Apple presented not only the iPhone 11 on Tuesday, but also the 11 Pro. Phones that seem to distinguish themselves primarily with their cameras.
With the introduction of the iPhone X, Apple did something new by selling a cheaper iPhone 8 in addition to this more expensive device. The tech giant continued this trend with the iPhone XR and XS last year - and this year with the new iPhone 11 and the Pro model.
The new iPhone 11 is the basic model. With a price tag of 809 euros it is not to be called a budget model - Apple hopes that bargain hunters buy the now price-reduced iPhone 8 of 539. The device comes with 64GB. If you want more storage space, you sometimes have to pay hundreds of euros more.
In many areas, the device has remained the same as the iPhone XR from 2019. The glass case is very similar to that of the XR - and also gets dirty with greasy fingers just as quickly - and the notch above the screen is equally large. According to Apple, the iPhone 11 uses exactly the same screen that can be found in the XR. This is again an LCD screen, because OLED is only reserved for the Pro model.
See also: Apple unveils iPhone 11 and 11 Pro with up to three cameras on the back
There are really only two ways in which an iPhone 11 can easily be distinguished from the XR. First, there are the colors, which are all slightly different than the previous device. A more important difference is the rear camera. The XR only had one lens, but with the iPhone 11, Apple opted for a dual lens camera.
One lens has a wide-angle perspective, while the second allows ultra-wide photos. In practice, it means that the ultrawide lens offers a somewhat zoomed out perspective, where objects on the sides of the image are also included in the photo.
Switching between those cameras is pretty easy. At the bottom of the screen is a button that lets you jump from one to the other - at the same place where the iPhone XS camera lets you switch to the telephoto lens.
Great photos with great lighting
The photos that we were able to take shortly after the presentation looked great. Images were sharp and largely noise-free - what you would actually expect with a device in this price range. We must add that the Apple test room was extremely well exposed.
The question is how the phone works in poor light. In those situations, the iPhone 11 should automatically switch to a new night mode, where software is used to make a clear image in low light.
iPhone 11 Pro
The new Pro model takes a few extra steps compared to its predecessor. First of all, the design has been tackled slightly more. The glass, glittering back has been swapped for matte aluminum, making the phone more resistant to greasy fingerprints. An advantage compared to last year's iPhones, but also the iPhone 11, which still uses glass.
The 11 Pro has the wide-angle and ultra-wide lenses of the cheaper iPhone, as well as a telephoto lens. It means that you can zoom in on an image optically, but you can also view it from further afield.
That three-step zoom works well and feels self-evident. You can swipe over a zoom bar below the screen, digitally zooming until you reach the zoom distance of a new lens. In addition, the ultrawide lens in particular feels special, because it gives the feeling that you are much farther in space than it actually is.
Better OLED screen
The 11 Pro has an OLED screen, which means that black values look blacker and colors stand out better. The higher pixel density ensures that images are also sharper than on the earlier iPhone XS, although we didn't notice that much in practice. The color values feel more or less the same on the new iPhone and on old devices the screen was already razor sharp, which is not very different on the 11 Pro.
The improved screen should make it possible to play better HDD videos with Dolby Vision on the iPhone, but unfortunately none of these videos were available during our tests. The final review of the 11 Pro must show how much you notice.
Apple has made quite a few promises that we hope will come true. The iPhone 11 could be used for an hour longer per day on a full battery, while the 11 Pro lasts four to five hours longer. Something that, of course, we could not try out during our short time with the telephone.
At the same time, the iPhone must be faster due to the new A13 chip, but we could hardly notice that difference in practice. The 11 and 11 Pro actually opened apps almost as fast as last year's XS. The difference will only be noticeable if you make the switch from, for example, an iPhone 7.
Both iPhone 11 models still work with a Lightning connection. Remarkably, given that the previously renewed iPad Pro did make the switch to USB-C and Europe is also increasingly urging that phones universally use the same charging port. It feels like a matter of time until the iPhone also switches to USB-C, but we have to wait at least another year.
Apple does nice things with the cameras of the iPhone, which give you the idea that you can both zoom in and out. In addition, this is a fairly modest update for the telephone series. The regular 11 looks a lot like the XR of last year, while the 11 Pro with its aluminum housing gets a small design update. This is not a revolutionary step like with the iPhone X, but it is one to keep the phones up to date for a year.
We may be more enthusiastic if we were able to test the new night mode for the cameras. Apple also promises a special photo mode that takes razor-sharp and perfectly exposed photos with artificial intelligence, but it will come later this year. But in the current version we can only fantasize about that.