A Weekend With the iPhone 11 Pro


It seems like we're all just going through the motions at this point. The iPhone 11 Pro is no huge upgrade over the XS, but I and about a hundred others stood in line at 7:45 AM last Friday morning at my local Apple Store waiting for Apple employees to open the doors and take us inside to buy the latest and greatest iPhone that Apple has to offer. There's no denying this year, like last year, was more of an interactive update than we saw two years ago with the iPhone X, but because I'm a sucker for Apple products (and more importantly on the iPhone Upgrade Program) I happily got up early to pre-order, stand in line, and give up my still perfectly good 365 days old iPhone XS Max just to get my hands on the latest and greatest iPhone model. I've only spent a few days with the iPhone 11 Pro, but there are some immediate takeaways I have from a weekend with the newest iPhone.

1. The smaller option is the way to go.

I've jumped back and forth between different iPhone models for years and I've always opted for the larger iPhone model because it offered more, at least that used to be the case. After years of small screens, I jumped on the "Plus" bandwagon from the 6 on. It wasn't until the iPhone X came along that I went to a smaller screen size. I immediately fell in love with the form factor and although I switched to the XS Max last year, I'm back to the smaller option for good. I'll sacrifice the extra battery life for the form factor. It's just nice to be able to use the phone with one hand.


2. The cameras are a big deal.

The cameras are undoubtedly the star of the show with the new iPhone 11 Pro, and even the iPhone 11. The addition of the ultra-wide-angle lens has made taking photos a little more fun again. I've played around with the wide-angle lens on LG phones for years, but there's something about seeing it on the iPhone that makes it feel different. You can tell from the photos below that Apple engineers worked hard to keep color, white balance, and the overall look of the photos consistent across the three different lenses. You definitely lose some detail when using the wide-angle lens, and it doesn't do as well in lower light situations as the main lens, but it is just so much fun to use and experiment with. Everyone I showed the phone too over the weekend loved the addition of the wide-angle lens and were surprised with just how much you could fit into the frame.

Apple has also done a lot of fo work under the surface to make these cameras even better. Smart HDR image processing is noticeably better at retaining highlights and shadows and not aggressively trying to overexpose photos of people. Photos on the 11 Pro look sharper, more vibrant, and more balanced than compared to the iPhone XS camera system. In short: photos will look better on the iPhone 11 Pro. It's hard to take a bad shot with this camera system.

Night Mode is also here, and although a highlight feature, my experience with it has been pretty limited. I don't take a whole lot of low light shots, but the few I've taken look remarkably good. I'll have more thoughts on this when I get play with it a little longer.

Some other odds and ends with the camera: Smart HDR in video is improved (and looks really good) stabilization is better, and I have ever, and will never, take a slofie.


3. Battery Life Holds Up

It's hard to know the true battery life of the iPhone 11 Pro since (a) this battery is brand new and has no degradation and (b) I'm hitting this phone (and specifically the camera) way harder than usual to test all of the new features. Though with that being said, battery life seems surprisingly promising. In the 3-4 days, I've used the phone, it could have easily lasted me well beyond a day of heavy usage. The included fast charger is also a nice addition. I typically have my own on a wireless charger overnight or during the day when it's sitting on my desk, but for the days when I'm out and away from the charger, it's nice to come back and charge up quickly.

4. It's Fast

I don’t care for synthetic benchmarks on smartphones. I love to compare specs and numbers just as much as another geek, but at the end of the day, I just want a phone that doesn't slow down. The A13 Bionic processor inside the 11 Pro (and 11) is fast. It's the best of the best, the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer. I never noticed a slowdown on my XS with the A 12 Bionic, but I did notice the occasional slowdown. The 11 Pro doesn't stutter or hiccup. It can load all of the photos in my iCloud Photo Library instantly, I can load the camera app faster, there are just a bunch of little things that seem to be smoother on this new processor. It may just be my mind playing tricks, but I have noticed a bit of a speed increase.

5. Apple needs to deliver in 2020

For as good as the iPhone 11 Pro is, it's nothing compared to some of the rumors we heard this phone would bring. Many of the big additions like a ProMotin display, smaller notch, and new size options look to be coming next year. By all accounts, the 2020 iPhone will be one of the biggest updates we've ever seen come to the iPhone...assuming the rumors are true. 5G support, new sizes, an all OLED line up, the return of Touch ID, a new design, reverse wireless charging - if the 2020 iPhone lineup includes at least half of the rumored fetuses, it will be a big upgrade

I know many people holding off on upgrading this year - holding onto to their iPhone 6 or iPhone 7 a little longer, in hopes that next year is the "big upgrade". And I don’t blame them, if I wasn't on the iPhone Upgrade Program, I would have easily held onto my XS Max another year. But I'm a sucker for new Apple products, and I'm really happy with the new addition to the iPhone lineup.

The iPhone 11 Pro may not have all of the bells and whistles many of us wanted but is undoubtedly a solid upgrade. It delivers a truly amazing mobile camera experience, a fast and powerful processor, and a beautiful OLED display, all while improving battery life. It's a great phone, don't get me wrong, but there is so much room for improvement and innovation. The iPhone 11 Pro sets the stage for the next flagship phone from Apple. I'm okay with Apple putting off the big additions until next year, but while the iPhone 11 Pro may be a double, next year’s model needs to be an undisputable home run,

Robert Rosenfeld