Best iPhone: Which Apple Smartphone Should You Buy in 2019?


You’re on the verge of becoming an iPhone owner, but the choice of phones is causing a dilemma. The iPhone 11 Pro is the flagship and oh so tempting, but the iPhone 11 Pro Max has that enormous, gorgeous display. You can’t discount the simple beauty of the iPhone 11 either. Then you have to decide between the different colors and the storage options and — well, it’s safe to say there’s a lot to think about.

It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. This is an expensive purchase, so which iPhone is the best one for you? Here’s our easy guide to help you make the right choice, quickly.

TL;DR

What’s the best iPhone?

  • For most people: The iPhone 11 is all the phone you need, and you don’t need to spend almost $1,000 for all the latest features from Apple. For $699, you get the gorgeous edge-to-edge design in fun, colorful styles, a great camera with Portrait Mode, a powerful A13 Bionic processor, and daylong battery life.
  • For photographs: Either the iPhone 11 Pro or the iPhone 11 Pro Max will satisfy those looking to take great photos. They both have the same triple camera system on the back, and the front camera with the depth sensor can generate Animoji and Memoji.
  • For business: The iPhone 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, or 11 will all turn heads in the boardroom, but the iPhone 11 Pro Max and 11’s bigger screens make reading and typing easier than on the 11 Pro. We’d pay up for the 256GB or 128GB model if it has to deal with more apps and digital content.
  • For the first-time iPhone owner: If this is going to be your first iPhone and you need to stretch your budget, or perhaps you don’t need the latest tech, Apple still sells the iPhone XR and the iPhone 8. A 64GB iPhone 8 is $449, while a 64GB iPhone XR is $599. While neither is cheap, you’re getting good phones that will last some time at a great price. We strongly recommend going for the iPhone 11 if your budget can reach $699. It will last you a while, it looks fantastic, and has many of the features you’ll find on the latest high-end iPhones.
  • Money no object, best iPhone purchase: If you’re happy to pay $1,000 or more, then we say buy the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s the best size, comes with a great camera, and the OLED screen is a winner.

Specifications

Regardless of whether you choose the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max, they all come with the same version of Apple’s iOS operating system installed, and they will all get the same software updates, at the same time, for the next couple of years. So don’t worry about software, you’re covered.

Traditionally iPhone battery life has not been stellar, but that all changed this year. Both the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have seen some big upgrades, and the upshot of those improvements is that both phones have the potential for a two-day battery life on low use. The iPhone 11 has the weakest battery life, but it’s still easily capable of a full day’s use. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have another advantage, as both come with an 18W fast charger, while the iPhone 11 comes with a slow 5W charger. All three of these models support wireless charging, so make sure you pick up a wireless charging pad for added convenience.

Each iPhone comes with the option of three different sizes of internal memory: 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB for the iPhone 11, and 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB for the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. None have room for a Micro SD card to expand that storage, so choose carefully. You can pay for extra iCloud storage — 5GB is included and free — which can free up internal storage space on the device later on. While 64GB is enough for most people, we always recommend paying for as much storage as you can afford, due to the inability to physically increase it on an iPhone.

Check out our iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max specs comparison post for more details.

Design

iPhone 11 Pro in Pocket
iPhone 11 Pro Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Apple changed everything about the design of iPhones with the 2017 iPhone X. It’s clearly a look Apple likes, as it persisted for the iPhone XS, and remains much the same for the latest iPhone 11 range. Well, around the front at least. The biggest changes to the iPhone 11 line-up are around the back, with a new squared module in the upper-left corner of the back. It’s here you’ll find the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max’s triple-camera systems, while the iPhone 11 makes do with a dual-camera system. It’s a striking change and one that lends a unique look — but it’s not loved by everyone, as there are reports the new design is triggering those with a fear of clustered holes.

The new camera design is controversial, but the rest of the design isn’t. The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max have stainless steel frames, whereas the iPhone 11 is aluminum; they all have edge-to-edge screens with a notch (though the 11 has thicker bezels); and they are all missing a home button. You now use Face ID with the TrueDepth camera to unlock your phone and access secure apps. Water-resistance is standard now, and all three models have an IP68-rating for water and dust-resistance.

Like the iPhone XR before it, the iPhone 11 stands out because it comes with six color options. There’s the striking yellow option, green, purple, and the PRODUCT(Red), along with the standard black and white options. We think it makes the iPhone 11 the most stylish of the lot, but the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max do exude a kind of elegance not found on the 11 — especially in gold and midnight green.

Screens

The iPhone 11 Pro Max and Pro side-by-side in-hand
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

The screen sizes vary between the three phones. The smallest is the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro with a 2436 x 1125-pixel resolution. It’s a little small for some, but we think it’s the perfect-sized phone since you can easily use it one-handed. The 6.1-inch iPhone 11 is more spacious, but it comes with a meager 1792 x 828 resolution. It’s not going to look as sharp as the other two phones. Finally, the 11 Pro Max is the biggest with a 6.5-inch screen and a 2688 x 1242 resolution. It’s the best iPhone to watch movies on, but it also can be a little cumbersome to hold. This is definitely a two-handed phone.

The OLED screens on the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max look superb. The black levels are stunning, and video performance is excellent. The LCD iPhone 11 screen is one of the best available, but as it’s an LCD screen, you won’t find the same level of deep blacks and vibrant colors as the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. The low screen resolution may also put people off, though if you hold the phone away from your eyes at a reasonable distance, it still looks sharp.

This is the first major decision you’re going to have to make before settling on which iPhone to buy — the size of the screen that suits you. In reality, the best way to judge this is to visit a store that carries all three and hold them. You’ll quickly know which one is right. We’d say the iPhone 11 Pro is the optimal size, but the bigger 11 Pro Max is certainly the better choice if you watch a lot of movies or videos on your phone. The iPhone 11 has the least impressive screen, but it’s also much cheaper than the other two. If it looks sufficient to you, then go for it. We like the iPhone 11’s 6.1-inch screen size, as it’s the perfect middle ground between the two, and is quite comfortable to hold and use.

Camera

best iphone to buy apple 11 pro hands on jc camera mode three lenses 1

If you’re still not sure after looking at the screens, or are now stuck between two models, then it’s time to turn your attention to the camera. Apple makes excellent, capable cameras that take great photos you’ll want to show off, but is it worth going for a triple-lens iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max over the dual-lens iPhone 11? Not necessarily. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max pack an additional 12-megapixel telephoto lens, but the iPhone 11 still has a 12-megapixel wide-angle main lens, and the new 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens — and it’s this new lens that makes the biggest difference. You’ll be able to cram in wide landscapes and sweeping cityscape shots, and really diversify your camera abilities.

All three phones come with Apple’s new Night Mode for when the lights go down, and it works well. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max offer the telephoto lens’s 2-times zoom, which offers more versatility, but it’s not something you should be worried about sacrificing if you’re not a die-hard snapper. If you love your video, you’ll find the new video stabilization and extended dynamic range on each.

Over on the front, all three have the same 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera. It takes great selfies with Portrait Mode — and the new “Slofie” video mode — so there are no differences here.

Price

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make is how much you want to spend on a new iPhone. The cheapest is the iPhone 11 with 64GB for $699 directly from Apple. The most expensive is the iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512GB, which costs $1,449. In the middle is the iPhone 11 Pro with 64GB at $999. Going with different storage options can change the price dramatically.

Anything else to know?

common iphone 11 pro problems and how to fix them max ios 13 920x7666
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s preferable to buy an iPhone unlocked and without a contract, if you can afford it, so it’s easier to sell it in the future. However, there are some strong carrier deals where it’s possible to upgrade your phone after a year without incurring a hefty penalty. This would be an acceptable alternative.

Finally, if you’ve settled on an iPhone to buy, then the last decision to make is the color. There is no right or wrong choice here, but if you go with the iPhone 11, we recommend going for one of the more colorful options rather than white or black. The iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max’s color options aren’t as bright and exciting, but there’s still the midnight green and gold options if you don’t want the regular space grey or white finish.

Ready to buy?

This is the best time to buy an iPhone. Apple has announced all of its 2019 devices, so there are no more surprises. Whichever iPhone you end up buying, we’re positive you’ll enjoy it.

Editors’ Recommendations








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