Apple used to release just a single new iPhone every year. But then in 2014 everything changed when Apple released two, rather than just one. We had the iPhone 6 and the much larger iPhone 6 Plus, for those that wanted a larger display size. From there on that’s what the lineup looked like, until 2018 when Apple added a third model, an iPhone “Lite”. This was a lower end iPhone for those that still wanted the latest specs and camera but don’t want to spend a ton on a new phone. That was the iPhone XR from 2018 which launched alongside the iPhone XS and the XS Max.
This year Apple has done the same thing, they’ve released the iPhone 11 Pro and the 11 Pro Max which are the successors to the XS and XS Max from last year, and the iPhone 11 which is the successor to the iPhone XR from last year. As it turns out this is actually a very good iPhone and this is my full review with my final thoughts on Apple’s lowest end iPhone for 2019 which just like the Nintedo Switch Lite, ended up being better than the more expensive models.
This article contains 7 different sections with my full thoughts on the Design, Display, Camera, Performance, Special Features, Battery Life & Value, so get all those snacks and drinks ready and enjoy!
Lets start off with the design the iPhone 11 which is a bit of a mix between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. What I mean by this is that it has the aluminium frame of the iPhone 8 rather than the stainless steel frame that the iPhone X and the Pro’s have, so it feels a bit less premium, but you still have that iPhone 8, 7, 6 feel in your hand. You also have the iPhone X style design on the front with the notch, however the bezels are thicker than on the iPhone X, and interesting enough the side bezels are actually thicker than on the iPhone 8. This is why this phone is a mix between the old iPhone 8 style design and the new iPhone X style design, and I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this design.
The iPhone 11 Pro’s already look outdated as they are still using the exact same design from 2017 with the X so all look identical from the front, and the regular iPhone 11 looks just as outdated. This looks to me like an early 2017 design, considering that the iPhone X came out in late 2017 and already had a more modern design, when compared to the 11. Which is such a shame seeing as competitor devices like the Galaxy S10, the Note 10, the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T Pro and many other smartphones already look so much more futuristic than the iPhones do. Just because of the lack of a notch and the full screen displays.
Also the iPhone 11 is quite thick. At 8.3mm this is the thickest iPhone that Apple has released since the iPhone 4S in 2011, 8 years ago. Taking a look at the bottom of the phone, you’ll not only find a lightning port but you might also notice that the lightning port is not aligned perfectly with the screws and the speaker grill, like they are on the Pro’s for example.
Apple used to be the company that payed a lot of attention to detail, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case for quite a few years now.
The back however, does look better than I expected. On the mock-ups that we had it just look horrendous, but seeing it in person, on the final unit I think it looks pretty decent. I definitely prefer having the Apple logo in the middle, just like on the iPads and the MacBooks, and the camera module doesn’t look that bad either.
I do like how the inside of the camera module has the same colour as the back of the phone does, rather than being full black like it was on the mock-ups, and the glass inside the module is matte, whereas the glass on the rest of the back is glossy. Fun Fact, the iPhone 11 Pro has these reversed with a matte glass back and a glossy camera module.
But overall I’m not a big fan of this design. It’s the same one as the iPhone XR from 2018 which already had an outdated design compared to the iPhone X from 2017 and the colours are just not as vibrant as last year.
Moving on to the Display, this is a bit of an odd one, since Apple gave the low end iPhone a medium sized display, rather than giving it the smallest display. We have a 6.1” display on the 11 compared to the 5.8” on the 11 Pro, and 6.5” on the 11 Pro.
To be fair it actually does make sense for it to be this way. People who want the smallest iPhone possible, still get all the features from the Pro, while people who want a cheaper iPhone still get a fairly big display, and at 6.1” this is a very good size display. It’s small enough for me to almost use it in one hand and large enough to comfortably view your content. When you compare it side by side to the 11 Pro Max, you can tell that the 11 isn’t that much shorter than the Pro Max is but it’s definitely not as wide, meaning that it’s much more comfortable to hold.
Now, the display on the 11 is actually the main downgrade that you’re getting from the Pro. With the 11 we get an LCD display compared to the OLED displays that we get on the Pro’s. LCD is what Apple was using before the iPhone X. In LCD displays the pixels only provide the colour and not the light source. So you need a separate back light to light the pixels up. This means that when you are displaying a scene with black in it, the back light will still be on for the other pixels and the black would have this blue-ish grey-ish look. With OLED displays, there is no back light because the pixels are the light source themselves. This means that when you’re displaying black, the pixels are actually turned off entirely for that section, and therefore you get true blacks.
Also, if you’re using Dark Mode on iOS 13 the battery life would be improved by having an OLED panel, again because the display will be turned off for the sections where black is displayed. Aside from this, thanks to the OLED display, the Pro’s have a much better contrast of 2 million to 1, vs 1400:1 on the 11.
Colours look more vibrant as well, with the display being brighter on the Pro, up to 1200 nits in HDR content compared to 625 nits, and yes the 11 Pro’s can actually display HDR 10 content natively. The viewing angles are also better on the Pro’s thanks to that OLED display, and the resolution is also higher as well.
We have 326PPI or pixel density on the iPhone 11 compared to 458 on the 11 Pro Max. Compare that to the 550 PPI that the Samsung Galaxy S10 has, and yes there is a pretty big difference especially with the 11.
Now realistically you would not be able to tell the difference unless you look at the phones very closely. However if you watch a lot of YouTube content, then I have some bad news for you. The iPhone 11 only has a 1792 x 828 resolution display, which is actually lower than 1080p. Which means that you would not be able to play 1080p videos on YouTube. Yes, the YouTube player does let you select 1080p but that doesn’t really mean anything since the display itself is sub 1080p. Also on iOS you cannot play any YouTube videos higher than 1080p anyways, even if you have an iPhone 11 Pro Max for example.
But comparing the Video Quality on YouTube on the 11 to the 11 Pro, you cannot really that much of a difference between the two. However, when you compare this to the regular Galaxy S10 which actually costs less than the iPhone 11 now, there is a gigantic difference between the two displays in every single way.
So I’m not saying that this is a bad display, it’s just that it’s nowhere near as good as the iPhone Pros, or pretty much any of the android competition at this price point.
So so far it doesn’t look good for the iPhone 11. It comes with an outdated design and a fairly downgraded display for its price, but the good news is that that is where all the downsides end, because everything else is very good on this phone.
The camera for example is mostly the exact same one that we get on the iPhone 11 Pro’s, which is overall the best smartphone camera on the market right now.
We have full 4K 60 video recording with the front camera, which no other smartphone can do at the moment. We have a wider field of view on the front as well, so whenever you’re taking photos you can zoom out to get more into the shot which you couldn’t do before.
HDR photography has been improved and so has night shots have been improved dramatically, with a dedicated night mode that kicks in automatically.
So this is a gigantic improvement from the XS.
We also have that ultra-wide angle module which lets you capture so much more in the scene. You can even record 4K 60 video with that module, which again no other smartphone can do at the moment.
You can smoothly transition between all 3 lenses, so this is overall the best smartphone camera on the market right now.
The Note 10 also has a very good camera, even a bit better in terms of the wide angle photography but video is much better on the iPhone, and I’m very glad that the 11 got mostly the same camera as the Pro’s did. I say mostly because it is lacking the zoom or the telephoto module which is not really a big downgrade since you can always zoom in digitally, it’s just that the zoomed in photos won’t be as sharp.
Performance wise this is a champion as well. No really, it has the exact same Apple A13 processor that the iPhone 11 Pro’s get, which is still the fastest processor in any smartphone, and is at least an entire year ahead of the competition, if not even more than that.
In addition we now have 4GB of RAM up from 3GB, matching the amount of RAM we have on the iPhone 11 Pro’s.
In fact, because of that lower resolution display, the performance on this iPhone will actually be even better than on the Pros! And performance has been very good on my 11 Pro Max, for example the only issue that I’ve had and I still have this every now and then is RAM management. Sometimes apps keep refreshing in the background which is quite frustrating. I don’t have this issue at all on my Note 10+, but that also has 12GB of RAM compared to 4.
Make sure to watch our ultimate speed test of the iPhone 11 Pro Max versus the Note 10+, as the iPhone 11 will perform very similar to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Moving on to the special features, we do actually get quite a few new ones.
For example, we get what Apple’s calling the strongest glass in a smartphone, which is what they have been saying for a few years now. We get this on both the Pro’s and the 11. I already have scratches on mine and I actually ended up having my 11 Pro Max replaced because of this, but that’s actually how glass works. If you want to make a glass durable to drops you have to also make it flexible, and if you make it flexible it means that you add plastic which will make it scratch easier.
So yes, while the glass on the iPhone 11’s is way more durable to drops than older iPhones, they will still scratch. So do keep that in mind, I would consider buying a screen-protector if you haven’t already.
Aside from the improved glass, water resistance has also been improved on the 11. We now have up to 2m of depth up to 30min, from 1m for 30min which was what we had on the XR. This means that the iPhone 11 is now as water resistant as the iPhone XS was, and even more water resistant that the 8 and the X. The 11 Pro’s now have up to 4m of depth resistance, but personally I’ve submerged all of the iPhones from the 7 to the 11 Pro in swimming pools and even sea water and they were all fine. Do keep in mind that water damage is not covered under warranty.
As well as those we also get the improved speakers that we got with the iPhone 11 Pro’s. So we get special audio playback and Dolby atmos support as well.
But something that we do not get is a fast charger. Apple finally bundled one in the box of the iPhone 11 Pro’s but the 11 still gets that very slow 5W charger which is so annoying.
Speaking of chargers, let’s talk about the battery life.
So last year, ironically the iPhone XR had a better battery life than the XS & XS Max had, even though those actually had an OLED display, which was also more power efficient. The effect of this was that many people actually picked the iPhone XR over the XS’s, just because they wanted more battery life.
Well this year, things have changes.
Apple has now removed 3D touch from the iPhone 11 Pro’s and increased the battery size. Alongside the more power efficient Apple A13 chip, we get four more hours of battery life on the 11 Pro compared to the XS, and five more hours on the 11 Pro Max compared to the XS Max when playing back video. So that’s a massive improvement. But the iPhone 11 also get an improvement of one extra hour, over the XR from last year.
So while it’s not as good as the 11 Pro or Pro Max, it’s actually even better than the XR from last year which was already known to have the best battery life in any iPhone yet.
So in the end. What are my final thoughts on the iPhone 11?
Well, this lower end iPhone has the exact camera, aside from the zoom module, and the exact same performance that the much more expensive iPhone 11 Pro’s do. Those are the two things that are what most people care about the most in a phone; speed and camera.
So if you can look past the outdated design and lower end display I can assure you that you’ll absolutely love this phone! And at $700, $300 less than the iPhone 11 Pro and $400 less than the Pro Max, this is in my opinion the iPhone that’s worth it the most in 2019.
But is it the smartphone that’s worth it the most in 2019?
Well no, that would be the regular Galaxy S10, which offers a much better display, a more modern design than even the iPhone 11 Pro’s, and a triple lens camera module that is on par with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
But if you’re an iPhone user this is the one that I would recommend to most people, and then you’ll have $300-$400 left to spend on AirPods or an Apple Watch.