The main feature of the iPhone 11 Pro is the new camera system, but I’ll start with battery life because I’ve got a lot of questions about it. It looks like Apple has made a significant move this year: made the phone a bit thicker and put a bigger battery inside. But unless you compare them directly, you won’t notice (and yet, it’s too subtle).
Apple iPhone 11 Pro
The company claims that the new battery is supposed to last about an hour more than the iPhone X. The iPhone XS Max lasted an hour and 24 minutes in PC Labs’ repeated charge tests, which I try to repeat as often as possible. But I don’t want to provide a direct comparison; rather, I want to show you how the iPhone 11 Pro compares to Apple’s earlier phones with larger batteries (i.e. the iPhone 8 Plus, the 6S Plus, and the 7 Plus). Using a much more powerful charger (the old iPhone 9 Plus charger took 5 hours to charge to 100 percent) and constant brightness at 100 percent on an ambient-light level (where Apple shows the battery percentage on the status bar), the iPhone 11 Pro lasted about seven hours and 45 minutes.
The new battery has an additional two hours of juice over the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and I’m going to assume that its larger size has something to do with it. My usual usage for a day includes using social media, browsing the web, email, a few apps, and making a couple dozen phone calls, so any extra juice is welcome. The battery life of the iPhone 11 Pro was better than the iPhone XS Max for me, but not as good as the iPhone XS. And while all three phones support Qi wireless charging, the new iPhone also has a separate wireless charging pad that offers faster charging. The iPhone 11 Pro supports fast charging as well as wireless charging, and it charges very quickly. I set the battery to 50 percent in half an hour on the new charger and got the phone to full in just 90 minutes.
You’ll find an impressive array of sensors on the back, like dual-aperture (f/1.4 for lower light performance), optical image stabilization (OIS) and a quad-LED True Tone flash. The real trick is the new camera system. Apple is calling it Smart HDR, and here’s how they explain it: When you tap the HDR icon in the camera app, a slider appears. Tap it once to make it full and tap it again to make it half. Do that a few times and the iPhone will stitch multiple images together, using computer vision to fuse them into a single image with greater detail. This ensures that even if there’s a tree in the shot, it will be clear.
For most Americans, your phone is your Wi-Fi hotspot. You don’t generally need cellular data when you’re on Wi-Fi, and it won’t drain your battery. Most carriers will give you 100MB per month free. If you need more, you can buy it using an unlimited data plan or pay an extra $10 a month for unlimited data or $15 per month for a grandfathered unlimited data plan. One thing to note: some apps don’t work well over Wi-Fi, so an unlimited data plan might be overkill. But remember: you can’t use the phone on a cellular network if you don’t have a SIM card, and an unlimited data plan is a good way to avoid data overage charges. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to find a hotspot.
The main message is that the iPhone 11 Pro is the best iPhone money can buy. While the iPhone XS’ battery life is a strong reason to choose it, the iPhone 11 Pro has a better screen, much better camera, and even better wireless performance. If you want to get the most out of your iPhone, I recommend buying it right away. If you’re curious about my views on current iPhones, you can read my review of the iPhone XS here.