TLDR: The iPhone 11 Pro is an incremental upgrade over its predecessor, the iPhone XS. If you’re using the latter, we wouldn’t strongly recommend that you shell out money for the latest batch of iPhones. However, if you’re a professional photographer or just someone whose regularly shoots photos with your smartphone, the new three-lens system and A13 Bionic chip is an incredible package.
The tagline for Apple’s annual September keynote – By Innovation Only – promised a cornucopia of technological leaps. While Apple did unveil a number of eyebrow-raising products and services (the launch of Apple TV+ as well as the announcement that anyone who bought an Apple device would get the first year free made my pulse race unusually high), everyone was just looking forward to the new iPhones.
There are three models released this year: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The iPhone 11 is essentially 2018’s iPhone XR, but given a slight upgrade. The funny thing is, Apple has discontinued the iPhone XS and XS Max immediately after the release of the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, yet continues selling the XR. Make of that what you will.
I spent a week with the iPhone 11 Pro and made a couple of notes below.
– The ultra-wide-angle lens is fun to play around with, but you would rarely find yourself in an everyday situation that would require it. The portrait mode also shows slight improvements over the predecessor, but not something to write home about.
– The telephoto lens is where it’s at and captures amazing detail.
– The night mode is fantastic and is far better than the Google Pixel range, which is saying something because the latter was stunning, to say the least.
– The new A13 Bionic chip is incredibly fast, but we’ve reached that era of technology in which the improvements made are probably in the milliseconds, which won’t necessarily make a huge positive impact in your life. If anything, we’ve lost the virtue of patience.
Every year, many friends and peers have asked me whether each new iPhone is worth the upgrade. Previously, I used to advocate that you change your iPhones every two years simply because Apple does a fantastic job of making sure that older iPhones still run as smoothly as ever with the latest operating system (a rarity in today’s planned obsolescence tech culture). Two years is also a long enough time that you’ll experience a dramatic improvement in features.
With the iPhone 11 release, however, I’m rethinking that nugget. The iPhones that have been released in the past three years have been excellent. The iPhone 8 is great, even today, and the iPhone X and XS are still excellent smartphones. The fact that Apple still officially sells the iPhone 8, which was released two years ago, is an indicator that there’s a market for it.
I reckon that the best way to decide if you should upgrade your iPhone is through the iOS method. If your phone doesn’t support the latest iOS that Apple releases, then it’s time to upgrade. The latest release, iOS13, supports the iPhone 6S and upward, so if you have iPhones later than the 6S and it still has solid battery life and hasn’t significantly slowed down, then feel free to continue using them and wait for the next annual keynote.