If you were to ask people what they want in a new smartphone, they would probably say they want it to be fast, have a long-lasting battery, be nice and durable, and have a really awesome camera.

It just so happens that’s what you get with the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s also what you get with the iPhone 11, which costs $300 to $400 less than the Pro. The Pro is certainly an upgrade, but it doesn’t do a lot to justify its “Pro” moniker or very “Pro” price.

Still, the iPhone 11 Pro is a tremendous iPhone, with some noticeable (and not-so-noticeable) improvements over last year’s iPhone XS. As good as it is at what it does, it’s hard not to think Apple could have done more to justify the big price gap over the iPhone 11 and the “Pro” name that comes with it.

Note: This review refers to the iPhone 11 Pro as a single entity, though we tested both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The only difference between the two phones is that the Max is larger and has a little bit longer battery life. It’s best to just think of the iPhone 11 Pro as a single product that comes in two sizes.

It’s all about that camera

With each new iPhone, the camera gets better. It’s often the thing people notice and care about more than anything else. That’s true this year more than most—while the iPhone 11 Pro has other improvements over previous iPhones, that camera grabs people’s attention.

Apple’s high-end iPhones have had a wide and telephoto camera duo on the rear of the phone for a couple years now. The iPhone 11 Pro adds a third, ultra wide, camera. It is, in a word, fun.

Landscape photographers will enjoy it and you can get taller panorama photos, but I think even average everyday users will find themselves using ultra wide quite often. You can get more people in a shot without backing up, or capture that big statue or sculpture without having to stand so far away that people walk in front of you. The distorted perspective effect of a wide lens makes subjects look larger, which can create a real sense of scale. If a telephoto lens makes things intimate, a really wide angle lens makes them expansive.

But the iPhone 11, the “non-Pro” model, has this same camera. It’s the telephoto camera that distinguishes Pro from non-Pro, and honestly, it’s just not that big a deal. I found it far more useful to zoom out than to zoom in. The telephoto camera is better now, with a wider f/2.0 aperture that lets in a lot more light than the f/2.4 telephoto camera in the iPhone X and XS. You’ll get better shots in poor light and a nicer natural bokeh.



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