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We put Apple's iPhone 11 Pro to the test, but how does it compare to the competition?
The iPhone 11 Pro is the dream handset for an Apple fan who loves to take photos.
The iPhone 11 Pro was the jewel in the crown of Apple’s 2019 iPhone roster.
It offers a superb camera unit, excellent battery life, and a lovely matt finish on the back, which is going to keep fingerprint smudges at bay.
When it was launched in 2019, the one thing that was hard to stomach was the jaw-dropping price. There’s no denying that it’s very much at the premium end of things, qualified by its ‘Pro’ status, but since the iPhone 12 has entered the fray, the 11 Pro is looking more affordable.
iPhones see incremental upgrades each year, but some of these changes are more significant than others, and by that very admission, the iPhone 11 Pro is still a fantastic smartphone and hardly far behind the iPhone 12 Pro in a number of ways.
While the iPhone 12 pro is slightly boxier in shape, is 5G ready, and plays nice with MagSafe, Apple’s magnetic technology built for attaching accessories like fast wireless charging, there’s not a lot else in it.
Those features feel superfluous for now, but when it comes to the things that matter like camera, performance and battery life, the iPhone Pro 11 shows little weakness.
We put it to the test to see if it’s worth your time and money. To hear what we thought of the latest generation of iPhone, you can read our iPhone 12 review and iPhone 12 Pro review. And to see how one generation compares to the other, don't miss out iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 explainers. You might also want to check out our iPhone SE review, to find out more about Apple's affordable handset.
The iPhone 11 Pro offers a premium Apple experience. Straight out the box, it fits comfortably in the hand, especially compared to larger devices like the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The new frosted glass matt finish on the exterior contrasts pleasingly with the shiny stainless steel sides. The triple-lens camera is capable of DSLR worthy photography and the 5.8-inch OLED screen is superior to the LCD screen found on the standard iPhone 11. It’ll last all day, and then some more, and is capable of chomping through pretty much any task you throw at it with the A13 Bionic Chip inside. A year later with the iPhone 11 Pro and it doesn’t feel the slightest bit dated.
Every September, Apple announces a series of new iPhones in an entertaining over-the-top presentation. Last year, we got three: the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. As you might expect, they go up in price and features in that order too. The iPhone 11 Pro sits bang in the middle and arguably is the most appealing of the lot. The iPhone 11 only has two cameras and an inferior LED screen, and the super-size iPhone 11 Pro Max which has a cinematic 6.5-inch screen, will struggle to fit in a pocket, feeling closer to a tablet and it’s incredibly pricey.
What does the Apple iPhone 11 Pro do?
Premium iPhones have always left some head-scratching, yawping at how it can be so impossibly expensive compared to many of its Android counterparts. A year later after its arrival, we now see a significant price-cut, which makes it decent value for money, plus, it’s far less than you’d pay for an iPhone 12 Pro, without too much of a sacrifice. It’s a brilliant Apple phone that performs across the spectrum, so while it is decent value, you’re not getting a bargain here and unless you go second hand, an iPhone steal is hard to come by.
The iPhone 11 Pro’s headline feature is the new camera hardware, as it’s rare that Apple shake things up to this extent. The camera array has proven to be very divisive for its funky looks, but fast-forward to a year later, and seeing it continued onto the iPhone 11 Pro, it’s shed any sensational value it once had.
It’s really the A13 Bionic chip that makes the iPhone 11 Pro a performance champ when it comes to tasks which require a good amount of grunt, like editing chunky video files and downloading tracks.
Apps downloaded super fast and FaceID beats the iPhone XS for speed.
Handy features like Picture in Picture introduced in iOS 14 make the iPhone 11 Pro feel new. This feature allows you to watch a video in the corner of the screen while continuing to browse, so you can multitask like a maven.
Apple puts paid to 3D Touch and it’s replaced by Haptic touch, requiring the user to press for longer, rather than pressing harder.
Although the screen is very similar to the one seen on the older iPhone XS, this version is brighter, this makes a big difference when viewing the phone outdoors in sunny conditions. It also makes HDR content look phenomenal and Dolby Atmos sound joins the party, simulating surround sound for a full cinematic experience.
The camera upgrades are twofold. There’s the additional lens on the iPhone 11 Pro which makes a huge difference, and then there’s also the computational photography tricks performed by the A13 Bionic chip. It’s a lethal combination.
Both the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max benefit from a third 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens, which joins the main 12MP f/1.8 camera with OIS, and the 2x 12MP telephoto lens.
Image quality is magnificent. It’s vibrant and crisp, but also offers natural colour rendering with not over-saturation we see from rivals. All this is achieved by Apple’s smart image layering process which uses data from all three cameras.
Portrait mode is masterful and works with any object. Apple has increased the aperture of the iPhone 11 Pro’s telephoto lens to f/2.0, rather than f/2.4 seen on the iPhone XS. This means more light can get to the sensor and this translates into an improved portrait mode, even in tricky lighting situations.
You can even switch between 1x and 2x focal lengths which offers even more versatility when shooting.
Apple seems to finally have an answer to Google’s famed, Night Mode, and it’s really compelling too. Depending on the available light, it’ll take between 1-3 seconds to expose a photo, just stay as still as possible, or better, prop the iPhone 11 Pro on a stable surface.
The selfie camera does the trick and Apple has upped the resolution to 12MP, which is the same found on the iPhone 12 Pro.
All three cameras are capable of recording 4K video at 60fps and you can even switch the camera as you zoom in or out whilst shooting.
Subject tracking on video recording works well too, while audio zoom is available to narrow into the subject making the sound.
The ample 3,046 mAh paired with the efficient internals means the iPhone 11 Pro lasts a full day, if not more. We never found ourselves in the red zone, even after some seriously heavy use.
The chunkier battery claims to add 4-hours onto the battery life compared to its predecessor, we’re not so sure that’s totally accurate, but it’s not far off.
Go from 0% to 50% in about 30mins with the 18W charger and cable found in the box. In Apple efforts to be more environmentally conscious, the iPhone 12 series doesn’t come with a charger at all.
Of course you’ll find better battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but there are other features which might put people off opting for that, mostly the size.
The recent iPhone 12 Pro slender aesthetics has one drawback, and that’s the 2815mAh battery, noticeably smaller than the one in the iPhone 11 Pro and Apple even admits to it lasting an hour less when testing.
You won’t be left frustrated with the iPhone 11 Pros battery capabilities no matter what you put it through, and does anyone really need a phone to last more than a full day?
Dimensions come in at 144mm x 71mm x 8mm and that feels like a decent size, allowing your hand to reach all corners of the phone. And the lush frosted matt back is a welcome change from the shinier designs seen in older models.
It also comes in Apple’s new flavour of the year, which happens to be a delightful Midnight Green. It’s also available in silver, grey and gold.
The TrueDepth camera notch is still there, and it’s the same story for the iPhone 12 series, which makes us wonder; when will Apple finally launch a full edge-to-edge display like the Samsung S20, and S21.
It shares the same Super Retina XDR OLED screen with identical brightness capabilities and a near same pixel density. The iPhone 12 Pro does have a marginally larger screen.
Deep blacks and vibrant colours make watching media on the iPhone 11 Pro a pleasure, but we’d like to see a higher refresh rate than 60Hz, and the same could be said for the iPhone 12 Pro.
Apple makes it very easy to transfer all data over to a new handset, but to ensure a smooth transition it’s worth downloading the latest iOS, and remember to switch off your two-factor authentication and then reactivate everything once you’re set up and ready to go.
There’s no denying that the iPhone 11 Pro is the dream handset for an Apple fan who loves to take photos. The image processing, paired with the additional camera make for a powerful camera set-up. Although it’s centred around photography, the iPhone 11 Pro is brilliant to use, with great battery life, a luscious OLED screen and stellar sound, only there are far cheaper smartphones if you’re willing to bypass Apple, and if photography doesn’t matter so much. However, if you’re an Apple fan and a photography fan who wants a phone that’ll zip through daily tasks and isn’t humongous, and you don’t much care about 5G, then step this way.
Overall star rating: 4.5/5