iPhone 11 review: the phone most people should buy

(electronic music)

- I'll make this simple for you,

if you're an iOS person and it's time to get a new phone

and you don't want to spend $1000,

you should get an iPhone 11.

It's a really good phone with one of the best cameras

I've ever seen on a smartphone and excellent battery life.

Apple's also dropped the price by 50 bucks.

The iPhone 10 R started at 749

and the iPhone 11 starts at 699.

That doesn't mean the iPhone 11 is a perfect phone

or that it even has all of the best specs

and features that you can get.

It doesn't, but it shines where it counts

and it's totally fine everywhere else.

And, if you do wanna live on the bleeding edge of tech

you can spend $300 more and get an iPhone 11 Pro

which I reviewed it in another video.

But I think most people looking for an iPhone upgrade,

don't need to overthink this.

Just get an iPhone 11, you'll be happy.

Lemme tell you why.

(upbeat music)

The iPhone 11 is fundamentally the S update

to last years very popular iPhone 10 R.

It has the same design, the same 6.1 inch 720p LCD

with fancy rounded corners, the same biggish bezels

and the same aluminum body.

From the front it looks almost exactly like an iPhone 10 R.

But, Apple says it's made the glass

on the front and the back a little bit stronger,

the water resistance is a little better

and the camera bump on the back is now milled right

into the glass, which is kinda neat.

And, it comes in a bunch of new pastelly colors.

This lavender one we have looks very nice.

The whole design is still a little surfboardy

and it's definitely not small.

If you're looking to upgrade from an iPhone SE

this thing is gonna feel huge.

But really, the only major difference

is between the iPhone 10 R and the iPhone 11

are the cameras, the slightly better battery life

and the new processor.

There's a bunch of other little things that we'll get to

but that's really what you need to know.

And, it's $50 cheaper, this is not exactly

the hardest review I've ever had to do.

But Verge executive editor, Dieter Bohn

has been using an iPhone 10 R for the past year.

And he's also been testing the iPhone 11 this week.

So, I called him up to see what he thinks.



All right, let's start with battery life.

You've been using the 10 R for the past year.

Apple says the 11 gets an hour longer than the 10 R,

what do you think?

- I mean, I bought the 10 R in the first place

because I didn't wanna have to worry about battery life.

So, I didn't it just lasted all day

and the iPhone 11 also lasts all day,

I don't have to worry about battery life.

I think it's a little bit better but I don't know for sure.

And look, like you could maybe kill this thing

in less than a day but you'd really, really have to try.

I think the battery life is great.

What is not great, is the fact that there're still

in the box, including that dinky five watt charger.

- I feel strongly that I could make you go on

a USB-C rant here, but I won't do that to everyone else.

Instead, I'm gonna ask you about the camera.

Now, I think Apple's actually pulled it off

and they've done an amazing job with the camera.

They've pulled ahead of the Pixel, what do you think?

- So, I actually wanna start with

the hardest possible situation

that I could figure out, or close to it.

So, this is the iPhone 11 versus the Pixel 3.

It's zoomed in a little bit more than 2x

and it's night mode and you can see that

the iPhone 11 really holds it's own.

It still really wants to bring up the shadows

but it's right there with the Pixel.

Now, here's another one, this is the iPhone 11 versus

the Pixel 3 again and here the iPhone 11 just nails

the tones and the colors where

the Pixel 3 just looks unnaturally bright and weird.

So, I much prefer the iPhone 11.

- You know I've been saying for months on The Vergecast now

that I think the iPhone 10 S looks bad

and then Apple's HDR was kinda bad last year.

But I think they really improved it this year.

It's so much more willing to let shadows be shadows

and highlights be highlights.

They're doing this semantic rendering thing,

where they're processing the hair

and the sky and faces differently.

I think it really works.

Here's a photo of Moya,

that honestly I think could be the entire review.

The 10 S Max is kinda blurry, it's lost a lot of detail.

The 11 is super sharp, there's a ton of detail

and it's just rendered the shadows and highlights

so much more effectively.

It's kind of a wash with the Pixel

but I actually prefer the 11.

- You know, in addition to the detail thing,

I'm just happier with the iPhone 11's color choices.

So, here's a portrait mode of 11 versus the 10 R.

And the 10 R just thinks that yellow counts

as natural and that's not right.

The iPhone 11 actually is way better

but if you look closely, a weird thing you'll see is

the iPhone 11 seemed to do a worse job on the cutouts

on portraits, it really screwed my glasses up.

- So, that's really interesting

because the 11 has two lenses on the back.

So, it's actually using two cameras to figure out

the depth map while the 10 R is just doing it in software.

I actually asked Apple about this

and they were pretty surprised.

They think obviously the 11 should do a better job

and they told me they specifically spent time working

on glasses this year.

So, this is one of those things where we're just gonna have

to see if software improves it over time.

But it is very strange that the 10 R

is doing a better job with your glasses.

But, tell me about the ultra-wide in general,

I've been having fun with it, how about you?

- [Dieter] So, I know there's this huge argument now

that they added a second lens to the 11,

so should they have added a telephoto or an ultra-wide

and I am fully on team ultra-wide.

I think it is way more useful than just a 2x telephoto.

So, for example here is a photo of a vineyard

the standard wide and the ultra-wide

and I just like the ultra-wide way better.

- So, I agree with you that the ultra-wide

is the right call over the telephoto.

But, where I disagree is in how much I'll actually use it.

The ultra-wide has a slower lens, it's got a smaller sensor.

I'm just way less impressed with these photos.

So, while it's really fun, I think it's actually better

to use the main camera and just back up.

And I think it's way easier to back up than zoom in,

that's just a fact.

- That's just not true at all.

It's way easier to walk three steps forward

and get a better you know telephoto,

get a better zoom in than it is to walk backwards.

I dunno where you take photos but it's in weird places.

- I mean, backwards is better than forwards,

it's just obviously true.


When we were out shooting Bec and Alix took

a ton of slofies.

Here's one, I don't wanna talk about it at all really.

But, video on iPhones has been better

than on Android phones for a long time.

This seems like it's increasing the gap.

You've been testing a lot of Android phones,

what do you think?

- So man, the only Android phones that are anywhere near

in the same league as the iPhone are Samsung phones,

like the Note 10 or the Galaxy S10.

And even though they're in the same league

they still lose basically every time.

And, I know that the Pixel 4 is coming soon

and I don't wanna pre-judge it here,

but let's just say right now, the iPhone

is definitely the best camera for video.

- Yeah, I think that Pixel 4 kinda looms over

this whole thing, but it's not out yet.

It's leaked all over the place, but it's not out yet.

We'll just have to test it when it comes.

So, you've been using a 10 R for the year.

You've had the 11, what do you think, worth the upgrade?

- I mean, it really depends on how you feel

about the camera on your current phone

and maybe the battery life and if you have something older

than a 10 R it's totally worth it.

And actually, hang on a minute, I've got stuff to do

this is your review, you should go finish it.


- That was really quite rude.

There's really not that much to say

about the iPhone 11's display.

It's the same Liquid Retina LCD as last year

with the same specs and the same kinda thick bezel.

Liquid Retina is just Apple's fancy name

for how it curves LCD corners with microscopic apertures.

This is a 326 dpi, 720p LCD and it looks like one.

It simply doesn't have the deep blacks of an OLED display

which means the new Dark Mode in iOS 13

doesn't look as good as it could.

And, it's definitely lower resolution

than the iPhone 11 Pro's.

The good news is that Apple LCD's are typically great

and this display is typically great.

Unless you really deeply care about displays,

it's more than fine.

Last year I said the only reason to spend $250 more

on the iPhone 10 S over the iPhone 10 R was the display.

And, I feel the same way this year.

Only now it's a $300 jump.

It's definitely worth it to me,

but I recommend going and looking

at them for yourself to decide.

(relaxed music)

Like the iPhone 10 R there's no 3D touch on the iPhone 11.

Apple's replaced it with it calls Haptic Touch.

Which is really just a fancy name

for long-pressing on things.

I really miss 3D Touch to preview links

and scoot the cursor around using the keyboard

but I adjusted quickly and long-presses

are a little simpler to understand

and they're gonna be a little bit more consistent across

other iOS devices like the iPad now.

Apple's also updated the speakers on

the iPhone 11 to have call spatial audio.

Which is essentially a virtual surround decoder

that supports Adobe 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos.

I don't know if I'm ever gonna be convinced

that stereo speakers on a phone

are actually delivering surround sound,

but these speakers sound great and they are extremely loud.

And, of course there's no headphone jack

and no headphone dongle in the box.

So, just be ready for that.

(relaxed music)

The iPhone 11 also has Apple's new A13 Bionic processor

which is both more powerful and more efficient

that the A12 Bionic in the iPhone 10 R.

It's also the same shape as in the iPhone 11 Pros

and it's plenty fast.

Although, the A12 Bionic was pretty fast too

and I couldn't tell you that I noticed some huge performance

difference between the 11 and the 10 R.

But, iPhones tend to stick around for a long time

and all that extra processor performance is why.

That headroom matters more towards the end

of the phones life, not now at the beginning.

Face ID has slightly improved from the iPhone 10 R

but it's another thing you might not even notice.

It's just a little faster than before

and it works from a slightly larger range of angles.

I've come to really like Face ID,

so any improvement is welcome.

Especially if it encourages people

to actually lock their phones.

The iPhone 11 also has Apple's new U1 positioning chip

in it, which uses an ultra-wideband radio

to precisely locate the phone

in relation to other U1 devices.

This will initially make AirDrop a little easier

but it doesn't do anything yet.

That feature will come with iOS 13.1

which is scheduled to ship at the end of the month.

(upbeat music)

And that really brings me to iOS 13

in general which is pretty buggy

in all of my iPhone review units so far.

I've seen some weird glitches

and app crashes during testing.

And I've had to restart a couple times

just to get things back on track.

Apple told me some of these things will get cleaned up

in iOS 13.1, but if you're currently happy with your phone

I would not rush out to upgrade

until we know iOS 13 had settled down,

which should be soon enough.

Assuming Apple cleans up the rough edges of iOS 13,

it's basically a bunch of small updates to iOS 12

that make things a little cleaner and simpler.

There's a Dark Mode now, the Share Sheet's a little nicer.

The Photos app is a little more engaging

and Reminders has been redesigned.

You can swipe to type on the keyboard now.

It's a bunch of stuff like that.

But if you have any other recent iPhone

you'll be getting all of it as well shortly

because you'll be upgraded to iOS 13.

We'll have a full iOS 13 review when it arrives

so, keep an eye out for that.

(relaxed music)

So, is it worth upgrading to the iPhone 11?

If you've got an iPhone older than the 10 R

and it's upgrade time for you, I think the answer is yes.

The camera is substantially improved

and you'll get vastly better battery life

than anything aside from the iPhone 10 R.

Those are the things most people care about

and Apple's really delivered here.

I'd only spend the extra money on the iPhone 11 Pro

if you really care about the display.

I don't think you're missing out on much

by not having a telephoto camera lens to be honest.

Now I do, really care about displays, so I'm getting a Pro.

But I think most people will be very happy

with the iPhone 11.

That is, after Apple cleans up iOS 13.

If you're looking for an even deeper dive

in the the iPhone 11 camera,

go check out our iPhone 11 Pro Review.

It has the same basic camera system as the iPhone 11

and we tested the hell out of it.

Then, let me know, if you're upgrading

which iPhone are you gonna get?

Or, are you gonna wait for something else?