iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro review: Putting Apple’s new colourful iPhone range to the test

As is now a September tradition, a new iPhone has been unveiled.

Three, actually, all going on sale this Friday. So is this a time to upgrade?

iPhone 11: What’s new?

The new phones are the iPhone 11, with a 6.1in display, and the two pricier models, the iPhone 11 Pro (5.8in screen) and its larger sibling, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, with a 6.5in display. The iPhone 11 is available in six colours, ranging from mint green to purple.

The two Pro models have advanced cameras and challenge rivals for supremacy. Prices for the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max match last year’s: from £1,049 and £1,149 respectively. The iPhone 11 is priced lower than the iPhone XR it succeeds: from £729. 

The new 2019 iPhones were introduced by Apple’s senior VP of marketing, Phil Schiller (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

iPhone 11: Grand design changes 

From the front, all three look identical to last year’s phones: they’re all-screen except for a cut-out where a 12-megapixel front-facing camera and other technology sit. The Pros have brighter OLED displays than before. In use, all three look bright and attractive, though the Pro screen looks sharper.

On the back, all has changed. There is a square camera bump with two lenses protruding on the iPhone 11, and three on the Pro versions. The iPhone 11 has a glossy back with a matte camera area, while the Pros have a matte glass back, which is easier to grip, but a glossy camera square. 

The rest of the phone back is empty, giving a spare, elegant look: even the word iPhone has been removed; only the Apple logo remains.

The other new change is the colour. The six shades for the iPhone 11 are all new or different: white, black, yellow and (PRODUCT)RED are all updated, while green and purple are entirely new.

Dial it in: the new iPhone 11 comes in six colours (Apple)

On the Pro phones, the new shade is midnight green, with updated silver, space grey and gold looking subtly different. All three are designed to be water-resistant: they can survive being submerged in water two metres deep for up to 30 minutes, or four metres for 30 minutes for Pros. 

iPhone 11: A camera to get snap happy with 

Recent phones from Huawei and Samsung, with their exceptional cameras, have overtaken Apple. Although Apple’s are the easiest to use, others were better in low light, for instance. But now the new iPhones have seriously upgraded their snappers, especially on the Pro. 

The iPhone 11 Pro and Max phones have three camera lenses on the back (AFP/Getty Images)

The iPhone 11’s dual cameras are a wide and ultra-wide pair, both 12 megapixels. As you frame your shot the wide camera image sits in the middle of the screen, but what the ultra-wide sees is shown around the edges so you can switch if it’s a better shot.

The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have a telephoto lens and an advanced system called Deep Fusion for even better shots, coming in the autumn. All have advanced portrait features where subjects are in pin-sharp focus and the background blurred. There’s a night mode which switches on automatically. It takes multiple images and melds them together for the best shot. 

iPhone 11: Marginal gains

There are other advances, though these feel more incremental. The Face ID recognition now works at wider angles. A new Dark Mode pervades the operating software so you can opt for a subtler display. This and Face ID are also coming to current iPhones and compatible with the latest software.

As before, these phones are capable of wireless charging, a convenient extra, but not as fast as wired charge. A faster charger is included in the box with the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. These chargers are currently on sale separately for £29 but have never been included with an iPhone before.

The new A13 Bionic chip that powers all three new iPhones is significantly more powerful than the A12 Bionic in last year’s models, meaning everything is faster, so apps open instantly, for instance. 

iPhone 11: A battery that can go the distance

The iPhone 11 succeeds the iPhone XR, which already had the best iPhone battery life. This is now increased by an hour. Apple said the iPhone XR had 25 hours of pure talk time so now it will be 26 hours.

It’s a bigger leap forward for the Pro models: an extra four hours a day on the 11 Pro, compared to the iPhone XS and five hours more on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

iPhone 11 review: The verdict

The fast processor, improved battery and smooth operating system mean the iPhone 11 range eases Apple into pole position again. The cameras are easy to use and good for portraits and low-light shots. Improved battery life is a terrific addition.

Should you upgrade? If you’re coming from an iPhone X or iPhone 8, say, then it’s a no-brainer. And the camera is outstanding.

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