iPhone: Everything you need to know about Apple's September 10 Keynote - Abhimanyu Sathya

The new iPhone launch was disappointing, to say the least. During their September Keynote Apple unveiled their latest and greatest iPhones: the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Let me just say how glad I am that Apple has gone back to naming their iPhones with numbers. All that X business was frankly a little annoying. But that doesn’t mean that this new and improved naming scheme is any better. iPhone 11 Pro Max, doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?

The time when a new phone generation was a leap forward in technology has ended, not just for Apple but for other companies as well. We’ve reached a point where each new launch is a small incremental step. This begs the question “What’s new with the iPhone 11 series?” The first thing we need to understand is that the iPhone 11 is not the XS’s successor. It is their new entry-level phone.

With the new naming scheme, Apple has differentiated the market into two groups: Consumer and Pro. This allows Apple fans to purchase their “next-gen” iPhone without feeling like they’re being miserly and buying the budget phone. This is an attempt to boost the sales numbers of the already impressive budget tier.

Marketing aside, let’s talk specs:

The Pros

The primary upgrade for the new generation of iPhones is the CPU. According to Apple, the new A13 Bionic chip is a 20% increase in performance over the last-gen A12 bionic. Before the release of the A13, the A12 was still the industry leader in smartphone processors. If Apple’s claims about the new chip are to be believed, this would push them quite far ahead of the current flagships of Qualcomm, Samsung and Huawei. That being said, however, Apple hasn’t released any synthetic benchmarks or any similar metrics which quantify the A13’s performance. Consequently, the +20% performance increase should be taken with a grain of salt until such time that the new chips can be put through their paces.

Apple has also upgraded its RAM in the budget segment to 4 GB, making it even across the board. Congratulations Apple, your phones combined now have the RAM of the OnePlus 7 Pro! Of course, iOS is more memory-optimized than Android but still, 4GB in an $1100 phone? But I digress…

One of Apple’s major selling points for the new iPhones is the camera. The addition of an Ultra-Wide camera to both segments for their lineup is a great move. Bravo Apple! Although the concept of an Ultra-Wide camera isn’t necessarily new to the industry, Apple’s implementation is commendable. Each of the cameras is configured so that their colours are perfectly in sync with each other and the software experience is improved to provide seamless transitions between the Wide and Ultra Wide shooters. Apple’s image processing remains top-notch as ever. Their colours are great and the new night mode, if it works as advertised, would be a great addition to the Apple camera suit. The new iPhones also support photo style video editing natively. Obviously, it’s not going to work like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro, but it’s an incredibly handy feature to have. Finally, we come to the new and improved front cameras. The front camera can now shoot in 12MP 4K60 from the previous 7MP 1080p60 which is quite a significant upgrade. It also comes with another nifty new feature: front-facing slow-motion video, or as Apple has tragically christened it a Slofie – ew. Why, Apple?

Another selling point for the iPhone 11 line up is their battery. Last year’s iPhone XR had an incredible battery life while its big brothers the XS and XS Max had atrocious battery life. This year Apple claims that the iPhone 11 will last an hour longer than the XR and the 11 Pro and Pro Max will last 4 and 5 hours longer than their predecessors respectively. It’s an amazing thing, Apple learning from its mistakes.

The great things about the phones, however, stop here.

The Cons

For 3 years, Apple has stuck with the same iPhone design, while the industry has moved on to near bezel-less displays. The refusal to budge from what, in my opinion, is a dated design, puts the iPhone 11 series at a great disadvantage when compared to phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro, S10+, and Note 10+. Nevertheless, aesthetics are a personal preference, and your opinions may vary. But design isn’t the only flaw with the iPhone 11 series. At a starting price of $700, one should expect to find at least a 1080p display, right? Apple doesn’t think so. The iPhone 11 has a screen resolution of 1792x828 which is approximately 0.72 times as many pixels as a standard 16:9 1080p screen which can be found on the OnePlus 3 a phone from 2016. The number of pixels doesn’t matter; it’s how you use them! The iPhone 11 has a Liquid Retina Display, which is Applespeak for LCD with a 1400:1 contrast ratio. It isn’t 1080p HD and doesn’t support any form of HDR. For a phone that costs $700, the absence of a 1080p OLED display is a little hard to excuse.

The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max., *sighs disappointedly*, There was a time when Apple knew the meaning of the word Pro. Now it just seems like they throw it in everywhere to make money. Remember the i9s in the MacBook Pro? Who the hell thought that was a good idea? To be fair, they did try to put better hardware in the MacBook Pro. But these new “Pro” iPhones lack certain features that characterize the Pro category. The screens of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max have resolutions of 2436x1125 and 2688x1242 respectively. The display is an OLED panel that Apple calls Super Retina XDR. It supports HDR10, which is great, and has a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The only differences between the new XDR and the older HD version of the panel are its contrast, which has doubled, and peak brightness, which can reach 800 nits. The new Super Retina XDR is great, but it’s great in a normie way. Over the past few years, Pro devices have been equipped with displays that refresh at over 60Hz. OnePlus did it, Asus did it, Razer did it, hell even Apple did it with their iPad Pro. So why doesn’t Apple have a higher refresh rate display on the iPhone 11 Pros?

Apple’s stubbornness to kill their stupid, fragile and absolutely garbage lightning chargers has ticked me off. USB – C has become the standard for almost every device, even the new MacBooks, yet Apple refuses the get rid of their outdated charger. The neck of the cable is weak and splits within a short duration of time. A new cable costs an exorbitant $20 this prompts many iPhone users to buy cheaper knockoff cables. These 3rd party cables, according to Apple, could hard their devices. Now if Apple switches to USB – C they’ll have to follow the standard design, and seeing as the hardware has already matured, there are countless good 3rd party USB – C cables. Dear iPhone Users, imagine being able to walk into any place know that someone will have the same charger as you. Imagine having to worry about charging your phone before leaving. Imagine carrying just one cable for your Mac, iPhone, headphones etc. What a beautiful world!

Given the added security of FaceID, it makes sense for Apple not to include an underscreen fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 11. However, given the “Pro” advertising on the higher end models, perhaps Apple could have added it for an extra layer of security.

Lastly, we come to the price. The new “Pro” models launch at the same price of $999 for the smaller model and $1099 for the larger. This $1000+ price range puts it in competition with Samsung’s latest Note 10 and S10 series. The Samsungs, as usual, have a better display, more RAM and on the pricier Note 10 faster UFS 3.0 storage. The iPhone Pros, on the other hand, have the better processor, better battery and a more powerful chip. The higher-end iPhone market seems reasonably priced when compared to Samsung but is absolutely blown out of the water when compared to the $669 OnePlus 7 Pro which is even cheaper than Apple’s “budget” phone. The bottom line is iOS users will stick to iOS the same way Android users stick to Android. So the comparison between iOS and Android is kinda useless at this point. So is the iPhone 11 worth upgrading to? For anyone with an iPhone 6s or lower yes. With its lower price and newer hardware, the iPhone 11 is a great product. Even if you have an iPhone 7 or 8 and really want a new phone, the iPhone 11 is a great choice. But what about the 11 Pros? With the only differences being a slightly better display, a slightly better camera, a slightly better battery and of course the new chip, which let’s face it doesn’t affect your typical iPhone user. The iPhone 11 Pro is only a slightly better phone than its predecessors. So no, if you have an iPhone X or XS don’t upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s simply not worth it. Even if you want a new “Pro” phone, I suggest you look into the Android offerings to see what your $1000 dollars can buy. Maybe a OnePlus 7 Pro and a Bose NC700?