iPhone 11 Pro Long Term Review: The iPhone…in Ten Commandments!
It is known as the Godphone by many people. And its latest versions have triggered off a number of debates. As usual. There are those who think it is revolutionary and amazing.
And those who insist it is an overpriced piece of marketing.
What’s the truth? Well, that is what we are going to try to figure out. In fact, we have been trying to figure that out for a while now – hence the delay in this review! And in keeping with the divine reputation (whether deserved or not) of the phone, we have decided to go all Moses and take a Ten Commandments approach to it. So well, if you are considering an iPhone 11 Pro, we would ask you to take a look at these Ten Commandments, Biblical tones and all.
Thou shalt stand out in the phony crowd…thanks to thine size, and those cameras
Love it or hate it, what cannot be denied is that the iPhone 11 Pro is one of the most distinct devices in the market today. For one, it is surprisingly compact in a world in which phone displays seem to be expanding like a nineteenth-century colonial empire. It is the only high-end phone out there that can be managed with one hand with a degree of comfort, which is saying something. For another, it has a wonderfully smooth glass back which almost gives a marble-like feel – the Midnight Green variant is one of the most elegant we have seen.
And of course, the phone comes with the strongest glass on front and back and dust and water resistance, and a steel frame, which gives it a really premium feel. But these are really not what makes the iPhone 11 Pro stand out. No, it is the triple camera arrangement on the back, with its large senses in the shape of a triangle that makes sure that you cannot mistake this for any other phone. Is it handsome? Or horrendous? The opinion is divided, but them lenses ensure that the iPhone 11 Pro stands out in the phone crowd.
Thou shalt have the power to make OLED appear realistic
Apple showed that OLED displays need not be spectacularly colorful with the iPhone X and XS. And the iPhone 11 Pro carries this tradition forward. It comes with no riot of colors, no crazy refresh rates (it is the standard 60 Hz), and at 5.8 inches, is surprisingly small in this era of crazy sized displays. And yet, we have no qualms about stating that this is perhaps the best phone display we have used in terms of handling colors and contrasts. It is very easy to read in bright sunlight as well, and we think that Apple handles auto-brightness better than most of its Android competitors who tend to mess it up more often than not. The competition no doubt has devices with higher pixel density, smaller notches, and higher refresh rates, but we think that this is the best display out there in terms of usability.
Thee will be heard in stunning quality
Yes, we had to state this upfront, for it gets missed out ever so often, even though (ironically) phones were first created for the purpose of transmitting sound. The iPhone 11 PRO’s stereo speakers are very good in terms of both volume and quality and in our opinion, serve up perhaps the best sound in phone-land. There actually is “space” to the sound so when you are watching a football match, you can sometimes sense the noise of the crowd coming from another part of the room. Combined with that display, this is one of the best mobile devices on which to watch a film, even without headphones (the absence of a headphone jack does rankle even now – and there is no lightening to 3.5 mm jack adaptor in the box either!). Incidentally, sound over headphones remains very good, although the complications of using a wired headphone (get an adaptor, connect it to the headphones and so on).
Thee will not lack power
Apple does not make a habit of fighting it out on the spec sheet with its rivals. That said, there is no doubting that the iPhone 11 Pro comes with excellent hardware. We have already spoken of the display and the sound, and shortly will converse about the cameras as well. But what makes them all tick in unison is Apple’s A13 Bionic processor. One of the biggest strengths of the iPhone has been its speed of operation. Lags are something that is almost unheard of in iPhoneland and the iPhone 11 Pro mostly carries this tradition ahead – yes, we did encounter the odd pause, especially when we were editing pictures and videos, but by and large, this is an incredibly speedy phone.
It handled everything from PUBG to Call of Duty without breaking into a sweat or dropping frames. And yes, that combination of display and sound really comes to the fore here because everything moves with such utter smoothness that you discover what a flagship experience really is. There might be other chips with more cores and perhaps greater clock speed, but none blends in as smoothly with the device it powers as the A13 Bionic does.
Thou shalt stand out in the photo crowd…yea, thanks again to the cameras (be patient, though, the path is complex)
The cameras are not just the stand out feature of the iPhone 11 Pro in the looks department, but in terms of performance as well. Yes, the phone comes with a more powerful processor and boosted specs, but it is in its photography that it really shines. The triple camera arrangement on the back might look odd, but the combination of a 12-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and a 12-megapixel telephoto, delivers fantastic results in terms of detail. Do not expect eye-popping colors here, for while Apple has gone for a slightly more saturated than usual touch, the colors are closer to real-life than a glossy lifestyle magazine. In terms of detail and consistency, the iPhone 11 Pro takes matters to another level, and frankly is the closest we have seen a phone camera come so far to a point and shooter.
There is some serious computational photography magic at work here. Apple has talked of its Deep Fusion technology, which takes nine snaps at different exposures every time you hit the shutter and then combines them all into one photograph that has the best of everything. And while it is difficult to say when it actually works (it lurks in the background), we did end up getting a lot of detail in our snaps. There is also a new Night Mode and though once again, it kicks in automatically and cannot be forced, it delivers results that are very different from the over-the-top lit up shots we get from some of the Android competition. There are hints of saturation creeping in at places, and portrait mode can at times be a little iffy, but the iPhone 11 Pro remains easily the most “accurate” camera on a phone. And video remains in a zone of its own – miles ahead of anything the competition has to offer in terms of handling sight and sound.
What it loses out, however, is simplicity. Unlike its predecessors, and thanks to iOS 13, the camera on the iPhone is a complex creature. You can switch between ultra-wide lenses, use some in-depth editing tools, and can make the ultra-wide sensor capture shots in the background even when using the main sensor. There is a whole lot more you can do with the iPhone camera now, but for the first time ever, you will need to be patient with it. For, it now comes with a learning curve. And yes, we were surprised to see the odd pause when we switched to photo editing mode, and even the odd crash from time to time – hey, this is an iPhone!
Thy UI will not be perfect, but will still be the best
iOS, the operating system on which the iPhone runs, used to be one of its biggest strengths at one time. Of late, however, it has been showing signs of frailty. And iOS 13, while being amazingly feature rich, has brought with us the rather unusual phenomenon of bugs and crashes (the OS has already received three significant updates at least). No, it is not perfect, but to its credit, it still remains relatively easy to use and certainly flows more smoothly than Android – there, we said it. The iPhone purists will shake their heads at the odd crash (we had the camera and browser crashing) but by and large, the OS works very smoothly, and none of the crashes or lags prevented us from restarting the app in question in a jiffy.
And of course, iOS 13’s new features including better multitasking and a more powerful Files app just gives the phone a more smartphone-y feel to it. Of course, this remains the only major device that totally relies on face unlock, which for the record, works beautifully on it. All that blended with Apple’s reputation for security and the constant stream of updates still make iOS the best mobile operating system around. This is one of its more erratic editions, though.
Thee shall spread happiness through appiness, and open up arcades of gaming
The number of iPhone-only apps might be decreasing but what cannot be denied is that a number of applications till arrive first on the iOS platform (witness how Adobe put its Photoshop there first). And even when that is not the case, apps do tend to run far more smoothly on iPhones than on Android – no, we are not being harsh, it just seems to be a case of better software and hardware integration (something that can happen when the same company makes the hardware and the software of a device). In simple terms, this is the best phone for those who love messing around with apps – it has a great display, terrific sound and a fantastic app eco system.
So whether you want to flip through news on Flipboard, edit images on Photoshop Express, do a spot of writing on Pages or simply mow down the enemy in a hectic PUBG session – you get a very smooth experience. This is a phone designed for appiness, and the addition of Apple Arcade – a gaming service that lets you access exclusive and unlimited games for a monthly subscription – only strengthens this side of the iPhone.
And behold! Thou shalt finally – FINALLY – have great battery life (yea, and fast charging too)
All right, this was for us was one of the biggest enhancements in the iPhone 11 Pro over the iPhone XS. Since the very outset, the iPhone (and then the smaller iPhone, ever since the range was split into two varieties) has been plagued with battery life that has been on the poor side. Getting close to a day of battery life was unimaginable, unless one was using one of the larger iPhones. That however comes to an end with the iPhone 11 Pro. Yes, it is slightly thicker than the iPhone XS, but with greater thickness comes (finally) decent battery life.
No matter how much we pushed the iPhone 11 Pro, we found ourselves getting through a working day on a single charge, something that was not imaginable on previous editions. We did not even have to use battery saver mode (something we kept switched on by default often in previous iPhones) too often. What’s more, the 11 Pro also comes with a faster charger – an 18W USB-type C charger (with a lighting port at the other end, though), which is a massive step ahead from the 5W charger that accompanied its predecessors. This means it charges faster – you can go from 0 to about 75 per cent of battery in forty five minutes, although going from 0 to 100 takes a little more than an hour and a half. The first smaller iPhone without battery blues!
Thou will STILL make holes in purses and pockets and verily, make people stake organs for thee!
At its starting price of Rs 99,900 for the 64 GB variant, the iPhone 11 Pro is unabashedly premium in terms of pricing (the Samsung Galaxy Note, its traditional rival, starts at Rs 69,999). In fact, it is priced well ahead of the competition even at its base model.
The 256 GB model is priced at Rs 1,13,900, while the 512 GB one comes for a royal Rs 1,31,900. We can hear the arguments that you can get a motorbike for as much, and yes, the kidney-selling jokes as well. The fact that the iPhone 11 is priced at Rs 64,900 also makes the 11 Pro seem like a much more expensive proposition, notwithstanding its better display, cameras and design. The iPhone 11 Pro is many things but one thing it certainly is not is light on the bank account.
Thy opponents will have the numbers…but thee will be the Godphone
So, should you be considering investing in the iPhone 11 Pro? That is a tricky question to answer. Not least because a lot of its competitors (and even some non-competitors) can boast of better hardware – bigger displays with higher pixel densities, more cameras with more megapixels, more RAM and storage, bigger batteries and much faster charging, among other things. However, the iPhone has never been about spec sheets. It has been about experience, and this is where Apple’s unique combination of controlling both hardware and software gives it a clear edge over the Android competition. Yes, you will end up paying a bomb, but you will be assured of a very good looking phone with top of the line performance for at least a year and a half, regular and timely software updates for three to four years, some of the best apps in the world, perhaps the most secure experience on a smartphone in terms of privacy and last but not least, a great resale/exchange value.
In short, it is an iPhone. Yes, the iPhone 11 might come at a lower price, but then it comes with a few compromises. If you are looking at the complete, unadulterated iPhone experience at its best, then we would recommend going for the iPhone 11 Pro. Yes, even ahead of the Max, simply because the 11 Pro more than matches the Max in all departments and for the first time does not lose out on the battery front- the iPhone 11 Max only has a bigger, 6.5-inch display.
The price remains premium. Crazy premium. But then it looks good (well, definitely different if you do not like the cameras), scores on hardware and software, has fantastic cameras and even has good battery life. In fact, we would go so far as to say that the iPhone 11 Pro is the first iPhone in a while that justifies the Godphone tag. We have not said that about an iPhone for a while.
- Smooth performance
- Great cameras
- Great battery life
- Still the best UI and apps
- Slightly buggy UI
- UI more complex than in the past
|Build and design||
This has got to be one of the most delayed reviews in our history. But it tells you a lot about the device that even weeks after its release, it still remains relevant. We go all Biblical as we look at the iPhone 11 Pro, perhaps the first iPhone in a while that deserves the Godphone tag!