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iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max hands-on: More cameras, more fun

Engadget 2019-09-10 15:29:00

Today's Apple demo room felt like more of a madhouse than usual, and the clear star of the day so far has been the iPhone 11 Pro. Among other things, the Pro represents the biggest shift to the iPhone's branding since the 4S kicked off a multi-year naming trend. There's much more to this phone than just a name change, though. It might not seem like the most exciting step forward from devices like the iPhone XS and XS Max, but there are a few things here that really help the flesh-out the iPhone formula.

It's hard to get a sense for how well something really works when you're pressed up again five or six other people trying to get their hands on the same devices. (It's even trickier when Tim Cook sets up shop behind you for a chat with Anthony Davis and Karlie Kloss.) I'll be updating this story with more nuanced thoughts in a bit, but in the meantime, here are my first impressions.

If you've used an XS or XS Max before, you basically know what you expect in terms of look and feel — not that there aren't any differences. After years of fumbling slippery, slick glass iPhones, the matte finish Apple used for the Pros seem like a somewhat helpful touch. (More than anything, though, they just feel good.) The new green finish is a nice touch too, though it's so muted it hardly really counts as "green." Still, after years of expensive iPhones that largely came in the same colors, I'm pleased Apple decided to mix it up a just a little.

Even after just a bit of hands-on time, the iPhone Pro's three main cameras seem like a big improvement over what we got in previous models. That's mostly because of the extra flexibility this new wide-angle cameras -- these are pretty commonplace in higher-end Android devices, and Apple finally decided to embrace the change. We obviously couldn't pull any sample photos off the iPhone Pros, but Apple's interface work here is impressive; when you're shooting with the standard wide camera, you see that your field of view actually extends behind the settings and camera controls, to signify you can see more than what you currently can. And while I was using the on-screen dial to finely set my focal length, I didn't notice any shuttering as I switched between cameras. These phones obviously aren't final yet, but they're a little more polished than I had expected.