At Apple's multimedia event in Silicon Valley, the company announced the iPhone 11 (€839) and the iPhone 11 Pro (€1189), also presenting the most powerful camera system ever seen to date. The iPhone 11 Pro has a 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch display, the latter being called the iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1099+). Apple has slightly reduced its launch prices since last year, as with the launch of the iPhone Xs it realized that a very high price was no longer sustainable for users.
The camera system of the iPhone 11 Pro is clearly the most awaited update, and is somehow in step with the competition, with a triple-lens rear camera and an extensive list of image processing features.
However, the general specifications have been somewhat disappointing, with relatively small openings, which require a night mode (long exposure) to deal with dark scenes.
The addition of an Ultrawide camera is a very welcome addition that opens up a world of possibilities for iOS users. Years after LG introduced ultrawide photography in the mobile phone industry, Ultrawide has become truly ubiquitous in the high end.
The zoom features haven't changed much, with the same 52mm, but we'll have to take a closer look at the entire camera module. Apple correctly calls its "4X" zoom because it goes from 13mm (ultrawide) to 52mm (zoom) we shouldn't get confused: the maximum optical zoom is still 52mm, as on the model of last year.
We will have a more in-depth analysis of the iPhone 11 Pro camera hardware and a full IQ camera Uber-G benchmark when more news is available.
At first glance, the overall shape and appearance of the iPhone 11 Pro are not very different, especially on the front of the phone which keeps the same large notch at the top. However, Apple is using a new rear glass that seems much thicker and perhaps less prone to breakage, and it would be great because Apple glass replacement/repair is the most expensive in the industry.
The metal frame around the phone is made of stainless steel, which has proven to be more durable and more resistant to scratches than aluminum. However, it is also significantly heavier, especially the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Having said that, we expect the overall feeling to remain similar to that of the iPhone Xs and Xs Max.
The updated industrial design looks good, although the camera module is visually a little unbalanced compared to competitors like Huawei, Samsung or even Motorola. But it's probably not a big deal since iPhone users can't be affected by this.
Display: Super Retina XDR
The displays of Apple's high-end mobile phones have always been excellent, and this is no exception. With resolutions 2436 × 1125 and 2688 × 1242, they are not the sharpest displays available (458PPI versus ~ 550PPI of some competitors), but the color quality and brightness are very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Greater clarity is not absolutely necessary, except for VR applications where it is possible to "see" the difference.
In fact, it is likely that Samsung is the supplier of the OLED panel because we have not seen anyone else build a 1200 NIT OLED panel for phones. Apple maintains its unique tactile feedback system (simulates a feeling of clicking with vibrations) and boasts of having excellent spatial sound using both a proprietary algorithm and Dolby's Atmos sound rendering engine.
The display is HDR 10 and Dolby Vision certified, so if you find compatible content, the graphics will be top-notch.
A13 Bionic processor
Because Apple develops processors (SoCs) only for itself, it can optimize efficiency more than silicon suppliers who have to satisfy a large number of customers with different needs and desires. This is absolutely true.
Apple's A13 Bionic should keep Apple in the lead when it comes to synthetic CPU performance. The previous generation has not always won the graphic benchmarks, but we expect excellent performance and Apple should be very competitive with games.
Apple builds its processor using a modern 7-nanometer semiconductor process and has 8.5 B transistors, which place it in the same category as Huawei's new Kirin 990 processor. We will see how Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 8xx will compare by the end of the year.
Apple has explained some of the performance optimizations we find on this new device, such as having hundreds of voltage domains. These are very good ways to optimize power and most chip makers use similar techniques. The extent to which Apple does this is difficult to compare due to the lack of concrete comparative data.
Finally, many communications are made on the NPU (AI processor or Neural processor), but again, without comparative benchmarks, it is unclear where Apple is on the map. It will be interesting to investigate further, but the impact of high-performance artificial intelligence is not as easy to perceive as faster graphics.
Apple says that all new iPhones will have a longer battery life, but they haven't communicated the actual battery capacity during the keynote, so energy efficiency could be the basis of extended resistance.
The most concrete improvement related to the battery is that Apple will join the rest of the sector and will ship a "quick charger". We criticized this decision in our review of iPhone Xs and are pleased to see Apple ship with a faster charger in the package.
iPhone Xs didn't have one and it was the high-end phone with the slowest recharge we've tested. It was 5 times slower to load than the Huawei P30 Pro and 2.5 times slower than the Samsung Galaxy S phones. With an 18W charger, it certainly won't beat Huawei (40 W) but it could almost reach Samsung.
The new offer from Apple is a decent upgrade that could induce iPhone users with a 3-4-year-old iPhone to finally make the upgrade, even though iPhone 11 (not Pro) is definitely better and offers a much higher value for money that you spend.
If money is not a problem and you come from an iPhone Xs, it is likely that the Ultrawide camera is the most significant update in everyday life since the zoom will probably work in a similar way. Apple has tried to frame the extra battery life as a possible incentive and if we talk about 4-5 hours, it's possible.
But when it comes to battery life, only real-world tests can provide an answer, so stay tuned for more.