Apple’s latest family of iPhones are now out, and the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max deliver significant upgrades over the iPhone X line, most notably on the camera and battery life fronts. There’s plenty more underneath the hood that makes these new devices worth the upgrade, though—especially when paired with the newly released operating system, iOS 13. We’re here to run down the good, great and somewhat silly additions that make the iPhone 11 mighty attractive.
It might not be top many lists detailing the technical improvements of the iPhone 11, but keeping a phone’s screen pristine amidst the concrete jungle is still paramount in many users’ minds. Hence why Apple made it a point to note the device is encased in the “toughest ever” glass. CNet’s drop test proved that out, as both the 11 and 11 Pro’s screens survived an 11-foot drop onto concrete uncracked. The 11’s rear camera broke and the 11 Pro suffered some damaged pixels, but both phones proved Apple’s point. These phones are some of the most durable on the market.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max include an all new tri-lens camera array, combining a 12-megapixel main lens, an ultra-wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. The improved array allows for improved zoom function and a 120-degree field of view, putting its photographic capabilities on par with the best Android devices that previously included such capability. The 11 ditches the telephoto lens but still features the landscape selfie feature the improved field of view delivers. All three devices can shoot 4K video at up to 60 FPS, as expected.
Perhaps the silliest highlight of the iPhone 11’s reveal was the introduction of the poorly dubbed “slofie.” It basically amounts to the device’s improved front-facing camera capturing a 120 fps slow-motion selfie. The new feature is sure to foster a new wave of social media images that won’t likely top the confidence Apple exuded in naming it. Welcome to the new social media trend, everybody.
We round out the iPhone 11’s improved photographic features with the much needed introduction of Night Mode. This feature improves the devices’ photography capability in low-light environments. The device even automatically detects when Night Mode should be enabled and tells you how long it needs to produce a clear and crisp picture. Using Night Mode does require a steady hand and a tad more patience, but its returns are well worth it.
The iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are not created equal when it comes to their display. The 11’s 6.1-inch LCD display is serviceable though unremarkable when compared to other devices. But the 11 Pro (5.8-inch) and 11 Pro Max’s (6.1-inch) OLED Super Retina XDR screens deliver a much sharper picture. The OLED screens are perfect for HDR integration, producing deeper blacks in order to bump up the display’s contrast ratio. This makes the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max superb for viewing media and playing games featured on the Apple Arcade subscription service.
Speaking of Apple Arcade, the introduction of more intricate gaming experiences on mobile platforms requires a bump in computing power. Luckily, the iPhone 11 collection includes its latest proprietary chip, the A13 Bionic processor. The A13 improves the iPhone 11’s processing capabilities by 20% over the iPhone XS family of devices. Even more impressive is the A13’s ability to improve battery life. Its construction allows it to better manage background tasks without draining the device’s battery. That amounts to a reduction of power usage of up to 40%.
A major longtime complaint about the iPhone line of devices has been their battery life. Apple began catching up with Android devices around the release of the iPhone 5, but the iPhone 11 line skyrockets the company to the top in terms of battery capacity. While Apple doesn’t disclose exact numbers on expected battery life, they did divulge that the iPhone 11 family’s batteries will exceed those of the iPhone XS family. The iPhone 11 battery lasts at least an hour longer than the comparable iPhone XR, with the 11 Pro (up to four hours) and 11 Pro Max (up to five hours) lasting significantly longer than their iPhone XS ancestors.
IOS 13 also introduces a feature called Optimized Battery Charging that slows battery degradation while charging. The feature works with alarms set in the Clock app to charge devices to 80% while you sleep and keep it there until just charging to 100% just before your alarms sound. This helps preserve the battery’s health, making for a longer life. Exactly what you want from a phone users expect to use for a good amount of time.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Co-host of the Mr. Videogames Super Show podcast. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.