Camera - Daylight Evaluation: Triple Cameras

Thus far we’ve covered the iPhone 11 series' new A13 SoC, the new display and the phones' excellent battery life. But it’s very evident that above all that, Apple puts the new cameras at the forefront of the new device generation.

The new main camera on the iPhone 11s employ a new generation sensor with full dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) coverage. While the pixels themselves remain the same at 1.4µm in width, Apple will have likely improved the deep trench isolation (DTI) implementation, allowing for the sensor to achieve better detail and less noise.

The wide-angle camera will be the most interesting aspect of the new cameras: the 120° field-of-view of the new module will allow for a completely new perspective on photography for iPhone users, and should be a big new addition to the shooting experience of the phones.

As a note, I had started off the daylight comparison photos on the initial iOS13.0 launch version. By the time I got to the night time shots iOS13.1 was released so those photos were captured on that version. Finally, I added a quick comparison with the newest iOS13.2 and the new Deep Fusion feature towards the end of the daylight pages.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

Starting off with the main camera, we’re seeing a relatively similar exposure between the XS and the 11 in this shot. I feel like the 11’s color reproduction has improved slightly. Another big difference is in the HDR handling as the sunlit areas in the street as well as the top of the building are significantly better defined on the new 11. Detail-wise I can’t say there’s been too much of a change between the two phones in this shot.

On the telephoto camera, which is only available on the Pro models, we’re seeing a slightly brighter picture on the 11. It looks like the 11 has increased noise on the textures here, and we’re seeing a bit less detail in the details further back in the scene.

The wide-angle is a fantastic new addition to the 11 series as it’s able to capture a lot more of the scene in front of you. Apple does very well in terms of maintaining a good consistency between the different cameras and thus exposure and colors are extremely similar.

Comparing the quality of the wide-angle shots to that of other phones however we see that the dynamic range is a bit lacking, and the camera is having trouble in terms of defining the foreground shadows of the trees and the flowers on the lamp-post. The module does well with textures, but is a bit lacking in finer detail.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

In the next shot again, we see very similar exposures between the XS and the new 11. A definitive win for the 11 is the more accurate color temperature, as the XS had the tendency of being a bit warm. It’s very hard to make out any major differences in detail between the phones, but I do notice that the 11 has somewhat less detail in the texture of the ground.

On the zoom lens there’s very little difference again between the phones, however I feel that the 11 has less detail here and it’s as if it’s applying a sharpening filter. The trees particularly look more in focus on the XS – this might be a side-effect of the wider f/2.0 aperture lens on the new 11 module.

The wide-angle here makes it more visible that the color temperature is still a bit warm, as the concrete and stone had a greyer look to them in reality, something more similar to what the S10s are able to produce.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

On the main camera the improvements on of the HDR can be noticed again here as the 11 is better able to handle the highlights such as the leaves of the trees as well as the white tent – accurately depicting its details while the XS was clipping to white. There’s very little other difference in the details between the shots.

On the telephoto camera, here we’re definitely seeing some much increased noise on the iPhone 11 Pro's module compared to what the XS was able to deliver.

In terms of the wide-angle, I think it’s a matter of preference which phone you like most. What’s important for the iPhone 11 is that the composition between a crop of the wide-angle and the regular main camera looks almost identical and that’s a much appreciated degree of consistency.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

In this shot the statue in direct sunlight, we see the iPhone 11 Pro is able to resolve more details and remain sharper compared to the XS. This time around, we can also say the same about the telephoto module as the new unit is able to clearly outperform its predecessor.

On the wide-angle, while the iPhone 11 Pro did very well in composition, when we compare the details of the ground against the S10s, we see that it appears very washed out and blurry.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

In this shot you’d have an extremely hard time telling the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone XS apart. The 11 is able to render the tree leaves a little bit livelier, and I can see just a little bit less detail in the pavements, but other than that the shots are almost identical.

The telephoto here again seems to be as finely defined as on the XS – again not sure if this is due to optics or due to processing.

The wide-angle shot is excellent and I think a lot more natural than the Galaxy phones, really only falling second to the P30 Pro’s wide angle unit.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

The iPhone 11 Pro is able to better extract the saturation of the sunlit foliage in this shot and I think it looks a lot livelier than the XS. Detail between the two generations are even.

In the telephoto modules we see the same saturation change for the better, and this is one instance where the 11 does better in terms of detail as it’s able to have better definition of the roof tiles.

Apple’s wide-angle here is the most natural, even though it’s lacking Samsung’s much wider dynamic range – the latter here went a bit wacko in terms of the luminosity/saturation processing.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

Apple’s main improvements here again are color balance and better HDR retaining more details in the highlights of the sun-lit parts.

The telephoto keeps flip-flopping between being an improvement and being a degradation. Here the 11 has again more noise in it and appears less sharp than the XS. Also notice the reds of the traffic signs is a lot more muted on the 11, something also present on the main camera.

Composition of the wide-angle is good although it’s lacking in dynamic range compared to the S10. It’s also noticeably lacking in detail.

Click for full image
[ iPhone 11 Pro ] - [ iPhone XS ] - [ iPhone X ]
[ S10+(S) ] - [ S10+(E) ] - [ Pixel 3 ]
[ P30 Pro ] - [ Xperia 1 ] - [ G8 ]

In the next scene we’re seeing quite a large difference between the 11 Pro and the XS: The 11 is quite a lot brighter but at the same time the sky is also a lot more blown out. The brighter picture does end up more representative of the scene at the time.

On the telephoto the 11 Pro has more contrast, but it’s again noisier. The foreground parts we can see a bit of blur caused by the camera’s shallower depth of field due to the larger aperture.

The wide-angle did very well in terms of exposure here as some phones tended to be too dark.

Battery Life - A Magnitude Shift Camera - More HDR, Indoors, Portrait, Deep Fusion
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  • HammerStrike - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    FYI, while al other new models are rated IP68, the pro’s are listed as having a maximum submerged depth of 4 meters for 30 minutes, vs 2 for the non-pro model. Your spec comparison on the first page lists them all at 2 meters. Reply
  • colonelclaw - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I think my perfect phone right now would be all of the 11 Pro's hardware shoved into the body the size of the iPhone 5, but obviously with the full-front screen. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much will amongst any of the premium phone manufacturers in wanting stuff to be smaller these days :(
    iPhone 11 Pro Nano anyone?
    Reply
  • p1esk - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Yes, I’d love a smaller iPhone. Reply
  • nirolf - Thursday, October 17, 2019 - link

    Smaller and lighter! I'm holding on to my 7 until they release something similar in size. Reply
  • Eliadbu - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    no iphone 11 pro but *rumors* say there is new Iphone SE2 for 399$ with a13 and 3GB of ram
    but I doubt it will be full front screen or AMOLED screen. but imo it will sell like hot buns from the oven. there is huge market for budget phone and a new iphone SE with same SOC as flagship, plenty of ram and IOS for 399$ is really compelling I know many people just lurk for used\old gen Iphones just so they can get Iphone for low price, this phone will draw the masses.
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Friday, October 18, 2019 - link

    unfortunately the rumors seem to paint Apple as being more interested in the price aspect than the size aspect. Like it will be more modern innards in an iphone 8 body. Which misses a great deal about what I liked in the original SE. Reply
  • Eliadbu - Saturday, October 19, 2019 - link

    I see your point, but you need to understand the current market. Iphone sales and other premium flagship are declining while budget phones are on the rise especially in certain markets where most people can't afford expensive phone so they look for the best phone they can get at the budget lineup. Now there are cheaper options than 399$ but arguably no better options. Apple knows it loses huge market share by not creating option for that price point. Also if they put a13 in that phone it will be overkill. They should either use older chips that cost less now like the a12 or a11 which both are more than enough for budget phones, or they can use smaller more power efficient a13 that would cost less and put the money on newer display design or more cameras which will be better selling point than using a13, imo. Reply
  • Oyster - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I believe it's time for AT to really upgrade its website to be able to make use of the full width of modern displays. It's excruciating to go through these reviews and click through each camera sample without being able to compare things side-by-side. Even the performance graphs are so cramped. I hope an upgrade is on the way... Reply
  • Raqia - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    "Nevertheless, I do question why Apple decided to be so aggressive in terms of power this generation."

    I imagine it has something to do with the much bigger battery they put into the phone; current draw wearing down the battery isn't as much of a concern when it is larger. The little cores are far more impressive this year with roughly A73-75 levels of performance at much better efficiency. They seemed to have listened to users by making the phone a bit chunkier in exchange for a bigger battery.

    The inefficient modem is still a sore spot this year which should hopefully be addressed next year with the inclusion of Qualcomm parts and IP. More importantly, the impact of a closed ecosystem with management who care more about profit than users is being felt by real customers in places like Hong Kong or vendors like EPIC who have avenues other than the official OS vendor sponsored app store on Android. Regulators should force Apple to offer an open store API for third parties to set up store fronts so that customers could have more choice based on pricing, quality, and reputation.
    Reply
  • UglyFrank - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I really did not need to see those T Rex scores, it hurt me spirit as a lifetime Android Phone user.
    My S4 would get 17fps in T-Rex and the iPhone is getting ~16-19x that after only 6 years later.
    Reply

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