- I bought Apple’s new iPhone 11 in September, and have been impressed with it so far.
- In fact, it’s my favourite of the three iPhones I’ve owned, mainly for the colour, camera, and large screen.
- Still, I’ve had issues with the screen scratching easily and the battery life being just so-so.
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Back in September, I did something I’ve never done before: I stood in line to buy the brand-new iPhone.
I’ve owned two other iPhones in the past, and both have been purchased out of necessity. But this time, I wanted one of the new, shiny things – the iPhone 11, to be exact.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve switched between my iPhone 6S and, when I needed something more powerful, a loaner iPhone X. But the reason I finally decided to purchase a new device was three-fold: I wanted a better camera, I wanted the feeling of buying the latest and greatest, and I wanted something I really liked looking at (specifically, the minty green colour).
Now, after using the iPhone 11 for just about three months, I’ve decided it’s my favourite iPhone I’ve ever owned – and also the one I have the most issues with.
The colour was a huge factor in my decision to finally buy a new iPhone.
When rumours began swirling earlier this year that Apple was considering toned-down colours for the iPhone 11, I was thrilled.
Right before the iPhone XR came out in 2018, I was all set to buy one. I’d been looking forward to the rumoured “cheaper” iPhone for months, and my iPhone 6S was nearing 2 years old. But when the phone was finally unveiled, I had a hard time picking a colour – the coral was fun, the blue was bright, and the red was vibrant, but none of them felt like me.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Apple introduced not one, but three rich-looking new colours. Gone were the harsh, somewhat cheap-looking shades of 2018 – in their place were lavender, mint green, and pastel yellow.
When it came time to choose a phone this year, it was hard to pick just one. But in the end, the green sold me, and it’s continued to make me happy every time I look at it.
While I was nervous about the size of the iPhone 11, it’s quickly become a non-issue.
I had been using the standard-sized iPhone 6S, and then the iPhone 11, for nearly three years, and I was hesitant about switching to what seemed like a very large phone.
After three months of using the iPhone 11, I’ve mostly forgotten my fears about the size. I’m loving the larger screen – yes, it’s LCD, and no, you won’t notice. I find myself watching way more movies and episodes of TV on my phone, and it’s more fun to do basic tasks like edit photos. Plus, fitting the phone in my pocket or purse has been mostly fine.
I will say that every one in a while, I miss being able to reach the whole screen while holding the phone in one hand. Using the iPhone 11 one-handed sometimes requires some finger gymnastics that simultaneously put the phone at risk of being dropped, and it makes me nervous.
But there’s been an unintended consequence of difficult one-handed use that I’ve come to appreciate: I’m now far less likely to mindlessly scroll while waiting in line, quickly send a text while I walk, or obliviously stare into my phone while holding people up on the subway. Essentially, making it slightly more difficult to use my phone has also made me put my phone down more often.
The camera on the iPhone 11 is a major improvement over what I had been using.
The iPhone 6S came out in 2016, and Apple has made quite a few advances in camera technology since then. While I had been using the iPhone X for the few months before buying my new phone, it was the thought of going back to my 6S that finally convinced me to buy a new phone of my own – I didn’t want to go back in time to a more primitive camera.
When I first got the iPhone 11, I was most excited to experience a sharper, more powerful camera. But I also couldn’t wait to test portrait mode and night mode, both of which my iPhone 6S lacked.
What I’ve found in the last few months is that while portrait mode is nice to have, night mode is a must-have. It’s become a game-changer for taking low-light photos, and I’ve been stunned by some of the results it’s been able to achieve in almost complete darkness. Plus, I really love not having to use my flash as often.
Notice I didn’t mention the wide-angle lens? That’s because I completely forgot it was there until about two months into owning the phone. Accessing the lens isn’t particularly intuitive – you have to open the camera app, long-press on the small circle that says “1x,” and then swivel the dial until it lands on “0.5x.”
And when it comes to photos taken with the wide-angle lens, well, they’re just OK. I didn’t find them to be particularly sharp, nor did I find many situations in which I really wanted a wide-angle photo.
But the battery life on the iPhone 11 is nothing to write home about.
One of the biggest disappointments about the iPhone 11 for me has been the battery life.
While I haven’t done any scientific tests, anecdotally, I’ve found that the battery seems to deplete more quickly than I was expecting. By the end of a work day, I’m often down to 30% when I feel like I’ve barely used my phone all day.
It’s gotten to the point what I often find myself checking my settings to see what’s using up so much of my battery, and coming away a little confused. I’m not using my phone any differently than I have in the past – in fact, I think I use it less than I used to – but the battery seems to drain at a steadier clip than I was hoping for from a brand-new phone.
I’ve done what I can to optimise my settings to preserve the health of my battery, including turning on optimised battery charging, which helps reduce battery ageing. Hopefully, that will help in the long run.
Perhaps my hopes were too high for the phone’s battery life, and it’s performing as it should – it doesn’t seem like any earlier reviewers found any issues. But it would have been nice to get a generous day-and-a-half out of my new device.
Now, for my main gripe about the iPhone 11: the screen scratched almost immediately.
Probably about two weeks into using my new iPhone, I noticed something strange: there appeared to be a light scratch running horizontally across the top of my screen. Soon after, I noticed a deeper scratch next to it, and a few more light scratches nearby.
I don’t have a screen protector on my phone, but I’m not rough with it. I haven’t dropped it and I’m not careless about where I put it – it’s only ever in my pocket, tucked in my bag, or sitting face-up on a desk or bedside table.
I thought maybe the scratches were just a “me” issue, but it happened to my partner too – he bought his phone on the same day, and already has a bunch of scratches as well.
This is an especially disappointing issue to me, because I’m paying off my phone over two years – I’m not in the iPhone Upgrade Program, so there’s no option to swap out my phone next fall. While the scratches aren’t deep, they are visible, and I’ll be living with them for 21 more months.
So, should you buy it?
With past iPhones, I’ve never had issues with the hardware itself – any problems have been software bugs. Both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6S I owned felt like they were built like tanks, which makes the iPhone 11’s easily scratched screen and battery life that’s just so-so frustrating to me.
I have a few other minor complaints about the device, like the fact that I find myself accidentally enabling the flashlight all the time, or the fact that Apple replaced 3D Touch with the more hollow-feeling Haptic Touch.
And I think if you already own an iPhone XR, there is zero reason to upgrade, unless you’re craving one of the new colours – the devices are nearly identical, and you don’t need the wide-angle lens anyway.
But in my mind, it’s a testament to how good the rest of the iPhone 11 is that it’s my favourite iPhone I’ve ever owned. The camera is excellent (and shout out to the editing tools in iOS 13, which I also love); the colours are beautiful, and I’m happy to support Apple embracing fun once again; and the large screen is a major upgrade to me personally. At $US700, it feels worth the money.
If you’ve been holding onto a years-old device and you’re considering making the switch to the iPhone 11, I would recommend it – in a fun colour, of course.