The iPhone 11 is here!
Another year, another round of iPhone updates and this year sees some major upgrades to both the hardware and Apple’s iOS operating system.
First, let’s take a look at the new phones. As they did last year, Apple have released three brand new models. This year, they’ve named the flagship devices “Pro” for the first time, bringing iPhone into line with the rest of their range. As before, there are 2 sizes to choose from, the smaller iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The entry level device this year is the simply named iPhone 11, which replaces the iPhone XR.
What’s the damage?
As usual, the new phones are slightly more expensive than last year’s models, with iPhone 11 starting at $699/£729, iPhone 11 Pro at $999/£1049 and the iPhone 11 Pro Max at an eye watering $1099/£1149. So, what do we get for that price tag?
Probably the biggest upgrade – certainly the most visible one – is to the cameras. iPhone 11 features dual cameras, one wide angle and one ultrawide (not the rumoured telephoto lens), which allows for cropping and zooming after taking photos, night mode, Smart HDR and QuickTake video in 4K at 60fps. The Pro and Pro Max models have a new triple camera enclosure, housing wide, ultrawide and telephoto lenses for incredible photos under all sorts of conditions. The ultrawide lens has a f/2.4 aperture and a 120° field of view. The wide and telephoto lenses include 100% focus pixels and the aforementioned night mode. The devices use computational photography to fuse data from all three lenses.
All three devices now sport a 12Mp front facing camera, capable of slow motion video capture and wide angle “selfies”.
All three new phones sport updated displays. iPhone 11 has a 6.1” “Liquid Retina” display – an all-screen LCD multi-touch unit. The Pro models both include a new “Super Retina XDR”, which is similar, but uses OLED technology, rather than LCD – 5.8” on the iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5” on the Pro Max. All are, of course, made from the toughest glass ever and all feature “Haptic Touch”, which is basically 3D Touch, without the pressure sensitivity. It seems like Apple have given up on 3D touch, for iPhone at least.
As expected, all of the new phones now feature Apple’s A13 bionic chip; their most powerful iPhone processor ever, capable of over a trillion operations per second. The chip includes a 3rd generation neural engine and machine learning accelerators, so should prove better than ever for AI and ML applications.
The new devices feature gigabit-class LTE, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC and include a new ultra wideband chip which will provide better spacial awareness and improved indoor tracking – iOS 13.1 is rumoured to be bringing directionally aware suggestions for AirDrop, which will use this technology and it can also be used to pinpoint the exact location of phones, keyfobs, tracking tags or even to unlock your car. The devices also have dual SIM capabilities, by utilising one standard nanoSIM and one eSIM.
Good news here as the whole range sees improvements to battery life. The iPhone 11 improves on the XR’s battery to get an extra hour of life out of it, with the Pro and Pro Max models doing even better. The Pro should last 4 hours longer than the XS and the Pro Max a full 5 hours longer the XS Max!
While the iPhone 11 still ships with a standard 5W USB-A/lightning charger, it does support fast charging. The Pro models actually take advantage of this and ship with a fast charging 18W charger and, finally, include a USB-C connection so it’s possible to connect to a modern Mac without an adapter.
The iPhone 11 now comes in six colours, some of which we haven’t seen before; black, white, red, purple, green and yellow, and feature a new anodised finish which is apparently more durable than ever. The Pro/Pro Max come in four colours, with Midnight Green joining the more familiar Space Grey, silver and gold, and also sport a new matte glass enclosure.
In addition to the above, all of the new devices now support Dolby Atmos spacial audio for an even better sonic experience. There were rumours that we’d see 6Gb RAM, at least in the Pro models, but in fact, all three devices are still packing 4Gb. The whole range is water resistant, improving on this capability from previous models, with the Pro models able to go down to 4m for up to 30 mins (though it’s worth noting that AppleCare still don’t cover liquid damage!).
To take advantage of all these lovely new hardware features, Apple have, of course, updated their operating system.
Many of the updates in iOS 13 have been to the stock apps included on the phones and in particular, there are many improvements to the Photos and Camera apps – to be expected given the hardware upgrades we’ve seen in this area. The Photos app is much smarter, offering smart previews, duplicate detection and many new “intelligent” features for managing and editing photos.
There are also major updates to the Reminders app, which has seen a complete overhaul, and there is now a smart Reminders toolbar which you’ll see pop up in other places.
Maps has been rebuilt from the ground up and includes 360° 3D mapping, improved transport features and the ability to share your ETA with friends directly from Maps.
There are also updates to HomeKit, Siri, CarPlay, Messages/Memoji and the Find my iPhone and Find my Friends apps have been rolled into a single app called “Find My”.
Of course, there are performance improvements. iOS 13 now boots faster, apps launch faster, unlocking the device is faster, everything just happens faster! App download sizes are smaller, as are updates, so this should all be much quicker as well.
The OS now includes finer grained location control, and better location transparency. There are enhancements to WiFi and Bluetooth security and users can take advantage of location privacy controls when sharing photos.
iOS 13 also introduces “Sign in with Apple”, an alternative to social sign in using users’ Apple IDs which protects accounts with two factor authentication.
iOS 13 introduces updates to accessibility, with the new Voice Control system providing comprehensive navigation and voice gestures, all processed on the device.
ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality library now includes motion capture and people occlusion features, to allow developers like Mubaloo to create even more realistic AR experiences.
A new “QuickPath” keyboard brings native swipe functionality to the iOS keyboard; something some users have long asked for.
Last but not least, we finally have a Dark Mode on iOS! Great news for those of us who prefer not to be blinded by brilliant white user interfaces.