The iPhone 11 series of smartphones could very well be one of the most intensively-leaked devices in the history of tech. Everything, from camera bump, to most of the feature sets were hinted at in the lead up to the launch just earlier today.
While most rumours proved to be accurate, the keynote was still packed with surprises and fine-print, adding up to build a picture of a powerhouse iPhone. We shall take a deep-dive and explore these announcements.
2018’s trio of devices, the iPhone XR, Xs and Xs Max has been rebadged to better reflect the target audiences of the respective devices.
Where the naming convention had previously suggested that the XR was a more ‘budget’ option to the Xs devices, 2019’s iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max invoke the “Pro” nomenclature to indicate the Xs and Xs Max’s successors go above and beyond the everyday Joe’s requirements.
Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, notes that ‘this is the first phone we called “Pro”‘, but is convicted that the device has earned that title.
This nomenclature is justified beginning with its build. Constructed from surgical-grade stainless steel and finished with an optical PVD matte textured surface, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max come in a new midnight green finish in addition to space grey, silver and gold versions.
The top-tier models feature 6.5- and 5.8-inch OLED panels that take a page out of Apple’s flagship Pro Display XDR – so much so the mobile displays are christened Super Retina XDR.
To this end, the screens deliver a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio with a peak output of 1,200 nits of brightness, along with 458 ppi – the highest pixel density yet on an iPhone.
Even so, the displays are 15% more energy efficient. They are also colour accurate with a wide colour gamut, and support for HDR 10 and Dolby Vision for immersive content consumption.
Like the iPhone XR, the non-Pro iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina Display.
For immersive media consumption, the iPhone 11 devices will deliver Spatial Audio processed with an Apple-designed virtualiser, and will also support Dolby Atmos audio.
Both phones have, indeed, ditched 3D Touch for Haptic Touch.
While Apple stresses that while the A12 Bionic maintains a firm lead over the competition, the A13 Bionic goes above and beyond and serves only to widen the gap.
The new chipset is now further optimised for machine learning and power efficiency, two features Apple chose to highlight in the keynote.
Capable of processing 1 trillion operations per second on the CPU, Apple touts the A13 Bionic as the best ML platform on a smartphone, capable of natural language processing and character animation and occlusion in AR motion capture.
A second-generation 7nm process in the manufacture of its 8.5 billion transistors enables greater power efficiency by allowing individual parts of logic to power on when required.
The iPhone 11 will last an hour longer than its predecessor the iPhone XR; the iPhone 11 Pro four hours over the iPhone Xs, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max a whopping five hours over the iPhone Xs Max.
The Pro models will receive an 18-watt power brick in the box for faster charging.
Extra Cameras, Extra Features
The both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro phones will add an ultra-wide-angle camera over their predecessors.
These will be arranged in a raised rounded square sculpted from the glass back, and paired with a brighter, improved TrueTone flash unit.
On all the iPhone 11 phones, the regular camera now consists of 100% Focus Pixels for improved autofocus performance. The ultra-wide 12-megapixel 13mm f/2.4 lens competes against some of the widest professional lenses with a 120-degree of view.
With a second lens, the iPhone 11 is now able to perform stereoscopic depth calculations, meaning that Portrait Mode is no longer restricted to human subjects and can be used for animals and on inanimate objects.
Like the non-Pro model, the iPhone 11 Pro also adds an ultra-wide-angle lens for a trifecta and a total of a 4x zoom range. In video, zooming induces an Audio Zoom effect that matches audio to the framing for an immersive sonic experience.
Selfies on the iPhone 11 devices now support 4K 60p shooting, too, alongside slow-motion capture – in what Apple humorously named “Slofies”. Apple brought FiLMic Pro, a popular videography app, to demonstrate simultaneous recording in 4K of footage from the rear and front-facing cameras.
The triple camera set-up also means the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max phones can now take Portrait Mode with a wider perspective, coupled with an improved telephoto lens with a larger f/2.0 aperture to capture 30% more light than the iPhone Xs.
Both devices ship with Night Mode, a long-awaited feature that is also found on Google, Huawei and Samsung devices.
With the added hardware, the iPhone 11 devices equipped with the more powerful A13 chip use a completely redesigned image pipeline that involves over a trillion processes to deliver an added layer of semantic rendering.
This allows for better subject detection using the context of the image for more accurate isolation and re-lighting of subjects. Even in shadow, this next-gen Smart HDR utilises multi-scale tone mapping to ensure even backlit subjects are realistically and evenly lit up to show detail.
Speaking of detail, Schiller teased an upcoming camera feature named “Deep Fusion” slated to arrive as an update later this year. Deep Fusion takes 9 images of varying shutter speeds to feed the Neural Engine data pixel-by-pixel to optimise for low noise and high detail.
While several other manufacturers have debuted triple (or more) camera systems for a while now, Apple maintains that quality is a priority. Camera units are paired (or tripled) for exposure and colour on the hardware and synchronised via software for minimal disruption while zooming in.
The camera interface has also been optimised for the extensive zoom range, rendering parts of the UI translucent to indicate what could be in the frame when zoomed out.
The new QuickTake allows users to quickly record a video without navigating the camera app by accessing the recording function within the app, simply holding down the shutter button when shooting stills.
Shown in the infographics, hinted at through leaks, but not covered in the keynote is Auto adjust, which we suspect is an automatic framing feature that uses the wider lenses to capture an optimal framing.
The iPhone 11 also adds a smattering of improvements.
Face ID is 30% faster, and also supports unlocking from wider angles, meaning that unlocking with the phone on a desk has gotten easier.
A new Apple-designed U1 chip leverages Ultra-Wideband technology to provide spatial awareness. This will enable an improved AirDrop with iOS 13.1 that provide suggestions based on orientation and direction.
Wireless connectivity has also been improved with Gigabit-class LTE delivering up to 1.6Gbps speeds, along with Wi-Fi 6 networking.
These additions complement iOS 13, now coming out of beta with the release of the new iPhone 11 devices.
The iPhone 11 is available in purple, green, yellow, black, white and PRODUCT(RED) with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB variants and retails starting SGD 1,149.
The iPhone 11 Pro retails from USD 999 / SGD 1,649 while the iPhone 11 Pro Max retails from USD 1099 / SGD 1,799. The phones will be available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations in midnight green, space grey, silver and gold.
Preorders for the devices begins Friday, September 13 5 a.m. PDT (September 13, 8 p.m. SGT)