Why You Should Upgrade To The New iPhone 11?

Despite the Hideous Square Camera Bump

Every September Tim Cook walks on stage and announces a slate of new iPhones, claiming they are the best iPhones Apple has ever made”. I do not know why this is something he explicitly claims, it’s a given because if the phones announced this year are not better than the ones made last year, the company has seriously failed. Anyways, the new range of phones come in three variants: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max; replacing iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max respectively. Gone are the days when iPhone names were as minimalistic as their designs.

Here’s what has changed in this year’s phones:

Nothing much has changed in terms of design since the iPhone X which departed from the classic home-button style iPhone for a bezel-less, notch-full experience. This years’ models come in three different sizes, similar to last year: the 6.1" iPhone 11, 5.8" iPhone 11 Pro and the giant 6.5" iPhone 11 Pro Max. If you have small hands or prefer small phones, the iPhone 11 Pro is your only option. These names are starting to get to me.

Left to Right: iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11

The most noticeable, and personally the most unwelcome, change is the camera bump on the back. All three new phones have a square bump on the right, which, let’s be honest, looks hideous. The only thing that looks worse is these phones in cases. At least, the cameras perform. More on that later.

The iPhone 11 which maintains the same material as last year’s XR comes in 6 different colors. The Pro variants now have a textured matte glass finish which must feel premium on the hands and a new midnight green color option in addition to space gray, silver, and gold; which I dig.

All three offer a bezel-less look, but the devil is in the details. The iPhone 11 has slightly larger bezels compared to the Pro and Pro Max. Although this is not a concern to many, if you come from the iPhone X, XS or XS Max, there’s a good chance this will bother you.

The iPhone 11 still features an LCD which is acceptable given the low price point. Apple’s Liquid Retina display performs better than any average LCD and to those whom high contrast ratio is not a must-have, you would be perfectly happy with this display.

But to those who have gotten used to OLEDs and use their phone for photography and cinematography or watch lots of high-definition videos, the stunning OLED display found in the XS and XS Max gets even better in the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. The new Super Retina XDR display gets brighter, has a higher contrast ratio and is more energy-efficient. And if Apple arch-rival Samsung is supplying the OLED panels this year as well, then you can be assured they are the best displays in the market.

The one sought after feature that is missing is the 90 Hz refresh rate that One Plus 7 Pro users enjoy.

I could bash the iPhone all day for its design but the one area the phone wins hands-down is performance. Apple-designed chips have been overachievers for a while. They are so good that the chip in the 2017 iPhone X is still good enough for the average user. But if you want to be future-proofed for the next two years or more, the new A13 Bionic found in all three iPhone 11 variants is the fastest and most efficient chip in any smartphone. Period. Its performance could only be rivaled by higher-end desktop-level chips. This makes me wonder why doesn’t Apple design its chips for the Macbooks. Waiting for that day.

Things are going to get heated now.

The biggest change in this years’ phones is the camera and the list of improvements here is endless.

The iPhone 11 has a 12MP dual camera setup: one wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle as opposed to the single lens in last year’s iPhone XR. The ultra-wide-angle camera which allows you to capture 4x more scene was a much sought after feature and although Apple came in with it late, it looks like they delivered. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max feature a 12MP triple-camera setup: wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto.

The one area in which the Google Pixel hands down beat the iPhone (and all other phones for that matter) is photography, largely due to its software capabilities as opposed to hardware. Apple seems to have learned from this and have taken up its image processing capabilities up a notch. In addition to better and more lenses in their phones, Apple has improved its image processing algorithms, updating its Smart HDR and introducing new features like Smart Rendering and Deep Fusion, the latter combines 9 snaps to create one perfect final picture. All three phones will also get Night Mode capability, which could give Pixel’s Night Sight a run for its money.

The camera app features a modified interface that allows the user to get an idea of all the different shots possible with the different lenses. The zoom wheel can be used to seamlessly move from 0.5x to 2x, both while taking photos and videos.

The improvement to the camera doesn’t stop with photography. iPhones have the best video capabilities and they get even better. All three lenses can be used to capture 4K videos at 60 fps and now there is improved dynamic range and cinematic stabilization. The software also now allows you to edit the videos right on the phone.

The front cameras also received an upgrade for better photos and 4K video recording in slo-mo, which they think would be great for what they call “Slofies”. Come on Apple, leave the naming job to the internet.

All in all, the new iPhones have the potential to take back the crown for the best camera in a smartphone, a title it held for many years before the Pixel came into the picture.

If not for the amazing cameras or the incredible performance, the one compelling reason to get the new iPhone is for the better battery life. Every year, smartphone manufacturers release flagships often ignoring improvements to the battery. Phones offer better features but the battery life remains about the same. With the iPhone, it is different this year. The iPhone 11 offers 1 hour more of battery life than the XR, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max go even further and offer 4 and 5 more hours of battery life compared to the XS and XS Max respectively. So all three phones should comfortably last more than a day with average usage (which is not too much to ask for, yet many flagships don’t). And wait for it. The Pro phones come with the 18-W fast-charger included in the box that charges up to 50% in 30 minutes. Finally. Why did that take you so long to do Apple? Seriously, why?

All phones now have faster Face ID that works from even more angles, Dolby Atmos support, spatial audio that creates a more immersive experience, audio sharing feature that allows users to connect two sets of AirPods at once, IP68 water-resistant rating with increase depth, dual SIM support, which is a much sought feature after in markets like India and China. Unfortunately, none of the devices support 5G, reverse wireless charging, USB -C or Apple Pencil.

The iPhone 11 comes at three different highly competitive price points, with the base model $50 cheaper than last year’s XR: $699 (64GB), $749 (128GB) and $849 (256GB).

The iPhone 11 Pro is priced the same as last year’s iPhone XS: $999 (64GB), $1149 (256GB) and $1349 (512GB).

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is priced the same as last year XS Max: $1099 (64GB), $1249 (256GB) and $1449 (512GB).

Apple also offers great trade-in values for your older iPhones, which might be the decision making factor for many, especially those who own last year’s models: Up to $600 for iPhone XS Max, $500 for iPhone XS, $370 for iPhone XR, $400 for iPhone X, $300 for iPhone 8 Plus and $220 for iPhone 8.

Apple has discontinued the X, XS and XS Max which means you won’t find it through official sales channels, although it may be selling for a discounted price in Apple Stores and through some third-party sellers until stocks last. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and XR is still sold by Apple for those looking at an entry-level price point.

With a spectacular new camera setup, phenomenal battery life and the best performing chip in a smartphone, the new iPhones have the right to deserve your attention. In addition to these, the great trade-in value offered by Apple for your older iPhone, make this upgrade a wise choice. The only holdback is for people who live in cities that will soon have 5G. In which case you will either have to go for one of the non-iPhone options or wait for next year’s ‘S’ upgrade, hoping it would support 5G. Preorders start on Friday, September 13th (8 AM ET) and the phone will ship a week later on September 20th.

freelance technology writer | sarveshmathi.com

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