When the iPhone X was unveiled to the world in the fall of 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.” That’s partly because at the time, the iPhone X was Apple’s largest phone yet complete with an overhauled design. Gone were the thick bezels and the physical home button of its predecessor the iPhone 7 and virtually all previous generations of iPhone. Instead we got a bar-raising phone which featured a near edge-to-edge display and for the first time we were introduced to Face ID. The iPhone X also set a new bar in terms of price, it started at $1000. Two years later, in 2019, the iPhone 11 was announced as follow-up to the iPhone XR. It’s not the most innovative phone ever, but it is, as Apple billed it, the iPhone for (nearly) everyone.
Compared to the iPhone X, the iPhone 11 features a better camera, improved battery life, and better durability, but it doesn’t come with nearly the same level of upgrades. In fact, Apple made some calculated compromises like using an LCD display instead of an OLED to help drive costs down, allowing the iPhone 11 to start at $699. It’s also missing a telephoto lens, which you can find on the iPhone X, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Even with those trade-offs, the iPhone 11 is the all-around better phone. It’s also the iPhone I prefer because of its longer battery life, better cameras, and solid durability.
The iPhone X was an industry leading smartphone back in 2017, and it’s still fantastic in 2020. The iPhone X has a premium OLED screen, great cameras and is powered by Apple’s robust A11 processor. But it isn’t durable, cracking at a single three-foot drop during CNET’s drop tests. It’s also much harder to come by since Apple discontinued it. You can buy refurbished phones, but it’ll set you back at least $599.
iPhone X is stainless steel, but the iPhone 11 is nearly drop-proof
The iPhone X is a thing of beauty that is worth appreciating based on its aesthetics alone. Its sleek, nearly all-screen appearance looks elegant and helped set new design standards for iPhones. In fact, even though it’s older than the iPhone 11, it’s arguably more modern in look and feel. That’s because it’s lighter, thinner, and smaller than the iPhone 11. (For specific numbers, you can scroll down to CNET’s specs chart below).
It’s also crafted out of stainless steel, which is typically one of the design hallmarks of a premium phone. The iPhone 11, meanwhile, uses an aluminum frame with glass on the front and back. But for all its minimalistic beauty, the iPhone X is not a durable phone and should absolutely be used with a good case. Yes, it does have an IP67 rating, which means the phone is fully dust protected and can also withstand being submerged in 1m (about 3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 mins. That’s lower than the iPhone 11’s IP 68 rating, but it was the drop tests that were the big letdown.
The iPhone X cracked at a single three foot drop. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 withstood eight different drop tests on hard concrete, including a drop from 11 feet high (though the cameras didn’t). This seemed to back up Apple’s claim that it has used the most durable glass ever built into a smartphone on the front and back of the iPhone 11. The glass was custom-made for the iPhone by Corning, the American company behind Gorilla Glass.
iPhone X has a smaller, sharper, more premium display
Another key difference between the iPhone X and iPhone 11 is screen technology. The iPhone X is the clear winner in this category because it has a higher resolution display with better build quality. While the iPhone 11 dons a larger LCD display, the iPhone X features a more compact OLED display with a 2,436×1,125 resolution, which is higher than the iPhone 11’s resolution (1,792×828). In general, OLED displays serve up better image quality with blacker blacks and whiter whites, but they’re also more costly. However, when I compared the iPhone X and iPhone 11 screens side-by-side I didn’t notice a difference in quality, in both dark mode and normal.
The iPhone 11 lacks a telephoto lens, but has better cameras overall
Apart from price, cameras are one of the biggest and most important differentiators between the two iPhones. While both devices have dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, they differ in the type of lens built into them. Where the iPhone 11 has a wide and ultra-wide camera, the iPhone X has a standard lens and a telephoto shooter, which gives the iPhone X an advantage because it’s better for zooming into a photo without losing quality. But even though the iPhone 11 lacks the much-loved telephoto lens, it has better cameras in general and it can pull off 2x digital zoom without any obvious loss of detail, though it has no optical zoom capabilities whatsoever.
In addition, the iPhone 11 also has the advantage of the more powerful A13 chipset working in its favor. This hardware combined with new image processing tech like Deep Fusion help make the iPhone 11 cameras some of the best money can buy today. Deep Fusion is a new way for the iPhone 11 to process photos allowing for better indoor shots that are sharper and more color accurate. It also enables faster autofocus.
Shot on iPhone X: Apple’s latest camera hits the streets
The iPhone 11’s ultra-wide lens, which is a first in iPhones, is also a worthwhile resource to lean on when you’re photographing sweeping landscapes. It captures a 120-degree field of view allowing you to fit in more of your surroundings than previous models and injects drama into otherwise mundane scenes. It’s probably not something you’ll use day-to-day though.
As stellar as iPhone cameras are, low-light photography has long been a relative weakness. But that’s not the case in the iPhone 11. You get a new automatic Night Mode feature, which captures impressive photos in near dark conditions. The iPhone X doesn’t have the automatic Night Mode feature, so when you take low-light photos they’re grainer compared to the iPhone 11. You also get great overall image stabilization, which feels like you’re shooting video with the help of a gimbal. There’s also a much better selfie camera that can shoot 4K video.
Here are some other camera tools in the iPhone 11 that improves upon what is present on the iPhone X:
- Brighter true-tone flash
- Higher contrast ratio HDR
- Portrait mode can now detect pet face
The iPhone 11 has superior battery life and a 128GB storage option
We’ve covered the differences in the exteriors of both the iPhone X and iPhone 11, but there’s a key difference internally, and that’s the aforementioned chipset. At the heart of the iPhone X is the A11 bionic chip, which was Apple’s most advanced processor at the time of its launch. Fast forward to 2020, and the A11 chipset is still a speedy processor that when combined with iOS 13.5 should still run very smoothly. The iPhone 11, meanwhile, houses the more power efficient A13 chip, which is also found on the other members of the iPhone 11 family (and the new iPhone SE). Apple claims it boosts the iPhone 11’s performance by at least 20 percent over the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, which used the A12. That includes the speed of the main processor brains and its special-purpose engines for graphics and AI. When we ran processing performance speeds on 3DMark and Geekbench 5, the iPhone 11 came away with the win as expected, but the iPhone X held up well.
As usual, Apple didn’t disclose battery capacity figures, but reports point to the iPhone X carrying a smaller 2,716 mAh battery, while the iPhone 11’s equipped with a 3,110 mAh battery. In our video playback tests that loops video while on airplane mode, we found that the iPhone 11 lasted 15 hours and 24 minutes. Meanwhile, the iPhone X lasted 11 hour and 45 minutes.
As for storage, The $699 iPhone 11 model gets 64GB of storage, which is probably fine for many people. You also have the 128GB version and 256 GB version to choose from for $749 and $859 respectively. The iPhone X forgoes the 128GB variant, which is widely considered to be the sweet spot in terms of storage options, so you only have the remaining two to decide between.
iPhone X vs iPhone 11 Specs
|iPhone X (2017)||iPhone 11 (2019)|
|Display size, resolution||5.8-inch; 2,436×1,125 pixels OLED||6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels|
|Pixel density||458 ppi||326ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.7×2.79×0.30 in||5.94×2.98×0.33 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||143.6×70.9×7.7 mm||150.9×75.7×8.3mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.14 oz; 174 g||6.84 oz; 194g|
|Mobile software||iOS 11 (can update to 13)||iOS 13|
|Camera||12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (telephoto)||12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)|
|Front-facing camera||7-megapixel with Face ID||12-megapixel with Face ID|
|Processor||Apple A11 Bionic||Apple A13 Bionic|
|Storage||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB|
|Battery||Not disclosed||Not disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 1 hour longer than iPhone XR|
|Fingerprint sensor||None (Face ID via TrueDepth camera)||None (Face ID)|
|Special features||Water resistant (IP67); wireless charging; Face ID 3D unlock, Animoji||Water resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB) Refurbished: $599||$699 (64GB), $749 (128GB), $849 (256GB)|
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