Apple iPhone 11 review: The iPhone for everyone?


When it launched, the iPhone 11 was predicted to be Apple’s most popular iPhone of the latest flagship series, and for good reason. It followed on from Apple’s iPhone XR, which was unsurprisingly one of the company’s most successful phones in 2019. By offering all the important features people want with little compromise, the cheaper phone in the 11 series would always prove to be a tempting device. 

Now well into its first year on the market, the iPhone 11 has much stiffer competition from other brands, and there’s an even more affordable iPhone on the block now; in the new iPhone SE. 

With the competition closing in, can the new updated model continue to be the iPhone for the masses?

Familiar design

  • 150.9 x 75.8 x 8.3mm, 194g
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • New camera design
  • Two new colours: green and purple

The Apple iPhone 11 is virtually identical in terms of design to its predecessor: the iPhone XR. In fact, from the front, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two models, with both offering the same notched displays, as well as the same measurements and weight.

If you know your colours though you’ll spot the newer model. The iPhone 11 still comes in black, white, yellow and Product(RED) like the iPhone XR, but all the colours are more muted. There is also a new green (it’s mint) – our review unit –  and a purple (it’s lilac), compared to the blue and coral options of the XR, both of which are more pastel in their approach and lovely as a result.

The iPhone 11’s chassis is aluminium – colour matched to the rear – which is still glass, but there’s IP68 water and dust resistance, as well as a dual camera system in a somewhat polarising camera housing. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. We’ve got used to it – as you will too – and comparing to a lot of big, black rectangles out there on other devices, it’s comparatively pleasant to look at.

The glass on the rear is tough too and while the proud camera housing appears to be an add on at first glance, it isn’t. Instead, it’s part of the same single sheet of glass on the rear, with the camera section a frosted matte on the iPhone 11 to distinguish it further from the rest of the glossy rear – the opposite to what is offered on the iPhone 11 Pro.

Side-by-side, the iPhone 11 Pro is clearly the more premium device. The stainless steel chassis and matte glass rear of the Pro models are genuinely beautiful in the flesh – especially in the green and gold colours – but it’s only something you’d notice (or yearn after) if you were holding them next to each other. In solidarity, the iPhone 11 is a lovely device.

Moving the Apple logo to the centre and removing the iPhone wording makes for a cleaner design compared to the iPhone XR, while the slim, curved edges the iPhone is now associated with, make the iPhone 11 a delight to hold – and comfortable despite the size. Place the iPhone 11 down on a table or desk and you’ll still get the wobble from the camera section, but no more than you’d get from the iPhone XR, or any other flagship smartphones – many of which have camera bumps.

In terms of ports and buttons, everything is as it was with the iPhone XR. The volume buttons sit on the left edge with the mute button, while the Siri/wake button are on the right with the SIM tray. The Lightning port is centralised at the bottom of the device, flanked by speakers either side, and no, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack – as there hasn’t been since the iPhone 7. Sadly, the 3.5mm adapter is no longer included in the box though, but it wasn’t for the iPhone XR either.

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Same display

  • 6.1-inch Liquid Retina
  • 1792 x 828 resolution, 326ppi
  • No HDR
  • Haptic Touch

The Apple iPhone 11 sports a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina screen – which is essentially an LCD display if you remove Apple language – and the same as what anyone with an iPhone 6, 7 or 8 model will be used to, but larger.

LCD displays are typically not as vibrant or impressive as OLED panels and that’s true of the iPhone 11 too – the iPhone 11 Pro is crisper, its colours are punchier and its blacks are blacker – but you wouldn’t necessarily notice this difference unless you were viewing the two models directly next to each other.

In reality, the iPhone 11 has a display that will more than satisfy most users. It’s not as sharp in resolution as the likes of the iPhone 11 Pro, or the Samsung Galaxy S20 for example, and it doesn’t offer mobile HDR compatibility like these other devices either, but the iPhone 11 still offers a decent screen with ample brightness and arguably more realistic colours than the Pro models and other OLED smartphones.

The omission of HDR on the iPhone 11 means that while it tries to deliver a HDR-like experience for compatible content, it’s not the real deal. Smart HDR pictures don’t pop as much when viewing on screen as they do on the iPhone 11 Pro, and you can’t see as much detail on a dark TV show or movie that’s available in HDR, as you can on the 11 Pro – but it’s also one of the few compromises the iPhone 11 makes to the Pro models.

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