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iPhone 11 Pro review: the BEST camera on a phone

– Alright, it’s iPhone time. Apple released three new
iPhones all at once this year. The iPhone 11, the iPhone 11
Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Now, I honestly think the
iPhone 11 is the phone most people in the iOS
ecosystem should get if they’re upgrading. So we’ve got a whole
other review of that phone that you should check out, too. But this, this is the Pro review. The dark mode, cash money
review for professionals who use their phones to do pro stuff. Like taking telephoto photos. Actually, I have no idea why
Apple called these phones Pro. They’re basically just nice
updates to the iPhone XS, but I also think it’s a waste
of time to argue about names. iPhone 11 Pro Max is a bad name. But you know what, it’s a great phone. And I think Apple might have done it. This is the best camera
I’ve ever seen on a phone. Let’s get into it. (calming music) The iPhone 11 Pro looks almost
exactly like the iPhone XS from the front. It’s a little heavier and thicker, but unless you’re comparing them directly, you probably won’t notice. I certainly didn’t. You do get a much bigger
battery in exchange for that extra size,
which Apple says leads to a four-hour battery life
increase on the regular Pro and a five-hour jump for the Pro Max. But it’s surprisingly
hard to check that number. I’ll get into why in a minute. The big difference from
the XS comes on the back where Apple says the rear
glass is now stronger and it comes in this frosted matte finish. It also integrates a glossy
camera bump with three cameras. The whole back and the bump
is a single piece of glass that’s milled out. The iPhone 11 is the reverse. It has a glossy back and
the camera bump is matte. Now you know. I got a lot of questions
about this matte finish and I think it’s really nice, especially in this new
midnight green color. It didn’t really pick up any fingerprints, but it does seem a tiny bit more slippery than the gloss back of the previous phones and the iPhone 11. But I also think most people are just going to stick this thing in a case, so it doesn’t seem like a huge issue. A lot of people also asked
me if this matte finish will scratch easily, similar
to the back of the Pixel 3, and so far the answer seems to be no. But we’re going to have to
keep an eye on it over time. Apple’s finally relented and included an 18W USB-C fast
charger with the Pro phones. So you get a USB-C to
Lightning cable as well. Now Apple’s USB-C charger
is not the smallest or prettiest charger out there. But anything is better than
the slow 5W brick it’s been including for
years, so I’ll take it. So let’s get into these cameras. Apple has a lot at stake here. Google and Samsung’s cameras
have been outperforming the iPhone for a couple of years now. And Chinese phone makers, in particular, have been racing each other
to add an endless array of photography features. If you’re in the US, you’re
probably locked into iMessage and no camera is good
enough to make you switch. But Apple doesn’t have that
advantage in big markets like Europe and China. Everyone uses WhatsApp and WeChat, and switching from iOS to
Android is much easier. So Apple’s added a bunch of features that first appeared on Android phones. There are three cameras
on the iPhone 11 Pro. The telephoto camera has
the same basic sensor, but a faster f/2.O lens. The main camera has the same f/1.8 lens and a slightly better sensor. And there’s the new super
fun ultra-wide camera, which is basically twice as
wide as the main lens and f/2.4. And the f/2.2 front camera is now 12 megapixels, up from seven, and has a wider 24mm focal length so it can pull out to
a slightly wider angle in landscape for selfies. Apple’s also updated its
smart HDR processing system, which I was not very impressed with when I reviewed the iPhone XS and XR. The iPhone 11 cameras are an
enormous improvement over the XS, and beat the Pixel and Galaxy
Note 10 in most of our tests. This shot of Verge video
producer, Mariya Abdulkaf, outside in bright sunlight shouldn’t be too hard for any
camera to do a good job with. And all these photos look basically fine. But zoom and do 100 percent crop and the improvement from the iPhone XS to the iPhone 11 main camera is stunning. The iPhone 11 is way sharper,
with way more detail. I also think the iPhone
11 does a way better job than the Note 10 and it’s
a little better to my eye than the Pixel 3. This improvement is due to something Apple’s calling semantic rendering. Basically, Smart HDR
recognizes what’s in the image and renders it appropriately. I asked Apple to break
down how it works for me and it basically goes like this: First, the iPhone starts
taking photos to a buffer the instant you open the camera app. So by the time you
actually press the button, it’s captured four underexposed frames and the photo you want. Then it grabs one overexposed frame. This is all basically
the same as the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3, except the Pixel doesn’t
grab that overexposed frame. Second, Smart HDR and semantic rendering then start looking for things
in the photos it understands. Faces, hair, the sky, things like that. Then it uses additional detail from the under and overexposed frames to selectively process
the areas of the image it’s recognized. Hair gets sharpened, but the sky doesn’t. It just gets de-noised. Faces get relighted to
make them look more even and the iPhone knows to
sharpen up your facial hair. Smart HDR is also less aggressive
in flattening the photos. Highlights and faces aren’t corrected as aggressively as before because those highlights make
photos look more natural. But other highlights and
shadows are corrected to regain detail. Finally, the whole image is
saved and you’ve got a photo. This all happens instantly
every time you take a photo, which is a testament to how powerful Apple’s A13 processor really is. Here’s that final image we just took. You can see how the iPhone
11 preserves more detail than the Pixel and Note in
the shadows and highlights, and just blows the iPhone
XS away in sharpness. The improvements to Smart HDR are
applicable across cameras. Here’s a quick comparison
of the ultra-wides in the 11 Pro and the Note 10. The Note 10 did a better
job exposing the sky, but the 11 is just a much
sharper photo with more detail. You can see the same thing with selfies. The XS Max has pulled up shadows so much that it looks a little hazy, while the iPhone 11 evenly
pulls up shadows in Mariya’s face, but preserves the contrast
with the background. The Note 10 did all kinds
of goofy skin smoothing and the Pixel 3 looks great, but it has less detail than the iPhone. Just look at her eyelashes. Now there are places where the iPhone 11 didn’t win in our tests. The XS historically struggled
with backlit subjects. And while the 11 is a
definite improvement, this photo is really blue. And there’s basically no
detail in Mariya’s face. I think the Note actually did
the best overall job here. And I think the Pixel does
the best job in low light, but the iPhone isn’t bad. It’s a lot better than
the XS was last year. Apple’s promised a new
mode for these situations called Deep Fusion, which is supposed to ship later this year, but I wasn’t able to test it. If it improves photos
taken in this kind of light, then the iPhone will basically pull ahead in every situation. Apple also added a Night mode this year and it’s really impressive. It preserves a ton more
detail than the Pixel. It comes on automatically in the dark and suggests an exposure
time, which you can tweak or turn off if you want. The Pixel photo here looks more dramatic, but look a little closer. The iPhone has preserved all of the detail in the brick and graffiti,
which is basically gone in the Pixel shot. Both of these Night mode
photos look pretty similar, but look at all the extra
detail in the bushes in the iPhone shot. Same with this shot. You’d never know that fence was
even there in the Pixel photo. I think the Pixel produces
more dramatic-looking shots out of the camera, but I would
rather have the extra detail from the iPhone. All in all, I think the
iPhone 11 camera does better in bright light than
the Pixel 3 and Note 10, and the Night mode beats the Pixel 3 more often than not. If this promised Deep
Fusion update improves medium- to low-light performance as much as Apple says it will, the iPhone 11 will once again be the smartphone camera to beat. Apple’s also made video
on the iPhone 11 better with improved stabilization exposure and the ability to record 4K60 video from any of the three cameras. – But is it really that good? Let’s put it to the test. Alright, so we’re going to
head out in New York City and we’re going to test
against the Note 10, the Pixel 3, and the XS to
see who does video best. We started out at the water and immediately you can
see the color differences between the cameras. The Pixel leaned into the warm tones, while Samsung muddied the mid tones. And the iPhone XS leaned
into the blues of the sky, while the 11 Pro balanced the warm and
cool tones out the most. With the subject closer to the lens the Note 10 kept the flowers the sharpest, while the iPhone XS blurred
the background the most. Okay, we’ve got to test the
audio on all these phones. I’ll let you guys be the judge. Do I sound like the beautiful angel voice that I have, angelic voice? Of course, the answer is yes. But on these phones, who’s to say? In low light, Apple isn’t afraid of underexposing the blacks, whereas Samsung and
Google will bring them up. Now the 11 Pro does do
a lot more smoothing to compensate for all of the
noise this typically creates. The front-facing camera
on the iPhone 11 Pro did a great job of balancing my skin tone and just the exposure in general. Even against this large neon light source. But it wasn’t as sharp as the Note 10. Now all these comparisons are great, but chances are you won’t be
recording on all of these phones side by side at the same exact time. So let’s just talk
about the iPhone 11 Pro. The front-facing camera now records in 4K and the “slofie” is exactly
how you’d imagine it. You’ll use it once and probably
never touch it again. The video from the rear
cameras, though, is really good. Like, in perfect light, it’s
honestly just impressive. Switching between lenses
is pretty seamless in terms of color accuracy and exposure. And you can use the dial method or just tap the lenses
on the screen to switch. Now you can’t switch between
lenses when you shoot in 4K60. So make sure you set 4K30 or lower if you’re going to be doing that. The ultra-wide angle lens looks super cool even with the crazy distortion. But there is no image stabilization, which shouldn’t be a
problem because naturally, the wider the lens,
the less need for that. Both the telephoto and wide
lens keep your shot stable and pretty sharp for a sensor their size. The color is punchy and pretty saturated and in perfect lighting,
you, too, can have that “shot on iPhone” look. But in low light, even the iPhone 11 Pro, when viewed on a screen
larger than its own, succumbs to noisy blacks
and haloed highlights. My big issue, though, why do I have to leave the camera app to change the frame rates? It’s not intuitive and
it’s just time-consuming. Apple, just put it in the app. iPhones have always had great video, but the video on the 11 Pro is the best I’ve seen on
a smartphone to date. And the gap is only getting bigger. Enough of me, back to Nilay. – The screen on the iPhone
11 Pro is a new OLED that Apple is calling the
Super Retina XDR display. There’s still a notch and Apple is still doing fancy, rounded corners and uniform bezels, which no one else in the industry
has really managed to match. Those bezels are still pretty big, though, especially compared to something
like the Galaxy Note 10. This is the third year of
the basic iPhone X design and Apple’s competitors
haven’t been sitting still in trying to beat it. The big upgrades to the
screen are around brightness and power efficiency. Basically, the screen can get
a lot brighter than before and it also uses up to 15 percent
less power, according to Apple. Now in typical situations, Apple says the iPhone 11 Pro display can go up to 800 nits of brightness and that when you’re watching HDR content, the highlights will peak at 1,200 nits. In normal situations, I don’t
think you’re going to notice it. I’ve never had a problem looking at my iPhone XS display outside. But it’s a huge and obvious improvement when you’re watching HDR movies. I never really bought the idea that previous iPhone
displays were Dolby Vision, but the iPhone 11 Pro
display kind of pulls it off. It’s hard to capture this on video, but it’s just a lot brighter and punchier on the 11 Pro display compared to the XS. The Note 10 display
definitely looks as bright, but the iPhone’s color processing looks way more natural to me, especially with Apple’s
True Tone system turned on. Of course, Apple and Google
are still in a fight over video codecs, so you can’t
watch any 4K or HDR content on the iPhone 11 Pro from YouTube. So this video is not in
4K if you’re watching on an iPhone. Sorry about that. Apple has also updated
the audio on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, with something
they’re calling spatial audio. It’s basically a surround decoder. If you’re watching a Netflix
movie with Adobe 5.1 sound or game encoded in 7.1,
you’ll get virtual surround from the stereo speakers. The iPhone 11s also support Dolby Atmos, which is a little silly for
stereo speakers, but it’s there. There’s also standard
wide stereo support like last year for everything else. All in all, the iPhone
speakers sound really loud and generally better than ever. There’s no more 3D Touch
on the iPhone 11 Pro, it’s been replaced by what
Apple calls Haptic Touch, which is basically just
long pressing on things with haptic feedback. In most places, you won’t
really notice it’s gone and some things are actually
a little easier to figure out. Opening the camera from the lock screen feels the same to me. Rearranging icons on the home screen is a little simpler to figure out since there’s a context
menu that pops up now. Peeking at links in Safari is a little different in iOS 13, but it’s also a little simpler. The only place I truly missed
3D Touch was the keyboard. You could press down
anywhere on the keyboard to move the cursor around on the XS, but with Haptic Touch
on the iPhone 11 Pro, you can only press and
hold on the space bar. Now, I never really realized
how many times a day I used that one specific 3D
Touch feature and I missed it. But if the trade-off is that there’s more room inside
the case for a bigger battery, I’m fine with it. Apple claims the iPhone 11
Pro lasts four hours longer than the iPhone XS, and
that the iPhone 11 Pro Max lasts five hours longer than the XS Max. As I mentioned earlier, it’s really hard to test those claims. Apple doesn’t run a strict battery test that we can just repeat. Instead, it’s getting that number by taking its huge data
set of iPhone usage and applying it to a model of the new phone. So you’ll notice that the only
hard numbers Apple publishes are like hours of video playback. Simple tests of a single task, which isn’t how anyone uses a phone. All that said, the battery
life on the iPhone 11 Pro has been impressive. I’ve been using an 11 Pro
Max as my primary phone for the past week, and it has consistently
run for 12 to 14 hours on a single charge. And about 10 hours of screen-on
time, off the charger, is reported in battery settings. That is a huge improvement over my XS Max, which generally runs
for eight to nine hours on a single charge. The smaller 11 Pro has
been just as impressive. That’s the phone Becca
used for her testing and it still had 50 percent of its battery left the morning after she shot
her part of the review. It turns out a slightly thicker phone with a bigger battery was
the right move after all. Inside the new iPhone 11 Pro, there’s the new A13 Bionic processor which, as usual, benchmarks
far above the competition. There’s a lot of headroom
here for things like AR, games, and high-end photo and video apps, but it’s not like the A12 Bionic
in the iPhone XS is slow. Most of this extra power will be useful towards the end of this phone’s
life, not the beginning. Face ID is a little bit faster
and works at more angles, but it’s not particularly dramatic, it just works a little bit better. I think this is the best
kind of iterative update. It made a thing that
was already pretty good a little bit better, and anything that makes
securing your phone a little bit better is great. And most intriguingly, there’s a new chip inside the
iPhone 11, it’s called the U1, which does precise positioning using an ultra wideband radio. Apple says the forthcoming iOS 13.1 update will allow you to just point the phone at another U1 device to put it at the top of your AirDrop list. But none of that works
yet, so we’ll just have to see. (calming music) Obviously, the iPhone 11 Pro runs iOS 13 and I have to tell you,
iOS 13 is pretty buggy. I saw all kinds of glitches and crashes during my week of testing, and
iOS 13.1 is already in beta and scheduled for wide release
by the end of this month. So it really seems like
Apple just squeaked this thing out the door and
is racing to fix bugs. I asked Apple about some of these glitches and they told me they’re
always fixing bugs and iPhone owners generally auto update. But if you’re on the
fence about upgrading, you might want to wait until
some of these bug fix updates actually ship. Assuming all the bugs get fixed, the biggest new feature
in iOS 13 is Dark Mode, which is very nice. But otherwise, this is a
lot of tiny little updates. There’s a swiping keyboard now. Reminders is a much better app. There are better photo editing tools and you can edit videos as well. Apple Maps keeps getting a
tiny bit better every year. Siri’s voice is slightly smoother. It’s a lot of little things
that add up into a big update, but if you handed this
phone to someone using iOS 12, they might not even notice
unless Dark Mode was on. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at
$999 with 64GB of storage, which doesn’t seem like
quite enough for that price. And the 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099. You can spec the Pro Max
all the way up to $1,449 with 512GB of storage, which means that you can
pay an awful lot of money for this phone if you want to. If you’re in the iOS ecosystem
and it’s time to upgrade, it’s a pretty tough choice this year. The standard iPhone 11
offers almost everything you get from the Pro for $699. And I think most people
should get the iPhone 11. You’ll still get the improved main camera, the fun new ultra-wide lens,
the A13 processor, and iOS 13, and all the rest. The extra money for the Pro basically buys you a far superior display, a telephoto camera, and
improved LTE performance. And if you want a smaller phone, the iPhone 11 Pro
is a little bit smaller than the iPhone 11, which seems a tiny bit unfair to people who want a smaller phone. The entire lineup is
still pretty big, though. So if you’re hoping for
something to replace that aging iPhone SE, you’re not going to love
any of these options. I’m very picky about displays and cameras, so I’m going to get an iPhone 11 Pro. In fact, the cameras on
the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are so improved that I think they’re worth the year-over-year upgrade
from last year’s models for the first time in a long time. Add in the improved battery
life and the iPhone 11 Pro stands out as a major
step forward from the XS and one of the best
flagship phones of the year. Or it will be, when Apple fixes iOS 13. Hey everybody, this was obviously
the iPhone 11 Pro review. We also reviewed the iPhone 11, that was a fun collab
we did with Dieter Bohn. Watch both videos, they’re
both on the channel, and then let me know which of these phones you think you’re going to buy or if you’re waiting for the Pixel 4.

Reader Comments

  1. iphone 11 Pro camera is definitly NOT the best camera on smartphone. Note10 is winning. IP11 Pro is reaching Samsung level… until march 2020…

  2. Lol iPhone beating pixel at its own game, especially how google laughed last year with their night mode, that’s been way overtaken by the iPhone.

  3. I recently switched from iPhone 5s to s9
    Which I had been using since 2014 my first phone
    I wanted to buy iPhone 8
    Too damn expensive
    All I was looking for was better camera

  4. I was gonna get the iPhone 11 til I found out it’s a bigger phone than the pro. So I will be upgrading from iPhone 8 to iPhone 11 pro

  5. Nothing less than perfect ! Both you guys and apple. Perfectionists – you will be sold in this video. Totally professional!

  6. Thanks guys for the amazing review. Yeah I won’t be buying one because my 8+ is still a fantastic phone and most the comparisons you presented needed a zoom tool to notice the changes. When you put these photos on Instagram they are substantially diminished anyway so I won’t be spending $800-$1000 this year on a phone. But thanks for the review.

  7. I think I'm waiting for next year's iPhone and keeping my iPhone X for now, despite the enticement to upgrade that I DID NOT feel at all last year. These new phones–especially the cameras–look awesome. I'm even tempted to grab an iPhone 11 and take the display quality hit just for the sake of that gorgeous ultra-wide lens. My biggest deterrent is hoping that the rumors are (finally) true and that next year's model charges via USB-C.

  8. How much did Apple paid you to exaggerate the review ?
    Pixel 3's camera is way better than the iPhone's 11 Pro but I understand why you pushed it to seem the other way around…lots of money in the game :-))

  9. i cant see that “much better” image on the iphone 11 pro camera from the xs, just slightly better like the transition from the 7 to the 8/x. only in the selfie camera, which was a NEEDED improvement.

  10. Huawei Mate 30 Pro raised the bar today… Iphone has no chance.
    + Note 10+ most of pictures and videos are better. Good video, but you're too much Apple fan…

  11. my conclusion is i still like the note 10 images that were produced in this video. not knocking apple at all, just preference.

    for apple, this is a big step up for sure compared to all their own phones. compared to other phones, it's GOOD but not the best. i still think apple could have done better with the camera this year.

  12. Thanks, Nilay. I was on the fence about upgrading to the 11 Pro — now not so much. QUESTION: You mentioned you’re upgrading to the 11 Pro, but last year I believe you purchased the Xs Max. How come no max this year?

  13. The Note 10 + is best camera I've seen so far but the Mate 30 and Pixel 4 are coming… As far as well rounded phone though that will go to the Note hands down outside of the Camera ….

  14. Before you do photo test…. TURN OFF BEAUTY MODE on the Note…. I wish people could see the pictures I've taken….. Details

  15. now i phone 11pro camera is the best. but google pixel 4 is coming. and also huawei mate 30 phone's camera is extremely good.

  16. I used to say I'd rather have the extra detail when I realize everyone views pictures on a phone and no one zooms in to see the extra detail

  17. Camera to beat!? They are barely catching up with last year models.
    Wait till Oct 15 and then iPhone will be back where it belongs.

  18. The iPhone 11 Pro telephoto lens has a f/2.0 aperture as to the iPhone XS has f/2.4 telephoto lens. I think they did that in order to compensate for the third lens with the ultra wide angle lens. For me that was like the iPhone Pro… 11R.

  19. so what they selling is a camera lol. I use iphone 6s but whats the whole frenzy about latest iphones? Camera? For $1k ? I'll pass

  20. Honestly don't understand why he chose the iPhone over the Pixel. I preferred the detail and brightness the Pixel was able to produce! I will admit that video is stunning thoug

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  22. I run and Boutique dog hotel and use my Xs Max to take action shots of the dogs on our outings. The pics on the whole come out pretty well and Portrait mode has produced some really good ones. If a shot is back lit though the pics are not good. But something I find frustrating is that when I put my phone away the next time I bring it out most times the setting has changed and I have to go hunt down the photos app again. I know about pressing the right button to 'lock' but it doesn't do what I need – which is a way to keep my phone locked in the last photo mode I used so its ready the second I pick it up – I guess like a real camera. This is a big failing to me which when I got the Xs Max I hoped Apple would have fixed. I bet the new phone is still the same.

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