We’re calling an finish to a golden rule of tech: You not must improve your iPhone each two years. Three will just do effective.

Apple’s $700 iPhone 11 and triple-lens $1,000 11 Professional arrived in shops on Friday. However except you are the proprietor of a 2016 iPhone 7 or earlier — or angling for Instagram influencer standing — you in all probability do not want one.



We have been testing the brand new telephones and assume they’re swell. However so was the iPhone X from two years in the past. So we approached this assessment with a distinct lens: As an alternative of evaluating it to final 12 months’s iPhone XS, we have been utilizing the 11 alongside iPhones which are two and three years outdated — the X and the 7. To measure a very powerful change, the cameras, we used a three-way selfie persist with make all of the telephones snap the identical photograph on the identical time.

The iPhone 7 doesn't have a portrait mode, and the iPhone 11 is using more than a little software help to make shots of people (and pets) pop. Washington Post photo by Geoffrey A. Fowler

The iPhone 7 would not have a portrait mode, and the iPhone 11 is utilizing greater than a bit of software program assist to make photographs of individuals (and pets) pop. Washington Publish photograph by Geoffrey A. Fowler

We had been hard-pressed to search out options we could not dwell with out on the 11 — and stunned at how nicely the X has aged. Our takeaway: Anybody with an iPhone 7 (or older) will respect that the 11 shoots higher photographs at the hours of darkness, guarantees an extended battery life and has a bigger display screen. In any other case, save your money for subsequent 12 months, which is able to seemingly deliver larger adjustments like help for ultrafast 5G networks.

Our three-year rule displays the fact that many individuals are already holding off. In 2013, People purchased new smartphones after 20 months, on common, in keeping with analysis agency Kantar. As of this 12 months, we’re ready 24.2 months.



The place did the two-year cycle come from anyway? Within the U.S., telephone carriers used to subsidize the price of new telephones with two-year service plans. Apple additionally used a naming system — 4, 4S, 5, 5S — that recommended large enhancements got here in two-year cycles.

However the {hardware} breakthroughs have not been rolling as quick recently. And Apple itself has made it simpler to maintain utilizing outdated iPhones, with software program updates for older fashions and by including waterproofing and stronger glass. Cheaper battery replacements assist, too.

After all, our rule is only a information. It is okay to carry on to your iPhone even longer. Apple’s newest iOS 13 replace helps fashions going again to the four-year-old iPhone 6S. You may even resolve to modify to an Android telephone, although most individuals as we speak are fairly locked in to a platform.

What issues most is not speeds and specs — or perhaps a flashy third digital camera. Here is what an iPhone 11 or 11 Professional will really really feel like coming from the iPhone 7 and the iPhone X.


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The iPhone 7 doesn't have a portrait mode, and the iPhone 11 is using more than a little software help to make shots of people (and pets) pop. Washington Post photo by Geoffrey A. Fowler

The iPhone 7 would not have a portrait mode, and the iPhone 11 is utilizing greater than a bit of software program assist to make photographs of individuals (and pets) pop. Washington Publish photograph by Geoffrey A. Fowler

The digital camera

An image is price a thousand phrases. However is it price $1,000? And even $700?

With our take a look at trident capturing cameras concurrently, we may clearly see enhancements within the 11 over the 7 in lighting and colour. However vs. the X? The adjustments are solely dramatic in very particular photograph conditions.

In well-lit daytime shots, the iPhone 11 brings out more detail and mid-range tones. But you have to look close to tell it apart from the same iPhone X shot.

In well-lit daytime photographs, the iPhone 11 brings out extra element and mid-range tones. However you need to look shut to inform it other than the identical iPhone X shot.
– Washington Publish photograph by Geoffrey A. Fowler

In daytime photographs — and even a number of we took at joyful hour — the 11 produced extra element than the 7 and X. However in some photographs, we really most well-liked the hotter tone of the X.

At the hours of darkness, a brand new Night time Mode on the 11 and 11 Professional made a extra dramatic distinction, discovering gentle and colour in conditions that even our eyes could not. It would enchantment to anybody who has greater than 1,000 Instagram followers.

The entire iPhone 11 line comes with an impressive new Night Mode that captures details you might normally miss after dark.

Your complete iPhone 11 line comes with a formidable new Night time Mode that captures particulars you may usually miss after darkish.
– Washington Publish photograph by Geoffrey A. Fowler

When the Night time Mode prompts (which occurs routinely), the iPhone merges collectively a bunch of photographs taken with totally different publicity lengths, taking one of the best, sharpest bits of every. Which means you (and your topics) have to carry actually nonetheless — as much as about 30 seconds — because the iPhone collects all these photographs. How lengthy you need to wait relies on how darkish your scene is, and the way a lot the iPhone senses your hand is shaking. (Utilizing a tripod or bracing the telephone towards a wall helps.)

How about composing extra fascinating photographs? The 11 would not provide something new to assist with our most sensible digital camera want: zooming nearer. The 11 Professional fashions embrace a lens with two-times optical zoom, but it surely’s no extra highly effective than the one already on the X and even the 7 Plus. (We want Apple had included the zoom lens on the common 11 mannequin, but it surely didn’t.)

The iPhone 11's ultra-wide lens lets you capture more of a scene in one shot. It's like looking through a high-resolution peephole.

The iPhone 11’s ultra-wide lens allows you to seize extra of a scene in a single shot. It is like wanting by way of a high-resolution peephole.
– Washington Publish photograph by Geoffrey A. Fowler

So what in regards to the new lens Apple is touting? All the 11 fashions embrace an “ultrawide” lens. Like wanting by way of the peephole in a door, it allows you to seize extra with a 120-degree subject of view. It is a artistic device that may be enjoyable while you’re very near your topic. We’re simply unsure how typically we’ll really make use of it.

Digital camera aficionados take be aware: You may need to wait till Oct. 15, when Google is anticipated to unveil its Pixel 4; final 12 months’s mannequin beat the digital camera competitors with a low-light mode referred to as “Night time Sight.” And we do not but have a learn on probably the most curious new characteristic on the 11 Professional: a mode referred to as “Deep Fusion” that guarantees to provide photographs with even higher texture and tone. It is coming in a software program improve and wasn’t out there to check.

Battery life

The 11 guarantees some great, life-altering battery enhancements. However what which means to your improve is more durable to say.

Apple says the iPhone 11 Professional can go 4 extra hours than final 12 months’s iPhone XS earlier than needing a recharge. How about vs. an iPhone 7? It will not say. Apple provides solely this constant knowledge level: Whereas enjoying a nonstop video, each the 7 and X lasts 13 hours; an 11 lasts 17. However that is hardly a real-life state of affairs.

The iPhone 11 Pro is more than just a pretty camera. Apple says the devices are more durable with longer battery life.

The iPhone 11 Professional is greater than only a fairly digital camera. Apple says the gadgets are extra sturdy with longer battery life.
– Washington Publish photograph by James Tempo-Cornsilk

We’ll want extra time to confirm this declare with our personal battery checks. The sensible geeks at Tom’s Information report in their very own lab that the 11 carried out about the identical as final 12 months’s iPhone XR, lasting 11 hours and 20 minutes of steady Internet browsing over 4G. The bigger 11 Professional Max lasted practically 12 hours.

(If battery life or the system’s general slowness are your predominant motivating elements for getting a brand new telephone, think about getting your battery changed earlier than shopping for a brand new one.)

Face ID

When Apple skipped the iPhone 9 and jumped into letters with the iPhone X, it additionally jumped into the long run. For anybody coming from a 7, you may instantly discover:

1. There is not any extra dwelling button or fingerprint reader. As an alternative, you swipe up from the underside of the telephone and unlock together with your face. Most individuals get used to it.

2. The flamboyant face-detecting cameras additionally do a factor referred to as Animojis, which map your face to allow you to fake to be characters akin to an octopus or smiling pile of excrement.

On the 11, you get yet another characteristic not out there within the X: You may take what Apple is asking a “slofie,” or a slow-motion video of your face. You in fact may take a sluggish movement video of your face earlier than utilizing the back-facing digital camera, however this protects you the hassle of rotation. Ah, innovation.

Pace and storage

Apple is thrashing the pants off the remainder of the business within the velocity of the processor that is the mind of the telephone.

However we had a tough time feeling it vs. the X. That 12 months hit an inflection level for on a regular basis features. For instance, tapping auto-adjust button within the Pictures modifying app took one second on a 7, 0.6 seconds on an X and 0.Four seconds on an 11.

There’s one main spec improve for the reason that 7 that you will actually really feel: extra storage. An entry-level iPhone 7 solely got here with 64 gigabytes of storage. The X and 11 each begin at 64 gigabytes.


The iPhone 7 was the primary of the road to get waterproofing. The 11 is the primary technology you can presumably take snorkeling. The 11 is water-resistant as much as two meters and the 11 Professional as much as 4 meters. We’re unsure that is going to maneuver the ball for many individuals.

Apple additionally claims the glass masking the back and front of the 11 is stronger than on the X. We didn’t try throwing our assessment models on concrete. However we did miss the metallic again on the 7, which does not shatter. The change to a glass again on the X and later permits iPhones to cost wirelessly — a tech that also hasn’t actually caught on in all places.

Must you go Professional?

So you have determined to improve. Which one do you purchase?

Anybody on a price range may just do effective with final 12 months’s mannequin, the iPhone XR, which now sells for $600. It is obtained virtually every part good in regards to the $700 11, aside from Night time Mode, that wide-angle lens and this 12 months’s even-faster processor. Its battery life continues to be incredible. Should you’ve obtained $100 to spare, Night time Mode on the 11 alone is price it.

However aren’t you supposed to purchase the “greatest” iPhone? Apple tries to make that case with the “Professional” identify on the priciest fashions. (Who would not need to be a professional?) What you are actually shopping for is that third, zoom lens. It is solely out there on the Professional and Professional Max.

The remainder of the variations between the 11 and 11 Professional fashions can greatest be described with the shrug emoji. The Professional provides a barely higher, and brighter, display screen. The 6.5-inch Professional Max model is the one solution to max out your display screen dependancy, and in addition get the longest-lasting battery.

Causes to purchase nothing

There are some respectable causes you could need to maintain onto your iPhone 7 or older. Primarily: whether or not you possibly can bodily maintain onto it.

Apple’s telephones carry on getting bigger. Certain, they want the additional house to cram in all of the upgraded know-how, however many individuals, particularly these with smaller palms or shallow pockets, nonetheless like their telephones petite. The iPhone 7 is each thinner and lighter than any telephone that got here after it. The iPhone SE, now solely offered used or refurbished, is the one iPhone with a pocket pleasant 4-inch display screen.

A $700 and up gadget is a critical funding. There’s one little bit of math that can assist you justify an improve: The longer you retain your telephone, the decrease its trade-in worth. For instance, Apple will solely provide you with as much as $150 to commerce in an iPhone 7. An iPhone X, nevertheless, is price as much as $400 to the corporate.

Should you’ve simply obtained to be seen strolling round with not one, not two, however three digital camera lenses, we get it. Simply promise you may additionally donate to charity together with Apple. However you must also really feel no strain in any respect to purchase the shiny new factor — and know you are not alone.



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