iPhone 11 Pro review

I’m almost three weeks into living with the iPhone 11 Pro now so thought I’d do one of my mini reviews. Before the announcement I was convinced that I’d be keeping my XS for another year but as soon as I saw all of the camera improvements I was sold. For me the number one reason to upgrade is the camera. It’s my main camera and I want the best shots I can afford that comes with me everywhere.

The camera improvements on top of the amazing battery life has me sold on the 11 Pro being the best upgrade I’ve encountered.

Design

The front is the familiar notched design of the X but the sides and back feel all new. I have the midnight green and the sides feel like they have some grip thanks to the colour coating. My previous silver XS didn’t have this and it felt slippery on the sides.

The design on the back might be my favourite iPhone. When you see it in photos it’s easy to make fun of but seeing it in person is a different thing. I prefer it to the two camera layout that we’ve seen on previous models. The textured glass feels great in hand and now doesn’t slip off sofa arms! On that camera layout for me I preferred getting a darker iPhone this year because I feel it blends into the phone better.

I don’t normally use cases but picked up the black leather one from Apple. It feels great and I think looks awesome on the midnight green. I doubt it’ll stay on all year but for now I’m using it.

Oh and I noticed it had a little more heft to it over the XS, which I’m fine with. It gave us more battery and a better camera so I’m all good with that.

I obviously haven’t tested the new durability claims but if you’re spending this much on a phone please get Apple Care +.

Battery

This is the first upgrade when I’ve noticed a considerable improvement with the battery. Even on days when I’ve been on a walk, listened to podcasts and even taking photo and video I’m going 24 hours between charges. I’m yet to go on holiday with it and really push it but I’m confident I won’t need a battery case.

Lack of USB-C

Not something I thought I’d be writing but having used my Nintendo Switch over the last year and using my 12″ MacBook it would be nice to be able to use the same charger rather than hunt out my lightning one. Not something that I feel is a big detractor but something I feel needs to come in the next couple of years.

Camera

Wow, what a great camera upgrade. Even against the XS it’s a big step up. I can now see how bad the smart HDR was handling skin tones when I compare to the shots I’m getting on my 11 Pro. Shots of my family outdoors look sharper and more natural and indoors is something else. I take a lot of photos around the house and the new low light improvements are stunning. It’s also been great at taking shots of the stars when I’ve used it on a tripod.

(Thanks Matt Birchler for the edit).

Shots outdoors are brighter and closer to what I saw with my own eyes (this is straight, no edits).

Here’s a shot of the office in low light.

Something a bit closer indoors.

Wide angle vertical shot and in general the wide angle has been fun although I’m not using it as much now I’m a few weeks in. I can see it coming in useful when I’m looking to take some landscapes though.

Performance

I’m not noticing a lot of lag anywhere but iOS 13 does stutter in a few places. I find it lags a little on the share sheet UI but I’m putting that down to software not hardware. This new A13 processor will be good for years. For me reviewing an iPhone performance is hard, even on the SE I was using before getting the 11 Pro felt good on iOS 13. Apple do a great job of making sure old hardware is supported for years so in day to day most users will most likely not notice a difference.

Vs the iPhone 11

I had a play with an 11 in store and love the yellow finish. I think it’s a great phone with much of what’s great about the 11 Pro. What tipped me over the edge to get the Pro wasn’t the OLED screen but the telephoto lens that I literally use every day. I know if I had picked up an 11 I’d be cursing the lack of telephoto on a daily basis. I haven’t picked one up to test as it would be both bad for the environment and a waste of Apple staff time with my returning it but from everything I’ve read both the wide angle and night mode are on par with the 11 Pro so you won’t be missing anything. If you can live without a telephoto then get the 11 (in 128GB).

Overall impressions

I’m glad I updated this year, it’s the biggest leap in improvements that I can remember year on year and I haven’t thought once about returning it. The only thing that bothers me is that the Pro starts at 64GB, which I feel isn’t acceptable in 2019. It’s a blatant way to up sell people to the 256GB and make more money. I’m really hoping that this gets removed next year on the higher end and it starts at 128GB, which will sell like hot cakes.

So I think you can tell I’m pretty impressed with the 11 Pro and if you buy an iPhone for the camera then this is an upgrade you won’t be disappointed with.

(Review written and edited on the iPhone 11 Pro).