The new system is just longer presses in more limited areas, as on Android, which doesn’t have that same tactile experience and represents four years of habits for many people to unlearn (though it only took me about three days to wrap my head around it).
Despite the lack of 3D Touch, screen repairs will still cost the same as the previous models for the three phones ($338.95 for the 11, up to $548.95 for the 11 Pro), so it’s difficult to find a positive in the change, aside from increased accessibility for some.
The ultra-wide camera lens on all iPhone 11 models is great, particularly for those who have had their eye on the Samsung Galaxy S10+ but weren’t ready to change operating systems. It sounds gimmicky, but as someone who takes a lot of landscape photos it’s really nice to finally be able to show the whole view in a photo, rather than just some of it. It’s also helpful for taking photos of groups of people when you can’t move back too far.
Looking at photos from the new iPhones side by side with the Google Pixel 3 XL, Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the Huawei P30, the iPhone actually comes out on top in terms of colour and clarity most of the time, which is unexpected. Apple has been quite rightly criticised for the quality of its cameras in the past, and it’s good to see the engineers taking that criticism on board. Shockingly the iPhone even smokes all of them when it comes to night mode. You have to hold very still for about three seconds, but the end result is absolutely worth it.
Speaking of things that Apple isn’t normally good at, but have finally cracked, the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s battery is really good. For example, on Sunday I took it off charge at about 6am, and used it as normal until 11am when I went out for a big Pokémon GO walk for Community Day. For three hours I left the screen on, using GPS and playing a power-hungry game. Then I got home, used it as normal again, until I left the screen on and bright for an hour to read a recipe, then played games in front of the TV until 11pm, when I went to bed with 4 per cent charge remaining. Most other phones would have needed a battery pack for that Poké walk, but this appears to finally be an iPhone that can last.
Still not having USB-C on the iPhone is deeply annoying; my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro both charge using USB-C, and it would have been a huge help for travel if the 11 Pro had joined the “pro” family in that.
The lack of 5G is another issue. Rural and regional Australians probably aren’t going to need to think about it for many years, if past infrastructure roll-outs are anything to go by. But for city-living and working iPhone users who plan on keeping their phone for three years or more, it might be worth sitting this one out and waiting to upgrade next year.
Is it worth upgrading to 11? Most of the best parts of the phone come from the new features of iOS 13, meaning they’re coming to any old iPhone 6S or newer.
But if phone photography is important to you, and you like iOS, this is an upgrade that is absolutely worth getting. These phone cameras are second to none, and the device itself is fast, the screen looks fantastic, and the battery (at least on the Pro, I’m still testing the 11 battery) is excellent.
iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max (from $1199, $1749 and $1899 respectively), are out on Friday September 20.
The author travelled to California as a guest of Apple.
Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.