Apple finally decided to steer things up and came out with a new phone that is renewed on the inside. Wanting to level with the fierce Android competition the iPhone 11 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is quite juicy, especially when it comes to photography.
This is the best compact smartphone out there, by far!
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Design
Apple did not invent the square camera module. Huawei did, with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, although the iPhone 11 Pro [and the new Google Pixel 4 (Check on Amazon.com)] has a different layout with larger lenses.
Cupertino is very conservative with its designs and aesthetics but this year’s
Change is “drastic”. Both the lenses and the square module are bigger than normal. They differ drastically from the vertical accommodation that we observe in many other smartphones that mount a triple camera or the circular module that Huawei has chosen for the Mate 30 (Check on Amazon.com). Apple doesn’t try to hide it, instead, it wants to emphasize it: the module has a different finish from the back cover, gloss versus matte.
The back (and front) is apparently more resistant and of better quality, but it is still glass so you must take care not to drop it or at least put a case on it.
It is not a slim smartphone per se. In fact, although in hand it reminds me of last year’s iPhone XS (Check on Amazon.com) it is somewhat thicker and heavier, but being a smartphone with a 5.8-inch screen and relatively compact it is also lighter and less bulky than most other flagship models.
Thankfully the added thickness and weight are partly translated into a larger battery, which is great, but more on that later.
Despite the rumors of the “triumphant” return of the Touch ID, the iPhone 11 Pro doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Biometric recognition is handled as always by Face ID and its advanced sensors housed in the infamous notch.
Thus, the front design is the exact copy of the iPhone XS. The frames are about 2 millimeters thick, thinner than the ones on the iPhone 11 but relatively pronounced when compared with other tops of the range. They at least maintain the symmetry all around.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Display
The iPhone 11 Pro sports a 5.8-inch OLED screen with Full HD+ resolution (1,125×2,436 pixels, 458 PPI) the same one we find on the iPhone XS. The quality is top-notch, and although Samsung and Sony provide their flagship models with screens with a higher resolution and pixel density, the iPhones screen is not lacking in clarity.
One of the big changes concerns the maximum brightness. Measuring 800 nits (and up to 1,200 nits with HDR) sufficient bright to see outside even under direct sunlight and the automatic brightness mode works very well.
3D Touch got the ax, so contextual menus now appear by holding down (like on Android) and not by pressing harder, and Apple has renamed this “new” technology Haptic Touch… the important thing though is that it works well on par with Android menus.
What remained the same in iOS 13 is True Tone, which lets the system adjust the temperature and tone of the panel according to ambient temperature. We like it a lot since the screen has colder tones by default and the activation of True Tone makes it somewhat more pleasant.
Apple has also added a Dark mode which is great both for our eyes and battery conservation.
The notch doesn’t do the design any favors (Face ID is great but…) and prevents the iPhone 11 Pro from achieving that “all-screen” feeling we have with the OnePlus 7 Pro (motorized pop-up camera) or the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and its hole-punch notch.
The screen, on the other hand, is fantastic. True Tone makes up for the low temperature of the panel and the display is very sharp, has great contrast and an excellent color spectrum, with the characteristic oversaturation of OLED screens producing very vibrant colors.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Performance
The Apple A13 Bionic is a beast. The iPhone 11 Pro (and its siblings) was able to perform every and a task, even the most demanding ones like video games and video editing. It is no wonder that this device demolished every rival in every benchmark!
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Software
The evolutionary speed of iOS is slower than that of Android in terms of incorporating functions like widgets, notification options, contextual menus that we mentioned before, and sometimes both Google and Apple can fall back with respect to the industry, Dark mode anyone?
iOS 13 is a nice and welcome update. It still lacks customization options and remains a step behind the competition in this regard but it runs buttery smooth and we haven’t noticed any lag, crashes or anything that denotes a lack of stability.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Camera
It seems that 2019 will be the year in which there is no longer a top of the range with a single camera. The iPhone 11 (Check on Amazon.com) has two and even Google gave the Pixel 4 a telephoto lens. The iPhone 11 Pro comes with a triple rear camera module consisting of: a 12-megapixel main camera (f/1.8) with optical stabilization, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens (f/2.4) with a 120-degree field of view, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens (f/2) with 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, and optical stabilization.
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 review: redefining limits
In terms of video quality, the rear cameras can record up to 4K at 60 FPS and 1080p at 240 FPS with extended dynamic range in video modes of up to 60 FPS, with optical stabilization for the main and telephoto lenses.
The front camera also integrates a 12-megapixel sensor (f/2.2) and can capture video in 4K at 60 FPS and 1080p at 120 FPS, with extended dynamic range in video modes at 30 FPS and electronic stabilization.
What is not immediately apparent is that Apple has worked on the inner workings of image processing. For example, there are no differences at the level of white balance, exposure and colorimetry when taking a photo with one lens or another (the device adjusts these parameters in real-time). The artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are combined with the semantic rendering to refine the light, increase the dynamic range and better recognize faces and thus produce a more detail photo with better HDR contrast.
Deep Fusion technology is also incorporated in the mix, aimed at further increasing the level of detail and dynamic range, while reducing noise. It does so by capturing eight images with different exposures before we press the shutter button (four of short exposure and the others with a longer exposure) and merges them with ours.
This latest addition may signal in fact the beginning of a new era for iPhone photography!
Milliamperes are not translated in the same way between Android and iOS, but it is widely understood that the more, the better. One of the best features on the iPhone 11 Pro is the increase in battery capacity, 3,179mAh vs. the 2,658mAh of the iPhone XS.
The other astounding feature is the large 18-watt fast charger included in the package…
The iPhone 11 Pro will last you a full working day, even with intensive use. And if you feel the need for a top it off, it can go from 0 to 50% in just under 30 minutes and to 100% in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro – Verdict
With great power comes great responsibility, and promising to be the best in smartphone photography or having the most convincing hardware-software integration raises expectations quite a lot. Apple knew it could rise on the occasion and gave us a solid candidate for the best mobile phone of the year.
The iPhone 11 Pro (Check on Amazon.com) is not, however, a clear winner…
The combination of iOS 13 and the excellent 5.8-inch screen guarantees a shot at the title. The fantastic triple rear camera and the improved battery life almost deliver the KO. punch.
Sadly iOS is lacking customization options. The front of the device loses points with that horrendous notch and the ultra-wide-angle camera, despite capturing good photos is far from what the competition is offering in terms of versatility.
It is, without a doubt, a close call [way better than the iPhone XS (Check on Amazon.com) was at the time]. What we can say is that this is the best compact smartphone at the moment.
Read more: Apple iPhone XS review