The "1-Minute" Review
- No 3.5mm headphone jack or Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter
- Slow charger included
The iPhone lineup often includes multiple tiers. There are typically two versions of the ‘high-end’ option with some designation in the name and then the ‘budget’ model. With their 2019 lineup, Apple has changed this up a bit.
The iPhone 11 is now the new iPhone XR -- perhaps signaling that while it’s the budget-conscious model, it’s still a full-featured iPhone. Does Apple’s latest bring anything new to the table and -- more importantly -- is it worth buying? Reviewers are weighing in! Let’s see what they think...
The iPhone 11 features a mostly glass design with a lightweight aluminum frame. It’s IP68 rated for water and dust resistance and available in a range of colors -- including black, green, yellow, white, purple, and red. If you’re looking for an iPhone with personality, the options are there. Otherwise, the phone is largely a re-release of the popular iPhone XR design-wise.
Around back, you’ll find one of the most notable differences from last year’s model -- Apple’s new square camera module tucked in the upper corner. Reviewers found it interesting with many worrying it would stick out too much and cause issues when the phone was resting on a table. Thankfully, they found it to be one of the least intrusive camera bumps yet for Apple.
Uses the same screen tech as the popular iPhone XR -- a 6.1-inch 1792-by-828 pixel LCD panel with a notch at the top. Instead of the 3D Touch of previous generations, the iPhone 11 includes Haptic Touch, allowing you to perform various tasks with long taps while receiving feedback from the screen itself on your fingertip.
The panel gets excellent marks for brightness, color accuracy, and detail. The True Tone feature also adjusts the screen’s white balance based on your surroundings for truer whites and greys.
T3 agrees, saying, “Ultimately, the screen is great, but movie lovers would probably prefer an OLED model.”
The iPhone 11 features the same processor as its pricier siblings -- a 2.65Ghz hexa-core Apple A13 bionic processor with 4GB of RAM and Neural Engine co-processor. In typical Apple fashion, the only remote competition to the phone’s performance is last year’s iPhone. Their latest processor offers a 20% to 30% improvement in processing and graphics power over the iPhone XR and iPhone XS.
From heavy multitasking to playing graphics-intensive 3D games, the phone handled anything reviewers could throw it without breaking a sweat.
GSM Arena notes “There was no doubt the Apple A13 chip is... the fastest smartphone SoC on the planet right now.”
The phone ships with Apple’s latest software release: iOS 13.
As with previous models, you cannot expand the storage on the iPhone 11. However, with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB models to choose from, you have options for finding a price and storage capacity which suits your needs.
Dual rear 12MP cameras -- one wide-angle with optical image stabilization, one with an ultrawide angle. The front-facing 12MP camera includes a 3D Time of Flight sensor for Face ID, portrait shots, and Apple’s Animoji feature.
All cameras include increased ISO sensitivity and a wider range of minimum and maximum exposure times for added flexibility capturing the perfect shot.
Other than minor complaints about over-sharpening, reviewers loved the pictures captured by the iPhone 11. Colors were natural and images popped with excellent contrast and range.
Apple’s Night Mode feature is back for low light shots with Apple’s HDR+ feature Deep Fusion coming in a future update. Reviewers loved Night Mode, with GSM Arena calling it “exemplary.” The portrait mode also had no issues separating subjects from the background and the Lighting effects were just as accurate.
If you’re a fan of recording videos with your phone, the iPhone 11 can shoot 4K video with all three cameras and the digital stabilization feature received high marks for shooting video while moving.
Ars Technica sums up opinions well, saying, “... these features allow non-photographers to use a device that is not a professional-quality camera to take photos that most of the time look better than amateurs have been able to achieve before.”
3110mAh battery with 18-watt charging. Unfortunately, Apple only includes a 5-watt charger with the phone. With the included charger, 30 minutes of charging will net you roughly 18% more charge. However, if you use Apple’s 18-watt charger (sold separately) that same time will boost your battery by roughly 55%.
T3 notes, “For light users, you can get through two days. Heavy users will definitely have battery left at the end of the day, assuming you don’t literally play Fortnite non-stop.”
Stereo speakers using the earpiece as a loudspeaker. Now includes spatial audio support as well for a more immersive listening experience without headphones. But they don’t include a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter, so you might need to pick one up to enjoy your favorite headphones.
Overall, reviewers loved the iPhone 11. Some questioned the resolution of the screen on paper but noted that it’s still plenty usable -- it simply pales in comparison to the displays on the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max. Still, it delivers everywhere else it matters. Just be sure to consider an 18-watt charger because the one in the box is slow.
GSM Arena says, “The iPhone 11 is a very thoughtful upgrade over the XR. It has everything new from Apple, but it costs less, and the tradeoffs seem to be just right. We aren't saying you should jump from XR on this one without thinking twice, but once again Apple has made just enough upgrades to make you want to do so.”
T3 says, “This year's cheaper iPhone feels anything but budget. A class-leading camera, premium build and top-tier speed make it a Ferrari in sheep's clothing.”