iPhone 11 review roundup: The iPhone most people should buy

iPhone 11
iPhone 11 (Image credit: Apple)

With an affordable starting price of $699 and a slew of upgraded features, the iPhone 11 is arguably Apple's most compelling smartphone. Don't just take our word for it; several reviews of the iPhone 11 are out today, and they all seem in agreement: The iPhone 11 is the iPhone most people should buy. Here's what people had to say.

iPhone 11 review: The one for everyone

Are the cameras any good?

Last year's iPhone XR has a single camera, and the iPhone 11 gets an upgrade to a dual-camera setup. But this isn't just a straight port of the iPhone XS camera.

Wired said the iPhone 11's camera doesn't produce remarkable results but praised the Camera app's simplicity:

It would be a stretch to say that the camera on the iPhone 11 has wowed me or has set a new standard that other phone makers will have to race to match. The iPhone 11 Pro, with its funky three-lens camera module on the back, is noticeably better. But one area where Apple deserves credit is in the overall packaging of its camera features and the design of the app's interface.Smartphones are now cluttered with so many features that it can be hard to figure out what's what, which can actively discourage people from trying all the newfangled things. On many premium Android phones, for example, the wide-angle icon is a cluster of—trees? When you select the Pro mode on Samsung's Galaxy Note10+, there are no fewer than 17 photo options available, some of which cut into the frame of the viewfinder. Wired

The Verge said the ultra-wide sensor is a little slower than the main camera:

In general, I think more people will definitely appreciate the addition of the ultra-wide lens over a tele lens. It's just a really fun thing to play with. But the ultra-wide sensor is smaller and it has a slower lens, so it takes far worse photos (especially in low light) than just backing up and using the main camera. So while Apple's camera app makes both cameras feel equivalent, I'd still recommend using the main camera and just backing up if possible. You'll get a higher-quality photo in the end. Instead, think of the ultra-wide as more of an artistic choice, something that can give you a different or more interesting look, but not necessarily a "better" photo. The Verge

What about Night Mode?

It isn't just the Pro model that features Apple's new Night Mode. The good news is the iPhone 11's camera is capable of producing good results in low light.

Engadget said the iPhone 11's Night Mode is more subtle than competitors, which isn't a bad thing:

The resulting photos can be significantly brighter than shots you take without night mode, but the feature isn't nearly as aggressive as what you'd get out of a Galaxy Note 10. Like the rest of the iPhone 11's pictures, subtlety is the name of the game here, though I really couldn't blame you for feeling a little disappointing in the results sometimes. The Pixel 3XL's night shots were punchier sometimes, but Apple's approach is surprisingly good for a first attempt, and certainly does a better job keeping things truer to reality. Engadget

Wired said the iPhone 11's Night Mode is good, but doesn't quite best Google's Pixel 3:

And in some instances the Google Pixel 3 still took better photos in low-light settings than the iPhone 11 did. The Pixel captured the better "night mode" shot of a flower arrangement in a dark bar, and the better photo of my friend Kayla sitting in a low-light sushi restaurant. Sunset shots captured on the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ and the OnePlus 7 Pro looked richer, with more contrast, than the muted shot captured on the iPhone 11; but those photos also had artificial-looking orange casts. Wired

Battery life

The iPhone XR was a battery champ last year. Does the iPhone 11 carry on that torch?

iMore said the iPhone 11 crushed its battery tests:

To test out battery life, I did what I usually do. The most grueling stress I can imagine — Pokemon Go Community Day. That's screen, GPS, cellular data, and the processor, all running and radiating continuously for hours.And… they crushed it. Sure, it's just one slice of life, so I'll be using and abusing the iPhone 11 in a far wider range of real world situations over the next few weeks and I'll let you know how it holds up. iMore

TechRadar said the iPhone 11 battery basically lasts forever:

Apple claims that the battery life of the iPhone 11 is an hour longer than that of the impressive iPhone XR, and in our tests this largely bore out. We were able to eke 24 hours' use out of it without needing to try too hard - although sadly there's no fast charger in the box, so if you do deplete the power pack you'll need to wait around three hours before it's fully juiced up. TechRadar

The screen

The iPhone 11 features an LCD, not OLED. Is that a big deal? Maybe to diehard tech enthusiasts, but it won't be noticeable to the average user.

The Verge said the iPhone 11 display is as good as last year's iPhone XR:

The good news is that Apple makes great LCDs, and this LCD is great. Unless you really, deeply care about displays, it's more than fine. Last year, I said the only reason to spend $250 more on the iPhone XS over the XR was the display, and I feel the same way this year — only now, it's a $300 jump. It's definitely worth it to me, but I recommend looking at them to decide for yourself. I would bet most people won't be able to see a meaningful difference. The Verge

Engadget said the screen looks great. However, the bezels are still a little big:

Before testing the XR, I was a little apprehensive about its lower resolution (1,792 x 828) compared to Apple's flagship models, but even after continued use, I never found myself stressing out about it. Yes, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max use better, slightly brighter Super Retina XDR displays, and you can still see individual pixels if you push your nose right up to the 11's screen. Really, though: How often were you going to do that? In day-to-day use, the differences don't matter. I do, however, wish Apple had managed to trim the bezels that surround the display. Engadget

The colors look great in person

The iPhone 11 comes in a variety of bright colors, which keeps the line feeling fun and fresh.

CNBC said the variety of colors keeps the iPhone from feeling boring:

Apple's new color choices keep the phone fresh, particularly the green model Apple sent me that has a sea-foam hue. You can choose from red, yellow, purple, white, blue or black, too, which should help it appeal to people who don't want another boring phone color. The glass back adds a premium touch and it's glossy like last year, with aluminum sides. I like the matte finish on the Pro models with the stainless steel accents, which looks even more premium. CNBC

iMore found last year's colors to be better than this year's more pastel look:

Apple has tweaked the black and white, but not so much as I can really notice the difference. The new PRODUCT RED seems, I don't know, a little rosier if anything. It's fine. The yellow is paler, and while I don't like the shade as much, I like that the bands match way better than they did last year.The purple and the green… I'm just not a fan. Again, personal opinion, but I've waited a long, long time for a purple iPhone and what I got was more like lavender creme than grape explosion. Likewise the green, which is more mild mint than zesty lime. They're just… Miami Vice, but, you know, not even the Archer version. iMore

The iPhone most people should buy

Even though it's not quite as premium as the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 11 still feels premium and is much more affordable. Therefore, it's the model most people should buy.

The Verge starts out its review by saying as much:

This is one of the simplest reviews I've ever had to write: the iPhone 11 is the phone most people who are upgrading to a new iPhone this year should get. It's an excellent phone, with one of the best cameras I've ever seen on a smartphone and terrific battery life. The Verge

Engadget said that although the iPhone 11 as similar shortcomings as the iPhone XR, it's still a fantastic device:

The one thought that stuck in my head during my testing was that the gulf in functionality between this phone and the Pros has become surprisingly narrow. There are advantages to splurging on the Pros, but after getting a feel for what the iPhone 11 is capable of, those benefits won't always justify spending the extra $300. Like I said before, the iPhone 11 is the best new iPhone for most people, and it's unquestionably the one I would buy for myself. Engadget

TechCrunch found the iPhone 11 is a great option for the average consumer:

For this reason, the iPhone 11 is going to sell really well. And it should because it's great. It has the best new lens, an ultra wide that takes great family photos and landscape shots. It has nearly every software feature of iPhone 11 Pro. TechCrunch

Brandon Russell