iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Which should you buy?

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Apple)

You aren't going to find a bad iPhone here. Both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are terrific devices that, not surprisingly, are the best Apple handsets released to date along with the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max. The choice between these two handsets comes down to price and whether you're willing to pay more for the extra features the iPhone 11 Pro provides.

Battle time

The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro have many of the same features. Both, for example, have the same A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine. Each model also has a front 12MP TrueDepth camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture and Retina Flash. Other identical features include 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, and 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide camera lenses on the back of each device.

Premium features on the iPhone 11 Pro include a telephoto lens on the back, a Super Retina XDR display, which provides for better resolution, HDR video playback, and better water resistance. The Pro model also includes an optical camera zoom up to 10x versus the 5x for the iPhone 11, and a slightly better battery. Also, there's a 512GB option on the Pro model, but not the iPhone 11. The iPhone 11 Pro also includes a textured matte glass and stainless steel design. By comparison, the iPhone 11 uses glass and aluminum.

Despite these useful differences, the iPhone 11 might still be a better choice for most people. The reason? Just look at that price difference! Also, the iPhone 11 is the only one that's available in six versus four colors. Plus, though it offers an LCD and not an OLED, the iPhone 11 has a bigger screen than the iPhone 11 Pro.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro
Starting price$699$999
ColorsWhiteBlackPurpleGreenYellow(PRODUCT)REDMidnight GreenGoldSilverSpace Black
Battery performance- Video playback: Up to 17 hours- Video playback (streamed): Up to 10 hours- Audio playback: Up to 65 hours- Video playback: Up to 18 hours- Video playback (streamed): Up to 11 hours- Audio playback: Up to 65 hours
Screen quality- Liquid Retina HD display- 1792-by-828-pixel resolution at 326 ppi- 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical)- Super Retina XDR display- 2436‑by‑1125-pixel resolution at 458 ppi- 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Camera MPDual 12 MPTriple 12 MP
Camera lens features- Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view- Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture- 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 5x- Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view- Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture- Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture- 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 10x
TrueDepth Camera lens features- ƒ/2.2 aperture- Animoji and Memoji- Slo-mo video support- 4K video recording- Cinematic video stabilization up to 4K- ƒ/2.2 aperture- Animoji and Memoji- Slo-mo video support- 4K video recording- Cinematic video stabilization up to 4K
Portrait mode featuresNaturalStudioContourStageStage MonoHigh-Key MonoNaturalStudioContourStageStage MonoHigh-Key Mono
Night ModeYesYes
QuickTake VideoYesYes
Audio Zoom for videoYesYes
Chip versionA13A13
Water resistance ratingIP68 2 meters for up to 30 minutesIP68 4 meters for up to 30 minutes
Wi-Fi supportWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6

New colors all around

iPhone 11 pro midnight green

iPhone 11 Pro Midnight Green and Space Black side by side (Image credit: Lory Gil / iMore)

For 2019, Apple has come out and introduced all-new colors for both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro series. For the former, there's a never before Purple and the first Green iPhone since the iPhone 5c. These join White, Black, Yellow, and (PRODUCT)RED versions. For the iPhone 11, there's a midnight green (see above) that's likely to turn some heads. It joins the always popular Space Black, Silver, and Gold versions.

Much more battery, and a new plug!

Weak battery life on iPhones has always been a point of contention, although the situation has improved remarkably in recent years. With the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, things have improved here when compared to last year's models. Impressively, the battery on the iPhone 11 Pro lasts up to four hours longer than iPhone XS.

In more battery news, the iPhone 11 Pro (and iPhone 11 Pro Max) also include an 18W charging adapter. Alas, the iPhone 11 is stuck with the traditional 5W version. Both handsets are fast-charge capable.

It's the screen, folks

Like the iPhone X, and iPhone XS series before it, the iPhone 11 Pro series includes an OLED that's second-to-none when it comes to Apple handsets. The iPhone 11 keeps with an LCD.

The iPhone 11 Pro's display, called Super Retina XDR, includes two new record levels of brightness, hitting up to 800 nits when you're out in the sun, and up to 1,200 nits when you're viewing extreme dynamic range content. Apple calls it the "brightest, sharpest iPhone display ever."

While it's easy to argue OLED bests LCD, it doesn't mean the latter found on the iPhone 11 is somehow terrible. Instead, its true-to-life all-screen design makes everything look amazing, no matter your environment. The iPhone 11 adjusts the white balance automatically to match the color temperature of the light around you.

So which one should you buy?

If you're still trying to decide whether to get the iPhone 11 or the iPhone 11 Pro, we don't blame you. They both have some amazing features. Before you make the final plunge, consider this:

  • If bright and flashy colors catch your eye and think the triple-lens is a bit overkill, you're leaning toward the iPhone 11 anyway. You're not going to be disappointed. The iPhone 11 has a dual-lens camera with wide and ultra-wide zoom, which is plenty awesome for most people. Plus, some of the other big features on the iPhone 11 Pro, like Slo-fies and Night mode, are also on the iPhone 11. It's a darn good investment. And you can save yourself at least $300 by skipping the Pro.
  • If you were drooling before the end of Apple's demo of the triple-lens camera features, if four extra hours of battery life is top-priority to you, the iPhone 11 Pro might fit your speed better. It's almost everything you could ever want in a phone that doubles as a camera and won't die on you in the middle of the day. You're paying for those features, but you won't regret it when you're zooming in 2x and zooming out 2x like a boss.
Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.