I spent the last three weeks exclusively using the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple watch series 5 and the 2nd generation Airpods to immerse myself in Apple’s ecosystem as much as I could. And, I was constantly frustrated by the clear and obvious problems that Apple has had for years and just hasn’t bothered to fix them.
However, For the Android fans that are foaming at the mouth right now about another blog post criticizing iOS, and how bad Apple is, you guys can chillax because there’s lots of good stuff here too with some strange stuff like what is so pro about a phone? So, with this question in mind, that our blog review post begins…
iPhone 11 Pro – Setup Process
The setup process was awesome as usual. Apple finally dropped the sim requirement to activate your new device and they moved iOS 13′s new dark mode front end center on the setup screen.
Now, some third-party apps don’t respect that setting otherwise it’s great and I never switched it off again.
Better Experience – Offline Dictation, Wifi, Reminders
There’s a lot of other smaller things that add up too. Stuff you might not notice at first but when you do, you’ll wonder how you lived without it, like — Offline dictation, which I immediately enabled when I saw it. And, I also enjoyed that Siri’s voice responses sound more natural than ever before.
Hard pressing Wi-Fi in the control center now gives you a list of nearby access points which makes all the sense in the world. And, what about the fact that you can attach a photo to a reminder — that’s freaking awesome. Actually, reminders app overall just makes androids handling of reminders look stupid. Unlike Android, you can set any ringtone you want, even a longer ringtone that won’t shut up until you deal with it for stuff that you might actually want to notice and be reminded about.
Apple now provides what looks like a way more accurate set of battery stats than their competition and even made it easier to replace the battery with convenient pull tabs that contributed its Ifixit’s repairability score of 6. So, GOOD JOB APPLE is what I WOULD SAY if they hadn’t gone and added DRM to their batteries at the same time as saying that they consider them to be consumable. Guys! it’s called right to repair for a reason and not privilege to repair!!
iPhone 11 Pro – Low Points
Which I guess brings me to some of the low points of iOS 13 for me. Compared to previous versions, apps are prompting me constantly on privacy and security permissions this used to be an Android problem, not an Apple problem. I guess this is the prize we have to pay for additional privacy and security. There are a lot of other little things that they’ve had generations to fix now.
Even compared to the horrendous recent Android auto-update, Carplay is still bad. Siri has this major delay between activation and when she actually starts listening, Apple maps need manual input for most navigation and when I dared go outside the ecosystem with my Google play music subscription, I only got music playing about half the time and then never with the screen actually working. So, I could see what track was playing.
Though in fairness, Google should probably be shouldering some of the blame here. I’m not the only one complaining about this Google Play Music issue on the iPhone and it has been months and this childish app kneecapping even carries over to the Apple Watch, where you still straight up cannot interact with a Gmail message. Seriously!! These multi-billion dollar companies should put their heads together and figure out how we can scroll through as much of the email as we download and then mark it red if it’s not important.
Haptic Touch And Battery
3D touch was one of my favorite features that Apple introduced with the iPhone 6s. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a success I guess. So they KILLED IT! iPhone XR didn’t have it and now the entire 11 series dropped it and I’m really sad. I really wanted it to take off but instead, we’re left with a haptic touch which is just long pressing with a nice vibration. It’s only a little bit slower but I do still miss it.
For what it’s worth they did make good use of its removal. The iPhone 11 Pro’s battery is a full 0.7 mm thicker than before and only 0.4 mm of that is from the thickening of the iPhone upright. Actually, maybe Apple has been listening to me all along in a backhanded sort of way. And, what that culminates in is a worst-case scenario of over 6 hours and 24 minutes for the Pro in the Geekbench 4s battery life with the iPhone Pro Max even better than that and that’s at a half screen brightness not bad at all.
As for the rest of the guts, there are a lot of adhesive seals. Yeah! but that’s kind of par for the course for a phone that is rated for such an impressive — to the point of honestly being kind of overkill level of ingress protection. It is rated IP68. i.e water-resistant up to the maximum depth of 4 meters of water. 4 meters of water is deeper than most swimming pools go. So, you would have a hard time killing this phone with submersion alone.
And, if something did die, virtually everything inside the phone is a detachable module. Even the face ID sensor and selfie camera are separate from the display in case you need to replace that some-day. which you might!!
iPhone 11 Pro – Display
The front and back glass may have proven to be every bit as shatter-resistant as apple says but the hardness at least from my experience doesn’t seem to have followed suit. So I would recommend a case and a screen protector because guys you do not want to break this thing.
Dumb Super Retina Display XDR name aside, The screen really is GREAT!
At any given time it is incredibly sharp and bright, thanks to its sustained brightness of 800 nits it can even hit 1200 nits while viewing HDR photos and videos that is 20% higher brightness than even most high-end monitors and TVs.
The display HDR spec only actually calls for 500 nits on true black displays like AMOLEDs. To put it in a mobile perspective it’s nearly double with iPhone XS Max than most competitors are capable of. So, it’s great for showing off those next-gen smart HDR photos that you can take with the three rear cameras.
Alright, let’s talk about cameras. YES! CAMERAS… “Plural”
Slofie’s are irrelevant I hope! but the front-facing camera is a lot better than previous generations and I am all for that.
The stock camera app while “still” lacking professional shooting mode even on Pro models is still very simple and very usable and they’ve added a bunch of new features including a much more mature edit mode in the photos app.
SAMSUNG I hope you’re taking notes. They added the ability to quickly capture video while you are in a photo capture mode. This is such a useful feature and I can’t even begin to imagine through what convoluted process Samsung managed to pioneer it only to abandon it later and then let Apple take the lead. I guess I’m just glad to see it coming back because once Apple does it, everyone else is going to have to do it.
What’s New With iPhone 11 Pro Camera
Apple’s new semantic rendering engine makes extensive use of the A13’s bionic machine-learning accelerator to quickly identify what’s in the image and optimize for it. It works in two parts — the first is similar to traditional HDR and that’s a buffer of underexposed frames which is used to reconstruct detail in bright areas and then a single overexposed frame that’s taken for reconstructing darker areas. The engine then scans for things that it recognizes. This is also how Apple manages to pull off its high key light mono portrait effect.
A combination of optical image stabilization and software image stabilization helps it even further that makes for a ridiculously stable shot both while shooting stills and obviously it’s more noticeable while shooting video.
The Ultra-wide camera doesn’t get OIS but with that wide of an angle, it’s pretty tough to notice. Just like how it’s tough to notice any significant difference in image quality between the three cameras. They all look great.
Compared to the likes of the Pixel line, Not everything is perfect in the iPhone 11 Pro. The results can sometimes be below par in terms of clarity and color accuracy. I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about the image quality overall here.
What I’ll complain about is that in spite of all the good in the cameras, the hype train made it seem as though you could switch between them seamlessly and there’s definitely a delay when you do it. I mean it’s not a huge deal like being able to do it with a delay is better than not being able to do it at all.
Apple didn’t exactly go out of their way to temper expectations during their demos and zooming isn’t as smooth as I was expecting and I guess that’s really what this all boils down to “Expectations”
There are so many things that are missing that will lend the iPhone 11 Pro some “Pro Street Credibility” like a high refresh rate display, USB type-c, bi-directional wireless charging, professional shooting modes, or a reduced or removed notch. However, if we take a step back from the telephoto and have a look at the ultra-wide picture, the whole thing comes together in a way that’s still really positive even if I think it costs more than it should and everyone should just buy the iPhone 11 non-pro.
So stupid name, stupid camera bump and decidedly last generation looking display notch but it’s the most premium iPhone experience and long gone is the time when iOS vs Android is some kind of black and white — “This one is a better decision. And, anyone who says otherwise is frankly a pathetic fanboy.