Since the good old days of the iPhone 4, I have followed the ritual of upgrading my iPhone every other year. The iPhone 5 introduced a new display with an extra row of icons, the iPhone 6 offered a bigger screen, the iPhone 7 was water-resistant and came with the stunning piano black color, and the iPhone X defined the new generation of iPhones.
There are much better articles out there detailing the year to year changes so I should not repeat them here but highlight a few critical features:
The iPhone 11 Pro is the true successor to the iPhone XS starting at $999 with an improved screen with HDR support, a new ultra-wide-angle camera, and full refresh of the camera stack. And the rumor was always right — there was a squarely-shaped camera bump with the triple camera system. Admittedly, the camera bump looks much better on the production device with glass finish comparing to the leaked photo of the prototype device.
The iPhone 11, on the other hand, replaces the poorly-named iPhone XR as the new default iPhone. It features the same A13 Bionic chip and a new dual-camera system with an additional ultra-wide-angle camera on the iPhone 11 Pro models and an improved display with HDR.
To many people, the iPhone 11 should be the default iPhone, if you need to buy an iPhone right now. Apple has been leading the chipset design for many years, and the latest A13 Bionic is in the iPhone 11 offering the same performance capability as the iPhone 11 Pro. Apple estimated that the new iPhone 11 would last one hour longer than the iPhone XR even with the improved screen. Apple Insider has a great article detailing all the changes introduced by the A13 Bionic chip, and I am excited about the Machine Learning Accelerators and the performance it would bring to the daily to daily inference and AR/VR related tasks.
If you are still not convinced, Apple even dropped the starting price of iPhone 11 from the iPhone XR starting price of $749 to $699. This price change is significant, as Rene Richie stated in his iPhone 11 review:
Last year, the just the iPhone somehow ended up being the XS, starting at $999, with the XR slotted underneath at $749. And it made some people super salty, and fueled this weird backlash narrative, that obviously didn’t stop the XR from being a best seller but might have had a chilling effect going forward.
This fixes that. $699 for the iPhone 11. Not the 11 R. Just the new normal.
Of course, I am still happy with my 256G iPhone X that I paid $1149 (or $1200+ including the tax) after waiting in line at the Stanford Shopping Center. I would not “upgrade” to iPhone 11 trading OLED to LCD display after experiencing OLED color with iOS 13 dark mode, although the iPhone 11 LCD display is supposed to be very impressive. I am not excited about the new iPhone 11 Pro either because I have a Leica Q for “Pro” photography and I don’t direct any movie that requires using an iPhone to shoot with multiple lenses at the same time.
The most important issue is that Android competitors have shown us the definition of the new generation phone (and I am not talking about the foldable phone or 5G):
- A high refresh rate 90Hz display that One Plus 7 Pro offers. To Apple’s defense, even Samsung is not providing the 90Hz display on their latest Note 10 and 10 Plus but it might be coming next year.
- USB charging, nothing else needs to be said here.
- Reverse wireless charging would be nice to have.
- A true bezel-less display with no notch would be great.
- In-display fingerprint sensor.
The bottom line here is that Apple is not even expecting us to upgrade every other year. The software upgrades have greatly improved the performance and longevity of the older iPhones. And Apple now can make serious money by just keeping you in the ecosystem. The Apple Card will tie you to the iPhone forever. Apple’s services revenue grows 13% year over year according to the Q3 report. And you know Apple is serious about its streaming service when it features shows from Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Oprah, Jason Momoa, and many more exceptional creators.