Should you upgrade to iPhone 11 Pro if you have an iPhone XS?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 17
You might want an iPhone 11 Pro if you have an iPhone XS, and there are very strong reasons to upgrade, but the 2018 iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are still great phones. AppleInsider looks at the specific use-cases where you may want to upgrade.

iPhone 11 Pro
The silver iPhone 11 Pro with three cameras and a reinforced glass back in a new frosted matte finish


We weren't supposed to be that fussed about this year's new iPhones. They were supposed to be a mild upgrade in between 2018's iPhone XS models and 2020's expected 5G ones. Strictly speaking, that's exactly what they are, and yet everybody wants one.

Maybe you were completely blase about the iPhone 11 Pro until you saw the new colors and were tempted. Maybe you'd even decided against buying one, but then there was that demo from Filmic Pro, and you just had to have that.

Or perhaps it's just that Apple is really good at simultaneously extolling the new and dismissing the old.

Whatever it was, you as the owner of an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max are likely to be weighing up whether to upgrade or not.

If you're in that position, or if you've already decided you must upgrade but you'd like a hand justifying it, here's the situation.

Battery life

No question, you will get much better battery life per day with an iPhone 11 Pro than with your iPhone XS, and even more still with an iPhone 11 Pro Max.






Apple does seem to want to hide quite how much, with the way it only keeps saying that this one phone has so many more hours per day than this other. However, check out the full specifications and some details are clear.

You can't compare general use, the kind of occasional app and phone call usage, but you can compare the extremes. Video playback. Even then, Apple neglects to mention every detail, but for what the company calls Video playback (wireless), there is a comparison.

The iPhone XS should get you up to 14 hours of this and the iPhone 11 Pro will get you up to 18 hours. The iPhone 11 Pro Max provides up to 20 hours, and its equivalent last year, the iPhone XS Max, managed 15 hours.

Apple appears to be hedging about the battery life figures, and you know that real-world usage is going to be less. Yet even so, the new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max last vastly longer.

That's a strong reason to upgrade for anyone, as it's something you are very clearly going to notice. Yet it's not the most immediately visible difference.

Cameras

The new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max come with three rear cameras. We knew they were coming, we just perhaps didn't expect them to make the difference that they do.

That keynote demonstration of Filmic Pro shooting with multiple cameras, the footage from each being recorded separately, that was startling. Reportedly, you'll be able to get the same simultaneous recording on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max when the updated Filmic Pro app is released.

iPhone 11 Pro three-camera system
iPhone 11 Pro three-camera system


You won't get the ability to record the closeup and the wideshot at the same time. Yet, that may not concern you as it's surely rare to want both close and wide shots to be from precisely the same vantage point.

Still, we did say that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max come with three rear cameras. There's also that fourth one, the front-facing camera that ostensibly is meant for FaceTime and Skype calls.

Not any more. Where the iPhone XS had a 7 megapixel front-facing camera, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have 12 megapixel ones.

The newer phones have optical zoom out, because of that new extra rear lens, and also better, brighter True Tone flash and what Apple calls "next-generation Smart HDR for photos."

Maybe you need to be shooting photographs a lot, or professionally, to make the difference in stills images worth the cost of upgrading. Perhaps you have to be a filmmaker to really exploit the ability to film that 12mp front camera at the same time as a wideshot on the rear ones.

This means that while in every way the new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are the better phones, the camera quality may not be enough to warrant upgrading.

There is, though, the question of how these great images you take are displayed.

Display

If the basic design of the new iPhones isn't that much different to last year's models -- although they are more water resistant -- the displays are certainly improved.

Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 Pro have 5.8-inch OLED HDR displays with 2,436x1,125 pixels at 458dpi.

Yet where the iPhone XS has what's called a Super Retina HD display, both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have Super Retina XDR ones.

iPhone 11 Pro has an amazing display
iPhone 11 Pro has an amazing display


They also have a 2 million to one contrast ratio compared to the iPhone XS's one million. And this may make the difference for you -- the iPhone XS screen brightness is 625 nits, where the newer phones have 800 nits.

This makes your images look better, but it also makes playing back movies superb. And while we're on the subject, the new phones come with Spatial Sound which makes films sound even better.

Games are better on the iPhone 11 Pro too. Some Apple Arcade titles actually felt like they lagged a bit, or had frame rate issues on the iPhone XS compared to the new model.

Of course, you may very well not be a gamer. You might not even tend to watch much video on your iPhone. And if what you do watch is usually something like YouTube, you're going to have to seriously like those unboxing videos to see a difference, or to think it worth the cost if you do.

Processor

Whatever you use your iPhone for, though, you're likely to see why games look better and everything seems faster. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max both have an Apple A13 Bionic processor with third-generation Neural Engine.

The iPhone XS has an A12 Bionic chip with second-generation Neural Engine.

The fast A13 Bionic processor
The fast A13 Bionic processor


Apple Arcade just launched and we see a lot of great titles, though the most immersive of the bunch do show a bit of lag on our iPhone XS Max. Gamers and those doing similarly processor-heavy tasks are going to want the power of the A13.

In truth, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are better -- and usually significantly so -- than your iPhone XS in every way.

Except one.

Price

It's cheaper to hang on to your iPhone XS. Even with Apple's trade-in price, even if you get a good deal from some other reseller, nothing can beat the fact that you already have the iPhone XS.

If you're paying on instalments through something like Apple's own Upgrade Program, then you can make a case that you're just carrying on. It doesn't really change the fact that you're spending much more money, but you can see it as continuing to pay a monthly fee that you know you can manage.

Except, if you were on the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program, you'd be swapping to the iPhone 11 Pro anyway. In that one situation, you're definitely better off -- or at least no worse off financially -- by upgrading.

In every other situation, it comes down to some very fine lines. If you know you would visibly benefit from the better cameras, the improved display, the faster processor, and the great battery life, you should upgrade. Otherwise, you need to weigh up how many of these issues are important or useful to you.

Apple may have produced a comparatively low-key update this year, but it's a significant one.

Where to buy

Wireless carriers and third-party Apple resellers are already offering deals on the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. A sampling of the discounts can be found below, while additional promotions can be found in our iPhone deal roundup and iPhone 11 Price Guide.

iPhone 11 deals

  • AT&T Wireless: Buy an eligible iPhone and get the iPhone 11 for free when you buy both on a qualifying installment plan with an eligible AT&T unlimited plan. Plus, get a $300 reward card.
  • Verizon Wireless: Get a free iPhone 11 (64GB) via bill credits when you switch to Verizon with select trade-in and Unlimited plan.
  • Sprint: Starting at $0 per month with Sprint Flex lease and select trade-ins.
  • T-Mobile: Trade up to the new iPhone 11 and get up to 50% off.
  • Walmart: Save up to $100 on the iPhone 11. Offer valid only on purchase with installment plan.
  • Sam's Club: Get a $150 Sam's Club gift card when you buy and activate the iPhone 11 by Nov. 8.
  • Visible: Get up to a $200 Prepaid Mastercard Virtual Account when you buy an iPhone 11 and bring your phone number to Visible. Plus get 0% financing, no money down, no upgrade fees, and free overnight shipping for well-qualified customers.
Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    I was considering it by trading in my Xs with the crack back but unless I spend $600 including NYC sales tax Apple would not give me a dime for it. One should not have to pay $1000 for a product which you are suppose to carry around with you but then need to pay for insurance (Apple care) and a chessy silicon case which covers all that high end Apple design. Another glass back on these phones tells me Apple is making more money on repairs than the initial sale price. It's a scam.
    rinosaurdavgreg
  • Reply 2 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,725member
    Yes, the iphone 11 is better in almost every way - that’s to be expected. If they released a new phone that was actually worse than the previous model there would be some serious howling going on. The question isn’t whether it’s better, the question is whether these differences matter. If they actually do matter, the question then becomes whether they’re worth several hundred dollars to upgrade.

    I virtually never have issues with the battery on my Xs so longer battery life is meaningless to me. If that’s the only issue for you, you’re still probably better off getting a battery case for $900 less.

    As far as the camera goes, there are some neat tricks but none of them are anything I would use on any sort of regular basis. A better telephoto lens would have been a different story, but I’ve virtually never wanted a wider angle lens.

    Yes, the display is better, but unless you do a side by side comparison, you likely won’t notice that either. I haven’t heard any complaints of “my iPhone Xs is awesome, except for the terrible screen!”

    As far as the processor goes, for the majority of people it’s a lot like the screen. Yes it’s faster, but I’ve never really noticed my Xs being slow, so it’s hard to imagine shelling out money for something that isn’t a problem right now. The vast majority of people I know are happy with the processor speed of their iPhone 7; processor speed is not a huge concern for the majority of smartphone users any more.

    Like the article says, the Xs is a great phone. There are undoubtedly some people who rally could use the wide angle lens, or do significant gaming on their phone and so can take advantage of the processor, but, as is usually the case, the decision whether to keep your year-old phone is a no-brainer. 
    bluefire1muthuk_vanalingamdavgreg
  • Reply 3 of 39
    PS defender of Apple save your breath or key strokes, I can predict your reaction since so many of you have lost critical thinking at this point and can't wait until the Apple mothership takes you home. PS it landed in Cupertino or somewhere nearby. 
  • Reply 4 of 39
    This year’s plain-Jane iPhone 11 is superior to a 2018 Xs, so the 11-Pro is heads and shoulders above the Xs. If there were not going to be an even bigger iPhone upgrade in 12 months, I would be willing to pay the incremental cost of upgrading from Xs to 11-Pro.
    bluefire1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 39
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,941member
    I generally upgrade every 2-3 years. Other than the camera, I don't see a compelling reason to go from my X to an 11Pro.
    Unless something bad happens to my phone, I'll probably just live for a year without payments and see what next year brings.
    bluefire1
  • Reply 6 of 39
    Year over year improvements are becoming more and more incremental. People who upgrade every year do so because they want to and have the means to.
    jahblade
  • Reply 7 of 39
    mike1 said:
    I generally upgrade every 2-3 years. Other than the camera, I don't see a compelling reason to go from my X to an 11Pro.
    Unless something bad happens to my phone, I'll probably just live for a year without payments and see what next year brings.
    Right you are, unless something happens to my 6s Plus, I’ll live with it for another year.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    spice-boy said:
    I was considering it by trading in my Xs with the crack back but unless I spend $600 including NYC sales tax Apple would not give me a dime for it. One should not have to pay $1000 for a product which you are suppose to carry around with you but then need to pay for insurance (Apple care) and a chessy silicon case which covers all that high end Apple design. Another glass back on these phones tells me Apple is making more money on repairs than the initial sale price. It's a scam.
    You do not have to pay $1000 and pay for insurance and use a silicone case. You are free to get a less expensive model if you feel you’re prone to drops. Or use an attractive leather case. Or if you want the top-tier and are prone to drops and you don’t want to use any case, then by all means get AppleCare, to not do so is foolish. 

    But as has been explained to you, no, it’s not a scam. Glass back is for the conductive charging feature. Apple’s repair income is a rounding error to their enormous sales revenue. 

    You dropped yours. You didn’t protect it. Get over it. There’s no one to blame but yourself.
    macxpressMplsPbageljoeyyojimbo007uraharaking editor the grateelectrosoftjahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 39
    Year over year improvements are becoming more and more incremental. People who upgrade every year do so because they want to and have the means to.
    This is true. Phone nerds like us may, but it’s definitely not what normals do. 

    As for incremental upgrades, it was noted even in 2010 that iPhone updates followed the same pattern at Apple, noted on previous products such as the iPod, etc. Release, improve, release. It’s how they roll. Gruber talks iPhone in 2010:

    https://www.macworld.com/article/1151235/apple-rolls.html

    The iPhone is following the same pattern. In 2007 it debuted with no third-party apps, no 3G networking, and a maximum storage capacity of 8GB. One year later, Apple had doubled storage, added 3G and GPS, and opened the App Store. The year after that, Apple swapped in a faster processor, added a compass and an improved camera, and doubled storage again. The pattern repeats. We may never see an iPhone that utterly blows away the prior year’s, but we’ll soon have one that utterly blows away the original iPhone.
    king editor the gratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 39
    MplsP said:

    As far as the camera goes, there are some neat tricks but none of them are anything I would use on any sort of regular basis. A better telephoto lens would have been a different story, but I’ve virtually never wanted a wider angle lens. 
    The new telephoto lens is better, with a wider aperture, and the camera attached to it is said to be better too. The difference may not be huge, and may only matter in low light, but it is an upgrade. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 39
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,193member
    Until smartphones become commodity or the manufacturers start to focus more on cost reduction around a static feature set there is always going to be something better coming out next year.

    The good news is that much of the adaptability, flexibility, and functional diversity of these devices comes from the software. It doesn't really bother me if some of the apps that I rely on for my iPhone XS Max would run a bit faster or better on an iPhone 11 Pro Max or next year's iPhone 12 Pro Super Max 5G, as long as they keep running on my current hardware. So the real hard line decision point for whether to upgrade or not, for me at least, is more determined by software functionality and compatibility than hardware performance, new hardware features, and higher capacities. I can tolerate running slow or missing a new feature, at least to a point, but I cannot tolerate being left behind with old app and/or iOS versions that no longer serve my needs adequately. 

    Apple maintaining a robust foundation for the software developer community (internal and 3rd party) to build their software apps on top of, and keeping the App Store in a healthy and profitable state is as important to me as bumping up the hardware specs on processors, radios, cameras, and memory.

    The hard semaphore from Apple that "it's now time to upgrade" is when the device you are relying on is no longer on the supported list. I'm grateful that Apple kept the iPhone 6/6+ and iPod Touch 6th Gen on the supported list for iOS 12, and was hoping they would give them both a ride on the iOS 13 train, but it was not to be. When my iPhone XS Max gets bumped from the supported list I'll be compelled to upgrade, unless I succumb to temptation by something totally out of the blue showing up prior to that point in time.
    applefanforever123watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 39
    spice-boy said:
    I was considering it by trading in my Xs with the crack back but unless I spend $600 including NYC sales tax Apple would not give me a dime for it. One should not have to pay $1000 for a product which you are suppose to carry around with you but then need to pay for insurance (Apple care) and a chessy silicon case which covers all that high end Apple design. Another glass back on these phones tells me Apple is making more money on repairs than the initial sale price. It's a scam.
    You do not have to pay $1000 and pay for insurance and use a silicone case. You are free to get a less expensive model if you feel you’re prone to drops. Or use an attractive leather case. Or if you want the top-tier and are prone to drops and you don’t want to use any case, then by all means get AppleCare, to not do so is foolish. 

    But as has been explained to you, no, it’s not a scam. Glass back is for the conductive charging feature. Apple’s repair income is a rounding error to their enormous sales revenue. 

    You dropped yours. You didn’t protect it. Get over it. There’s no one to blame but yourself.
    I understand your points, my point is the glass back is more for style and conductive charging, don't know anyone that charges with one of those unless, say at home. 
    As a finished consumer ready product the latest iPhones should not require a case if so then Apple should provide one the way it supplies a charger. The mat glass on the 11 models suggest they are attempting to correct the 
    slippery glass problem that the XS and other models have. I always buy the top end model for camera improvements, 
    davgreg
  • Reply 13 of 39
    Of course its for style...everything Apple does is for style. However, if you think that people are sitting in a conference room thinking how they can "scam" customers out of extra money is just pure BS. Honestly, I find the glass far less slippery than the aluminum backing iPhones used to have. 

    I'll throw myself into the hat of wireless charging users. This can be done anywhere and is. Even cars today have wireless chargers built into them. 

    Its not really Apple's fault you dropped your phone and it broke. Its really no different than accidentally dropping a laptop, iPod, or anything else you'd hold/carry in your hands. If it drops and it breaks it's not automatically the manufacturers fault and its a defective design to scam its customers. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 39
    I thought Apple used a smaller-sized S than the X when talking about the Xs. I don't think it was lowercase S, I think it was what we call "Small Caps". Some fonts support small caps directly, but most text edit windows in web pages don't support it, so I can't demonstrate that here. I think the best compromise is to say Xs.

    Apple's website makes this clear by virtue of the fact that their literature for the XR also shows a small but capital R next to the X. It's an uppercase small caps R.

    So can AppleInsider respect this typography? Nobody would say "IPod" (they would say "iPod") so why are we saying "XS"?
  • Reply 15 of 39
    I always skip one generation. It's much more fun to experience the difference between 2 generations, vs 1, and reduces the cost to upgrade. 2 generations is already aggressive I think - I mean the iPhone X is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,026member
    Well phones with wireless charging has glass on back for conductive physics property. Wireless charging is not prevalent in all places, you can take advantage in home and new cars with wireless charging. Some day, it will be every where like current charging through wired port.
    I would say if you have XS and have to pay smaller delta cost to upgrade than do it otherwise wait until next year or whenever you need or want to upgrade.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,725member
    spice-boy said:
    spice-boy said:
    I was considering it by trading in my Xs with the crack back but unless I spend $600 including NYC sales tax Apple would not give me a dime for it. One should not have to pay $1000 for a product which you are suppose to carry around with you but then need to pay for insurance (Apple care) and a chessy silicon case which covers all that high end Apple design. Another glass back on these phones tells me Apple is making more money on repairs than the initial sale price. It's a scam.
    You do not have to pay $1000 and pay for insurance and use a silicone case. You are free to get a less expensive model if you feel you’re prone to drops. Or use an attractive leather case. Or if you want the top-tier and are prone to drops and you don’t want to use any case, then by all means get AppleCare, to not do so is foolish. 

    But as has been explained to you, no, it’s not a scam. Glass back is for the conductive charging feature. Apple’s repair income is a rounding error to their enormous sales revenue. 

    You dropped yours. You didn’t protect it. Get over it. There’s no one to blame but yourself.
    I understand your points, my point is the glass back is more for style and conductive charging, don't know anyone that charges with one of those unless, say at home. 
    As a finished consumer ready product the latest iPhones should not require a case if so then Apple should provide one the way it supplies a charger. The mat glass on the 11 models suggest they are attempting to correct the slippery glass problem that the XS and other models have. I always buy the top end model for camera improvements, 
    Actually, it's inductive charging. Conductive charging is what happens when you plug in the cord. And yes, the glass back is completely for inductive charging. Prior to the iPhone 8(?), when inductive charging was introduced to the iPhone they all had metal backs (except the 5c). Inductive charging won't work through metal. Period. it's not a scam, it's physics. 

    I personally don't use inductive charging, but I know a lot of people who do. My brother in law's car has an inductive charger built in. There are plenty of drawbacks to it, but there are some definite advantages, too. 

    As for a case, the iPhone doesn't require a case. It requires that you don't drop it onto a hard surface. Do you complain if you drop your laptop or desktop computer and it doesn't work? There are a multitude of different cases providing varying levels of protection and style. NO smartphone manufacturer supplies a case with their phone for good reason - everyone has a different preference. 

    edited September 17 king editor the gratejahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 39
    MplsP said:
    spice-boy said:
    spice-boy said:
    I was considering it by trading in my Xs with the crack back but unless I spend $600 including NYC sales tax Apple would not give me a dime for it. One should not have to pay $1000 for a product which you are suppose to carry around with you but then need to pay for insurance (Apple care) and a chessy silicon case which covers all that high end Apple design. Another glass back on these phones tells me Apple is making more money on repairs than the initial sale price. It's a scam.
    You do not have to pay $1000 and pay for insurance and use a silicone case. You are free to get a less expensive model if you feel you’re prone to drops. Or use an attractive leather case. Or if you want the top-tier and are prone to drops and you don’t want to use any case, then by all means get AppleCare, to not do so is foolish. 

    But as has been explained to you, no, it’s not a scam. Glass back is for the conductive charging feature. Apple’s repair income is a rounding error to their enormous sales revenue. 

    You dropped yours. You didn’t protect it. Get over it. There’s no one to blame but yourself.
    I understand your points, my point is the glass back is more for style and conductive charging, don't know anyone that charges with one of those unless, say at home. 
    As a finished consumer ready product the latest iPhones should not require a case if so then Apple should provide one the way it supplies a charger. The mat glass on the 11 models suggest they are attempting to correct the slippery glass problem that the XS and other models have. I always buy the top end model for camera improvements, 
    Actually, it's inductive charging. Conductive charging is what happens when you plug in the cord. And yes, the glass back is completely for inductive charging. Prior to the iPhone 8(?), when inductive charging was introduced to the iPhone they all had metal backs (except the 5c). Inductive charging won't work through metal. Period. it's not a scam, it's physics. 

    I personally don't use inductive charging, but I know a lot of people who do. My brother in law's car has an inductive charger built in. There are plenty of drawbacks to it, but there are some definite advantages, too. 

    As for a case, the iPhone doesn't require a case. It requires that you don't drop it onto a hard surface. Do you complain if you drop your laptop or desktop computer and it doesn't work? There are a multitude of different cases providing varying levels of protection and style. NO smartphone manufacturer supplies a case with their phone for good reason - everyone has a different preference. 

    Thanks for that info, I don't usually drop my phone however I was at a restaurant with it sitting on the table top, a customer walked by moved my table and.... crack. Accidents happen but I mean 28" drop was enough to cause so much damage. It would be less than $200 to fix the screen which I wish had broken instead. A case defeats the purpose of the iPhones design, think of the hours and engineerings which goes into getting it to look the way it does, then it's wrapped in silicon? No thanks.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    The Camera improvements are absolutely amazing.. definitely  upgrade worthy !..... Both my wife and i will be upgrading from X and Xs for sure.. waiting to see the new green in person before finalizing our  order.. we are leaning towards the Max this time. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 39
    Except, if you were on the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program, you'd be swapping to the iPhone 11 Pro anyway. In that one situation, you're definitely better off —or at least no worse off financially —by upgrading.

    It's not true that you're "no worse off financially" to upgrade from the XS you bought last year using the upgrade program.

    1. You still have to pay sales tax on the entire cost of phone, something you did last year when you bought the XS (so $80-140 depending on your state and the iPhone you choose)
    2. You probably will want to buy a case for your new iPhone 11 Pro, something you also did last year when you bought the XS ($40-50)
    So really the cost to upgrade after a year with the XS is more like $120-190. That's not even taking into account the fact that if you hang on to the XS for one more year that you will have $400-500 in trade-in value when you upgrade to the iPhone 12 (after making 12 more monthly payments that is).

    I'm not saying the upgrade isn't worth it, but it's not fair to say there is effectively no cost to upgrade. I personally am justifying the cost because I look at it as the cost to have a nicer camera for the next year.
    rinosaurdewmejahbladewatto_cobra
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