iPhone 11: Help you decide

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: How to decide which one to buy

Here's everything that's different (and the same) among Apple's new phones.

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The display, the camera, the battery, a little extra water resistance, and a better charger. When you boil it all down, those are the only real differences between the iPhone 11 and the two iPhone 11 Pro models. That and $300 to $400. That’s not to say you shouldn’t spend the extra money on the Pro or Pro Max, but you should know what you’re getting for your money. So here’s how the three phones stack up.

Read our review of the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Read our review of the iPhone 11

(For the ultimate in due diligence, see how our sister publication PCWorld rates the iPhone 11 compared to the best Android handsets.)

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Design

Apple didn’t deviate too much from the formula it presented in the iPhone XS and XR. That means in terms of body size the entry-level iPhone 11 is sandwiched between the new Pros, despite costing significantly less. Here’s how the three phones measure up:

  • iPhone 11: 75.7 x 150.9 x 8.3mm
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 71.4 x 144 x 8.1mm
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 77.8 x 158 x 8.1mm

Despite the differences in size, the three phones all share the same aesthetics, with a notched display and an all-glass back with a new square camera array. The 11 Pros, however, features stainless steel sides while the iPhone 11 has aluminum sides. The cheaper iPhone 11 also has slightly thicker bezels, but all in all, they’re very similar in appearance—the iPhone 11 even has the same square camera bump as the Pro, despite only having two lenses.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Display

While the phones may all look the same, they each have different display sizes, and just like last year, it’s a little confusing. The cheaper iPhone 11 actually has a larger display than the iPhone 11 Pro, but it’s lower quality:

  • iPhone 11: 6.1-inch Liquid Retina, 1792 x 828
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR, 2436 x 1125
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR, 2688 x 1242

Maybe even more significantly, the iPhone 11 uses LCD tech, while the two Pro models use superior OLED tech. We haven’t yet tested the phones, so we can’t describe how these displays actually look. But simply based on screen resolution and what we know about the OLEDs Apple has delivered in its past two models, the Pro models will bring deeper blacks and more brilliant colors, and simply look stunning.

iphone 11 pro gaming Apple

Graphics get a big boost with the A13 Bionic processor on the iPhone 11 Pro.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Performance

All the new phones feature Apple’s new A13 Bionic processor that puts an emphasis on machine learning. Apple says its both the fastest CPU and GPU in a smartphone, with an advanced neural engine, machine learning accelerators, and Core ML3, all of which add up to an incredibly powerful chip that should be powering a laptop, not a phone.

The upshot is we should expect pretty much the same excellent performance from all three phones (notwithstanding any small differences resulting from the A13 driving different display resolutions).  

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Front camera

All three models once again feature Apple’s TruDepth Camera with Face ID, and it’s gotten an upgrade over the 7MP lens in last year’s phones. The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models all have the same 12MP, f/2.2 aperture camera, and Apple has added a brand new feature: “slofies,” which records your selfie vids at 120fps.

iphone 11 pro camera bump Apple

The triple-camera on the iPhone 11 Pro is a big leap for iPhone photography.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Rear cameras

The rear camera system is where Apple truly differentiates its two classes of iPhone. Apple is making a big deal out of the new triple-camera array on the iPhone 11 Pro models, but the dual-camera lens on the iPhone 11 is no slouch:

iPhone 11

  • Camera 1: 12MP wide, f/1.8, OIS
  • Camera 2: 12MP ultra wide, f/2.4, 120-degree FOV

iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max

  • Camera 1: 12MP wide, f/1.8, OIS
  • Camera 2: 12MP telephoto, f/2.0, OIS, 2x optical zoom
  • Camera 3: 12MP ultra wide, f/2.4, 120-degree FOV

The obvious difference is the addition of the telephoto camera on the iPhone 11 Pros. So while the iPhone 11 can go from 0.5x (ultra wide) to 1x (wide), the iPhone 11 Pros go from 0.5x to 2x (telephoto), for a total of 4x optical zoom. (But that’s measuring from how far out the camera zooms, so you’re really only getting the same 2x zoom as before.)

The triple-camera system in the iPhone 11 Pro is more than just an extra lens, however. Apple says its engineers “precisely calibrate each camera individually for things like white balance and exposure. Then they push it even further, pairing the three cameras and calibrating them again for module to module alignment.” To hear Apple describe it, the iPhone Pro’s camera is about much more than just an extra lens.

Nonetheless, both camera tiers have very similar features. There’s a new Night Mode for taking useable shots in extreme low light; portrait mode and portrait lighting; next-generation Smart HDR; and advanced red‑eye correction and auto image stabilization. And both the cheaper iPhone 11 and more expensive 11 Pros snap simultaneous wide and ultra wide pics each time you shoot, so you can decide later which one to keep.

As far as video, all three phones record in 4K at up to 60fps, and feature audio zoom (which focuses the microphone on your subject as you zoom), brighter True Tone flash, and the new QuıckTake video that lets you hold the shutter to quickly switch to video mode.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Battery/Charging

Last year’s iPhone XR actually had better battery life than the more expensive XS models, but Apple has fixed that with this year’s models. While all three have received a capacity boost, the iPhone 11 Pros are particularly beefier. Here’s how Apple describes battery life:

  • iPhone 11: 1 hour longer than iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 4 hours longer than iPhone XS
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 5 hours longer than iPhone XS Max

That’s a significant boost all around, but especially for the Pro models. If you look at the video playback estimates, Apple says the iPhone 11 will get up to 17 hours, the iPhone 11 Pro up to 18 hours, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max up to 20 hours. With last year’s models, the iPhone XR topped both the iPhone XS and XS Max.

As far as charging, both phones have wireless charging on board as well as fast-charging via a 12W or higher power adapter. However, only the iPhone 11 Pros include a proper 18W charger in the box. iPhone 11 owners will need to buy one, as their phone only comes with the same 5W power adapter.

iphone 11 gaming Apple

Games on the iPhone 11 won’t just look better, they’ll sound better too.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Sound

Last year’s iPhones had great sound thanks to a new stereo speaker system, but Apple has taken audio ever further with the iPhone 11. All models feature spatial audio, a 3D sound model made possible by a new sound visualizer. And with that comes Dolby Atmos support, which should sound crisper, clearer, and more immersive on all of the new iPhones. With two small speakers, the difference in quality won’t be HomePod quality or anything, but sound should be improved.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Biometrics

As introduced with the iPhone X, Apple latest phones all have Face ID for 3D facial recognition. It works the same, but Apple says it’s 30 percent faster and has improved performance and better recognition from longer distances.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Water resistance

While all three phones are rated for the highest IP68 water resistance—meaning they can be dunked in 2 meters of water (6.5 feet) for up to 30 minutes with no ill effects—the iPhone Pros up the ante. With the more expensive phones, Apple says you can dive into 4 meters of water to get great photos while scuba diving.

phone 11 water resistance Apple

The iPhone 11 Pros has the same IP68 water resistance as the iPhone 11, but you can dunk them in deeper water.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Colors

Apple introduced a wide range of colors with the iPhone XR, and that continues with the iPhone 11. Making a return are black, white, red, and yellow, while pastel shades of purple and green make their debuts. On the iPhone 11 Pro side, you can choose between the usual space gray, silver, and gold, with a new dark “Midnight” green color joining the fray.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pros: Storage

The storage tiers are the same as last year’s phones, with each phone starting at 64GB:

  • iPhone 11: 64GB/128GB/256GB
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 64GB/256GB/512GB
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 64GB/256GB/512GB

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Price

Apple surprised us by actually cutting the price of one of its phones this year. While the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max start at $999 and $1,099 respectively (mirroring last year’s prices), the entry-level price of the iPhone 11 has gone down to $699, a $50 drop from the $749 iPhone XR. Here’s how it all breaks down:

  • iPhone 11: $699/$749/$849
  • iPhone 11 Pro: $999/$1,149/$1,349
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: $1,099/$1,249/$1,449

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