How Much Better Is The iPhone 11 Camera? We Took Photos To Compare

Apple

Following the iPhone 11 announcement on Sep. 10, one of the most buzzed-about features on the upcoming models is the new and improved cameras. Not only are there more cameras on the three new iPhones — the iPhone 11 has a dual-camera system and the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have a triple-camera system — but they also come with new features, like QuickTake videos, Night Mode, the ability to easily take slow-motion selfies (slofies), and 4K video resolution, which is the highest-quality video in a smartphone. But how much better is the iPhone 11 camera actually? Since it's difficult to envision what this all means for your Instagram posts, Bustle had the opportunity to try out the new iPhone 11 models and capture the same exact shots using an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and an older model, the iPhone 8, so you can easily compare.

First, here's what you need to know about the cameras in the three new models. The iPhone 11's dual camera system consists of a Wide and Ultra Wide camera. The Ultra Wide lens can take up to four times more of a scene, meaning it's good for landscape pics and action photos/videos, since you can get more scenery or action in your shot. With the iPhone 11's updated Portrait Mode, you can get up close and (very) personal with people, pets, and foods in greater detail. You can also flip the camera into selfie mode and take selfies in Portrait Mode now.

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max — which are the same exact phone but different sizes — have a triple-camera system which includes the Ultra Wide lens and Wide lens, just like the iPhone 11. What sets the Pro and Pro Max apart is the the new Telephoto lens. This lens offers 40% more light compared to the iPhone X, allowing you to zoom into portraits or get more detail in your action shots. For perspective, here's how the new cameras perform in different situations.

The Low-Angle Shot

Here's a side-by-side comparison of a low-angle shot of a woman with a hula hoop using the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 8, so you can first get a general sense of the quality on the iPhone 11.

iPhone 11 (Wide Lens)
iPhone 8

Portrait Mode

While both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro have the same, improved quality of depth in Portrait Mode, Portrait Mode is even more advanced on the iPhone 11 Pro due to its Telephoto lens, which lets you to get two times closer to the subject to reveal more detail. Here's how a Portrait Mode photo on the iPhone 11 Pro looks in its default setting (which is also available on the iPhone 11) versus in the Telephoto lens from the same angle.

iPhone Pro (Portrait Mode/Wide Lens)
iPhone Pro (Portrait Mode/Telephoto Lens)

Night Mode

Night Mode is a brand new feature on all three new models that turns on automatically when you're in a low-lit environment so you don't have to turn your flash on and ruin the picture. Using its new camera software, the phone takes several pictures of the shot and then aligns them for one photo. While you won't have to select this setting, the camera will prompt you to hold the shutter button still for two or three seconds. Here's how a photo in the dark on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro looks in Night Mode (in several lenses) compared to an iPhone 8 without flash.

iPhone 11 Pro (Wide Lens)
iPhone 11 Pro (Telephoto Lens)
iPhone 11 (Ultra Wide Lens)
iPhone 8

A Selfie In Front Of The Sun

While low lighting isn't ideal for a photo, neither is taking a photo in direct sunlight. Even though it's a basic photo faux pas, people take this type of shot all the time, so it's worth seeing how the iPhone 11 fares in less-than-ideal lighting.

iPhone 11 Pro (Wide Lens)
iPhone 8

The Action Shot

Apple says the iPhone 11's Ultra Wide lens is great for action shots since it can capture more of the action in the wide frame. Here's what a picture of someone running looks like when it's put to the test in Ultra Wide versus a shot from the iPhone 8.

iPhone 11 Pro (Ultra Wide Lens)
iPhone 8

The Landscape Shot

Both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro come with the Ultra Wide lens, which lets you zoom out to 0.5x to get more of the frame. While it's great for group shots and landscapes, this lens is also good for indoor spaces or spaces where you can't physically back up but need a wider shot. Here's how it compares to a shot of the same landscape on the iPhone 8.

iPhone 11 (Ultra Wide Lens)
iPhone 8

The Landscape Shot In Wide Vs. Ultra Wide

Now, comparing landscape shots on solely the iPhone 11, here's how the phone's Wide lens stacks up against the Ultra Wide lens.

iPhone 11 (Wide Lens)
iPhone 11 (Ultra Wide Lens)

The photos on the iPhone 11 are clearly more vibrant — even in direct sunlight or the dark — and deliver much more detail. The Ultra Wide lens may be the standout camera feature since you can get so much more scenery than you've ever been able to get before on an iPhone (without having to move, lie on the floor, or sit on someone's shoulders, etc.).

If you're in the market for a new phone and your main concern is taking photos, the Telephoto lens, which offers that 2x zoom, is really the biggest difference between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro. So if you're all about detail, go Pro. Otherwise, the iPhone 11 camera isn't that far off, and you'll probably feel like a pro anyway.