iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max: The good, the bad and the ugly

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iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max: The good, the bad and the ugly
iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max: The good, the bad and the ugly

If you’re considering an iPhone 11, it has a great camera and is a big upgrade from any previous iPhone, even last year’s XS in some aspects. The most significant missing camera feature on the iPhone 11 is the lack of the telephoto lens, so if you really love/want the telephoto, you’ll need to upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro.

The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max internals are nearly identical, touting an A13 bionic chip. On the surface, the iPhone 11 looks and feels a lot like the iPhone XR. It’s made of aluminium and has the same screen as the year before (it still has bezels along the sides, if that sort of thing bothers you). The 6.1-inch size is bigger than the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and smaller than the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The back of the iPhone 11 features a glossy finish; the Pros have a new textured matte back, which gives the phones a more premium feel. It also makes them less prone to fingerprint smudges if you’re brave enough to use them without a case. The Pro line comes in gold, silver, space gray and midnight green, a darker, muddier shade, appearing almost silver or black in some lights. More playful options such as a minty green, creamy yellow and lavender are available on the 11.

For those debating between iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max:

All three phones include a 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. That ultrawide-angle camera makes it possible to capture more of the scene in a single shot — meaning you should no longer have to tell everyone to squeeze in tight to fit in the frame when taking group shots.

The Pro line features three cameras — an ultra-wide lens, a wide lens and a tele-photo lens — positioned in a square-like fixture on the back of the device.

The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are identical in terms of camera performance (same lenses, sensors, and so on). While the iPhone 11 Pro is more nimble and lighter, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a larger screen (viewfinder/display for editing/sharing) and has even more battery life.

Although the iPhone 11 features one less lens on the back — there’s no telephoto camera — for most people, it’s good enough, especially when you consider the price difference. But if you’re all about taking photos and willing to spend some extra cash, the Pros take arguably the best shots you can on any smartphone on the market.

The 11 and the Pros also mostly come with the same camera software. Smart HDR is better on all of the phones; by using machine learning, multiple photos are taken at once and automatically mashed together to get the most optimized shot. Now portrait mode’s facial recognition technology lets you take pictures of your pets.

No matter what iPhone you are using now, if you are serious about shooting photos with your iPhone, this is a year to upgrade. Apple had some serious catching up to do and as a result, this year has brought a tremendous leap in camera capability. Night mode is a killer new camera feature, pictures taken in near darkness now look almost like someone has turned on the lights, which is especially helpful if you’re ever snapping shots at a concert or a dim restaurant. And the Ultra Wide lens will change how we tell stories and express ourselves as artists using our iPhones.

the bottom line

While many camera/smartphone manufactures continue to approach digital photography as a technical problem to solve, the team at Apple has graduated beyond technical problems and is asking deeper questions like “How can we give artists (everyone) the creative tools to express their vision?”

A perfect example of this is the approach to Night mode, where instead of just trying to maximize available light and make it as bright as possible, the Apple team asked, “How do we maintain the feel of a night scene while keeping it sharp and colour accurate?”

The fact that Apple is catering toward professional photographers and videographers with its new iPhones is also notable. It’s clear their camera team has been exceedingly thoughtful in their balance of technology and art — and it really shows. It suggests that in an era in which people are holding onto their smartphones longer than before, the company is looking to niche audiences — not just general buyers — to encourage upgrades.

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