There’s a moment within a few minutes after I unboxed the iPhone 11 Pro. I’m watching Godzilla and the sound effects just blow me away. Apple calls it Spatial Audio, the next step from stereo speakers. In many ways this summarises this year’s iPhone Pro devices for me – the Next step. This year it’s more than just a step, Apple takes a bigger leap than it did in 2018 with the iPhone XS twins, the headline feature is the Camera. The 11 Pro becomes the first iPhone to sport a triple rear cam and it kicks ass.

The placement of this triple rear cam is likely to spark strong love or loathe (the memes haven’t stopped) reactions but I can say this, it looks much nicer upfront. There’s a lot to like about the build quality of the new iPhone 11 Pro. Apple opts for a new textured matte finish that feels less slippery. It’s unlikely that most users will use the Pro devices without a back case. Apple has added a clear case to its portfolio of leather and silicon covers. 

You won’t notice the other big change in this device though. Apple’s new A13 bionic processor is a beast – yes, this is an overused expression for smartphone hardware but it’s not an overstatement in this case. Add iOS 13 and the new iPhone 11 Pro is magic and ultra-fast, something you will notice while gaming. Apple widens the performance gap with its new processor and hardware spec sheet. We wish Apple had bumped up the storage on the base variant to 128GB. 64GB doesn’t sound Pro enough.

The other big question that will confront most prospective buyers this year is – ‘Which iPhone to buy?’ It’s fair to say that Apple has bridged the gap between the 11 and the Pro devices (compared to the XR and the XS duo) with the dual camera on the iPhone 11. It’s also priced aggressively; Apple might have nailed the pricing of the 11 in India. The Pro devices are for you if the finer details in the camera and a more vibrant display matters. Just like last year, my favourite device is the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro, because a slinky form matters more than a larger display – given that my iPhone is not my primary Netflix device. But if you need that extra screen real estate and don’t mind the extra heft, the Pro Max (with its 6.5-inch display) might be the iPhone for you. 

This year’s iPhones are a tad heavier than their predecessors but the improved battery life is well worth it. We noticed a significant increase in battery life that suggests that Apple’s claim of 4 hours extra battery life over the XS (and five hours for the Pro Max over the XS Max) is not hyperbole. While the notch stays on for the third year running, the Pro twins get a boost from the XDR (eXtreme Dynamic Range) display that doubles the contrast ratio (over last year’s XS duo). Colours are truly vibrant on this OLED display (1125 x 2436 pixels).

But ultimately the iPhone 11 Pro is about the camera. We’ll say this, the 11 Pro is among the best smartphone cameras out there. The one big change over last year is lowlight. Apple’s Night Mode images don’t just look natural but get snapped intuitively. You don’t need to fidget for night mode in the camera menu, the phone automatically switches to Night Mode when the camera detects you’re in a lowlight zone. An ultra-wide lens debuts on an iPhone for a first time and opens up a whole new set of possibilities. And then there’s Portrait mode, a strong suit for the iPhone that gets even better with newer options like the high-key light mono for dramatic selfies. The triple cam combines three 12MP lenses while the selfie camera now allows you to shoot in slow-mo; brace yourself for the ‘slowfie’ hashtag. 

The iPhone 11 Pro doesn’t come cheap but if you’re due for an iPhone or a smartphone upgrade, this is a device that you will enjoy using. Apple doesn’t just tick the key boxes but pulls ahead thanks to a much improved camera and significant gains in battery life over the iPhone XS. And if you’re a camera buff, then enough said. 

The iPhone 11 Pro starts at Rs 99,900 while the iPhone Pro Max starts at Rs 109,900. Both phones come in space gray, silver, gold and the new midnight green finishes.