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iPhone 11: More XR for less

Finally, Apple has taken the iPhone to 11!

1. The name

So, the successor to last year's breakout best-selling iPhone XR is… the iPhone 11. And I like this so much better. The iPhone — the normal iPhone, just the iPhone, not the Plus, not the anything else — has often hovered around the $649 price point. Even when the iPhone X launched, the same year, the also then brand new iPhone 8 kept the just the iPhone price at $699.

Last year, the just the iPhone somehow ended up being the XS, starting at $999, with the XR slotted underneath at $749. And it made some people super salty, and fueled this weird backlash narrative, that obviously didn't stop the XR from being a best seller but might have had a chilling effect going forward.

This fixes that. $699 for the iPhone 11. Not the 11 R. Just the new normal.

Clever Apple.

2. The colors

Obviously we didn't get all the colors of the Apple rainbow, not even the event invitation. And certainly nothing retro iMac translucent.

What we did get is black and white, new shades of yellow and product red, and brand new purple and green colors, which replace last year's blue and coral orange.

And… they're not my favorites. I've wanted a purple iPhone for basically forever, but something less lavender and more aggressively grape. Same with the green. Less metallic mint, more punchy lime.

But, that's hugely subjective, and I'm loving this yellow more than the last, even if Product RED, new shade and all, remains my main jam.

The finishes are machined glass. Where the new iPhone pros are matte glass with shiny camera bumps, the 11s are shiny glass with matt camera bumps.

And it's a pretty cool effect, especially with the new simplified branding. No iPhone spelled out at all. Just the Apple logo, newly centered, and much better looking to my eye.

3. Dual cameras

Last year Apple tried to pull a Pixel, using segmentation masking to do portrait mode off a single lens. Luckily, Apple learned in one year what's taken Google several — more depth data more better.

So, we get a dual camera system on the iPhone 11, which may sound like what every Plus iPhone has had since the 7, and the X and XS, but it's actually different.

Instead of effective 26mm wide angle and 52mm telephoto cameras, the 11 comes with 26mm wide angle and 13mm ultra wide angle.

In other words, where the previous dual camera phones could optically punch in, these can punch out.

And I think it's a smart choice. It lets you capture more of the world, from your room to your squad to to the view from your hike.

I explained a lot more about how it looks and works, including Night Mode, the new interface that hints at here-to-for unobtainable wideness, — and even lets you change aspect ratio before shooting, swoon — in my iPhone 11 Pro video, along with a bunch of details about the super impressive looking new Apple A13 Bionic chipset that powers it all, so be sure to check that out.

4. Slofies

There's an all-new TrueDepth camera system up front this year as well. iOS 13 is making it faster, and opening it up to wider angles.

iPhone 11 is amping up the camera itself. 12 megapixel f/2.2 now. And it can go wider. You can tap the expand button to manually boot it into wide mode, turning your selfie into a groupie. Or, if you rotate to landscape, you'll automatically get booted in wider angle groupie mode. Though you can hit that same button to zoom back into selfie.

And there's slow-mo on the selfie cam as well so you can take — wait for it — slofies. Yeah, slofies. I know, I know.

Honestly, though. I'm way more excited for wide angle than slow-mo. The latter is a neat trick. The former is something I want any and every time I'm with friends and family.

5. Should you upgrade?

I'm going to keep saying this until someone, anyone in general tech hears me: No one needs to upgrade every year. Not even Apple expects that anymore — though if you really want to because you just have to always have the latest, or you're on the annual upgrade program and it's just automatic, ain't no one going to stop you either.

Otherwise, upgrade when you need to. If you're still on an iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, especially a non-plus, than the iPhone 11 could be a terrific upgrade for you.

Yeah, it's still got those bigger borders, and it's still LCD, but it's damn good LCD and when you do the sub-pixel math, that quantity and quality shames a lot of higher density panels.

After a year on an XR, it's still hard to see the difference and if OLED flicker bothers you, this is still your best friend.

The price is $50 lower than last year and you're getting a bunch more phone for your buck.

Apple's also still pushing trade-ins, and now payment options, harder than ever, so you can get in for less and pay out over a longer period of time.

And you're still getting most of the features of the higher-end Pro models, especially when it comes to performance.

This is the new iPhone for everyone, fully realized. You just gotta figure out which of those colors you want. Let me know in the comments!

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Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Last year I bought the XS on the iPhone upgrade program. After upgrading my mom to the XR, I realized there wasn't much difference. I am using the opportunity to upgrade to not only upgrade my phone but to also save some money on the monthly. I am sure it will be an excellent phone. I went for the Green.
  • There aren't enough huge differences worth spending an additional $300 for the 11 Pro. This version iPhone without a doubt will be a hit at $699. The Mint color is calling me!
  • I was just reading the Tech Specs of the new iPhone models and noticed that just like last year's iPhone XR, this year's base iPhone 11 will have crippled data networking capabilities compared to the Pro models. Last year's XR did not have MIMO, LAA, 256 QAM or any other advanced LTE networking capabilities while the XS models contained full 4x4 MIMO, LAA, etc. This year, the base 11 model will contain 2x2 MIMO while the Pro models will contain 4x4 MIMO, gigabit data, etc. Once again, Apple is crippling their base model phone unlike every Android manufacturer who include ALL these capabilities in even their cheapest models. I find this unacceptable. An article on the PC Mag website says the new iPhone 11 model will have about 20% less data-handling capability than the Pro models, which is a VERY significant difference. I had hoped to upgrade from my XS to the iPhone 11 base model to save some money on my cellphone bill, but it turns out I would be taking a serious cut in data performance in this move. Great.
  • The 11 has gigabit LTE, unlike last year's XR which had Advanced LTE. The 11 will be more than capable.
  • Ever since the iPhone 6 Plus I’ve had to have the biggest and best. This year is different. Ive loved my XS Max but ever since i got my daughter a XR last Christmas, I look at the slightly smaller frame and my lower payment for it with envy. I wasn’t really impressed with the keynote this year and telephoto on a phone is not not great so I went with a White 11. I’m on the upgrade program so at worst I just keep my XS Max and send the 11 back before the 14 days are up and just keep right on paying what I’m paying. I’ve got my wife a black on on the way too.
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