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Hands-on review: One month with the Apple iPhone 11

24 Oct 2019
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Every year, the last two weeks of September are when every Apple fan impatiently waits for the release of the shiny new Apple products - with the iPhones being the stars of the show.

This year, Apple released three iPhones into the market: The iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. While everyone was taken by the Pro line, I believe this year’s magic was all in the humble iPhone 11.

Design

From the front, the iPhone 11 looks identical to its predecessor, the iPhone XR. It features the same 6.1-inch Retina Display stretching to the corners.

The Retina Display provides “true-to-life” colours. This basically means that the iPhone 11 has a decent-size display that provides beautiful lifelike colours, and you can still hold the phone with one hand. The thick bezels on the side are also still there, but I don’t mind them as the display is already big enough.

The back is also similar to that of the XR. It has the same glass back that Apple refers to as the “toughest glass in a smartphone ever”. I dropped my iPhone XR many times over the last year and the glass back is still intact, so I’m glad they kept the same one for the iPhone 11.

Every year Apple makes at least one design change that makes the new phones stand out. This year, it was the dual camera. While Apple could’ve used the dual camera design from last year’s iPhones, they opted for the square design that is seen on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. This way the iPhone 11 is truly part of the 2019 iPhone family.

Just like the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 comes in six different colors: green, yellow, purple, white and (PRODUCT) RED.  Last year the red was my favourite, but this year the yellow, green and purple are unique and provide a fresh, fun take on phone colours that I believe the market is missing.

Camera

This year’s iPhone 11 features a dual back camera that matches - if not beats - the three and four lens cameras on other phones. Last year’s iPhone XR had a single lens camera that was good but not perfect, which gives the iPhone 11 an amazing leg up.

The dual-camera system features a Wide and an Ultra-wide camera that allows users to capture up to four times more in one image. This is perfect when shooting landscape photos or photos of touristic, historic and architectural sites. You can finally fit everything you see in one image.

Here are a couple of quick pictures I took in the park from the same exact spot to show the difference between the Wide and Ultra-Wide modes:

Wide Mode:

Ultra-Wide mode:

The iPhone 11’s camera also has smart HDR that uses machine learning to recognise human faces and treat them differently than the background. This way, faces have natural-looking skin tones with more accurate highlights and shadows. The technology is so smart that it does everything without taking away from the background.

One of the other amazing additions to this iPhone 11’s camera was Night Mode. Night Mode enables users to take low-light photos that look bright and beautiful. It captures multiple images and fuses them to create the perfect picture with natural colours and precise details.

It doesn’t stop there. The iPhone 11’s camera also has a new and improved Portrait mode that now recognises people, pets and objects rather than just people. This mode works in both Wide and Ultra-Wide modes to capture the most imagery while keeping the subject in focus.

The new dual camera system also supports 4K video up to 60 frames per second (fps). It also uses machine learning to optimise different components, allowing for more details and less noise. This allows users to take professional-style videos on their iPhone 11.

If all of that wasn’t enough, the Camera app has the most innovative, user friendly interface ever seen in a smart phone. Switching between modes and making edits feels natural and effortless, which encourages users to play around with the setting to capture the perfect image that matches their vision.

Slofies

While the name makes my eyes roll to the back of my head, this is actually a nice innovative feature. The front facing camera can capture 4K videos up to 60 fps, as well as take Slow motion selfie videos “Slofies” at 120 fps. I hope we see this feature used in a more creative way than people showing off their long hair.

Battery

For me, the battery is one of the first features I look at in a phone. In this day and age, we need a phone with a battery that will last us all day. With light use, the iPhone 11 was able to last around 75 hours from full charge to dead. With heavy use, the iPhone 11 lasts a full day with absolutely no problems.

iOS 13

The iPhone 11 runs iOS 13 that introduces a lot of welcomes changes. From Dark mode, to the new Sign in with Apple feature to the changes in messages, maps, Siri etc... the new iOS improved the entire experience.

The verdict

The iPhone 11 provides a cool design, an outstanding camera, a great internal system all at an affordable price. While people might be mesmerised by the black boxed midnight green iPhone Pro (I was too at first, it is beautiful!) the iPhone 11 delivers a full package of everything you need in a smart phone and saves you a whopping NZ$600 in the process.