Decade in review: The 2019 iPhone 11 Pro has set the standard for things to come

Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro in grass
Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro in grass (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

iPhone 11 Pro in New York

iPhone 11 Pro in New York (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Ever since I bought an unlocked Sony Ericsson K800 phone back in 2006, I became obsessed with mobile photography. I loved the idea of having a Cyber-shot camera inside my cell phone, and not necessarily having to carry around a standalone digital camera.

Then 2007 came around, and Apple introduced the iPhone. At the time, I was just barely 20 years old and scraping by with a retail job and going to city college, so I didn't have much money. But I remember my mom getting me my first iPhone in 2008 as a birthday present, which was, unfortunately, short-lived, as I dropped the iPhone four months later and the screen shattered.

But since that unfortunate incident happened in May, and the iPhone 3G was coming out in a few weeks, I decided to save up some cash and get a new phone to replace my OG iPhone. This started a yearly upgrade tradition for me, as well as changing my entire life, as I wouldn't be here at iMore now if I didn't start with the iPhone that essentially launched my career for the past decade.

For the time, the iPhone was gaining in popularity as a digital camera, even though the major overhaul of the iPhone's camera didn't arrive until the iPhone 4.

I have always had a thing for photography as a fun little hobby, and the iPhone only continued to ignite my interest in going mobile, year after year. After all, who wants to keep carrying around a separate digital camera when you have one in your pocket already? But the real tipping point has been in 2019 with the iPhone 11 Pro, but more-so the entire iPhone 11 line.

As they always say, "the best camera is the one that's with you."

Who needs a standalone digital camera anymore?

iPhone 11 Pro Camera

iPhone 11 Pro camera (Image credit: iMore)

The evolution of the camera certainly has been an interesting one. We started out with the camera obscura, went to daguerreotypes and calotypes, moved on to dry plates, and then finally Kodak and film. This new era started 35mm, twin-lens and single-lens reflex cameras (TLRs and SLRs, respectively), instant cameras, and then finally digital. But all of this was before we started to carry small supercomputers in our pockets that are capable of replacing so many things, including cameras.

The iPhone started out with a 2 megapixel, single rear camera with no flash. Now, with the iPhone 11 Pro, we have a 12MP camera (ƒ/1.8 aperture) with three lenses: Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto. The rear camera also has optical image stabilization (except on the Ultra Wide), LED flash, 4K video recording, Panoramas and Portrait modes, stereo sound recording, and so much more. The front-facing camera is also 12MP with a ƒ/2.2 aperture, auto image stabilization, 4K video recording, and tons more.

iPhone 11 Pro one hand zoom on camera

iPhone 11 Pro one hand zoom on camera (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

In short, the iPhone camera has evolved into a true point-and-shoot digital camera replacement. The Ultra-Wide lens on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max is nothing short of spectacular. With the Ultra-Wide lens' 120-degree field of view, you're able to capture even more of a scene, which results in some stunningly beautiful shots of landscapes that we never thought we could take with an iPhone. The Ultra-Wide camera is also great for just fitting more of a scene or group into a single photo when you can't back up any farther.

Let's also talk about the Night mode feature on the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro — you can finally take great low-light photos with nothing but your smartphone. Before, low-light photos taken with an iPhone could be pretty bad, with lots of grain and noise, blur, and just not much detail. Thanks to Night mode, you can take amazing photos with your iPhone 11 Pro at any time, anywhere, without having to rely on the LED flash for a mediocre result (smartphone LED flashes aren't the best). Honestly, I think I use Night mode more than the Ultra-Wide camera, just because I can finally photograph Disneyland after dark in all of its glory, as well as other gorgeous scenes.

And if you have the iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max, then you have the telephoto lens as well. This provides a 2x optical zoom, which provides a clearer zoomed result over digital zoom, which is just cropping and enlarging the image once captured.

With Ultra Wide, Telephoto, and Night mode on the iPhone 11 Pro, in addition to Portrait mode with Portrait Lighting, optical image stabilization, 4K video recording, I mean honestly, why would I need a separate camera? Unless you are a professional photographer who needs an expensive and bulky DSLR, the iPhone 11 Pro has pretty much everything you need for photographing everyday moments and then some.

The battery life claims are no joke

iPhone 11 Pro Smart Battery Case

iPhone 11 Pro Smart Battery Case (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

In the past, Apple has always gone the route of "thinner is better" under Jony Ive's reign. However, since he left in June 2019, Apple seems to have taken a new direction in terms of iPhone battery life. Instead of going thinner and thinner each year, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are ever so slightly thicker than their previous iterations, and that's due to the much-improved battery that these new iPhones are packing.

The iPhone 11 Pro cameras eliminate the need for a standalone digital camera, and the battery life is outstanding, hopefully, a sign of things to come from future iPhones.

I have the iPhone 11 Pro, and the battery life on this thing is significantly better than its predecessor, the iPhone XS. With the iPhone XS, I would have to plug the device in by the time the later evening rolled around because it would be close to dying if I don't top it off throughout the day. The iPhone 11 Pro, however, is able to last me the entire day and then some, which is unheard of with previous iPhones. And when you combine it with a battery case like Apple's Smart Battery Case, then you pretty much won't need to charge your iPhone for about a day and a half, making it great for travel where you may not have access to a power outlet.

As per Apple's own claims, the iPhone 11 Pro battery can last up to four more hours than the iPhone XS, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max lasts five hours longer than the XS Max. The iPhone 11, on the other hand, only lasts one hour more than the previous iPhone XR, but that's still quite notable since the XR had the best battery life of the previous-gen iPhones.

The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro series has proven to be very significant in terms of battery life developments, which is something that all of us iPhone owners have been clamoring for for years. With such improvement this generation, hopefully, it's a sign of what's to come in the next decade.

Other noteworthy Apple gadgets of 2019

16-inch MacBook Pro

16-inch MacBook Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Even though the iPhone 11 Pro was the most significant device Apple released in 2019, there are a few other strong contenders that I wanted to give an honorable mention to.

First, the 16-inch MacBook Pro gets a mention because Apple has finally returned to the older, more reliable scissor-switch keyboard mechanism that is found on the Magic Keyboard, rather than continue with the controversial butterfly keyboard keys. This has been a huge sigh of relief for many MacBook users, as the butterfly mechanism would be prone to repeating characters, getting stuck, or just otherwise unresponsive to presses. So far, it seems that the 16-inch MacBook Pro's scissor switches have fixed all of the problems of the previous butterfly mechanism, and the keyboard brings back a physical Escape key, and the arrow keys are back in a T formation. It's gotten great reviews so far.

AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro (Image credit: iMore)

And secondly, the AirPods Pro are basically what the AirPods should have been when they first came out. The AirPods Pro have a much more comfortable and secure fit than the original AirPods, as they feature an in-ear fit with silicone ear tips, which also come in multiple sizes. There is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) with Transparency in the AirPods Pro, so you can block out all outside noise with ease, but also let in environmental noise when it's safer, such as hearing cars driving by. From all the rave reviews, the AirPods Pro are definitely a winner.

As great as these two are, they didn't have quite the significant impact that the iPhone 11 Pro had, which is why I'm only giving them an honorable mention. The iPhone 11 Pro is definitely the most significant Apple gadget released in 2019.

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Decade in Review




Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.