The iPhone 11 test: Night mode, better battery and ultra-wide photos


  • TECH
  • Saturday, 28 Sep 2019

The iPhone 11 (centre) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (right) also feature an ultra-wide-angle lens, something the iPhone XS Max (left) lacked. — dpa

"By innovation only," read the invitation to Apple's last launch event. We've been testing out the innovation promised in the new iPhone 11 models for the past few days. Night mode and battery life are big improvements, but can all the hype live up to expectations?

It's only 0.4 mm thick, but it marks a major change for Apple. Yes, the new iPhone 11 Pro is the first in years to actually get fatter.

At 8.1 mm thick instead of 7.7 mm, the 11th-generation design change comes after years of Apple design boss Jony Ive paying strict attention to making Apple smartphones slimmer and slimmer.

But this small difference in the latest generation means Apple can fit a larger battery into the new iPhone.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max model has a massive 3,969 mAh battery, the biggest Apple has ever installed in a phone, while the standard iPhone 11 model also adds a little more space for extra battery.

Haptic Touch replaces 3D touch

Apple's hardware changes have also led to the removal of the special "3D touch layer" in the display. Instead, iPhone 11 models now come with "Haptic Touch", which is essentially a long press for extra options, similar to the function seen on Android phones.

Try out the new iPhone, and you'll clearly notice the effects of these two design decisions – a bigger phone with no 3D touch.

All three new iPhone models – the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max – last much longer thanks to the new battery.

In a test with the car racing game Asphalt 8, the iPhone 11 only gave up the ghost after more than 11 hours of continuous use, while the 11 Pro lasted more than 12 hours.

According to Apple, the A13 Bionic chip, which now powers all new iPhone models, contributes to the longer battery life.

In terms of speed, this new chip has brought some improvement compared to the previously used A12 processor, performing up to 25% more efficiently in benchmark tests.

But will you really notice the speed change everyday use? Probably not – at least, if your last phone was an iPhone of the previous generation, which was already an ace in day-to-day performance.

Ultra wide-angle photos with all three models

When holding it in your hand, the most obvious change you see is to the cameras. All three models now feature an additional ultra-wide angle camera with a focal length of 13 mm (f/2.4 aperture), similar to the top models from Samsung and Huawei.

In addition, there is the normal wide angle (26 mm, f/1.8 aperture), while the telephoto lens with a focal length of 52 mm can only be found in the two Pro models. With its larger f2 aperture, the photos it takes are significantly brighter than the zoom on iPhone XS.

With the wide-angle and zoom, you can also take great low-light shots thanks to the night mode that produces spectacular photos in more-or-less natural colours.

Night mode, which noticeably brightens the pictures without much overexaggeration, is automatically activated in low ambient light and works with a mixture of a better sensor, longer exposure times and multiple shots, which are combined by the camera software in one photo.

Top-class daytime photos

In daylight, the test shots are extremely sharp and detailed and show strong colours that still appear natural. Since the cameras are already calibrated in the factory, you won't see any sudden changes in colour or brightness when zooming through the different lenses. The low colour noise also contributes to higher quality photos.

The front-facing camera has also seen some improvement, now shooting with 12 MP instead of 7. However, you can still expect only average-quality selfies in low light, as this camera doesn't have night mode.

One nice feature is that when you hold the iPhone horizontally, the camera zooms out to its wide-angle lens so larger groups can fit in the photo. The better selfie camera also enables Face ID to unlock the iPhone slightly faster.

The excellent impression left by the cameras is only clouded by the fact that the software doesn't run with the level of stability you'd expect from Apple.

Pro or no Pro?

The biggest question for most buyers is whether to spend a few hundred more to get the Pro version. So what's the big difference between iPhone 11 and the two Pro models?

It all boils down to how many options you need when taking photos. The biggest difference between Pro and non-Pro versions is in the main camera: There are two lenses on iPhone 11, compared to three lenses on iPhone Pro, which gives you the extra zoom option.

Like its predecessor XR, the iPhone 11 features a decent 6.1in display with LCD technology (1792 x 828 pixels).

The iPhone 11 is priced at RM3,399 for the model with 64GB internal storage, RM3,599 for the 128GB model and RM4,099 for the 256GB model.

The iPhone 11 Pro costs RM4,899 for the model with 64GB internal storage, RM5,599 for the 256GB model and RM6,499 for the 512GB model.

The larger Max model costs RM5,299 for the 64GB model, RM5,999 for the 256Gb model and RM6,899 for the 512GB model. – dpa


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