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iPhone 11 vs. iPhone X: Cameras, battery and all the specs compared

iPhone 11 vs. iPhone X: Cameras, battery and all the specs compared

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 that 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, starting at $1,000. Two years later, in 2019, the iPhone 11 was announced as follow-up to the iPhone XR. It wasn’t the most innovative phone ever, but it was, as Apple billed it, the iPhone for (nearly) everyone. If 2020’s iPhone 12 is out of your price range and you’re looking to snag a more affordable iPhone, let’s take a look at Apple’s previous two flagships and compare the iPhone X and iPhone 11.

Angela Lang/CNET

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 (now only $599). 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.

Read our Apple iPhone 11 review.

Angela Lang/CNET

The iPhone X was an industry leading smartphone back in 2017, and it’s still fantastic now. 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 $500.

Read our Apple iPhone X review.

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 our 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 1 meter (about 3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 mins. Although it’s lower than the iPhone 11’s IP68 rating (which doesn’t bother me so much), it was how the iPhone X fared during CNET’s drop tests that was the big letdown.

The iPhone X cracked at a single 3-foot drop. The iPhone 11 withstood eight different drop tests on hard concrete, including a drop from 11 feet high (though the cameras didn’t survive). 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 (at least until the iPhone 12 came around). The glass was custom-made for the iPhone by Corning, the American company behind Gorilla Glass. 

Read more: What happens when you drop the iPhone 11 in water?

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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-pixel 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. When I compared the iPhone X and iPhone 11 screens side by side, however, 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 ultrawide 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.  

Read more: 5 iPhone 11 camera tricks that will make you a better phone photographer

The iPhone 11’s ultrawide 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 faces

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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 2021, and the A11 chipset is still a speedy processor. 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 boosted the iPhone 11’s performance by at least 20% 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, 24 minutes. Meanwhile, the iPhone X lasted 11 hours, 45 minutes

As for storage, the iPhone 11 base model gets 64GB, which is probably fine for many people. You also have the 128GB version and 256GB versions to choose from. 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) iPhone 11 Pro (2019)
Display size, resolution 5.8-inch; 2,436×1,125 pixels OLED 6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels 5.8-inch OLED Super Retina XDR; 2,436×1,125 pixels
Pixel density 458 ppi 326ppi 458ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.7×2.79×0.30 in 5.94×2.98×0.33 in 5.67×2.81×0.32 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 143.6×70.9×7.7 mm 150.9×75.7×8.3mm 144×71.4×8.1 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.14 oz; 174 g 6.84 oz; 194g 6.63 oz; 188g
Mobile software iOS 11 (can update to 13) iOS 13 iOS 13
Camera 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 7-megapixel with Face ID 12-megapixel with Face ID 12-megapixel with Face ID
Video capture 4K 4K 4K
Processor Apple A11 Bionic Apple A13 Bionic Apple A13 Bionic
Storage 64GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAM 3GB Not disclosed Not disclosed
Expandable storage None None None
Battery Not disclosed Not disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 1 hour longer than iPhone XR Not disclosed, but Apple claims it will last 4 hours longer than iPhone XS
Fingerprint sensor None (Face ID via TrueDepth camera) None (Face ID) None (Face ID)
Connector Lightning Lightning Lightning
Headphone jack No No No
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 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) $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB), $1,349 (512GB)

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