I wish I could say “I’m live at Apple’s event today,” but you’re gonna have to settle for this intro:
I’m live from Starbucks in Ocean City, NJ, where I’m watching the Apple event while sipping a Salted Caramel Mocha. During the event, Apple debuted a ton of products, and two of them were the company’s very first “Pro” iPhones.
They’re called the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. I guess Apple didn’t know what to do with the names of its phones after the somewhat disaster that was the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. If you ask me, “iPhone 11 Pro Max” is worse, but whatever.
So what’s good about the first Pro-grade iPhones? Plenty. Maybe not as much as you think, but the phones definitely have their perks.
A “New” Design
First of all, they have a “new design.” This essentially means they look like last year’s iPhone XS and XS Max, but instead of a glossy back plate, they now have a matte finish. It’s available in Space Gray, Midnight Green, Gold, and Silver. The Space Gray and Midnight Green are my favorites, and the Gold certainly doesn’t look bad either. I’d probably steer clear of the Silver, though, since it’s pretty generic. At least the Space Gray makes the phone look mean.
With the new iPhones, you also get what Apple has dubbed the “strongest glass ever on a smartphone.” They say this every year and millions of iPhone users have had their phones completely shatter. Real-world testing will determine whether any of the company’s claims are true.
The new iPhones are also more water resistant, so you can dunk it under two meters of water for thirty minutes before you have to start worrying.
On the front, the iPhone 11 Pro ships with a 5.8-inch display, while the 11 Pro Max comes with a 6.5-inch panel. Both offer what Apple calls its “Super Retina XDR” displays which get 1,200 nits of brightness, True Tone, a two million-to-one contrast ratio, Haptic Touch (R.I.P. 3D Touch), and all the HDR buzzwords you can fit in 45-minute presentation. Most of these features have been carried over from the XS, but some are new, so Apple calls it an “all-new display.”
Better, Faster Face ID
Of course, because the phones have such similar displays to last year’s iPhones, it means you get the same notches we’re all used to seeing. Luckily, Apple has improved the contents of the notch with the iPhone 11 Pro. Face ID now works at wider angles so you can unlock it easier, and the company even says it sped it up. I’m not sure how well its improvements will work, but real-world testing will confirm our suspicions. Stay tuned.
A13 Bionic Performance, Plus Longer Battery Life
Under the hood, Apple includes its A13 Bionic processor, the same one found in the cheaper iPhone 11. Apple touts the chip as being the “fastest CPU in a smartphone.” It comes paired to the “fastest GPU in a smartphone” as well, according to the company. You also get Apple’s faster Neural Engine and new Machine Learning Accelerators.
An interesting note about the A13: Apple worked heavily on its efficiency for the iPhone 11 Pro. Admittedly, this is likely due to a combination of a more efficien tchip and bigger batteries, but the company says with the new devices, you’ll get up to five extra hours of usage over the iPhone XS and XS Max. Again, I can’t tell you if this is true because I need to test the phones first, but just the suggestion of significantly longer battery life has me excited.
Cameras, All Three of Them
Looping around to the back of the phones, this is where Apple’s main focus is. At the top left, you’ll find three cameras attached to both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. There’s a main 12MP lens, a telephoto 12MP lens, and an ultra-wide 12MP lens.
With all three cameras, you can get different focal points from a single view point. This has been the message many companies have been preaching to consumers for a year now, what with many flagship Android phones shipping with three rear cameras. But now that Apple has done a similar feature, it’ll get a lot more attention.
Of course, the big advantage to having this camera array is ultra-wide photography, and that’s Apple’s biggest marketing message with the iPhone 11 Pro. Having that lens adds an extra layer of versatility you simply don’t get with just a standard lens and a telephoto sensor. This is the reason I carry around my LG V50. It has those three cameras on the back. If/when I buy the iPhone 11 Pro, I’ll carry it around for the same reason.
With the devices, Apple is introducing a new camera UI that gives you a preview of what the ultra-wide sensor is looking at through the typically solid black bars on the left and right. They’re now transparent to hopefully prompt you to use the third lens and take advantage of what Apple included.
All three cameras, according to Apple, will take better photos than most other phones on the market, including last year’s XS. The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max will also take the best video than any other smartphone, according to the company. This has been mostly the case with iPhones of the past since iPhones tend to get things like sharpness, color science, and scene reproduction right when switching to video, and it looks like Apple may have made things even better with its newer handsets.
Likely in response to the sheer amount of similar modes on the market, Apple is also introducing a new Night mode with the iPhone 11 series. It does the same AI stuff as every other night mode on any other smartphone, so it’ll be important for reviewers to test drive the feature before saying whether it’s better than any of its competitors.
What won’t be available when reviewers test drive the new Pro iPhones is a feature called Deep Fusion. With this feature, your iPhone will take nine different photographs before you even capture a photograph. It takes four short images, four secondary images, and one long-exposure image. It then combines the best data from each photograph and loads it into the final photo you’ll find in your gallery. The feature will likely launch sometime next month or in November as a part of iOS 13.1 or iOS 13.2.
Finally, on the front of the iPhone 11 Pro, you’ll find a 12MP selfie camera that has a wider field of view. After a decade of complaining about how tight the field of view was on iPhone selfie cameras, Apple has finally listened and made things better. On top of that, you also get slow-motion video with the selfie shooter.
This section is unnecessary since it’s really short, but I’d like to just add that Apple has finally included an 18W fast charger with an iPhone out of the box. Both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are getting the new brick paired to a Lightning to USB-C cable. Thank you, Mr. Tim Cook, for finally (FINALLY!) respecting the wishes of the customers who literally give you $1,000 for a new phone almost every year.
Pricing & Availability
The new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will retail for $999 and $1,099, respectively. Apple’s actually knocking those prices down if you trade in your current phone. For instance, an iPhone XS Max in good condition can save you $600 if you just give it to Apple. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
Both phones will go up for preorder this Friday starting at 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT. They’ll start shipping September 20th.