Another year, another Apple announcement that was somehow both hyped and eventually disappointing. The star of the show, per usual, was the latest iPhone: the interestingly named iPhone 11 Pro. Building on the iPhone XS from last year, Apple made its typical move of slightly refreshing the hardware, adding a few features, and claiming its revolutionary status.
Look at the slide above from the launch event. How much of it is truly new in the smartphone world? Well, none of it. Whether introduced by Apple or another company, everything up there is simply the same, or an iterative improvement on what we already had. The fact that a slide that's supposed to show the best of the best of what the iPhone offers includes such standard no-nonsense features as "water and dust resistance" and "wireless charging" is almost laughable.
The biggest changes this year, that Apple hung its hat on, are things that we already have on Android. Wide-angle cameras are great. Enhanced HDR, image processing and a dedicated Night Mode are super useful. Fast charging with a fast charger included in the box is something we all expect. A brighter, more colorful display is something everyone wants. I suppose the slow-motion video "slofies" (please never use that word) are truly new.
We can, as we have every year, talk about how the iPhone is bringing things to the table that we "already have" on Android. The Google Pixel 3 (to say nothing of the Pixel 4), Galaxy Note 10+, Huawei P30 and so many more offer it all in different packages. When you open up your buying options beyond the iPhone, you've had an opportunity to have all of the above features on phones before. But to focus on individual features is to miss the big picture of this announcement entirely.
The only feature that matters on the new iPhone 11 Pro is that it's still an iPhone, while not falling woefully behind in any aspect. Apple's in this unique position where it's the only company that makes the iPhone. And the number of people switching, either to or from, an iPhone is so low that it doesn't really need to do all that much beyond keep up with the industry and keep iterating on the rest of the features it announced generations ago.
Sure everything the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max brought is available elsewhere — it doesn't matter! Matching the competition is easily enough to keep a vast majority of iPhone owners super happy with their decision to simply upgrade to the next iPhone, when you take into account that the overall momentum of simply staying on the iPhone platform is the driving force behind an upgrade nowadays.
Getting the "same" features as everyone else isn't a downside for potential iPhone upgraders, it's a benefit. You're getting up to the same level as everyone else that's buying a high-end Android nowadays, while getting to stay on iOS with an interface you're familiar with, keep using iMessage with your friends and family, keep using the apps you love, and stick with all of the accessories you already bought.
Apple, by matching the rest of the industry, makes sure that there's no reason to switch away from the iPhone to chase other features and capabilities in the Android world — and then the strong iOS lock-in does the rest. Apple has nothing to worry about when it comes to people switching away from the iPhone because of a perceived lack of innovation in the iPhone 11 Pro.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.