The iPhone 11 Pro isn't an engineering feat to be marvelled at, but it is incredibly beautiful, comes with a great camera and has the best battery on an iPhone yet
It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s still the best iPhone yet
THE IPHONE 11 PRO was unveiled last month in true Apple style. The firm touted the device as its best-ever thanks to its grown-up design, “market-leading” A13 Bionic CPU, and souped-up battery life; Apple claims it’ll deliver four hours more juice than last year’s iPhone XS.
The show-stealer, though, is the new triple camera setup. It might not be so novel in general smartphone terms, but it does set the Pro apart from the iPhone 11, which sports just two rear-facing cameras and is a substantial £320 cheaper.
However, if you’re truly convinced it’s worth the extra dosh, stop what you’re doing and read our review first.
If there’s one thing Apple is good at – it’s designed. The company has a flair for making smartphones feel like a thing of beauty, and it’s done it again with the iPhone 11 Pro. Our gunmetal-colored ‘Space Grey’ review model oozes luxury from top to bottom, and it’s the mixture of textures that does it; the handset boasts a gorgeous textured matte glass rear, alongside a glossy stainless steel band that runs all the way around the edge of the device.
While Apple knows how to deliver an elegant and premium feel, it hasn’t exactly innovated in terms of design with the iPhone 11 Pro. Of course, it’s a major departure from the likes of the iPhone 8, but – two years on – it still looks very similar to the iPhone X. The biggest disappointment is that the handset’s 5.8in screen comes flanked by chunky black bezels, and considering most Android manufacturers have been producing devices with near edge-to-edge, bezel-free screens for well over a year now, it does feel a little dated in comparison.
The company is great at making designs the norm en masse, but the firm has arguably been playing catchup in the design stakes of late; LG, for example, was the first to introduce a notch in 2015’s V10, and Huawei was the first to introduce a triple camera setup with the P20 Pro in early 2018. It would be nice to see Apple unveil a new smartphone design that makes the world step back and think “wow, this is something new”. Unfortunately, it hasn’t this time around.
The iPhone 11 Pro boasts a 5.8in display with a 2436×1125 resolution with Super Retina XDR. This means it incorporates a new OLED panel and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision variants of HDR, which help black look blacker and colors more vibrant as they are spread evenly across the entire brightness spectrum.
While the display itself is a treat for the eyes thanks to its 458 pixels per inch (PPI) resolution, we do feel it’s a tad on the small side for a device of this caliber (and price). Anything below 6 in these days just seems a little small to us, but perhaps that’s because we’re constantly reviewing Android smartphones.
Brightness is impressive, again thanks to XDR, and even in super bright conditions outdoors, we were able to see everything clearly on the display. As you’d expect, it’s super responsive and nippy, which merely adds to the premium feel and the phone’s high level of performance.
Performance and battery life
When it comes to performance, the iPhone 11 Pro is very much up there, as you’d expect from a spanking-new, top-of-the-line iPhone.
It’s powered by the A13 Bionic SoC, which Apple has described as its “most efficient chip to date”. The processor uses TSMC’s second-generation 7nm process and, like the A12 Bionic before it, features a total of 18 cores comprising a six-core CPU, four-core GPU, and an eight-core Neural Engine processor, which is dedicated to handling on-board machine learning processes.
This high-powered SoC allows the phone to power things like 4K video at 60fps and slow-motion selfies (or selfies, which we’ll talk about in more detail later), as well as ensuring general performance is at the top of its game. This is probably best demonstrated in the new and improved Face ID system, which is now 30 percent faster, according to Apple, allowing you to unlock your phone with your mug at breakneck speeds from longer distances and even wider angles; it’s pretty darn impressive.
Naturally, apps, including graphically intensive offerings such as complex augmenting face filtering types, load with lightning-fast speeds, and graphics are displayed with no lag. Everything is extremely nippy and smooth.
Battery life is an area where the iPhone has long been criticized, but thankfully, things have improved significantly this time around. Apple claims the 11 Pro delivers four more hours of battery life than the iPhone XS, and we found that was generally the case – no more reaching for the power bank on the train home from work.
On average, we found the iPhone 11 Pro lasts for a full day, from unplugging it from the mains at 7am too going to bed at 11pm, with a good 10 percent or so remaining.
The iPhone 11 Pro also touts some decent fast-charging thanks to an 18W adapter and Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, which in previous models you’d have to purchase separately for a silly amount of money.
The iPhone 11 Pro runs iOS 13, which is a decent upgrade and works nicely in our experience. One of the big new features is dark mode, which replaces Apple’s vibrant white color scheme with mostly black, making viewing (especially at night) much easier on the eyes.
Another nice feature is that the OS now gives you notifications when apps try and slurp your location data in the background. The Photos app has been given a much-welcomed upgrade meaning it’s not only much easier to find your fav photos but it will filter out all those WhatsApp conversation screengrabs that you take to bitch about your friends.
The headline feature of the iPhone 11 Pro range is the new rear-facing triple camera setup, which combines a 12MP wide-angle sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor with a 120-degree field of view, and a 12MP telephoto sensor. The camera UI supporting this setup has also been given a bit of a zhuzh and now shows you what each of the three different sensors can capture at any one time.
Zooming in and out of an image, which naturally flicks between the three lenses, is unbelievably smooth, so much so that you would think it’s just one camera doing all the work. The three lenses capture images that are undeniably crisp, lighting is exceptional and color representation is just about perfect. Wide-angle shots are also huge and surprisingly sharp.
The question on everyone’s lips, though. Is it as good as the Huawei P30 Pro’s camera? Well, yes and no. The smoothness as it switches between cameras, especially while filming, certainly is better than what the P30 Pro can offer, and the super wide-angle lens definitely produces sharper and wider photos. However, the iPhone 11 Pro’s zoom is nowhere near as impressive as that on the P30 Pro, mainly because the telephoto lens isn’t as big. So it’s swings and roundabouts, really and it’s hard to compare – it depends on what you’re looking for.
Arguably the most anticipated camera feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is Deep Fusion, an image processing system that uses machine learning to improve texture, details, and noise in every part of the photo. The idea is that with one touch of the shutter button, the 11 Pro will shoot a bunch of pics before picking out all the best bits of each and combining them to form the best possible result. However, we’ve not had a chance to try this feature yet as Apple says it will arrive through an update later this year, so check back for an update on that.
While we wait to see what Deep Fusion will bring, we’re able to test out Apple’s new Night Mode, which turns on automatically when you fire up the camera in a low-light setting. It works really really well, illuminating objects you couldn’t see before in a natural way.
Around the front, the iPhone 11 Pro sports a new and improved 12MP camera alongside a fresh Portrait Mode, which is joined by a feature Apple calls “selfies”, a new term for slow-motion selfie videos, which it has obviously tried to make a ‘thing’ but we’re not quite sure if that will happen. Admittedly, these are really fun, and can imagine them being a big hit with Snapchat-obsessed teenagers and Instagram-wielding millennials alike.
Storage, pricing, and availability
The iPhone 11 Pro is available in the UK from now with a gut-wrenching starting price of £1,049, which only gets you 64GB of storage – why Apple is still even selling phones with this little storage in this day and age bewilders us.
For comparisons’ sake, the bigger iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at just 100 quid more at £1,149 (also for 64GB), so for a much bigger screen, we’d say it’s worth the extra dish opting for the larger device.
If you’re wanting to upgrade the internal storage, too, the iPhone 11 Pro will cost an extra £150 for the 256GB edition at £1,199 and £350 extra for the top whack 512GB model. Ouch. Nevertheless, it’s available in four different colors ways: Midnight Green, Space Grey, Silver, and Gold.
The iPhone 11 Pro isn’t an engineering feat to be marveled at, but it is incredibly beautiful, comes with a great camera, and has the best battery life of any iPhone yet.
But though it’s the best iPhone that Apple has released – by far – it’s nothing we haven’t already seen before. While there are some great new features, we’re still missing the true design innovation that will leave all the aggressive Chinese smartphone upstarts in the dust.
That aside, it’s a brilliant smartphone that we loved using. If you’ve already got an iPhone XS or similar, however, it’s probably not worth upgrading just yet – unless you desperately want that triple camera setup. On the other hand, if you’re currently using an iPhone 8 or below and looking to upgrade, look no further. You won’t go far wrong with the iPhone 11 Pro.