Upgrade to iPhone 11 Pro or stick with iPhone XS? Let us help you decide

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With the 2019 lineup, Apple rebranded the two high-end model iPhones — the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max — to „Pros.“ Though they have an incredible new camera system and a lot of impressive features, they’re the upgrade replacements to the XS line in both size and price. If you’re considering upgrading this year, we’ve got a few things for you to consider.

The upgrade

iPhone 11 Pro

From $999 at Apple

Pros

Cons

At a glance, it may seem like upgrading to the iPhone 11 Pro is a no-brainer. The extended battery life alone is huge and the triple-lens camera system with ultra-wide optical lens is nothing to sneeze at. That camera squircle, tho.

The replaced

iPhone XS

From $999 at Amazon

Pros

Cons

You’re holding your amazing iPhone XS in your hand and feeling like it’s pretty darn good and do you really need to upgrade? For a lot of people, no. But there are a couple of reasons you may want to. The camera and battery improvements, for example.

Upgrading from last year’s iPhone to this year’s can be a difficult decision to make. Does the new iPhone really have more and better features than the one you’re holding in your hand right now? Would it be smarter to wait until 2020? There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get this party started.

Old vs new: Is an upgrade really necessary this year?

On the one hand, the iPhone 11 Pro has a WAY better camera system than the iPhone XS and the battery improvement is the biggest Apple has ever accomplished year-over-year at four additional hours for the iPhone 11 Pro and five more hours for the iPhone 11 Pro Max. On the other hand, if you’re not trying to be a photography hobbyist and your iPhone XS or XS Max batter lasts long enough for you, are these the only features worth the upgrade? Let’s break down the major tech specs.

iPhone 11 Pro iPhone XS
Starting price $999 $999 (though that will drop)
Colors Gold
Silver
Space Gray
Midnight Green
Gold
Silver
Space Black
Battery performance – Video playback: Up to 18 hours
– Video playback (streamed): Up to 11 hours
– Audio playback: Up to 65 hours
– Internet use: Up to 12 hours
– Video playback (wireless): Up to 14 hours
– Audio playback (wireless): Up to 60 hours
Screen quality – Super Retina XDR display
– 2436‑by‑1125-pixel resolution at 458 ppi
– 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
– Super Retina HD display
– 2436‑by-1125‑pixel resolution at 458 ppi
– 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Camera MP Triple 12 MP Dual 12 MP
Camera lens features – Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
– Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture
– Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture
– 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 10x
– Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
– Telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture
– 2x optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
TrueDepth Camera MP 12MP 7MP
TrueDepth Camera lens features – ƒ/2.2 aperture
– Animoji and Memoji
– Slo-mo video support
– 4K video recording
– Cinematic video stabilization up to 4K
– ƒ/2.2 aperture
– Animoji and Memoji
– 1080p HD video recording
– Cinematic video stabilization up to 1080p
Portrait mode features Natural
Studio
Contour
Stage
Stage Mono
High-Key Mono
Natural
Studio
Contour
Stage
Stage Mono
Night Mode Yes No
Quick Video Yes No
Audio Zoom for video Yes No
Chip version A13 A12
Water resistance rating IP68 4 meters for up to 30 minutes IP68 2 meters for up to 30 minutes
Wi-Fi support Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 5

And for the Max models…

iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone XS Max
Starting price $1099 $1099 (though that will drop)
Colors Gold
Silver
Space Gray
Midnight Green
Gold
Silver
Space Black
Battery performance – Video playback: Up to 20 hours
– Video playback (streamed): Up to 12 hours
– Audio playback: Up to 80 hours
– Internet use: Up to 13 hours
– Video playback (wireless): Up to 25 hours
– Audio playback (wireless): Up to 65 hours
Screen quality – Super Retina XDR
– 2688‑by‑1242-pixel resolution at 458 ppi
– 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
– Super Retina HD display
– 2688‑by-1242‑pixel resolution at 458 ppi
– 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Camera MP Triple 12 MP Dual 12 MP
Camera lens features – Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
– Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture
– Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture
– 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 10x
– Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
– Telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture
– 2x optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
TrueDepth Camera MP 12MP 7MP
TrueDepth Camera lens features – ƒ/2.2 aperture
– Animoji and Memoji
– Slo-mo video support
– 4K video recording
– Cinematic video stabilization up to 4K
– ƒ/2.2 aperture
– Animoji and Memoji
– 1080p HD video recording
– Cinematic video stabilization up to 1080p
Portrait mode features Natural
Studio
Contour
Stage
Stage Mono
High-Key Mono
Natural
Studio
Contour
Stage
Stage Mono
Night Mode Yes No
Quick Video Yes No
Audio Zoom for video Yes No
Chip version A13 A12
Water resistance rating IP68 4 meters for up to 30 minutes IP68 2 meters for up to 30 minutes
Wi-Fi support Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 5

New colors, new finish, new you

Lots of people have asked me what I think of the matte finish on the new iPhone 11 Pro and I have to say, it’s absolutely lovely, especially on the silver model. That soft white backside is like looking at an elegant pair of satin gloves.

All of the colors we’re familiar with — gold, space gray, and silver, have a new, and in my opinion, better look. The colors are richer and more vibrant. They stand out more. Less reflective so you can look deeper into the color. Space gray has this sort of compelling effect on your eyes. You want to look at it more. Find the shadows hidden in the dark.

Of course, there’s that brand new color added to the iPhone Pro line: Midnight Green. It’s difficult to describe what it looks like in real life, but it’s sort of a smokey green. It’s very dark, so dark it almost looks gray, but when it hits the light right, you can see that dark green peeking through.

If showing off to your friends that you’ve got the newest iPhone, the iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green will definitely catch their eye.

The elephant-sized camera in the room

There is no way to diminish the absolute ‚extra‘ that is the new triple-lens camera on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. It’s got an ultra wide lens, a standard lens, and a telephoto lens. That means you can 2x zoom in, like you can on the iPhone XS, or 2x zoom out to capture a wider landscape in the shot without having to move further away. It’s not pano. It’s not fisheye. It simply optically broadens how much you can fit into the shot by four times.

The video camera has also been improved thanks to extended dynamic range and cinematic video stabilization support for 4K at 60fps. And you can take advantage of the triple lens system to zoom in or out while shooting video. When zoomed in, the microphone will directionally isolate and record audio from the subject you’re pointing at.

Night mode is definitely a game changer for the iPhone. It’s similar to „Night Sight“ in Google’s Pixel phone and Samsung’s „Night mode.“ Phones don’t yet have option to lower the shutter speed of your camera in order to capture more light. Instead, they use computational software to reproduce the same effect.

With Night mode on the iPhone 11 Pro, you can take pictures in near-black darkness, but get a final photo that has significant light drawn in, and it doesn’t look grainy or noisy. This happens automatically (though you can manually turn it off by tapping the Night mode icon in the camera app), so if you quickly want to capture a scene in a dimly lit area, you don’t have to fiddle with any settings to get the shot.

I know it’s something we’ve all been dying to have on our phones and its finally here — slo-mo selfie video. OK, so this is a silly little thing, but you and I both know we’ve tried to take slo-mo video of ourselves using the back camera on the iPhone XS (or whichever iPhone you have). No more flipping the camera around anymore.

The front-facing TrueDepth camera is also now 12MP with 4K video recording capabilities. Excuse me while I go throw my GoPro in the garbage!

If a better camera than the iPhone XS is high on your priority list, the upgrade to the triple lens system on the iPhone 11 Pro is absolutely a reason to upgrade.

If, however, your iPhone XS takes perfectly good pictures and you’re not trying to go pro, or at least become a hobbyist photographer, you may not consider this to be a valuable justification to upgrade. Especially if the, very noticable, square camera bump with three „eyes“ peering at you is too much of a design change for you to handle right now.

Battery for daaaaaays

Apple claims (no one outside of the company has had a chance to test these claims) that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have a massive improvement in battery life over the iPhone XS. We’re talking about four hours more for the iPhone 11 Pro and five hours more for the iPhon 11 Pro Max.

As you can see from the spec table above, however, Apple hasn’t given any specifics on when the batteries perform these special feats. Apple hasn’t yet listed talk time or internet browsing time yet.

In general, however, if my iPhone can power through an additional four or five hours of life without needing a recharge, I can actually go to Disneyland for a day without needing to bring an external charging brick, and that includes a lot of picture taking.

The huge boost in battery performance is one feature that makes me want to say, „Yes! Upgrade! It’s worth it!“ But I know that, not everyone runs out of juice that often. If you spend much of your day in an office environment where you can charge your iPhone regularly, your daily power needs are less, and four extra hours may not mean anything to you except for the occasions when you’re away from anything that can charge your iPhone, like a nature hike (or a day at Disneyland).

Goodbye 3D Touch, hello Haptic Touch

I have one more small thing to mention, and that’s the switch from 3D Touch to Haptic Touch. There are a few features you lose in 3D Touch if you upgrade, but for the most part, Haptic Touch, which involves long-pressing instead of pressing harder, performs the same function. You even get that slight bump feeling when you use it, so it feels like you’re doing the same thing anyway.

Bottomline TL;DR

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should upgrade, consider these few things:

Newbie

iPhone 11 Pro

From $999 at Apple

Camera, battery, and colors. These are the three biggest upgrades to the iPhone 11 Pro over the iPhone XS.

Tried and true

iPhone XS

From $999 at Amazon

If you don’t need the new hotness, aren’t trying to win awards with your photographs, and rarely run out of battery juice, keep your iPhone XS!

This article was originally posted on iMore

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