Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday unveiled its latest batch of iPhones — the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max — which all offer improved cameras, build quality and more
The iPhone 11 starts at $699, while the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max start at $999 and $1,099, respectively and are available Sept. 20. They replace Apple’s existing phones, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.
The company is keeping the XR around and will now charge $599 for the handset.
The biggest upgrade to the new iPhones comes in the form of their new cameras, including a second lens on the iPhone 11 that allows users to zoom out giving them a great field of view.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max now get three camera lenses, which allow users to zoom in on subjects, take standard wide-angle images, and ultra-wide angle photos.
Like Apple’s last generation of iPhones, the new devices come in three sizes. There’s the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro, the 6.1-inch iPhone 11, and the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max. The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max both come with Apple’s OLED Super Retina XDR Display, while the iPhone 11 gets an LCD panel.
OLED screens offer more robust colors and deeper blacks than LCD panels, thanks to the fact that each pixel in an OLED display illuminates itself, rather than using a backlight. That also helps with battery life, since if the screen is showing something black, the phone can turn off those pixels. That’s not the case with LCD screens.
All new cameras
The biggest change you’ll notice to the new iPhone lineup is around back. The iPhone 11 now comes equipped with two camera lenses, a standard wide-angle lens and an ultra-wide lens that lets you capture more content in one shot. You do this with a 1x optical zoom out.
Apple says its camera also uses a new HDR feature that improves colors in your images. The company has also added stereoscopic depth for the entry-level iPhone, something that wasn’t available on the iPhone XR, since it lacked a second camera lens.
The iPhone 11’s new Night Mode significantly lightens images to make subjects far more visible in low-light situations. The company does this with a slew of software tricks. This may give Google’s excellent Night Sight a run for its money as the best low-light camera mode available for a smartphone.
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, meanwhile, get three rear camera lenses: a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, and a new ultra-wide angle lens with a 120-degree field of view. That third lens will allow you to capture images of things like landscapes or large group photos without having to either back up too far from your subjects or taking a panorama image.
Samsung currently offers an ultra-wide angle lens on its Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10 devices. Other smartphone makers have been pushing the lens limit for some time now. Nokia’s PureView phone, for example, has a whopping five cameras on its rear.
The iPhone11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max’s three cameras sit in a new square enclosure that makes the cameras far more prominent than ever before. The iPhone 11 has the same square enclosure on its back panel, though that holds the phone’s two cameras and flash.
Apple is really pushing the iPhone 11 Pro’s cameras as a truly transcendent feature that will allow users to not only capture professional grade images, but videos as well. Demonstrations of the cameras’ capabilities make them seem almost too good to be true.
Of course the demo shots and videos were captured by professionals who understand proper lighting, so your results may vary.
More is better
The updated iPhones all run on Apple’s new A13 Bionic processor. Apple says the chip is the fastest ever processor in a smartphone, as well as the fastest graphics processing unit in a smartphone.
Apple is touting its new CPU as capable of doing 1 trillion operations per second. It’s also working with the latest generation of Apple’s Machine Learning Controller. The company says that this will allow developers to do natural language processing, AR functions, and more via the iPhone itself.
A game demo showed off the lighting and graphics capabilities. The game on display, “Pascal’s Wager,” comes from one of China’s biggest gaming companies, pointing to Apple’s reliance on the Chinese market for iPhone sales.
Apple says it also managed to lower the power usage of the new chip. The company says that performance is up to 20% faster and uses as much as 40% less power in certain areas.
iPhone 11 Pro gets 4 hours more battery life and the iPhone 11 Pro Max gets 5 hours more battery life. The iPhone 11, meanwhile, gets 1 hour more battery life.
What’s to come?
Apple’s latest iPhones do lack one key feature that consumers may be interested in: 5G. The cellular technology, which promises speeds far superior to current 4G LTE connectivity, is currently available with a small handful of smartphones, including those from Samsung and Motorola.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G, however, tends to heat up a good deal when using 5G connections. In early tests, users reported that their phones dropped from 5G to 4G when their phones began to overheat. Some even chose to drop their devices into coolers with ice to lower their temperature enough to get the phones’ 5G connections up and running again.
There’s also the fact that 5G availability is still incredibly limited. Just a few cities have access to services, and only in very specific areas. Carriers will continue rolling out their 5G networks throughout the coming years, but don’t expect the kind of ubiquity you see with 4G LTE anytime soon.
As consumers continue to hold on to their phones for longer periods of time, however, the question becomes, will customers pony up for the 2019 iPhones, or hold out another year for the rumored 5G models?
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Email Daniel Howley at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.