or 5 in your hands, but we do see many iPhone 6 owners out in the wild.  It’s those of you who have a 7, 7s, 8, or X that may be unsure whether to stay or go now.

The truth is that for those owners, everything will be better.  The camera is better, the display is better, even the body of the phone is better.  You may however be concerned – especially for those with Touch ID – about the switch to Face ID.  We have owned and tested all of these models over the years and can assure you that Face ID at this point is sufficiently sophisticated so as to be a clear improvement over Touch ID.

What about the Home button, I hear you all cry.  It’s gone.  Get over it. It took me about 30 minutes to get used to the simple gestures on the iPhone X and that’s about what you should expect as well, even if you count yourselves amongst the technically challenged.

Let’s say for a moment you’ve decided to make the switch.  If you are moving from an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus or older, you’ll find yourself with a far superior camera solution. If you have an X or Xs, the camera is also greatly improved but the difference is less striking.

The 11 Pro includes three lenses with three separate sensors.  Apple says there are three cameras (counting each lens and sensor as a single camera) and, while this may be true, the effect is having a choice of ultra-wide angle 13 mm lens, a wide-angle 26 mm lens, and a 52 mm telephoto lens.  The new dual-lens iPhone 11 only has the first two lenses.

The lenses and sensors work together on each photo, regardless of which is selected, to gather data and improve the image.  Apple is quite proud of how it’s melded the three camera sensors and lenses to work together.

“With these three cameras you have incredible creative control,” said Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, during the launch presentation. “It is so pro, you’re going to love using it.”

Our initial tests show that the camera experience on the 11 Pro is significantly improved over past models – and that the app allows for fairly seamless switching between the three lenses when shooting a video, allowing for a relatively smooth and fluid zoom from the ultra-wide angle lens (13 mm) to the telephone’s 2X lossless zoom (56 mm). The A13 Bionic chip constantly analyzes the scene being photographed to determine the optimal color balance, exposure, and focus.

Apple has also caught up in one area where previous iPhones were found lacking: low-light photography. The new night mode does an excellent job in low-light conditions and a superior job in pitch-black scenes.

In short, no matter which iPhone you are currently using, you’ll find significant improvements, with the biggest advances being in the realm of photography. Besides, it’s always easy to find someone who would appreciate the gift of a slightly older iPhone.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)


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