The iPhone 11 is something of a surprise – it brings more advanced technology (namely in the camera capabilities and the processing power under the hood) and yet offers it for less than the iPhone XR cost in 2018. It combines a large 6.1-inch display with a premium-feeling body, and comes in an array of colors too.
The most eye-catching feature of the new iPhone is to the imaging capabilities: with two sensors on the rear, you can now take wider-angle snaps alongside the ‘normal’ main images. These sensors are 12MP each, and are raised from the rear of the phone in a square glass enclosure – which we’re not enamored with visually.
The night mode is the most impressive part of the iPhone 11 imaging quality, bringing brightness and clarity to impossibly dark scenes, and the Portrait mode, defocusing the background, is improved on the new iPhone too.
The design hasn’t updated much from the iPhone XR in 2018, although there are now six colors – including a new lilac and mint green shade to choose from. The edges of the iPhone 11 still have the same feel as the older iPhone 6, 7 and 8, although the larger 6.1-inch display in the middle takes up most of the front of the phone (although with slightly thick borders around the screen).
That display is bright enough and responds well under the finger, with bright sunlight performance good and the overall movie and video streaming playback strong – although not in the same league as the OLED-toting iPhone 11 Pro range.
Apple claims that the battery life of the iPhone 11 is an hour longer than that of the impressive iPhone XR, and in our tests this largely bore out. We were able to eke 24 hours’ use out of it without needing to try too hard – although sadly there’s no fast charger in the box, so if you do deplete the power pack you’ll need to wait around three hours before it’s fully juiced up.
The overall speed and performance of the iPhone 11 is robust – and especially so for the price. It’s still one of the most powerful phones out there, according to our early benchmarks.
In reality that just translates to a solid experience when flipping in and out of apps – although we did note that the speed in firing up the camera was a little slow, and processing pictures took longer than expected for a modern phone.
That said, given you can edit 4K footage at 60 frames per second on a smartphone, it seems like a pretty powerful device to have in your pocket – especially if you’re a social influencer.
Overall the iPhone 11 is a triumph for Apple – if, for nothing else, the fact it’s managed to lower the price year-on-year. We feel enough people are going to be won over by the hard-working camera (check the night mode samples further down this review to see what we mean) and the safety that buying a modern smartphone gives you.
You should be able to achieve years of use from this phone, and sure, you could also consider the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max if you want more power and higher spec, but we found the iPhone 11 to be fun to use and often outperformed what we would expect given the price – and that’s a feat some wouldn’t have expected from Apple.