Apple just made its best iPhone even more appealing.
If the iPhone XR has been Apple’s most popular iPhone, it feels almost inevitable that the new iPhone 11 will claim the same title. Not only is it fifty bucks cheaper than the iPhone XR, it has better battery life and significant camera upgrades.
The phone goes on sale September 20, and there’s a lot to look forward to.
Fresh look, new colors
From the front, the iPhone 11 looks pretty much identical to the iPhone XR. It has an aluminum frame and 6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina Display, just like its predecessor. There’s still a notch, which will help power faster FaceID unlocks.
The back side is a different story. The iPhone 11 comes in two new colors: purple and green, as well as red, yellow, black and white. The new purple is more of a lavender, almost like a less metallic version of what Samsung did with last year’s Note 9. The new green shade is more of a sea foam than straight green. In person, it definitely looks pale, but in photos it’s almost more blue, though that likely changes a bit depending on the light in your surroundings.
Even though Apple maintained some of the same colors as last year, the iPhone 11 has a much less glossy finish and some of the colors, like yellow, have more of a matte look. The Apple logo has also moved down to the center of the phone — reportedly because of the as-yet-unannounced reverse wireless charging feature — and there is no longer any “iPhone” label. The only model with any lettering on the back is the red, which has the (Product)Red label towards the bottom.
Then there’s the bump. While not nearly as unsightly as some early mock-ups suggested, the dual rear cameras are noticeably larger and encased in a big square with rounded corners. While this will be unpopular with some, I was happy to see that the bump itself is transparent, which helps it blend in with the rest of the phone. Is it Apple’s most polished design? No, but the new camera upgrades might be enough to make you forget about the bump.
All about the cameras
Apple spent a significant portion of its launch event talking about its new cameras and for good reason. And even though the iPhone 11 doesn’t have the same pro-level setup as its pricier counterpart, it’s managed some impressive upgrades.
The rear wide and ultra-wide cameras, both 12MP, enable much bigger shots than what was possible on previous generations of iPhones. I was only able to take a few sample shots, but the effect of the ultra-wide lens reminded me of the kind of shots I’d expect with third-party lens accessories like Moment.
The addition of a new nighttime shooting mode is also a welcome (and, frankly, overdue) upgrade, especially on the lower-priced iPhone. Google’s Night Sight for Pixel phones is one of its best camera features, and it’s great to see Apple include the feature on its lower-priced iPhone too.
We weren’t able to test the new night-time shooting mode in the demo area, which was brightly lit, but I got a brief rundown on how it works: When you’re in a low-light situation, night mode will automatically kick on and you’ll see an indicator on the display. Depending how dark your surroundings are, the camera start a one, three, or five-second timer to let you know how long to hold the phone still for during the shot.
It’s a bit different from how Android phone makers have implemented night modes in that there’s no option to manually switch it on. It’s difficult to say whether or not that will make Apple’s implementation better or worse without giving it a try, so I’ll reserve judgment until I get to see it in action.
The iPhone 11’s front-facing camera has also been given some significant upgrades. The 12 MP camera can now shoot in 4K and slow motion. And while I’m not sure that I’ll want any 4K selfies (I’ll need to up my skincare game before I’m willing to expose my pores to close-up 4K video), the slow motion “slofies” are actually pretty fun, even if they are a bit gimmicky.
Why the iPhone 11 is a big deal
The fact that Apple again changed its naming scheme with the iPhone 11 should be enough to tell you about just how important the phone is. Yes, the iPhone 11 Pro is pricier and has more impressive specs.
But many of the iPhone’s most important upgrades – the new A13 Bionic processor, and a new ultra-wide angle camera — are present in both devices. Not only that, Apple has for the first time lowered the price on one of its flagship phones without sacrificing size or functionality.
Put all that together and it’s clear the iPhone 11 is meant to have the widest possible appeal. And with big upgrades over the iPhone XR, it seems pretty clearly positioned to take over as the next most-popular iPhone.