While the iPhone 11 Pro has been the 2019 Apple phone getting the most media attention, the standard iPhone is no slouch. And, as always, the camera is a stand out feature. After spending a few weeks with the non-Pro iPhone 11 I’ve found it’s better than any point-and-shoot I’ve tested, and I consistently get images better than my expensive and now rarely used micro four thirds camera.
What makes this so remarkable is the majority of improvements come from Apple’s software. Smartphone cameras are limited by physics; there are only so many improvements that can be made year after year when there’s so little distance between the tiny lenses and tiny sensors that power them. This is why we continue to see smartphones adding lenses, and stitching the data together to create a better image.
The iPhone has benefited from years of slow improvements to its camera, butnow it feels like all these improvements have finally combined to create a foolproof process. Nagging little issues that made high dynamic range (HDR) images sometimes look cartoonish, or prevented me from using portrait mode in the past, have been ironed out.
HDR made its iPhone debut way back with the iPhone 4. I can still remember taking photos of the sunset from my balcony and being amazed by the detail in the trees and cars on our street. It was a major leap in smartphone photography and, when all the stars aligned, images were better than most point and shoot cameras at the time.