Every year when an iPhone is launched, Tim Cook proclaims that it is the best iPhone that Apple has ever made. 

Of course, it’s always the truth – but if you have to measure a product by how impressive it is in use and as opposed to the competition, then easily, the iPhone 11 is Cupertino’s most impressive effort since the iPhone 6 which launched back in 2014. 

This, by default, makes it the best mainstream smartphone of the year. The irony in this is that many people wrote it off as one of the worst iPhone updates in history. And so, it turns out it will be remembered as one of the best iPhones in history. 

What’s warped 

  1. As always the fit and finish of the iPhone is impeccable. As far as build quality goes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gadget that’s made to a higher standard. Part of the improved build quality also involves a higher IP68 water and dust resistance and a cover glass which is on the front and back of the phone, stronger than any other. Now, there is no nice way to test this, but at least I can say that in 10 days of use this phone looks pristine as ever. 
  2. If you’re a sucker for colour accurate screens and high-dynamic-range complaint displays, then the Liquid Retina panel even is going to be one of the best screens you’ll ever use on a smartphone. It’s one of the best screens to be put on a smartphone, ignore the HD+ resolution because it’s sharp enough for the naked eye at 326 pixels per inch. In addition, Apple also adds spatial audio with Dolby Atmos which makes this the best sounding smartphone on the planet.
  3. As far as smartphones go, the iPhone 11, is the pinnacle of mobile computing. In terms of both brute force CPU-based multitasking, graphics performance, on-device artificial intelligence and augmented reality, this is the best phone with only the older 2018 iPhone XS and XR coming close. No Android phone matches this level of performance. In day-to-day usage, this may not seem perceptible but as the phone ages, this will become key. 
  4. When one talks about video, there is no phone that comes close to the quality of the video to the iPhone 11. The iPhone 11 Pro gets one better with its telephoto lens, but that’s about it.  With third party apps like Pro Camera, this lead is further elevated as it can fire two cameras at the same time. A testament to the imaging capabilities and the brute horsepower on this new iPhone. The video capture is so good that we managed to shoot a music video and its onboard audio capture is better than many dedicated microphones. Apple has done something amazing. Selfies also now get 4k video which is kind of insane, apart from now supporting slow-motion videos. 
  5. Perhaps the biggest improvement comes in the form of still photography. The iPhone 11 catches up to the Pixel and the Huawei P30 Pro in terms of both day-time photography, and night-time photography. The night mode, in particular, is perhaps the best on a smartphone and its automated implementation makes things super simple in use. It also adds a delightful wide-angle lens which has a 120-degree field-of-view that not only gives the iPhone camera the dynamism that it never had but also elevates its already stellar portrait mode with the ability to detect objects that aren’t just human faces. Selfies are now much better with the new 12-megapixel front-facing camera. It’s one of the best selfie cameras one can get on a smartphone. 
  6. Apple has discreetly also improved the battery life of the iPhone 11. The company claims that this phone now has one more hour of battery life compared to the iPhone XR. That converts to a full day’s worth of charge with heavy use, with utter ease. It also supports fast charging through the 18W brick that doesn’t come in the package. For most people, this level of battery life will be stellar. 
  7. iOS 13 may not be a huge visual overhaul for the iPhone software stack but it makes the operating system a more open system allowing support for pen drives and adding the ability for one to even download files using the Safari browser. It also adds a cool dark mode which is a neat visual update. In addition, it also adds swipe capability to the keyboard and makes the OS more private with tons of more privacy checkpoints. 
  8. This year Apple has nailed the price of the iPhone 11. At Rs 64,900 for many, it still is an expensive phone but you can get it for much lesser through cashback offers. More so, considering the horsepower it packs, this phone will last much longer than a comparable Android device and will also get updates for longer keeping its user experience fresh. And then there is the deal about the iPhone resale value which is much higher than any Android smartphone alone. The best way to judge the value of an iPhone is across a three-year ownership cycle — that’s where it becomes cheaper than Android smartphones because at best they offer a two-year cycle with all feature updates and optimum performance.

What’s not 

  1. There is literally no design change apart from the new dual-camera housing on the back. It’s not the nicest looking bulge. At the same time, people who’re looking for either a smaller notch or a visual overhaul will not be happy because the notch is the same. 
  2. iPhones use an Intel modem which isn’t in the same class in terms of signal strength for Airtel, Vodafone or Jio networks in India. Newer Android smartphones with the new Qualcomm chips have a stronger signal than the iPhones.
  3. Usual iPhone quirks will always be roadblocks for most users. This includes the closed nature of iOS, the sameness of the iOS user interface and the fact that it doesn’t have a headphone jack nor does it have USB Type C, instead has the old Apple connection standard of lightning cable.  
  4. The iPhone 11 doesn’t have whiz-bang features like a triple camera, nor does it ship with a fast charger. People will also have issues about the low-resolution display, but the thing that it’s missing is the high refresh rate — 90Hz screen. That is perhaps something they should add next year.
  5. The iPhone 11 remains an expensive option with a hefty cost of entry which is prohibitive for many Indians as most phones aren’t sold with carrier contracts with subsidies in India.

Despite all the hoopla and cynicism around the new iPhone 11, Apple has managed something exceptional and unexpected.

It’s not the phone that packs the most features, however, it IS the phone that has the best functioning features that most people want. 

On top of this, it’s a phone that grows on you, in more ways than one. 

It is Apple’s best iPhone in half a decade, rekindling a feeling that Microsoft went through with the highly successful Windows 7 after the faux-pas of Windows Vista and Windows XP. This is indeed the most polished hardware effort that Apple has pulled in a while. 

It is indeed is the return of the king!


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