On September 10, 2019, Philip Schiller, Senior VP, Worldwide Marketing for Apple unveiled the new iPhone 11 series and as expected, the three models had a lot of new stuff to offer over the older phones. The iPhone 11 Pro with its trypophobic cameras certainly took the Twitter meme lords by storm but for those who had a new phone to buy this festive season, the regular iPhone 11 caught attention. As the successor to the iPhone XR, it promised better cameras and improved battery life. And at India Today Tech, it earned a good review as well.
As someone who loves and thrives on Android phones, the iPhone 11 weirdly appealed to me. If you consider the classic Android vs iPhone debate based on pure on-paper specs, a phone like the OnePlus 7T may fare better – one which sells at half the price of the base iPhone 11 variant. However, iPhones are all about the little things that add up to a user experience that every Android phone user can only dream of – this comes from past experiences.
With that in mind, I opted to switch from my feisty OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition to the Mint Green iPhone 11 for a couple of weeks. At the time of switching, I thought my stay on the iPhone would be quite short. However, it’s been three weeks and I am questioning my loyalty to Android. Does this sound to you like a newbie Apple fanboy’s experience? No, there’s logic.
iPhone 11 is pretty
I know that some of you may start hurling abuses in the comments, particularly the Android fanboys. However, this comes as my personal experience and hence your views may vary. Lapping up the privileges of being a technology writer, I have used some of the best-looking phones this year, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Galaxy S10 Plus, and the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. These are great looking phones – make no mistake. All of them are blingy, curvy and bleh.
The iPhone 11 is different. It doesn’t try to be blingy or cringy. In fact, the iPhone 11’s design has a sort of innocence that’s been missing from phones in the current years. Especially in the Teal colour, the iPhone 11 looks trendy and cute. My eyes are blessed to see no gaudy gradient shade blinding the eye unnecessarily even through the case. The dual camera design at the back is new and it’s one of the best ones I have seen. Despite the square bump, it looks simple and cute at the same time. Show me any other phone from 2019 that achieves such an innocent design.
At the front, it looks the same as the iPhone XR and this is where I wished Apple could have done something to reduce the notch and the size of the bezels. That said, notches are still in fashion and that makes it still easy to accept this design.
The overall shape, size and weight of the iPhone 11 feels just right – not too heavy, not to feeble – just right. The geniuses at Apple know how to balance the weight. And hence, even with my small hands, the iPhone 11 is handy. Apple says the iPhone 11 has the toughest glass stuck to its face but it’s still glass and I found my unit picking up scuffs with regular usage. Snapping a case and screen protector is a better bet if you are spending your own money on this.
The iPhone 11 doesn’t need to shout it’s fast or smooth
An iPhone is fast. Always fast. And smooth. There’s nothing new to this fact. And with the iPhone 11, it’s the same. It’s just fast and works like you want – I won’t bore you with how it does that. Apple is simply unbeatable when it comes to getting the most out of its hardware.
It all boils down to the experience and as someone coming from Android, iOS initially feels like it’s holding you back from doing a lot of things. But once you are used to how things work in the iOS-verse, it’s an easy ecosystem to stay in. iOS 13 by this time has lost most of its early bugs and is now a stable OS.
For the daily usual stuff, this iPhone works like a charm. With 4GB RAM, apps stay in memory and iOS 13’s great memory management ensures you can juggle between a couple of apps at the same time. The gesture navigation system feels smooth and flawless, although I wish Apple had included the back gesture from the right edge of the screen similar to Android 10. Face ID spoils you with its effortlessness and security but after using the fast in-screen fingerprint scanners on OnePlus phones, I feel Apple could bring back the TouchID system for improved convenience.
When it comes to gaming, the iPhone 11 is unbeatable. Of late, I have reviewed some gaming Android phones, including the might Asus ROG Phone 2, Nubia Red Magic 3s, Blackshark 2 and OnePlus 7T Pro. You can play any of the popular games such as PUBG MOBILE, Call of Duty Mobile, Asphalt 9 and a few more at the highest graphics with high frame rates. On the iPhone 11, these games exhibit a polish that you may not see on Android. PUBG MOBILE feels buttery smooth at the highest graphics whereas racing in Asphalt 9 feels fluid. I never noticed any frame drop or lag throughout the gameplay. On top of that, iOS has access to a different breed of games that you will not find on Android. And the recent gaming titles on Apple Arcade, which is free for a month, make the best use of the hardware and software.
The low-resolution LCD display was scoffed at by critics and Twitter meme lords alike. And, it’s noticeable when you are coming from a OnePlus 7T Pro’s Quad HD+ AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate. However, this is one of the best LCD screens I have seen on a phone in a while and on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t feel the lack of an OLED screen. The colours are rich with high contrasts and viewing angles are quite wide. The 120Hz touch-sensing makes the screen more responsive than conventional LCD screens, and this makes a notable difference while gaming. The notch does prohibit a true fullscreen experience but it’s all a matter of getting used to it.
And thanks to the low-resolution display, the iPhone 11 delivers great battery life. I was bummed with the ultra-slow 5W charger in the box but once fully charged, the iPhone 11 easily lasted me a day and half. On most days, my day ended with the iPhone showing 45 per cent of battery left. This figure comes from usage that includes lots of texting, web browsing, occasional PUBG sessions, music streaming, binge-watching on YouTube and occasional selfie sessions.
Natural photos delivered consistently
But when it comes to the cameras, the iPhone 11 shines highly. The dual 12-megapixel cameras do a great job of taking photos. What you see from your eyes, the iPhone 11 will capture it like that, with only necessary post-processing to enhance it tastefully. I was happy to see that while taking a photo of my garden, the grass appears like grass with the same colours in low lighting, not an enriched green carpet. The same quality is maintained in the wide-angle mode. The new night mode works well in challenging lighting situations, trying its best to get the colours and sharpness right. However, you will end up seeing grains on longer exposures.
After the Deep Fusion update, the photos from the iPhone 11 have Google Pixel-levels of details in its photos. In regular landscape photos, the improvement may not be visible but when you are shooting portraits or macros, the magic is visible. I took a photo of my Google Home Mini and the way the software recreated those details on the fibre-surface was impressive. That said, a Google Pixel might outdo the iPhone in terms of details in most situations.
I have been using the iPhone 11 as my daily phone for weeks now and I can safely say that I am comfortable with it. The iOS ecosystem slowly eases you into its walled-garden goodness and trust me, it changes the way you use your phone. However, with the iPhone 11, it’s more about the phone than the OS and Apple has made another phone that’s bound to make Apple reinforce their production line. The camera performance is great to the extent that camera systems from Android phones now feel dated with their AI post-processing. I am a fan of the natural colour tones and the realistic night mode results. Performance, as usual, is effortless and the battery life is great for active users. And, it looks pretty in a sea of ostentatious looking phones bathed shiny gradient colours.
And now, with all the latest iOS 13 updates, the bugs have been ironed out as well. Is this then the perfect phone for 2019? Depends!
For many, an open platform like Android will make more sense. And those who want more features such as even bigger screens with multi-camera setups will be happy with phones like the OnePlus 7T Pro and Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The iPhone 11 isn’t for these users; it’s for those who want a great phone that doesn’t bother them unnecessarily. It’s simple to use, beautiful to look at, has the best collection of apps and games, a performance that will put any other phone to shame, and comes with amazing cameras.
Quite simply, it’s the best ‘phone’ you can buy this year.