The iPhone 11
The iPhone 11

Apple iPhone 11 review: Catching up with competition

The iPhone 11 carves a space for itself in Apple’s iPhone portfolio

It was tough to tell last year whether the iPhone XR would become a recurring device in Apple’s suite of iPhones every year. However, the company seems to have put that question to rest in 2019. The iPhone 11, while an update to the XR, has been named in the company’s 11 series. Of course, the “Pro" series are Apple’s flagships this year, but the 11 is no slouch.

However, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are outright winners this year, the 11 is slightly easier to fault that those devices.

For one, while the iPhone 11 may have the best LCD (liquid crystal display) screen you can find on a smartphone, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the OLED (optical light emitting diode) screens used by smartphones in this price range, including the Pro iPhones. It’s the same display we saw on the iPhone XR last year.

The display certainly doesn’t look bad, it just lacks the punchy colours, high contrast or even the premium feel on phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy flagships, and so on. You’ll enjoy your content on this screen as long as you haven’t tried one of those others.

The display isn’t the only thing that the 11 shares with the XR though. The design is almost exactly the same as well. And much like the display, it feels noticeably less premium as compared to the more expensive Pro models.

It’s quite compact though. The iPhone X and XS are more compact, but the iPhone 11 doesn’t leave much room for complaint either.

Like the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, the biggest improvement in the 11 is also in the camera. Surprisingly though, Apple chose regular and ultra-wide cameras instead of using at least one telephoto camera. The result is distinctly weaker performance on portrait shots compared to the Pro models.

However, the cameras here are much better than the XR, most importantly because of the new Night Mode on Apple’s cameras. The iPhone 11’s camera shoots really good photos in low light, struggling only when the light is unnaturally low. On the other hand, it shoots great photos in daylight or other conditions, reproducing pleasant colours and good details.

The camera on this phone is noticeably weaker than the Pro series in indoor fluorescent lighting though. It loses details by a bit in these conditions.

In sum, the iPhone 11’s camera is closer to a Google Pixel 3 or Huawei Mate 20 than the XR or XS were, though it doesn’t beat those cameras in terms of overall image quality. Yet, it’s a great camera overall and could take on most flagship smartphones today.

But despite all those improvements, the camera isn’t the best feature of the iPhone 11. That crown goes to the battery life on this device. Apple claimed it had made improvements in this department and the iPhone 11 lives up to that quite easily.

It can handle a full day of Pokemon Go, one of the most battery intensive games on the App Store, and still get you home with charge left to go. It’s sad that Apple doesn’t pack a fast charger in the box with this device, but given that you will usually charge this phone overnight, that doesn’t bother much. It does take a few hours to go from zero to 100 percent charge though.

In essence, the iPhone 11 carves a space for itself in Apple’s iPhone portfolio. It’s an update to the iPhone XR, but not what would qualify as an upgrade. So if you have a X, XR or XS already, you could hold on to it. However, if you’re buying a new smartphone in this price range right now, the iPhone 11 is worth considering. It’s fast, has great battery life, a good camera and the only real compromise it asks for is in the lesser screen quality.

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