The Apple iPhone 11: Is it worth buying in 2021?


First announced in September 2019, the iPhone 11 is still being sold by Apple two years down the road, although it has since dropped in terms of hierarchy to an entry-level handset for those looking for an iPhone with Face ID in addition to a rather compact form factor. But is the model worth buying in 2021? What features do buyers of this iPhone lose out on by opting for the old model? Find out in our full review!

Good

  • Build quality
  • Software optimization
  • Performance
  • Camera
  • Battery life

Bad

  • Old-fashioned design
  • No charger included (as of 2020)
  • No USB-C
  • 64GB entry-level storage

Apple iPhone 11 in a nutshell

The iPhone 11 is the successor to the iPhone XR and is also the poster boy for the annual iPhone update in 2019. This particular generation saw the iPhone model split into two lines – the traditional range and the Pro family, in place of the previous XR and XS/XS Max lines. Two years later, while the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max models retired from the Apple Store, the iPhone 11 remains on sale as a more affordable option for those who want the Apple experience at a pocket-friendly price.

In 2021, the 256 GB model has been discontinued, with the 128 GB model retailing for $549 while the entry-level 64 GB model going for $499 on the official Apple Store. Both options are available in six colors: white, black, green, yellow, purple, and (PRODUCT)RED (where every purchase of an iPhone 11 (PRODUCT)RED will contribute to the Global Fund to Fight COVID-19).

As this is a very old product in the market, retail prices are also well below the original MSRP. Hence, it might be worth your while to look for deals on other online sites. 

Same old design

Compared to the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 has not
 changed much aesthetically
 in terms of size, the display and the materials used. This is not necessarily a bad thing in itself because the device retains an elegant style, although it is a little outdated. It is thanks to this choice that Apple was able to reduce the price of its device.


What I liked:

  • Good workmanship.
  • Easy to use even with one hand.

What I disliked:

  • Not much change from the iPhone XR.

From the front, it is therefore impossible to distinguish an iPhone 11 from an iPhone XR (or the iPhone 12). There are quite massive bezels on all sides and a rather large notch that houses the various sensors for Apple’s facial recognition, Face ID, which is still just as effective in everyday life, even in the dark.

The iPhone 12 brought about an updated design. Critics will pan it, saying that it just recycled the look of the iPhone 4, but the differences can basically be seen on the back and side, where the latter has a straight finish in place of the curves around the iPhone 11.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 front full
The iPhone 11 looks like any other iPhone / © NextPit / Ben Miller

However, looking at the back of the iPhone 11 reveals that it represents more than just the worthy successor to the iPhone XR. The 2019 model set the standard followed by subsequent generations, with two sensors in the square module at the rear.

Its dual camera is probably the most striking feature, and Apple has integrated two sensors into a square photo module in the upper corner of the phone, similar to the latest Google Pixel 4. The new second camera is an ultrawide-angle sensor. However, compared to its older brothers, the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, the iPhone 11 does not have a telephoto lens.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 fullback
The photo module slightly protrudes but does not interfere with the stability of the iPhone 11 / © NextPit / Ben Miller

For the rest, we find Apple’s excellent finish throughout and the treatment given to each element of the smartphone (screws, loudspeaker grille, button adjustment) is impressive. The smartphone, although slightly larger than the iPhone 11 Pro, remains perfectly usable with only one hand. Its weight (194 grams) remains comfortable and does not interfere with handling, even in the long term.

The iPhone 11 is also waterproof because it is IP68 certification. However, unlike its older brothers, it does not go beyond this certification for submersion up to four meters deep.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 back side 2
On the right side, there are the volume knobs and the famous knob for switching between vibrating or ringing mode / © NextPit / Ben Miller

An LCD display

One
of the biggest concessions Apple made in the entry-level iPhone 11 was retaining the use of an LCD screen, while the Pro versions (and all models in the iPhone 12 and 13 lines) adopted OLED panels. Another point where the iPhone 11 shows its age is the HD resolution at 828 x 1792 pixels, a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch for the 6.1-inch diagonal display, and a 60 Hz refresh rate.


What I liked:

  • Good color display.
  • Good level of brightness and contrast.

What I disliked:

  • LCD screen with HD resolution.

Not everyone cares about these points, but it’s important to mention them in an era when even mid-range Android smartphones that cost nearly half the price of the iPhone 11 boast superior specifications. Add to that some quite visible bezels, especially when you watch multimedia content, and you will certainly understand my disappointment.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 bezels
The screen bezels are quite visible / © NextPit / Ben Miller

Fortunately, Apple is catching up with a Haptic Touch mode which replaces the 3D Touch and above all an almost perfect calibration. The colors are bright whilst remaining realistic, the brightness is also excellent and the contrasts for a screen of this technology are stunning. I can’ complain about the quality of the viewing angles either. In short, the iPhone 11 display is fine, but Apple could have done better in my opinion. All in all, the iPhone 11’s screen is still good, but it’s one of the points where it has fallen behind not only its successors but also the Android competition.

iOS 13, 14, and now iOS 15

The iOS user experience is already well known to fans of the brand, offering fluid navigation, launching and closing of apps without any crashes, dark mode, and more.
Despite the age of the iPhone 11, its performance does not leave anything to be desired. In addition, all things do point to the fact that this smartphone will continue to receive software updates for a while longer. 


What I liked:

  • Excellent software/hardware integration
  • Long-term support for updates

What I dislike:


The same Apple A13 SoC is shared not only by the iPhone SE 2020 but also by the iPad 2021 (or 9th generation), two models that do not receive annual updates and should continue to be on sale for some time. At this point, the iPhone 11 can follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 6S – which in turn shared the same SoC with the first iPhone SE, translating to long-term support where new iOS versions are concerned.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 bezel
iOS ensures a good user experience / © NextPit / Ben Miller

Speaking about the future, the iPhone 11 has already received two new versions of the iOS operating system, which is already more than what most Android smartphones released in 2019 receive.

 

Plenty of power to spare

Even with the annual updates announced by Apple, the A13 processor continues to bring plenty of performance for almost all types of applications. Even the 4GB of RAM that seems a pittance when compared to Android models isn’t a problem, as Apple’s hardware and software optimizations take good advantage of the hardware specifications.


What I liked:

  • Good performance and responsiveness.

What I disliked:

  • Does not have a 5G modem in 2021.

Even in 2021, the iPhone 11 remains
 responsive and fast,
even in games like Asphalt 9 or PUBG. The iPhone 11 does not leave anything to be desired compared to its newer siblings and seems to be well-equipped to last a few years without any major worries, even with the next versions of iOS.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 back side
Yes, the iPhone 11 (still) has power to spare / © NextPit / Ben Miller

Below, you can see the benchmarks tests performed on the smartphone, along with the results of some of its main competition.

Apple iPhone 11 benchmarks results

  Samsung Galaxy S10 OnePlus 7 Pro iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 11
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 4905 5374 5396 4989
3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 4872 6958 5419 6858
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0 53189 65.808 96 915 97 077
Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi) 704 / 2283 733 / 2748 1338 / 3512 1308 / 3173

Nice stereo sound

It is not easy to offer good
 sound quality on a smartphone
. The challenge is indeed important for manufacturers because such a device offers little space to do so. However, the iPhone 11 is doing very well in this area. Stereo sound (a loudspeaker in the lower right-hand corner and a front loudspeaker at the top) provides a soft and spatial sound that wraps well.

Even at high volumes, the sound remains perfectly clean, rich and well-balanced without forcing too much on the bass or treble frequencies. Clearly, it’s one of the best smartphones in the business.


What I liked:

  • Good stereo sound reproduction.

What I disliked:


Of course, the headphone jack is missing and you can use Bluetooth headphones, earbuds with a Lightning plug or use the Apple Lightning dongle (not provided and sold by Apple for $9).

AndroidPIT iPhone11 button
There’s no headphone jack on iPhone 11 / © NextPit / Ben Miller

An excellent camera

As explained above, the smartphone has two cameras:

  • A 12-megapixel, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
  • An ultra-wide-angle sensor of 12 MP, f/2.4, 13mm

At the front, there is a 12-megapixel, f/2.2, 23mm front-facing camera.


What I liked:

  • Good image quality
  • Good color reproduction
  • Easy to use camera app

What I disliked:

  • Does not include telephoto lens

AndroidPIT iPhone11 camera
Finally a wide-angle sensor on an iPhone / © NextPit / Ben Miller

I have written a detailed review of the iPhone 11 camera that I invite you to read my impressions below:

In short, the iPhone 11
allows you to capture excellent shots, but without being the best
camera phone on the market, the results are generally similar to those of the iPhone 11 Pro and it’s a very pleasant surprise. The automatic mode is very good and the iPhone 11 is an excellent camera phone that can be easily relied upon on a daily basis. The camera app is also one of the easiest and most intuitive one around.

The night mode is also very good and the smartphone perfectly meets expectations. On the video side, the iPhone 11 is the king in this field and the addition of modes like slow-motion selfies will surely help to seduce a large audience.

You can also check out the photos I took with the smartphone in the link below:

It is worth noting that even with the arrival of iOS 15, iPhone 11 is compatible with the new features announced by Apple for the camera , including the features of Live Text, visual search and portrait mode during FaceTime.

Good battery life but lacks a charger now

Long criticized for battery life, the new generation of the iPhone puts an end to this concern. The iPhone 11 comes with a 3,110 mAh battery that offers good endurance. Without reaching the results of the 11 Pro, the iPhone 11
 perfectly ensures a day of battery life, even with
intensive use. If you are a fairly classic user, you can even go well beyond a single day.

What I liked:

What I disliked:

  • Does not include a charger (since Sept/2020).

One point where the iPhone 11 stands out negatively, however, is the non-inclusion of the charger for new purchases. This measure was taken by Apple at the launch of the iPhone 12 line, even for models that originally came with a charger right out of the box. And even if they included a charger in the package until September 2020, it was a 5W one. The iPhone 11 is compatible with 18W chargers. What gives, Apple?

androidpit battery iphone 11
The iPhone 11 is a companion you can count on for more than a day / © NextPit

I could not perform our usual benchmark test for battery life, as the application is not available on iOS.

Apple iPhone 11 technical specifications

Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
Weight: 194 g
Battery size: 3110 mAh
Screen size: 6.1 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 1792 x 828 pixels (324 ppi)
Front camera: 12 megapixels
Rear camera: 12 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
RAM: 4 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Number of cores: 6
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth

Is it worth buying the iPhone 11 in 2021?

The iPhone 11 is an excellent smartphone that delivers a great user experience every day. It has an excellent camera, very good battery life, and the software will delight most users looking for an efficient and durable smartphone over time.

It is true that Apple’s phone can be criticized for its LCD screen, HD resolution, Lightning port, and relatively high price for a model released in 2019. But the fact remains that the complete package offered by the iPhone 11 is still very good and the manufacturer certainly hit all the right notes with this model.

AndroidPIT iPhone11 iphone11pro iphone11promax
The iPhone 11 (middle) among the Pro models from 2019 (which have already been discontinued) / © NextPit

Even after two years on the market, the iPhone 11 is still a good choice for most people looking to buy an iPhone in 2021. More than the display or its performance, probably the biggest drawbacks compared to newer models would be the lack of a 5G modem, which may or may not be a deciding factor at the time of purchase.

As posted in a commentary by The Verge, the iPhone 11 price drop may have been one of the biggest highlights of the iPhone 13 launch event…



* This article first appeared here

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