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Apple iPhone 11 comprehensive review: As close to perfect as it can be

Apple has made a mark yet again.

With its iPhone 11 series, Apple has done a number of things for the first time. To begin with, it has added a square camera module on the back panel, which is a big deviation in terms of design. The company has added more number of camera sensors to all the three models and for the first time, it has included the Night Mode. Other than this, Apple has emphasized that its iOS 13 software will come with a slew of features that further guarantee the privacy of its users. There are also some useful additions in some of the popular apps that are aimed to make the user’s life simpler. In a nutshell, the new iPhones are promised to pack a number of improvements over the previous generation of smartphones from Apple. We spent a few days with the Apple iPhone 11, which is the youngest sibling in the latest lot, and here’s our review of the same. Take a look:

Apple iPhone 11 design and display

Rich, premium, and a class apart – these are the words that come to our mind when we think of the iPhone 11’s design. It does not deviate too much from the look and feel of its predecessor iPhone XR, but then, there is something about it that makes it better. Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences. While the dimensions of the new Apple device are the same, the company is offering the iPhone 11 in more colours than its predecessor including Purple, Green, Yellow, Black White and Product Red.

To recall, the iPhone XR was not available in the first two colours. But then, we should also mention that although the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR have a number of colours in common, the ones on the latest model are a few shades lighter than its predecessor. The one that we got for review was dressed in Black. Apple has used glass and aluminium to build the body of its latest smartphone and the company has claimed that the glass that has been deployed for the front and the back of the iPhone 11 is the “toughest” one found on any phone.

The back panel of the iPhone 11 houses the camera module and has the Apple logo. The square camera module is one among the biggest design changes that Apple has introduced in the its latest range and the one on iPhone 11 comes with two lenses, a mic and the True Tone Flash. While the rest of the back panel of the iPhone 11 comes with a glossy finish, the area inside the square camera bump is matte.

The front panel of the iPhone 11 is dominated by its 6.1-inch LCD display, which one among the best ones that we have seen this year. No matter which aspect of the display we talk about – brightness, viewing angles, accuracy or sunlight readability –  the screen on the iPhone 11 outperforms most others that we have seen this year. However, we should mention here that the display on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will definitely be better since they are OLED and not LCD. But even though the screen on iPhone 11 is not OLED, it projects vivid colours and rich blacks. Watching content on the device was a true treat for the eyes.

iPhone 11 display

Even when we tried watching HDR content on the device, the experience was a good one. But then, it doesn’t match up to the experience offered by iPhones or even Android phones with OLED screens. At the same price, you can get your hands on a device with OLED screen, so if you are someone who binge watches shows on your smartphone all day, you may have a preference for those.

Coming back to the iPhone 11’s display, Apple has added P3 wide colour gamut and True Tone technology that enable the light on the screen to adapt with the ambient light. One thing that is worth noting is that the bezels that outline the display of the iPhone 11 are very noticeable – almost as much as the ones of iPhone XR. This may prove to be a spoiler for those who prefer to own a smartphone that provides as much real estate as possible.

To sum it up, we would say that iPhone 11 is a complete stunner when it comes to the design. Even though the design of the smartphone is similar to that of its predecessor, we really liked the subtler colours and the combination of glass and aluminium and make it so premium. The display does give a good experience, but then, at this price point there are smartphones that come with OLED screens that offer more real estate. But then, if you don’t rely too much on your smartphone to watch your favourite TV shows for hours, you would not be disappointed.

Apple iPhone 11 performance and cameras

Before we begin talking about the performance of the iPhone 11, let’s speak about its specifications. Apple’s iPhone 11 runs the iOS 13 and it is powered by the company’s latest processor – A13 Bionic chipset. For imaging duties, iPhone 11 comes with a 12MP wide-angle sensor that has an f/1.8 aperture and OIS and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens that has an f/2.4 aperture and 120-degree field of view. For selfies and video calls, there is a 12MP selfie camera that has the ability of recording 4K videos as well as slo-mo videos. The device has been made available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage models. iPhone 11 comes with IP68 water and dust resistance and is said to survive in up to 2 meters of water for half an hour. A remarkable addition that Apple has made to the iPhone 11 is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. In addition to this, users can add two SIM cards in the smartphone with the eSIM functionality.

With iOS 13, there are a number of new additions that Apple has included in the new iPhone. To begin with, users can opt for a system-wide Dark Mode, which is very beneficial in decreasing the strain on eyes as well as in making the battery last longer. Users can head to the Control Centre of the device to enable or disable it. Another option is to schedule the Dark Mode to be enabled for a pre-set number of hours.  Apple has also added some new and interesting features in its apps like Photos, Reminders and Messages.

iPhone 11

Let’s talk in more detail about the Photos app first. Users can now view their pictures according to Years, Months, Days and even All Photos just by clicking on these options on a tab. Besides this, a number of new editing options have been added to the device. While some of them may take some time to learn, but they will prove to be very useful in making your pictures look great once you get an idea of how they should be used.

Speaking of Reminders, it now has four lists that are categorised as ‘Today, Scheduled, Flagged, and All’. They users also get an option of creating their own lists. A very useful thing that you can do now is create reminders that come up when you are performing a particular task on your device or when you visit a particular place. So, for instance, if you want to be reminded of calling someone once you get back home, you have the option of setting a location based reminder rather than a time-specific one. There are a number of new options like these in the revamped app.  Other than this, the Messages app has got some new additions too including enhancements in the Search option.

Other notable changes of iOS 13 include increased focus on privacy. Apple has made it very evident that it is increasing transparency about how location is used by various apps. So whenever we launched a new app, we could were given three options to choose from for location access: ‘Allow Once’, ‘Allow while using the app’, and ‘Never’.

Personally, we loved the new features that Apple has added to iOS 13. Using the iPhone with all these new features made certain tasks way simpler than they were before and the experience has only changed for the better. Plus, the way Apple is focusing on privacy is really worthy of appreciation.

Moving on, let’s talk about the performance.  The specifications and the features of the iPhone 11 sound really good on paper and honestly, our expectation were really high. Did iPhone 11 live up to them? The answer is an absolute yes. One really has to use it to know what a performer it really is. No matter which heavy-duty task we tried on the iPhone 11, it handled everything like a cakewalk. We can barely see any Android smartphones competing with the level of performance that the iPhone 11 offered during out time with it. Even we played graphic-hungry games like Asphalt 9: Legends and tried insane multi-tasking, we not only got an absolutely smooth experience, but the amount of details that the device offered was really impressive. The iPhone 11’s performance is such that it really raises the bar by a few notches as compared to its competitors.

iPhone 11 review

The iPhone 11 comes with support for Dolby Atmos and because of this, the gaming and the video watching experience on the device becomes even better. Even at very high volumes, the sound output remains very clear and the quality remains consistence.

Coming to the Face ID of the device, it is highly accurate. In fact, we would not consider it an exaggeration to call it flawless. Even when we tried using it in absolute darkness, the iPhone 11 unlocked as soon as we kept it in front of our face. Personally, we haven’t seen any other smartphone unlock as quickly as the iPhone 11 does, that too in complete darkness.

Apple has always remained tight-lipped about the size of battery it uses in its iPhones. It only tells us how much better it is than the one on the previous model. In iPhone 11’s case, Apple just said that the battery of the smartphone will last an hour longer than that of the iPhone XR. But then, Apple has really focussed a lot on power efficiency in its A13 Bionic processor, and that really shows in the day-to-day usage of the handset. With heavy usage that involves clicking pictures, listening to music, watching videos on YouTube, playing games like Asphalt 9: Legends, and using Maps for navigation, the battery of the iPhone 11 lasted more than a day. If your usage is moderate, the battery will easily last for around two days. In our opinion, this is quite impressive. However, the real downer here was the 5-watt charger that the iPhone 11 ships with. It is because of the charger that iPhone took almost two hours to be charged completely.

Now, let’s finally talk about the cameras of the iPhone 11. Till a few years back, iPhones were undeniably the best when it came to photography. However, that changed in the last few years, as the competition between photography-focussed smartphones really went up with Google’s Pixel series and Huawei introducing its P-series and Mate series. With this, Apple’s iPhones were no longer considered to be the best photography smartphones, but even then, they always managed to be one among the best. With the iPhone 11 series, Apple has attempted to take its crown back.

image from iPhone 11 (3)

The company has finally adopted the Night Mode that we till now have seen in devices from the likes of Google, Huawei and even Samsung. However, Apple still sticks to its ideology of producing colours in the image that are as close to the real objects or scene as possible. So, don’t expect images that are away from the reality only so that they look more pleasant. Even with the Night Mode, the company does not deviate from this. After using the device extensively for photography, we saw that the images clicked by the iPhone 11 were very high in quality and at the same time, the company did not compromise on accuracy of colours or contrast.

Image from Google Pixel 3a night sight
Image taken with Google Pixel 3a (Night Sight enabled)

Let’s begin by talking about the Night Mode. Since we regularly use a Google Pixel 3a, we could not help but compare the cameras of the two smartphones. We clicked some scenes in dimly-lit areas with the Pixel 3a as well as the iPhone 11. While both the smartphones did an exemplary job, but it was evident in each picture that the colours in the images taken by Google Pixel 3a were more saturated than the ones taken by iPhone 11. While some of the shots taken by Google Pixel 3a looked better, it cannot be argued that they were closer to reality. Apple takes away the cake as far as that goes. In our opinion, the company has struck the right balance between lighting up a scene of a dimly lit place and at the same time remaining as close to the real scene as much as possible.

image from iPhone 11 night mode
Image taken with Apple iPhone 11 (Night Mode enabled)

In fact, we should mention that we saw the same difference in the colours of the pictures that were taken during the day or in well-lit conditions too. The images taken by Pixel 3a were pleasing to the eyes, but the colours appeared to be saturated when we compared them to the iPhone. There were cases of differences in contrasts too. But that wasn’t the case with the iPhone 11 images. The iPhone 11 managed to click better images in every possible condition.

Apple iPhone 11 image sample

Apart from this, the images taken by the iPhone 11 also did not appear to be artificially bright. They had just the right amount of brightness and contrast. With the results that we got from it in different lighting conditions, we can easily say that Apple has finally left its competition behind with the new iPhones. As we have mentioned earlier, the algorithm of the camera app has struck the right balance between clicking images that please the eye and being as close to the real scene or object as possible. The results that we got are extremely impressive.

image from iPhone 11

Now that we have already established that the camera of the iPhone 11 is better than that of its competitors, let’s talk about the functions that its Camera app can perform and some of its features. To begin with, we should mention that the Night Mode on the app gets activated automatically as soon as it detects dimly lit conditions. The icon of the Night Mode will appear on the top left and it will also depict the number of seconds for which you need to hold the handset steady to get a good shot. If lights are not too dim but you still wish to use the Night Mode, you can click on the same icon to enable it. When disabled, it is White is colour and it turns Yellow on being enabled. Another thing worth mentioning is that the Night Mode is only available for the primary camera of the device and not the ultra-wide one.

Apple iPhone 11 image sample 2

Unlike most other smartphones, Apple has not added a separate toggle to switch between its two sensors. Instead, the wide-angle lens kicks in the moment you zoom out enough to reach ‘0.5x zoom’. Interestingly, Apple has maintained consistency in images taken with the wide-angle and the ultra-wide angle lenses of its camera. This is a big contrast to most other smartphones in which both wide-angle and ultra-wide angle sensors are present and we consider it to be a big plus. We should also point out that iPhone 11 enables users to take images with up to 5x digital zoom.

With the iPhone 11, Apple has also come up with its own version of Google‘s Top Shot feature: Live Photos. So, the device does not capture just a still shot of the image you take, but a 3-second moving image. Users also have the option of later going through the moving image to select the best possible shot for their picture. However, this feature cannot be used with the Night Mode on. Another notable mention is QuickTake that enables the user to record videos just by long-pressing the capture button. This can prove to be useful in situations when you don’t have enough time to open the camera app of the smartphone and then switch to video mode.

image sample from iPhone 11

Besides this, Apple has also extended the use of Portrait Mode to objects in its latest iPhone series. Earlier, this was only restricted to humans. With the Portrait Mode, you get to choose from six kinds of lighting effects including Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, and High-Key Light Mono. The best thing about this feature is that you can click the image with one kind of lighting effect and then change it in editing options if you think some other lighting effect would look better.

Coming to the selfie camera of the iPhone 11, it did a fantastic job. The colour accuracy, brightness and the contrast were all as good as they were in the rear cameras of the device. Other than this, the Portrait Mode is also available for the images taken from the selfie camera of the smartphone and it helped us in taking some very interesting shots. Apple also let gives users the option of capturing more area in pictures which proves to be useful for clicking Group Selfies.

Verdict

To conclude, we would say that buying the iPhone 11 is definitely a good idea, even if it’s priced at Rs 64,900. But it does come with some bank cards discounts of up to 10%, so might want to check that when you go to buy it. The smartphone is completely worth every penny. It has a very classy and premium design, its battery is lasting, the iOS 13 comes with a slew of interesting and useful features and some of them really enhance the level of privacy that users get. Besides this, the camera is just exemplary.

We would like to call the iPhone 11 flawless, but then, the use of LCD instead of OLED display would not make everyone happy. In our opinion, the 5-Watt charger that the device ships with is the only true disappointment. But then, that’s hardly anything to worry about as you can use a different adapter with the iPhone’s cable to make it charge more quickly. So, to sum it up we would say that the iPhone 11 may fall in the premium range at this price, but it is an investment that you will not regret.

Pros

  • Brilliant cameras
  • Very powerful performance
  • Lasting battery life
  • Privacy focussed features

Cons

  • Takes a long time to charge with the 5-Watt charger
  • LCD display at this price point

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Avani Baggahttps://www.gadgetbridge.com
Avani has an immense love for reading, travelling and food, but not necessarily in the same order. Avani almost started pursuing law, but life had other (better) plans for her and she chose to be a writer instead (luckily!) She previously covered technology at Times Internet and wrote about smartphones, mobile apps and tech startups. When she’s not writing, you’ll be able to find her in book stores or catching up on her social life.
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