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Apple iPhone 11 Review: Computational Powerhouse
Just like last year, Apple released three new iPhones in 2019. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are priced upwards Rs.99,990, whereas the iPhone 11 retails for Rs. 65,000. In fact, it is priced less than the launch price of its predecessor - the iPhone XR.
- Camera Performance
- Gaming Performance
- Battery Life
- Fast Charger Not Included In The Box
- Low Resolution Screen
With an almost similar looking design, the iPhone 11 might not look a much of an upgrade over the iPhone XR. But, the iPhone 11 brings a few notable upgrades. The internals are exactly similar to the Pro series and promises to last longer than the iPhone XR. So, how does the iPhone 11 perform in the real world? And how it is a computational powerhouse? Should one spend over Rs. 65,000 on this device? I've tried explaining the same in this detailed review.
Design – Subtle Changes That Make A Lot Of Difference
From the front side, the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11 look exactly similar to each other. However, turning these devices to the rear side reveals some of the design changes. The iPhone 11 comes with a bigger Apple logo and the obvious dual camera setup.
The phone uses a glass sandwich design with an aluminum frame and ships in six interesting colors, including the classics white and black. I have been testing the white variant of the iPhone 11 that looks premium and elegant. This time around, the square camera module has a matte or frosted finish, whereas the remaining back panel has a glossy finish. An untrained eye might confuse it with two different glasses fused together. However, the entire back panel is made using a single piece of glass.
The iPhone 11 is IP68 water and dust resistant and can survive in two-meter deep-water for up to 30 minutes. The phone is Qi wireless charging-enabled. However, unlike the competition, the phone does not support reverse wireless charging. Essentials like volume buttons and mute switch are on the right, whereas the power button (multi-function button) and the SIM tray is on the left.
The iPhone 11 looks premium from every bit. The dimensions of the phone make it easy to use and operate for those who have tiny hands. With various color options to choose one can always get the iPhone 11 in their favorite shade. Having a glass back has helped the company to incorporate features like wireless charging and water-resistant and the company claims that the iPhone 11 uses the world's toughest glass on a smartphone.
A glass is always glass and it can scratch and crack. It is always advised to use a screen guard and a case to protect its pristine condition. Besides, repairing this device would cost you a fortune. Overall, the iPhone 11 looks modern and has all the features that a user might want in a premium flagship smartphone.
Display – Good But Not The Best
Apple has done some serious engineering to curve an IPS LCD screen on all four sides to give it an almost bezel-less design. Compared to the Pro models, the bezels on the iPhone 11 are slightly on a chunkier side. The phone uses a 6.1-inch display with 1729 x 828 pixels, offering a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch and the company calls it a liquid retina display. Though the iPhone 11 has one of the best LCD screens on any phone, it cannot be compared to the OLED display used on the iPhone 11 Pro and the 11 Pro Max.
Coming from the OnePlus 7 Pro, I was able to notice a vast difference in color reproduction, contrast, and brightness. However, as I spent more time on the iPhone 11 and I completely forgot that it has a 720p resolution screen.
Though it has a lower resolution screen compared to its contemporaries, one might not be able to spot a difference unless the screen is compared hand-to-hand. As much of a disadvantage the low-resolution screen also has a few advantages as well. Both processors and the battery have to drive lesser pixels which results in an excellence battery life and performance.
Judging the phone by the specs sheet wouldn't be fair, as the iPhone 11's display is a good if not the best. The screen uses Apple True Tone technology that adjusts the white balance of the screen to match the light of the room, making it easy for eyes to look at the phone.
Sound – Stereo Setup With Dolby Atmos
The iPhone 11 like most of the recent iPhones comes equipped with a dual stereo speaker. The main speaker is on the bottom right corner and the earpiece acts as a secondary speaker. The iPhone 11 has a speaker that produces crystal clear sound even at the maximum volume and supports Dolby Atmos which can be experienced on apps like Netflix.
The built-in speaker on the iPhone 11 reproduced full-staged sound, where a user can easily distinguish between the vocals and different instruments.
Apple is one of the few brands that still pack in a wired headphone in the retail package that outputs decent sound quality. The Apple EarPods that ships with the iPhone 11 features a lighting port and is backward compatible. I used several wireless earphones and Bluetooth speakers with this phone and I did not face any issues with respect to connectivity or sound quality.
Storage And RAM
The Apple iPhone 11 comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB internal storage. Though the company has not revealed the exact amount of RAM that the phone posses, a few reports suggest that it has 4GB RAM. In the Android ecosystem, we now have phones that offer up to 12GB RAM. Apple yet again proves that the number only tells a part of the story and software optimization is as important as hardware.
Even after packing a mere 4GB RAM, the iPhone 11 did not show any unresponsiveness or lag even while playing highly demanding games (more on this in the latter part of the review) with a bunch of apps opened in the background.
Coming to the storage, I would recommend choosing either 128GB or 256GB storage variant especially for those who like to store a ton of offline movies, photos, and songs on the device. I am currently testing the 256GB storage variant and I had no issues with respect to storage or RAM whatsoever.
Camera – The Best Smartphone Camera
The Apple iPhone 11 uses a total of three 12MP cameras. There are two 12MP sensors at the back with a primary wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture accompanied by an ultra-wide angle lens with an f/2.4 aperture and 120-degree field of view. Besides, there is a 12MP selfie camera at the front with an f/2.2 aperture.
The primary sensor is optically stabilized and all three sensors can record videos at 4K 60fps. The iPhone 11 uses HEVC and H.264 format to record videos. Even while recording a 4K video the camera can capture 8MP images simultaneously. On one side, OEMs are pushing cameras with 40 and 60MP resolution, while Apple is still using 12MP cameras with a good ISP and software processing that takes better pictures almost every time.
Portrait Mode – Takes It To The Next Level
Portrait Mode is easily the best camera feature for me on the newest iPhone 11. It works on both the primary camera and the selfie camera. The camera app offers different lighting conditions in this mode and the photo can be edited. The feature works on humans and animals. It offers freedom, where one can edit the lighting mode after taking the picture and the edge detection is on point. Out of all the different lighting modes, stage-light mono is my favorite and this picture explains why. These images can also be posted as 3D images on Facebook for more fun.
Standard Mode – Accurate Colors, Amazing Clarity
Though most of the modern smartphones are now capable of taking photos with a good amount of details, some of the phones tend to over sharpen and over saturate the images to make them pop. The iPhone 11 takes amazing landscape shots and even after zooming 100 percent into the image the photo can retain the details. This photo of Bengaluru taken from a rooftop is a great example of the same.
Night Mode – Software Magic
The Apple iPhone 11 is one of the first phones from the company to offer night mode that automatically kicks in depending on the lighting condition. There is no dedicated mode to toggle the night mode. Instead, the phone uses software to automatically select a pre-programmed ISO and shutter speed to capture an image that looks a lot better. This photo of the coconut tree was taken around 8:30 PM that retains most of the details.
Ultra-wide Angle Lens: Widens Your Field Of View
The 12MP ultra-wide angle lens on the iPhone 11 is one of the best complimentary sensors that I have seen on a smartphone. In most of the multi-camera smartphones, the color science of the ultra-wide angle lens will be completely different than the primary sensor. However, the iPhone 11's ultra-wide angle lens takes images that look as good as the primary lens. However, this sensor does suffer a bit in low-light conditions due to its smaller f/2.4 aperture. Here is a comparison image between the primary sensor and the ultra-wide angle lens.
Selfie Camera – Best On An iPhone
The iPhone 11 has the highest resolution selfie camera on any iPhone. The 12MP sensor can take good portrait pictures. Besides, it has a software-assisted ultra-wide angle mode as well. Selfies taken in normal lighting conditions look great with an adequate amount of detail. However, the selfie images tend to get noisy in low-light situations.
Video Recording – Buttery Smooth
All three cameras on the iPhone 11 are capable of shooting 4K videos up to 60fps. The videos shot on the primary camera look very natural in terms of color correction and the footage comes out to be amazingly stable even if the phone is held in hand. Hands down, the iPhone 11 is one of the best smartphones to shoot videos.
Overall Camera Performance
The iPhone 11 is one of the best camera smartphones of 2019. This credit goes to the software optimization done by the company. This camera is going to get better with a future software update, where the company is introducing a new technology called Deep Fusion that will further improve the day-light photography. Looking for the best camera smartphone? Don't look any further from the iPhone 11.
Performance – The Most Powerful Mobile Processor
Apple is one of the few brands that makes both hardware and software for its smartphones. The Apple A13 Bionic is a custom 7nm chipset from the company with its own GPU. The company claims that the iPhone 11 has the world's most powerful chipset and benchmarks like GFXBench, and AnTuTu does re-affirm the same. The single-core and multi-core CPU performance of the A13 Bionic makes sure that the phone has enough legroom for the future requirements.
The A13 Bionic is the second generation chipset from Apple based on the 7nm manufacturing process that makes it an efficient one. Besides CPU and GPU, the chipset also packs a dedicated neural engine that helps with AI computation. Here are the benchmark results of the iPhone 11 on several synthetic benchmark platforms.
Gaming – Best Mobile Gaming Experience
The market is now flooded with "gaming smartphones" that tend to pack in an overclocked GPU, liquid cooling solution and whatnot. On paper, the iPhone 11 might not look much like a gaming smartphone. However, in reality, it's the other way round.
I played some of the most demanding games like Call Of Duty: Mobile, PUBG, Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 9 for hours and I did not notice any performance drop and even the temperature was on well within the limits. The iPhone 11 can easily offer 60fps+ on any game without breaking a sweat.
If you are looking to get a smartphone to play some of the most demanding battle royale games, then the iPhone 11 is the one to go for.
OS – Fast And Furious
Out-of-the-box the iPhone 11 runs on iOS 13 and I have received a total of four software updates in the last few weeks that just show how committed the company is. iOS 13 is the latest iteration of the mobile operating system from Apple that is currently available for more than half a dozen iPhones.
I have been an Android user and the iPhone 11 is the first non-android smartphone that I have used as my daily driver. Thanks to the Android 10 gestures (inspired by iOS) getting used to the new gestures on the iPhone 11 was an easy task. As claimed in the advertisements, the iPhone takes security seriously. The new control center also offers to choose between different Wi-Fi networks and different Bluetooth devices without going into the settings menu.
Other than the typical features, iOS 13 has introduced a lot of new additions like screen time, where one can get total information on the time spent on the phone and the time is categorized into different labels like entertainment, social networking, and productivity. The built-in step tracker is also very accurate compared to the cheap fitness bands and it gives more insight by comparing the data with previous data.
The Shortcomings – Still Needs Some Work
Being an Android user for a long time I did miss the customization related features. Unlike an Android phone, there is no option to change the app icon, icon size, and fonts. Though the phone has plenty of internal storage, it cannot be used as a mass storage device to copy and move files directly from a Mac or a PC.
Networking And Connectivity – Top Class
The Apple iPhone 11 comes with dual SIM support. Unlike most of the smartphones, the device has a single nano-SIM tray and an e-SIM option. As of now, Airtel and Jio offer e-SIM cards in India and I am using the iPhone 11 with dual Jio SIM cards. Here is a detailed article on how to procure an e-SIM card from Jio for free.
As per networking and connectivity, I did not face any issues. Besides the dual SIM support the iPhone 11 also support Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax and is one of the first phones in India to do so. One of the features that I liked about the dual SIM management on the iPhone 11 is that the phone automatically switches from one network to another if the speeds get reduced. Of course, there is an option to disable this feature as well.
Battery Life – Can Last For An Entire Day
It is told that the iPhone 11's battery capacity is identical to the iPhone XR. With software tweaks, the phone can squeeze in an additional hour compared to the latter. The phone easily lasted for an entire day for the most part with almost 5.5 to 7 hours of screen-on-time. The battery sub-menu on the settings app does include complete information on battery usage.
The phone does support fast charging and wireless charging as well. However, the retail package comes with a 5W charger and it takes ages to charge the iPhone 11 (almost 3 hours). The company does include a fast charger with the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max and it should have done the same with this device as well.
As of now, one can buy a fast charger from Apple by spending almost Rs. 4,500 (for adapter and data cable). For wireless charging, one can use any of the Qi-certified chargers.
Verdict – Go For The Camera And Performance
The Apple iPhone 11 seems like a great device that has almost everything that a modern smartphone user aspires for. A great camera setup, modern design, water resistance, wireless charging, and a chipset that drives it all.
At the very beginning of the review, I said that the iPhone 11 is a computation powerhouse and here is the reason. All the aforementioned attributes of this phone are solely dependent on one thing - the A13 Bionic chipset. This chipset has a gigabit-class LTE modem, best mobile CPU and GPU, an ISP that processes images like a pro. On top of that, it is efficient, thus resulting in a great battery life.
If you are in pursuit of getting yourself a great flagship smartphone and do not want to spend in six figures, then the iPhone 11 is the phone for you. Yes, there are a lot of smartphones from Android that costs almost half as much as the iPhone 11 and offers double the hardware specifications (at least on paper). This phone is not for the specs-heads, instead, it is a phone for those who are looking for a reliable smartphone that can easily last up to three3 or four years without any major issue.