iPhone 11 Pro review: the best small phone available

Guardian Technology 07 Oct 2019 06:00
The iPhone 11 Pro will handle everything you need now, and will likely be a top performer for years to come. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple’s iPhone has gone “pro” for its 11th iteration, with dramatically improved cameras and longer battery life, which make the smaller iPhone 11 Pro the king of more manageable phones.

Costing from £1,049 the iPhone 11 Pro is one of a rare breed: a premium flagship smartphone that doesn’t have a ginormous screen and is therefore small by today’s standards.

Everything is relative, of course. The iPhone 11 Pro’s 5.8in screen is considerably larger than the 4in iPhone SE, but compared with the monsters of the modern smartphone era with their 6.5in-plus screens the iPhone 11 Pro is positively pocketable.

Going Pro

iphone 11 pro review
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are exactly the same other than dimensions, which makes a big difference. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The iPhone 11 Pro is essentially the same on the outside as the mould-breaking iPhone X from 2017, with a stainless steel and glass body, Face ID notch and 5.8in screen.

A13 Bionic

The iPhone 11 Pro has the same A13 Bionic chip, 4GB of RAM and at least 64GB of storage as the rest of the iPhone 11 line, and performs similarly. Everything happens promptly, including intensive tasks such as video editing and gaming.

The iPhone 11 Pro is the first Apple smartphone to ship with an 18W USB-C fast charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box. A full charge from flat took just over two hours 10 minutes, but a 50% charge was reached in 28 minutes and 70% in 43 minutes. As with the iPhone 11, Apple is clearly slowing charging to a trickle above 95%, meaning that charging much beyond 90% unless you need it probably isn’t worth it.

The iPhone 11 Pro shipped with iOS 13 but was quickly updated three times to iOS 13.1.2, following the same issues suffered with the iPhone 11.

The iPhone 11 Pro has Apple’s first triple 12-megapixel camera setup. It has the same normal and 2x telephoto configuration as previous models, but adds the new ultrawide camera from the iPhone 11.

Video capture from the rear camera is fantastic, arguably the best in the business, including 4K at 60 frames per second. With a third-party app you can also shoot from more than one of the cameras at once, which might be useful for filmmakers, but I can’t ever see myself needing to do that.

  • The iPhone 11 Pro is water resistant to IP68 standards of up to 4 metres for 30 minutes, which is 2 metres deeper than last year’s iPhone XS

  • Bluetooth performance is much improved, with stronger connections to even the weakest of headphones

  • Face ID is still best-in-class, now slightly faster and working at slightly wider angles

  • The new U1 chip enables enhanced location abilities, but so far it’s used only for directional AirDrop file sharing

  • The highly polished stainless steel is easy to mark and dull after even careful general use

  • The pressure sensitive screen of previous iPhones is gone and with it 3D Touch, so you can’t press harder on things anymore

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