TECH
27/09/2019 5:34 PM IST

iPhone 11 Review: The iPhone For Everyone?

Priced 'affordably' at Rs 64,900 onwards, the iPhone 11 is a surprisingly excellent phone that delivers most of what its Pro siblings do, for much less.

TUshar Kanwar
The iPhone 11 looks very similar to last year's iPhone XR.

Although Apple’s new Pro line of phones obviously represents the very top-end of the industry, a lot of people have been asking how the ‘base level’ iPhone 11 measures up. There’s a lot of interest in the ‘iPhone for everyone’, at a price that’s tantalizingly low for a current-generation iPhone.

So, what exactly does Rs. 64,900 get you? And what compromises does the iPhone 11 make to hit that sweet low price? We’ve run the device through its paces over the past two weeks (including pitting it against the pricier Pros) to try to answer just this.

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The iPhone 11 has gone on sale from today in India, with the 64GB variant starting at Rs. 64,900. It’s available in 128GB and 256GB variants as well, in black, green, yellow, purple, red and white.

As with the iPhone 11 Pros, the iPhone 11 ships with Apple’s latest A13 Bionic chip, a dual 12MP camera setup (0.5x ultra-wide ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view and wide ƒ/1.8 aperture) and a 6.1-inch IPS LCD display.

Design

At a glance, the iPhone 11 looks damn near identical to the iPhone XR in both size and shape, save for the dual camera setup and bigger camera bump.

Tushar Kanwar
The 'camera island' on the iPhone 11.

The bump is not pretty, but it is functional, and given the photos that the iPhone 11 delivers, seems like a fair trade. The aluminum frame and glass construction give the 11 a solid grip in the hand, and one hopes that Apple’s claims of the new iPhones packing the “toughest glass in a smartphone” holds good. Water resistance is better, up from last year’s IP67 to the IP68 (2 meters for up to 30 minutes) standard. 

There are more colour choices now than last year, but they are a bit muted compared to the ones available last year.

Display and Audio

The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1-inch 1792x828 pixel resolution LCD display as the iPhone XR, and no matter how much you love the color accuracy, the brightness and the True Tone ambient color temperature matching of the LCD panel Apple picked, it falls short of the pixel density of most halfway decent Android phones. The resolution isn’t a problem on a day-to-day basis, but the screen resolution just doesn’t match its price tag.

Tushar Kanwar
The side profile of the iPhone 11

It’s still an LCD panel, which means that you’ll miss the deep blacks, high dynamic range, and the peak brightness of the OLED screens (the iPhone 11 goes only up to 625 nits) on the iPhone 11 Pro models. Trimming the thickish bezels and bumping up to a full-HD resolution display may have had the effect of cannibalizing the Pro sales to an extent, but it would remove the biggest criticism against the iPhone 11.

Audio gets a big leg up with the iPhone 11, with the stereo speakers supporting both Apple’s custom spatial audio setup and Dolby Atmos.

Cameras

The iPhone 11′s camera setup is the same as the Pros, minus the telephoto camera. For most of the shots you take, this means you’ll get the same results as on the pricier Pros.

Tushar Kanwar
An outdoors daytime photo from the iPhone 11.

You can always zoom in and crop high res wide shots, so the ultra-wide camera is by far the better choice to retain. Since there’s no telephoto camera, the iPhone 11 still takes Portrait Mode photos using the wide angle, which means the photos are not as up close and personal, something you may or may not like. Like the Pros, the color science doesn’t vary between the ultra-wide and regular cameras and you get the same consistency of shots.

Tushar Kanwar
This nighttime sample from the iPhone 11 shows how well it can handle complicated lighting.

If you’ve read our review of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you’ll recall just how impressed we were with the Night Mode on the new iPhone, and the story continues with the iPhone 11. It’s a spectacular achievement year-on-year and places the iPhone in proper contention alongside its 2019 peers.

Performance and Battery Life

With the new A13 Bionic chip and the same amount of memory (4GB) as the Pros, the iPhone 11 has processing headroom to spare. The phone should easily be able to handle whatever you throw at it today and tomorrow, and maybe three years down as well, if not more.

Battery life is impressive, lasting just past a day of heavy use, but it is easily outclassed by the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s big gains this year. Not cool is the inclusion of the 5W USB charger in the box, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max get an 18W USB-C charger.

The iPhone 11 vs the iPhone 11 Pros: what’s missing?

Not a lot really. The iPhone 11 Pros have larger batteries, a zoom lens and much better displays, but the marquee features that launched with the iPhone 11 Pros-the new A13 Bionic processor, Night Mode and ultra-wide shooting, even the slofies-are common across all three devices. Apple’s refusal to hobble the most affordable iPhone, at least in any manner that directly impacts user experience, is great to see.

What sweetens the deal for the iPhone 11 is the fact that it launches at a significantly lower price point than even last year’s iPhone XR, and if you can look past some of the Pro’s bells and whistles, the iPhone 11 could be the best choice for most folks looking to pick up a new iPhone.