Tuesday, September 17, 2019

iPhone 11 Reviews

John Gruber:

My biggest problem is that I wrote this review last year. I re-read my review of last year’s iPhones XS (regular and Max) and at almost every single paragraph I found myself wanting to say the exact same thing again this year. Not that these phones are the same as last year’s phones, but that the year-over-year improvements are equally impressive and at times mind-boggling.


The bad news is, Haptic Touch is a bit slower. With 3D Touch, when you pressed, the action was instantaneous. With Haptic Touch, because it’s sort of a long press with pressure, there’s a very brief pause before it fires. […] The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have bigger batteries than their XS counterparts, using the space freed up by omitting 3D Touch.


Another bit of magic. There are two new options in Settings → Camera: “Photos Capture Outside the Frame” (off by default) and “Videos Capture Outside the Frame” (on by default). When these options are turned on, when you shoot with the 1x or 2x lenses (wide or telephoto), the Camera app will use the next widest lens to capture additional footage outside the frame of the lens you’re shooting with. In post, this allows you to rotate the photo or video — typically, to fix a crooked horizon — without cropping.


QuickTake seems the closest to marketing spite, by which I mean this is such a great idea that I really think it ought to be part of the Camera app for all iPhones running iOS 13.

Matthew Panzarino:

Phone 11’s Night Mode is great. It works, it compares extremely well to other low-light cameras and the exposure and color rendition is best in class, period.

Nilay Patel:

These are some of the most well-balanced, most capable phones Apple — or anyone — has ever made. They have excellent battery life, processors that should keep them relevant for years to come, absolutely beautiful displays, and a new camera system that generally outperforms every other phone, which should get even better with a promised software update later this fall.


My iPhone 11 and 11 Pro review units are running iOS 13.0, and iOS 13.0 is pretty damn buggy. I saw all kinds of glitches and crashes during my week of testing, as did Verge executive editor Dieter Bohn with his iPhone 11 review unit running iOS 13.

Rene Ritchie:

Apple says the batteries on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will last — wait for it — 4 and 5 hours longer than last year’s iPhone XS and XS Max. And no, that’s not a typo. I checked. Thrice: Up to 18 hours of local video playback for the Pro and 20 for the Max, 11 hours and 12 hours of video streaming, and 65 and 80 hours of wireless audio.


Water resistance has improved on the Pro models as well. The XS was already IP68 and rated for up to 30 minutes at up to 2 meters. The Pros will go all the way down to 4 meters, though.


Apple's latest, greatest system-on-a-chip, the A13 Bionic, manages to be both faster and less power hungry at the same time. 20% faster across the efficiency, performance, graphics, and neural engine cores, and 40, 25, 30, and 15% less power hungry respectively.

Michael Love:

N.B.: the highest Geekbench 5 single-core score for any Mac is 1262. (2019 iMac 3.6) So the iPhone 11 now offers the fastest single-core performance of any computer Apple has ever made.

Sebastiaan de With:

The biggest notable change across the board this year is what we already teased: the max ISO of the sensors has gone up significantly. The Wide camera’s maximum ISO sensitivity is up 33%; the telephoto 42%!

See also: MacRumors, MacStories.


Update (2019-09-19): Austin Mann (Hacker News):

Of course, I’ve also been anxious to see what this Ultra Wide lens can do, so shortly after the performance I popped out to the countryside to find some epic landscapes and have been out exploring this big, beautiful country ever since.

Update (2019-09-25): John Gruber:

Is there a setting to make holding down the shutter shoot a burst instead of video? No, there is no setting for this. There should be, though.

See also: Joanna Stern, Brian X. Chen, John Gruber.

Juli Clover:

According to iMore’s Rene Ritchie, bilateral inductive charging wasn’t pulled from the iPhone 11 because it was never slated for production to begin with. Ritchie says there is no hardware in iPhone 11 models that would allow such a feature to be enabled later.

Matt Birchler:

Given the leaks and the marketing images, I was not prepared for how small the camera bump would be on the 11 Pro.

Rene Ritchie:

There’s a new Night King in town. At least that’s what some people are saying. As usual, Apple wasn’t first to computationally enhanced low light photography, just like they weren’t first to multiple cameras or depth effects, or even phones at all.

Now that they are, they’re doing it in typical Apple style. It doesn’t do everything. You can’t force it on manually. You can’t use it with the focus-pixel-free ultra-wide-angle. But what you can do, you can do well. With good detail recovery, texture preservation, and tone mapping.

In a really opinionated, maybe even controversial way.

Ryan Cash:

From left to right:

iPhone 5
iPhone 6
iPhone XS
iPhone 11 Pro

Handheld and unedited.

Jay Freeman:

I just spent an hour using an iPhone to take videos of iPhones taking video of an iPhone (with a fifth iPhone to take a video of the rest) to verify this: the iPhone 11 Pro Max on iOS 13 has an additional 50-66ms of latency in its camera preview vs. the iPhone XS Max on iOS 12.4.


I did this as I was having a subtle-yet-annoying feeling of motion sickness using the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera that I have never experienced with an iPhone before and wanted to be 100% sure I wasn’t making it up; a 100ms input latency was already “pushing it”: 166ms is “too far”.

Gannon Burgett:

Not all of the cameras are made equal though. In addition to not having optical image stabilization, it’s been revealed the ultra-wide camera unit on all three models isn’t yet capable of capturing Raw image data or manual focus, unlike the wide-angle camera (and telephoto camera on the iPhone 11 Pro models).

Nick Heer:

These are curious limitations that put the ultra-wide camera on a similar level to the fixed-focus front-facing camera that only captures compressed image formats. It’s expected on the front, but a little disappointing for a back-mounted camera, especially as the other cameras don’t have these restrictions, so it’s a little inconsistent.

Update (2019-09-26): See also: Samuel Axon and Juli Clover.

Update (2019-10-04): John Gruber:

0.5× always uses the ultra-wide camera, because you can’t get that field of view otherwise. 1× always uses the wide angle, because that camera has the best sensor and fastest lens. But 2× doesn’t mean you’re always using the telephoto camera — in low light it will use the wide-angle camera and digital zoom. Previous iPhones with dual camera systems have done the same thing in low light conditions, but a lot of us — myself included — made the wrong assumption about Night Mode and “2× zoom”.

It occurs to me that this is why Apple has been somewhat obfuscatory about Night Mode working only with the regular wide angle camera, despite being very forthcoming about explaining other technical details (like Deep Fusion) at great length: it means the iPhone 11 can shoot the exact same “2×” Night Mode shots as the iPhone 11 Pro, because on both phones 2× Night Mode shots are cropped and digitally zoomed from the 1× camera sensor.

Update (2019-10-18): John Gruber:

“HD” video is usually 1920 × 1080, but Quick Video shoots 1920 × 1440 because it always records with a 4:3 aspect ratio. That’s not what I expected, but you don’t lose anything — the 1920 × 1080 image recorded by default in the “Video” mode is a 16:9 center crop of the 4:3 sensor.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

I still don't understand why they gave up 3D Touch on the iPhones. It works flawlessly and so much better than Long Press (as I compare on my iPad). It's sad to see them actually introduce technology that I enjoy which works great, and then abandon it -- yet they keep stuff that I don't like such as bad keyboards and Touchbar, with no alternate option -- take it or leave it. 3D Touch can be turned off if you don't want it, so why not keep it as an option? I haven't seen a good explanation of why they are getting rid of it because Long Press totally sucks in comparison!

@Ben G; as mentioned by Gruber, 3D touch required hardware that took up space in the phones that Apple decided was better utilised by a larger battery. Apple clearly have usage stats on 3D touch that showed it was rarely or never used by most people.

Sören Nils Kuklau

I still don’t understand why they gave up 3D Touch on the iPhones.

It’s not a huge mystery why 3D Touch is being killed off. It is, however, a shame, and I think Apple could’ve done better.

I love 3D Touch. Pressing the keyboard to quickly move the cursor. Pressing the edge to switch between apps. Pressing something in Tweetbot or Mail to glance at information.

But it was never implemented well.

It wasn’t discoverable (see https://daringfireball.net/linked/2018/06/15/3d-touch-eliz-kilic). That’s kind of fine for a shortcut (i.e. non-essential functionality), but it doesn’t invite exploration. Contrast keyboard shortcuts on the Mac, which aren’t essential either, but can typically be discovered just by browsing the menu bar.
It sometimes overlapped with long presses and sometimes did, inexplicably, something completely different. They’re finally starting to resolve this in iOS 13. (Just consider the home screen. What weird voodoo explained that long-pressing an icon entered rearrange mode, but 3D Touching it showed contextual actions? In 13, these are finally the same UI.)
It didn’t exist at all in low-end iPhones like the SE. This is the kind of thing where a cost-cutting measure is… not a great idea. (It’s possible it wasn’t one, and that adding 3D Touch to the 5S case was non-trivial for space reasons.)
Worse, it didn’t exist at all in iPads. This is where things went bananas, like with the keyboard cursor mode suddenly being implemented as two-finger swipe on the iPad.

All that together meant it was a crapshoot whether the app you were using did anything with 3D Touch at all, did what you expected, and did it on the device you were holding. Imagine if some Mac apps didn’t implement standard keyboard shortcuts (we’re starting to get there; thanks Electron), reused shortcuts in unexpected ways (also starting to happen), and didn’t offer them at all on, like, the MacBook Air (thankfully not a thing).

Go big or go home. Apple couldn’t or wouldn’t go big on 3D Touch (put it on the iPad, and deliver a better marketing & developer story), so they went home.

@Ben G Much like all other reviewers have pointed out, The only one, just one feature everybody miss from 3D Touch is to be able to move the cursor around in Text editing. Not only was it the only feature missed, it was also the only feature we use for 3D Touch. Now you could only do it by long press Spacebar.

And as it happen in last year ( 2018 ) tweet storm , there were tons of people with newer iPhone that didn't have a clue about this 3D Touch feature. Everyone thought it was just some more menus in icon. This proves again 3D Touch have the same discovery problem as right click on Mac.

So the truth is 3D Touch is amazing in technology, but Apple hasn't discover an intrusive and killer app that makes this features stick. And since we are paying quite a lot in terms of BOM cost and valuable space inside iPhone. The only conclusion was this trade off was not worth while.

Good points, although some of them can equally be used as reasons not to do Long Press either (discovery is arguably WORSE because you have to tap and wait to see if anything happens, vs a quick force press). And I don’t really see how not having it on iPad is a reason to not have it on iPhones. There’s so much different UI between them anyway, it’s not hard to learn that one needs force touch and the other needs long press for extra actions. Be careful what you wish for... if we’re going to argue that features should be taken away because lots of people don’t use it or don’t care, we will end up with really dumb computers that are nothing but glorified content consumption devices.

I've never used a device with 3D Touch (went from 4 → 5S → SE), but the cursor shortcut does seem useful. I find that long-pressing the spacebar has about a 15% chance of failing, which can be annoying at times.

Leave a Comment