iPhone 11 Pro review

Review, Tech

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).

Why Apple News+ didn’t make it past the free trial

apps, Tech

Apple News+ launched here in the UK this month and I didn’t keep it past the free trial, here’s why.

Supporting magazines is something I did 10 years ago by having annual subscriptions to several UK based ones. Since moving to reading on smaller blogs and finding new voices that I trusted I stopped reading them. It wasn’t so much the money saved but the fact I get up to date information and more details about the various niches I’m into.

Using Apple News+ was a nice change going back to the magazine format but two things were a problem. The first was reading a magazine wasn’t the best experience. I’m not sure if this is Apple or the publisher but I found navigating to be cumbersome. I also missed interactive experiences. For a guitar magazine they often have tablature you can follow along with but none of this has been enabled in this electronic format so they are useless.

Secondly I felt like I was being marketed at constantly, I have no interest in lifestyle or gossip magazines but I found it annoying to see these being peddled to me every time I went in to read my guitar magazines. This also cluttered up my Apple News app showing me articles from the magazines in my news feed!

So between seeing content I have no interest in and a format that publishers don’t appear to be embracing I’ll keep my £9.99 a month.

Missing an always on Apple Watch display

Apple Watch, Tech

Now I’ve started to wear traditional watches again when I do go back to the Apple Watch I’m finding it even more frustrating that the display isn’t always on. The weird thing though is that when I wore my Apple Watch full time I never missed it, I was used to raising my wrist (when it worked) or tapping the screen.

My most used watch over the last few months is the classic F-91w, but I’m looking over at the always on display with some envy. The thing I miss from my Apple Watch when I’m not wearing it isn’t the fitness stuff but the ability to see my next appointments and reminders. I’m terribly forgetful (I’m reminded of this daily by those around me…) and when I don’t have this easily accessible it introduces a level of anxiety for me.

I’m on a series 4 stainless steel that Apple will give me £80 for on trade in! That’s taking the Mikey but I’m sorely tempted to sell it privately and upgrade.

The hunt for a leather Apple Watch band

Apple Watch, Tech

I don’t wear my Apple Watch every day but when come back to it I always miss my leather band that I have on my mechanical watch (hirsch leather band).

Now they don’t make an Apple Watch band and the one that Apple sells I like are over £300! So I’m on the hunt for one. Amazon is full of cheap ones but I’m looking for something from a reputable company.

Any suggestions? Nomad maybe is the closest I’ve seen.

Negative Tech Twitter

Social Media, Tech

It struck me yesterday during the Microsoft keynote how negative and nit picky my follows are on Twitter and how I need to balance them out a bit more. As you’d imagine I follow a lot of Apple pundits who either criticise everything or don’t appear to appreciate the very audience that is paying their bills. It’s been bugging me especially through the somewhat ropey iOS 13 launch, yes I’m a little guilty on this front.

I’m trying to be more positive and see the glass a bit more half full and being back on Twitter is really having a negative effect on my ability to do this.

I’m not sure if it’s best to remove myself from Twitter for a bit or do another mass unfollow.

As a start I’m removing the apps on my iOS devices and I’ll only check in for notifications on my Mac or via Safari on the iPad maybe weekly for a month to see if this helps.

Any advice?

Losing trust in iCloud

Tech

If you follow tech you may know that iOS 13 has been the roughest iOS release in a while and for me it’s severely dented my trust in iCloud.

I’ve been doing some planning in Notes and on checking the sync between my devices I realised that they were all showing different counts.

Here’s my iPad Pro showing 39.

Here’s my iPhone, showing 23.

I’ve also noticed that my photos and video counts are out of sync too so that has me very worried, more on this later once I’ve figured out what’s going on.

I’m currently reviewing how I move forward but it won’t be using iCloud for now.