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iPhone 11 Pro just played catch up to every Android flagship, but still has the one feature that matters

Galaxy Note 9 Iphone Xs Max
Galaxy Note 9 Iphone Xs Max (Image credit: Android Central)

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.

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.

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.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

70 Comments
  • What a stupid article. "It still have the feature that matters... it's made by apple." Who's opinion? I say, who cares. All phones work the same nowadays.
  • iPhone users care. That's who their market is.
  • The point is that iPhone users very much care that they can still get an iPhone and it'll work mostly the same as the phone they have now. It's an incredibly important factor in upgrades.
  • Exactly , many people don't want to leave apples ecosystem. Many friends of mine who have iPhones rant all the time about how they hate what Apple is doing with there tech but they will not part with imessage and other related apple services and get an android cause they know IOS well and all there stuff is on it and its easier just to upgrade to the next iPhone than switch and become an android user.
  • I have to agree with Andrew's assessment - iPhone users won't leave iOs because Apple keeps giving them the features that they want and you just can't beat iMessage or Facetime (Which most of my friends and family are on). I was a long time Android fan and switched to Apple two years ago because I grew tired of fragmentation and lack of updates. The typical iPhone will get at least 4 years worth of os updates and they come immediately. Fragmentation is the most frustrating thing about Android and quite frankly couldn't take it anymore. I'm definitely going to stay with Apple and upgrade to the iPhone 11.
  • Very true. The same goes with alot of my friends around me. Curious, besides the consistent updates how you liking iOS compared to Android?
  • Overall I'm good with iOs. I only use my phone for email, messaging, Facebook, phone calls/Facetime and taking photos/videos, so it works well for those functions. One feature that really appeals to me is the ability to deny apps from running in the background. One thing that really frustrated me about Android was when I would check my battery stats and see random apps just running in the background...that would always just piss me off. For example the AAA app, it's only on my phone in case my car breaks down or I get a flat. It has no business running any other time. There are things I miss about Android, but I'm good with iOs now. I always enjoyed the years when I could root my phone and install custom Roms, but I'm over that now. Getting timely Os updates and getting them for 4 or more years is much more important to me now.
  • Agree. Selling my note 9 for the 11 Pro. Apple also doesn't develop adware or mine the **** out of their customers info. With samsung or Google, you basically cede any and all data privacy, unless you don't use their features. Apple doesn't require such sacrifice. Don't want to have to be a lawyer to use my phone w.
  • Respectfully, I don't agree that it's a "stupid article." I think it was well thought out, where it didn't necessarily have to be - because the points that it was making are obvious. Brand loyalty, brand snobbery, and ecosystem lock-in - and lockdown - period, are the reasons Apple doesn't work so hard to keep customers.
  • Apple just makes great phones and anyone who says otherwise is just being tribal. I prefer Android for a number of reasons but not because iPhones are bad.
  • iPhones ate great. iOS is pretty crap though.
  • That's my problem, iOS never seems to change that much.
  • Why does it have to?
  • Because it gets boring for me.
  • You need actual friends then. Phone OSes aren't supposed to be fun. They're supposed to be functional and reliable. Android barely changes, either, because constant big change destabilizes your software and creates additional risks (bugs, security, etc.).
  • First, is there a need to act like a dick? Second, if you don't think phone OSs are interesting you're probably on the wrong site... Did you get lost trying to find Kylie Jenner's Instagram?
  • Being right doesn't make me a dick, and being "interesting" isn't the same thing as being "fun" (the opposite of "boring," which is not synonymous with interesting you u educated prick).
  • You're 100% being a dick... I know, because I'm usually trying to be a dick to these sensitive nerds on this site for fun while I 💩 to pass time... without a doubt, you're a dick. Also, good job failing at trying to sound intelligent while calling someone else "u educated" ... And for the record, thinking an OS is boring has exactly zero to do with the amount of friends one has, you dumb prick...
  • Boom!! There it is.
    Same ole Apple icon on the back.. And that's all that matters to iPhone users.
  • It's not the same icon... they MOVED it! That makes it completely different!
  • True but 699 bucks for a iphone 11 with only 64GB.. That's just insane along with 64GB as the baseline for the entire line up for iphones this year..
  • Don't forget that awesome 720p Retina display. 😂
  • I didn't know there was one coming out. I walked passed an iStore just today (rarely) and realised I had no desire to go in. I did secretly yearn to buy a top line iPhone, iMac and iPad when I win the iLottery but they don't attract me anymore. I agree they do seem to be stuck by their own success, intransigence (no iPhone with a pen), lawsuits... whatever, so I liked this blog. Still if it is better in the screen and most other departments (battery? soc? I'll look in to it when Cameloot pay up.
  • The thing is, Samsung supplies their processor technology and now screen, with iPhone 11 OLED screen. So, if the screen is good, it's because of Samsung. But, I will agree that they make pretty good hardware overall. But, I will stick with my Note 8 for now. I may upgrade to the 10+ later.
    The main reason I will not use an iPhone as a daily driver, despite having a iPhone 10 as my work phone, is lack of being able to truly customize it.
  • Samsung supplies their processor technology? You need to check your facts as Apple designs their CPU and TSMC makes it using their technology. Same thing goes for the Samsung OLED screen. Apple gives them the specs, size and etc and Samsung manufacturers them using their technology and process.
  • I actually like the iPhone Pro Max or whatever it's called but can't for the life of me understand why they are still knocking out 64gb storage versions? like seriously?
  • Do you have chronic diarrhea? Ask your doctor about iPhone ProMax. Honestly they're cranking them out because people buy them. Personally I could happily live in 64GB, but I agree qt the price they charge it's ludicrous. Google do the same thing with RAM and storage.
  • Damn near spat my coffee out reading that first sentence! Side effects may include checking the gram and facebook with irregular precision and face time-ing with out corded ear buds in a public place.
  • Probably because someone has data that says it's good enough for 90%-95% of customers.
  • I end up having all my photos and videos upload directly to iCloud anyway. So 64GB is fine.
  • My only initial thought is that after adding apps and the software to the phone, music, and previous photos you just gotta keep saved on the device, what room do you really have left for taking 4k 60fps video..? (because those files are huge!)
  • 64GB is OK for entry level, but the price should be lower. I bought a 64GB XS a few weeks ago, and it's fine, but I do the photography and movies and music on my HTC anyways. The HTC is 64GB also, but has a 256GB card in it.
  • iCloud will automatically offload old or rarely used data, so you can do photos and videos on 64GB if you have the cloud storage. Also, HEIF/HEVC toggle is a thing.
  • My iCloud is full. I've got three iPhones and an iPad backed up on the same account :(
  • I used to love iPhones. Switched between those and Androids all the way up from the 3G to the 8 Plus but even this latest one is missing too many things I couldn't live without on Android. Always On Display is by far the biggest one right now.
  • I don't care about always on display on my phone, but today i learned, and was confused, that all the previous iWatches didn't have it. I know it does some cool stuff, but how did a watch that is incapable of always showing the time? Not only can my Galaxy watch do it, but even my TicWatch E2 can! My mind is boggled.
  • It all comes down to Apple's massive fear of battery loss. They get fairly decent battery life on their devices with tiny batteries only because they cut as many background running services as possible. I was in discussion with an Apple Watch app developer when I had mine and he told me I was an absolute nightmare trying to add features due to Apple's strict rules on battery usage. Even if that means not showing the time on a watch 😳. This will be their very reason for not adding Always On Display to the phones too. They can't afford to with their awful tiny batteries they get away with giving users
  • On the flip side, this benefits them, because they end up getting better performance and longevity of of the hardware, since nothing is really wasting CPU cycles. The optimization is through the roof, and your app is almost never bottlenecked by something running in the background. Efficiency Cores are more optimal on iOD, than Android, as a result. Which is why these iPhones have such huge battery life gains. I think apple, as a co.puter maker, understands that phones aren't computers. They aren't trying to replace PCs with iPhones, the way some Android users seem to try (and fail) to do daily. Samsung tried this, and now DeX is nothing but an app (i.e. bloatware and a worse experience than Apples PC integration tech - AirDrop, cContinuity, Handoff, Instant Hotspot, etc. all from 2014 or earlier)...
  • The feature that really matters is that it'll probably support iOS 18 five years from now. You'll end up buying three Android phones in that timeframe. 🤣
  • True.
    Just think if multiple independent OEMs wanted to take iOS and modify it (Make it proprietary) for their eco system and release 'that' to the world. Would that make iOS attractive?
  • The problem is that a 5 year old iPhone is going to be slow and almost unusable. The iPhone 5 and 5c are pretty much a lesson in patience now, and the 6 is sluggish. The 6S is the oldest iPhone that is usable in my collection.
  • That's mostly due to RAM. All iPhones have at least 2GB now, which is all you need for smooth operation. Anything 7 and above is going to run well, even at 5 years old. You don't get to make that choice with Android. You're basically cut off to "encourage" you to upgrade. Also, last couple of iOS upgrades were pretty good to old devices like the 5s and 6 - specifically targeting them. Check your facts.
  • You kinda agreed with me when you said "Anything 7 and above is going to run well", so I'm not sure why you are saying to check my facts. The 5 and 5C are unusable, the 5S and 6 are borderline, the 6S is ok. What exactly is it you are contesting? I have those phones right now and that's how they run. Right now, on my desk in front of me while I'm typing this, I have a 16GB iPhone 5C in blue (model A1532), a 16GB iPhone 5S in white (model ME341LL/A), and a 32GB iPhone 6S Plus in space gray (model MN2Q2LL/A). The 6S Plus is the only one that runs well. The 5S is waiting to install iOS 12.4.1 from 12.4 at the moment, so I'm hoping you are correct and it runs better after the update. The battery is at 15%, so I'm charging it first (it's an iPhone... it will take a while). I do have an iPhone 7 but one of the kids is out with it, but it runs fine as it should. Also in the family are the XS Max and XS, which I bought just a few weeks ago, but both those run great. Our 8 Plus was replaced by a Note 10+ just two days ago, and it ran very good. Also running well is my 5 year old HTC M8, which is still smooth and buttery and rocking a new battery (which was a pain in the rear to replace!).
  • They shouldnt be nervous. They should be nervous when Apple changes their grid icons and make it open and customizable with an app drawer then everyone should be very nervous.
  • I'd like to point out how the tone of the overall conversation has shifted for Apple. It used to be, Apple is such a better phone because of the display and innovation and this that and the other. Now its....well at least we're maybe as good as Android phones, hey pat us on the back we're keeping up. That's a big difference from one of offense to a defensive position. To say 'at least it' an Apple phone' is to hang their hat on a legacy of past innovation when nothing new can be bragged about. That's a big shift that will impact perception in a bad way and remove the iphone luster if you ask me.....
  • Their camera is tops for video (has been forever), and their screen color reproduction is still superior to Samsung. They also have, by far the best ecosystem for both apps, accessories, and companion devices. They have the best desktop-mobile integration as well. Anyone who uses those devices can see this, which is why they have the highest customer retention rate in the industry. Meanwhile, people here are buying multiple phones a year in search of the Perfect 10.
  • You are the biggest Apple fanboy I have ever seen but sorry, go look at displaymates reviews on Samsung's panels and you'll find they smoke Aopples in color reproduction, brightness, gamut, etc. And their desktop mobile integration was the best until Samsung's recent Dex, which can use standalone or in app mode to access the complete phone, not just a few apps. And the only reason they have such a high retention rate is that they make it near impossible to leave. Changing from an iPhone to Android is extremely hard, ON PURPOSE! I'll admit Apples processors smoke QC but Apple had horrid LTE integration (they just announced gigabit LTE, LOL, welcome to 5 years ago. apples radios suck and most bands aren't covered okn most carriers leaving you with much slower radio performance than Android competition. And bixbsy home always sucked, Google assistant is leaps and bounds better than Siri and today. If Apple users actually knew how crappy the specs were in the iPhone they would never buy one, but apple does EVERYTHING it can to hide everything from battery size to RAM type and speed. The ONLY thing that saves apple is their processors. Even still you can't compare the NOte 10 + with 12GB RAM, 256GB stock storage, no devil Notch, 2k screen, pen, 4300mah battery and more. Pic up the Note 10 + and go side by side to Any iPhone and prepare to be spanked. At my local T-Mobile store they keep a note 10+ next to the iPhones and people can't believe how much better it is than the iPhone they have converted quite a lot of people. People buying Apple devices are mostly ignorant, I'm not saying you as you seem to know your stuff but are too fanboish in your zeal for Apple. Apple sells subpar specs at Tesla prices. Or are you happy with 64GB on a $1100 phone?!
  • Since you brought up the note 10+
    You better make sure your in a good signal area with your note 10 plus whenever you do this comparison..
    Or you won't have any signal. And yes I own both.
  • I have a Note 9. Apple's phones are calibrated out of the box for color accurate display, and the OS had basically flawless color management. Samsung doesn't do this.
  • I'm gonna have to agree with n8ter#AC on most of their points. A closed ecosystem with absolute control over everything is more efficient than an open system. Video quality is excellent, but I will say that others are competitive now.
    I don't think I agree about buying multiple phones each year, at least for myself. I held onto the M8 for 3 years because it was so good. The U11 I loved and I'd be fine with it still, but someone else wanted the U11 SO bad that I gave it to her. The U12+ I chose with the plan of keeping it for a while, and buttons that won't wear out are an asset towards that goal. We own the XS and XS Max and I can pick and choose whatever phone I want, but I still prefer the U12+. Music is just one of the reasons. Note: Marc999's comment was posted before mine, and was directed towards someone else!
  • You have serious issues.
    I liken you to you a lab experiment gone wrong, where experimental medication was administered and your behavior has become erratic and nonsensical.
    At this point - I point and laugh at your condition.
  • Most iPhone users I know still user older model iPhones, many are using iPhone 6s and 7s, because they still work. They refuse to spend over $1K on a phone. I don't blame them. Their iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 can still make calls, receive texts, and surf the web. That's all they care about.
  • There is nothing on offer from Apple that I don't already have on my Android One midranger. Apple is genius at repackaged and repurposed crap being presented as "new and revolutionary"...
  • You don't get cameras and screens that good on a One midrange. Stop lying. You certainly won't get that kind of performance, considerting QC struggled to keep up with 2 year old Apple SoCs.
  • You may want to read my comment again. I said that Apple has nothing on offer on it's devices they my Android One midranger doesn't already have at a much lower cost. Especially their "budget" iPhone which is twice as expensive as what I paid for my phone. I'm only speaking for myself. If you think Apple and it's devices are the only company that can fulfill your requirements as a customer... good for you, have at it. But this is the problem with Appletards, they've been brainwashed by Applesuck that it's 💩 doesn't stink to the point that they can't conceive of the fact that there are cheaper alternatives to it... with pretty much the same features and specs as the overpriced garbage they've been buying for years.
  • I hate Apple as much as the next guy, and I love trolling you, but I have to be serious for a moment and tell you that when you say things like "Appletards" and "Applesuck" you just come off as a child and it discredits everything else you say... You're literally the ONLY person I see doing this anymore. Just stop with the moronic names and stick to making your point like an adult and maybe someone will start taking you seriously. Just my 2¢...
  • Once you work in a phone store or as I do now selling phones in the back of Walmart you really see how everyone is different. You have people come in that want iPhones and won't have anything else then you have a few Samsung S series or Note fans and then you have the people that just wanna buy the cheapest phone and don't care as long as it works or believe it or not still many flip phone loyalists that will never want a smartphone, mostly your older people. Most everyone just wants to stay with what they are used to and don't care about having the latest thing as long as it operates as intended.
  • Apple is the new blackberry. Enough said case closed. Enjoy the rest of your night.
  • The battery life improvements are huge. I can finally switch back to a non-plus iPhone. That alone is worth the upgrade, IMO.
  • I'm so tired of huge note sized phones a d features that make you sell yourself to activate and use. Bixby Home was an amazing g replacement for Apple's Today Screen, until they shoved auto-playing video ads into it, among other things. Android tries to hard to piss you off. Apple know how to not piss you off.
  • Apple fans has to wait two years to get a new features. apple has cheated there fans every year but they don't care it's just the latest iPhone. All apple does is tweak what's on Android and introduce it as a game changer.
  • I didn't see anything in this article about the huge jump in battery life on these new models. You never see that much of a jump.
  • Agree. A small iPhone 11 Pro will probably get battery life better than a Note 10. If that happens, it's going to be a complete and utter fail for Android flagships selling for almost twice its price.
  • 2 to 3 days on a single charge is what I got on the U11 with normal use. 4 days on light use.
    Below is a screenshot:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/rqxB1BkTDtxEfmws9
  • I can't believe iPhone 11 (even budget model) has wide angle and Pixel 4 doesn't. Unless there is something we dont know, this would be a complete fail
  • but it comes with a built-in cooker, you only have decide on 2 rings or 3 rings
  • I just had an idea. Someone should make a replica of the three camera module to stick on the other top corner to balance it visually and physically. And as a bonus, they could make it a miniature fidget spinner.
  • Many people use the iPhone for a long time, and they don't know the fluency of the current Android flagship is same as iPhone. In fact, Android is also better than the iPhone in terms of appearance and functional innovation.
  • No, the iPhone and orher manufacturers play catch up with each other. This is a simplistic article wrote to give the impression that the iPhone lacks behind everyone and just sells thanks to branding...
  • I’m 55 so excuse my late reply. I want a phone. I have a camera, I have a diary, I have a computer that plays games against me, I have an iPad (cough), I have an iPhone (cough). I’d really like a phone that doesn’t demand that anyone cares about what device(s) I have.
    Seriously this whole conversation is moot considering what we’ll be agonising over tomorrow. Or not!