Camera specs compared: iPhone XR vs. iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 11 Pro

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 14
The clearest improvement in the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, is the camera. Choosing between them is more difficult than you'd expect though, and especially if you're considering whether it's worth upgrading from last year's models.

Apple's had to redesign the Camera app to fit in the new Ultra Wide view
Apple's had to redesign the Camera app to fit in the new Ultra Wide view


As expected, the greatest single update to the iPhone range is the addition of a triple-lens camera to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Beyond Apple's hype about the benefits of this system, though, there is the question over just whether it's worth your upgrading from an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max.

Then, too, with at least a $300 difference, there's also the serious issue of whether you're better off buying an iPhone 11 instead of either of the new Pro models.

AppleInsider has collated all of the technical specifications of the camera systems in these phones for comparison.

iPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro & MaxiPhone XS & MaxiPhone XR
Number of rear cameras2321
Rear Camera Resolutions12MP12MP12MP12MP
Camera TypesUltra Wide, WideUltra Wide, Wide, TelephotoWide, TelephotoWide
Aperturesf/2.4, f/1.8f/2.4, f/1.8, f/2.0f/1.8, f/2.4f/1.8
Night ModeYesYes--
Optical Image StabilizationSingle OISDual OISDual OISSingle OIS
Optical Zoom2x Out2x Out, 2x In2x In-
Digital Zoom5x10x10x5x
FlashBrighter True Tone with Slow SyncBrighter True Tone with Slow SyncTrue Tone with Slow SyncTrue Tone with Slow Sync
Portrait Lighting EffectsNatural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, HighKey MonoNatural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, HighKey MonoNatural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, HighKey MonoNatural, Studio, Contour
TrueDepth Camera Resolution12MP12MP7MP7MP
TrueDepth Aperturef/2.2f/2.2f/2.2f/2.2
TrueDepth Video Resolution4K4K1080p1080p

The first point you can take from this table is that the still-available iPhone XR is substantially less capable than the rest. It's now retailing for $599, but for the $699 of the iPhone 11, you get considerably more value.

The iPhone 11 brings a second rear camera to this entry-level part of the range, where the iPhone XR has just a single one. The iPhone 11's camera system boasts new Ultra Wide lens, and both of its lenses can record video in 4K. The iPhone XR can only shoot in 1080p.

Spending that extra hundred bucks to get the iPhone 11 also means you gain an improved and brighter True Tone. You get increased portrait lighting effects, and, most impressively, you get the new Night Mode.

The new Night Mode could be reason enough to upgrade
The new Night Mode could be reason enough to upgrade


Just as the iPhone XR was popular last year -- Tim Cook said it was the world's most popular smartphone -- so the iPhone 11 is likely to hit the sweet spot between price and capability in the 2019 range.

Top of the line

The new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, however, do come with significant advantages that could well be worth the price difference.

That third camera means that these two iPhones offer a telephoto option which radically increases what can be seen in an image. Apple says that together the three cameras mean that the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max have an optical zoom that takes you 2x closer to an image -- or 2x further away.

These two top of the range iPhones also offer a digital zoom of up to 10x, but it's really the optical zoom ability that's significant.

When you zoom in any way, you're going to get camera shake, though, and the two top end iPhones have a new dual optical image stabilization. That compares to the iPhone 11's single optical image stabilization, which is the same as the iPhone XR.

The iPhone 11 Pro retails from $999, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max from $1,099, and both offer the new triple-camera system.

Practical choices

If your choice were solely on camera capabilities, you would buy the iPhone 11 Pro Max. However, there are budget issues, and there are also other considerations.

Even though these are not directly related to the camera, there are issues to do with physical size, screen quality and battery life.

Again, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the best screen with its 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR display. When you're a professional photographer, having that screen could be a significant benefit.

The iPhone 11 Pro has the same Super Retina XDR display, but in the smaller 5.8-inch size. The iPhone 11 has a Liquid Retina HD display at 6.1-inches.

The iPhone 11 has only two cameras, but the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have three and it makes a substantial difference
The iPhone 11 has only two cameras, but the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have three and it makes a substantial difference


Whether you're a pro or not, though, you'll get a great deal of benefit from the iPhone 11 Pro Max's battery life. Apple claims that this model provides five more hours per charge than the previous equivalent, the iPhone XS Max.

In comparison, the iPhone 11 Pro offers four more hours than its predecessor, the iPhone XS. And the iPhone 11 is rated for just one hour more than the iPhone XR.

If you're used to using one of last year's phones, you have a feel now for how significant the battery improvement is.

In case you're currently using an older iPhone, the battery life on the new ones does vary but Apple makes certain overall claims. So the iPhone 11 is rated, for example, for playing up to 17 hours of video that's stored on the device.

The iPhone 11 Pro plays video up to 18 hours, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max can run up to 20 hours.

Ultimately, though, it's going to be the cameras and what you can shoot with them that makes your decision for you. And the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max do bring superb new capabilities to the range.



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.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,729member
    It's a shame they used the extra camera lens on the 11's for a wide angle rather than an optical zoom lens. I need to zoom in on objects far more often than I need to zoom out. Most people I've talked to feel the same, so a wide angle lens adds virtually nothing.
    edited September 10 chemengin1dewmelolliverMetriacanthosaurusspace2001
  • Reply 2 of 19
    Professional photographers are not going to use the iPhone as their primary camera anyway. So, the name of the new iPhone 11 Pro is a misnomer. It should have been called iPhone 11 Instagram Pro. 
    edited September 10 chemengin1Carnage
  • Reply 3 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,463member
    My wife and I have iPhone 8s which will be paid off in March. Then it’s iPhone 11s for sure or maybe iPhone Pros. Very excited about the improvements in battery life and cameras. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,896member
    MplsP said:
    It's a shame they used the extra camera lens on the 11's for a wide angle rather than an optical zoom lens. I need to zoom in on objects far more often than I need to zoom out. Most people I've talked to feel the same, so a wide angle lens adds virtually nothing.
    I think for most people it would actually be the opposite, which is why Apple went the way it has.  Personally I was wondering how they deal with the fish eye effect.

    also, I would be very keen for a new, small form factor SE replacement with the A13 and the XR camera. Ideal for work, and for me personally, because I carry an iPad Pro.
    StrangeDaystmayDeelronurahararonn
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Great article so early in the piece, btw.
    lolliver
  • Reply 6 of 19
    MplsP said:
    It's a shame they used the extra camera lens on the 11's for a wide angle rather than an optical zoom lens. I need to zoom in on objects far more often than I need to zoom out. Most people I've talked to feel the same, so a wide angle lens adds virtually nothing.
    On Daring Fireball John Gruber's podcast his wife and Dalrymple and other normals reported the opposite, they rarely zoom in and take more wide-angle building shots on vacation. I suspect normals have a different use pattern than techies.
    tmayDeelronronntoysandmeflyingdp
  • Reply 7 of 19
    sirozha said:
    Professional photographers are not going to use the iPhone as their primary camera anyway. So, the name of the new iPhone 11 Pro is a misnomer. It should have been called iPhone 11 Instagram Pro. 
    You say that, yet my major metro newspaper fired all their pro photographers with expensive rigs and gave them iPhones.
    lolliverronntoysandme
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Not sure the ultra wide system is upgrade worthy.
    I'd rather have deeper optical zoom-in rather than optical zoom-out. 

  • Reply 9 of 19
    "The iPhone XR can only shoot in 1080p." Correction The iPhone XR *front camera* can only shoot in 1080p.

    Big deal
  • Reply 10 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,197member
    To be perfectly honest, the quality of the “point & shoot” photos that I take took a big jump with the iPhone 4s. When I upgraded to iPhone 6 Plus my photos improved slightly but didn’t exactly put my iPhone 4s photos to shame. Likewise the upgrade to iPhone XS Max marginally improved my photos but still not in a groundbreaking way. The bottom line for me is that each generation of iPhone improved photo quality but they were all subject to the law of diminishing returns. 

    Now I have to add one very big caveat - your perceived quality of the photos that you take is heavily influenced by the devices that you view your photos on. My primary computer is a 2013 vintage iMac and its resolution is a measly 2560 x 1440 pixels. Therefore, no matter the resolution and quality of my iPhone camera my perception of photo quality is heavily influenced by the display qualities of my photo viewing devices. Yeah, when I view a photo taken on my iPhone XS Max on my iPad Pro it definitely pops a little more and portrait mode photos definitely look great even on lower resolution displays. However, at the end of the day it’s still an end-to-end system and if all components of the system aren’t optimized to take advantage the full bandwidth the underlying processing the net result will be sub-optimal or lost in translation. Is this an issue? Not necessarily, but it may influence your satisfaction with your purchase of a single component if it doesn’t seem to deliver the improvements you anticipated. 
    atomic101
  • Reply 11 of 19
    jason98 said:
    Not sure the ultra wide system is upgrade worthy.
    I'd rather have deeper optical zoom-in rather than optical zoom-out. 

    I remember being in the server room trying to get the entire server into my picture, and stepping back only to discover I couldn't step back any further. So ... another vote here for the wider angle.
    ronntoysandme
  • Reply 12 of 19
    dewme said:
    To be perfectly honest, the quality of the “point & shoot” photos that I take took a big jump with the iPhone 4s. When I upgraded to iPhone 6 Plus my photos improved slightly but didn’t exactly put my iPhone 4s photos to shame. Likewise the upgrade to iPhone XS Max marginally improved my photos but still not in a groundbreaking way. The bottom line for me is that each generation of iPhone improved photo quality but they were all subject to the law of diminishing returns. 

    Now I have to add one very big caveat - your perceived quality of the photos that you take is heavily influenced by the devices that you view your photos on. My primary computer is a 2013 vintage iMac and its resolution is a measly 2560 x 1440 pixels. Therefore, no matter the resolution and quality of my iPhone camera my perception of photo quality is heavily influenced by the display qualities of my photo viewing devices. Yeah, when I view a photo taken on my iPhone XS Max on my iPad Pro it definitely pops a little more and portrait mode photos definitely look great even on lower resolution displays. However, at the end of the day it’s still an end-to-end system and if all components of the system aren’t optimized to take advantage the full bandwidth the underlying processing the net result will be sub-optimal or lost in translation. Is this an issue? Not necessarily, but it may influence your satisfaction with your purchase of a single component if it doesn’t seem to deliver the improvements you anticipated. 
    Yeah, but hopefully wherever you print your photos knows how to handle the DCI-P3 color space ... and if not, you need to get your photos printed elsewhere.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    AI - thanks for making a table in addition to the written description. Makes a great quick reference!
  • Reply 14 of 19

    Night-mode probably takes first place for me this year. The new wide-angle lens just adds extra value.

    I've pretty much ditched taking dedicated cameras for vacations. Stills and Video are perfectly handled by the iPhone for me. The ability to create time-lapse and slow-mo videos is an added bonus.

    ronn
  • Reply 15 of 19
    This camera is not as much of a leap forward as they pretend it is. As I review the actual camera specs closely, it’s less flowery:

    - Ultra wide camera has no optical image stabilization, so basically forget using it on this generation. 
    - Ultra wide is only a 5 element lens, they really don’t want you using this one. 
    - Ultra wide does not use Focus Pixels.
    - Slo-mo still stuck at 1080p. 
    - Stills taken while recording video still stuck at 8 MP. 
    - At first glance the TrueDepth camera looks to have finally gotten an upgrade to match the back, but sadly no. Despite 4K recording and a 12 MP sensor:
    - Slo-mo is gimped to 120 FPS. 
    - Extended dynamic range for video is only for 30 fps, not 60. 

    With these limitations I don’t see this as a big upgrade. A rather minor one. 
    avon b7
  • Reply 16 of 19
    jason98 said:
    Not sure the ultra wide system is upgrade worthy.
    I'd rather have deeper optical zoom-in rather than optical zoom-out. 

    It does, but without optical image stabilization it’s like an iPhone camera from 2013. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    sirozha said:
    Professional photographers are not going to use the iPhone as their primary camera anyway. So, the name of the new iPhone 11 Pro is a misnomer. It should have been called iPhone 11 Instagram Pro. 
    You say that, yet my major metro newspaper fired all their pro photographers with expensive rigs and gave them iPhones.
    They fired them and then gave them iPhones? Was that a nice parting gesture? :smile: 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 19
    dewme said:
    To be perfectly honest, the quality of the “point & shoot” photos that I take took a big jump with the iPhone 4s. When I upgraded to iPhone 6 Plus my photos improved slightly but didn’t exactly put my iPhone 4s photos to shame. Likewise the upgrade to iPhone XS Max marginally improved my photos but still not in a groundbreaking way. The bottom line for me is that each generation of iPhone improved photo quality but they were all subject to the law of diminishing returns. 

    Now I have to add one very big caveat - your perceived quality of the photos that you take is heavily influenced by the devices that you view your photos on. My primary computer is a 2013 vintage iMac and its resolution is a measly 2560 x 1440 pixels. Therefore, no matter the resolution and quality of my iPhone camera my perception of photo quality is heavily influenced by the display qualities of my photo viewing devices. Yeah, when I view a photo taken on my iPhone XS Max on my iPad Pro it definitely pops a little more and portrait mode photos definitely look great even on lower resolution displays. However, at the end of the day it’s still an end-to-end system and if all components of the system aren’t optimized to take advantage the full bandwidth the underlying processing the net result will be sub-optimal or lost in translation. Is this an issue? Not necessarily, but it may influence your satisfaction with your purchase of a single component if it doesn’t seem to deliver the improvements you anticipated. 

    True that diminishing returns are reaching an apex of perceptual improvement.  At this point, it's more about improving the extremes (low light, "night mode", "portrait mode", etc). As a whole, the iPhone 4 checked off so many milestone smartphone improvements off the list that we've reached a point where we almost need to invent problems to fix, or focus on the more minutia of changes.... or in the case of the iPhone 11 Pro, just keep adding more of what you already have and brute force the improvements.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    ronnronn Posts: 336member
    atomic101 said:
    sirozha said:
    Professional photographers are not going to use the iPhone as their primary camera anyway. So, the name of the new iPhone 11 Pro is a misnomer. It should have been called iPhone 11 Instagram Pro. 
    You say that, yet my major metro newspaper fired all their pro photographers with expensive rigs and gave them iPhones.
    They fired them and then gave them iPhones? Was that a nice parting gesture? :smile: 
    He meant they fired the photogs, and gave reporters iPhones. A few pubs did this, unfortunately.
    muthuk_vanalingam
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