iPhone 11 Review: Still Worth A Buy In 2023?
The iPhone 11 came out in 2019 and is still getting iOS updates. It is also now VERY cheap to buy. But is an iPhone 11 worth it 2023? Let’s find out…
The only area where the iPhone 11 is starting to show its age relates to its lack of 5G and its camera tech which, although not bad by any stretch of the imagination, pales in comparison to what you get on more modern phones. If you can stomach all that and you’re looking for a super-cheap, hassle-free phone that’ll get iOS updates until 2026, the iPhone 11 is probably well worth a look in 2023
- Now Very Cheap ($236)
- iOS Support Until 2026
- Still Has Plenty of Performance
- Modern, Classic Design
- FACE ID
- Easy To use
The iPhone 11 came out during a simpler time, a time before COVID and the madness we collectively experienced during 2020 and 2021. It came in multiple color options, had a blazingly fast CPU, and, unlike the iPhone 12 which followed it, the iPhone 11 had excellent battery performance.
iPhone 11 Review 2023
This is an update to our original review of the iPhone 11. The original review is left in below, so you can see our thoughts on the phone from a 2019 perspective.
This new bit – and update from the perspective of 2023 – is based on my use of the iPhone 11 between 2019 and 2023 – although, it is worth noting that, since 2021, my mum has been using it as her phone. The phone itself is still running perfectly though (more on that in a bit).
Is The iPhone 11 Worth Buying In 2023?
The main question I want to tackle in this review update is simple: Is the iPhone 11 still worth a buy in 2023?
And in order to do that, we need to find look at the following things:
- How long the iPhone 11 will be supported by Apple?
- Do the iPhone 11’s specs and hardware, including its camera, still hold up in 2023?
- Is its lack of 5G a deal-breaker?
- And, finally, how much the phone costs to own in 2023
As a phone that is now four years old, it is always prudent to do your research before committing to a purchase because tech, even iPhones, have a limited lifespans – and four years, in most cases, is really pushing it.
Were we talking about an Android phone from 2019, I’d tell you not to bother, to look elsewhere, to get something newer. And the reason for this because Android phones – even ones from Google – only get three years’ worth of Android updates.
iPhone 11 & iOS Updates
Apple does things differently, however…
The iPhone 11 is still getting iOS updates and it will continue to get them until at least 2026, meaning if you bought the iPhone 11 today, you could happily run it for the next two years.
This means, all things remaining as they are, the iPhone 11 will remain a secure platform that gets access to all the latest builds and new features present inside iOS 17 and iOS 18, and, potentially, iOS 19.
From a user perspective, keeping in mind that the iPhone 11 can now be bought for $239, this is very impressive. If you’re looking to cut costs dramatically in 2023 and do not want to worry about your phone getting timely updates, the iPhone 11 represents excellent value for money.
The iPhone 11 DOES NOT Have 5G
The bad news is that the iPhone 11 does not support 5G, nor does have an OLED display; instead, like the iPhone XR, it uses Apple’s older (and less visually impressive LCD screen technology). It’s still fit for purpose, of course, but LCD lacks the punch and clarity of OLED.
The big issue with the iPhone 11, however, is its lack of 5G. For many users, especially those that live in built-up areas and cities, where 5G is now readily available, this will be something of as deal-breaker. Being limited to 4G, while not the end of the world, is inevitably going to be a turn off for a lot of people.
But, if you live in a more rural area or, like quite a lot of my friends, you’re simply not fussed about running 5G on your phone, the iPhone 11, once again, starts to look very compelling. If you can’t get 5G, you won’t miss not having it. And in this context, a $236 iPhone 11 starts to look pretty tasty.
iPhone 11 Specs – Do They Still Cut It?
iPhone 11 Specifications
Display: 6.1-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD with a resolution of 828 x 1792 pixels (326 ppi)
Processor: A13 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine
Storage options: 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Rear cameras: Dual 12MP camera system with Ultra-Wide (f/2.4) and Wide (f/1.8) lenses, Night mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR, and 4K video recording up to 60fps
Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth camera with f/2.2 aperture, Smart HDR, Portrait mode, Animoji, and Memoji, 4K video recording up to 60fps
Face ID: Enabled by TrueDepth camera for facial recognition
Battery life: Up to 17 hours of talk time, 10 hours of video playback, and 65 hours of audio playback
Operating System: iOS 13 (upgradable to later versions)
Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm (5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 in)
Weight: 194 g (6.84 oz)
Build: Front and back glass with aluminum frame
Water and dust resistance: IP68 rating (up to 2 meters for 30 minutes)
Wireless charging: Qi-compatible
Colors: Black, Green, Yellow, Purple, (PRODUCT)RED, and White
Apple’s iPhones, since the switch to Apple’s own A-Series chipsets, have always been massively overpowered for what they’re mostly used for: browsing the web, social media, games, email, and text.
And in this context, the iPhone 11 – even by 2023 standards – is still a fairly solid performer. Is it is powerful as the iPhone 14? Hell no.
But that really shouldn’t bother you if you’re looking for an ultra-cheap iPhone. There’s a reason new iPhones cost $800 and the iPhone 11 retails for $236 – time passes, things change, and component deprecation happens.
If all you need from your phone is for it to do the basics – web browsing, games, social media, email, and text and calling – then the iPhone 11 is still a great option in 2023, so long as you’re NOT operating under the assumption that it will be as fast or as powerful as Apple’s newer iPhones.
iPhone 11 Camera
Another area where the iPhone 11 is now starting to show its age is its camera, more specifically its performance. Billions has been invested in camera technology by Apple, Samsung, and Google since 2019, so things have progressed a lot.
The iPhone 11’s camera isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it now pales in comparison to what you get on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14, as well as Google’s Pixel 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S23.
But, again, this is down to component deprecation, and it is totally expected – four years is a long time when you’re talking about cell phone camera tech.
If you want a more impressive camera, but you still want to keep the price nice and low, go with the iPhone 11 Pro Max – it has a triple lens camera module on its rear and it well and truly runs rings around the iPhone 11’s more basic dual-12MP camera setup.
But if all you need is a camera that can do pictures for social media or for taking decent quality snaps of your friends and family, the iPhone 11’s camera is still more than adequate. It’s not brilliant by 2023 standards, but it is certainly adequate given its age and how far things have progressed in this department since 2019.
iPhone 11 Battery Life
When Apple added 5G to the iPhone 12, it took that iPhone back a step. Yes, it could connect to faster mobile data networks. But the downside to this was that the iPhone 12’s battery life took a massive hammering – it lasted four hours LESS than the iPhone 11.
With the iPhone 11, battery life is brilliant. You’ll get all-day battery life, even with heavy usage. And, when it comes to battery health, the iPhone 11 has plenty of longevity. My iPhone 11, which I bought new in 2019, and has been used everyday since, currently has a maximum capacity of 87% which means it has lost 13% of its capacity in four years.
That’s about par for the course with phones. At 87% the battery life is slightly degraded, it doesn’t last quite as long as it used to. But it’ll still make it through to 10pm or midnight every day and that, for most people, is all you’ll ever need.
So, is the iPhone 11 worth buying in 2023? As always, it depends. It depends on whether or not you need things like 5G. The iPhone 11 will get iOS updates until 2026, so it will get all the latest software features of the next few iOS platform updates, and this is significant for those looking for value for money.
The phone itself is also now very inexpensive at $236, making it one of the cheapest access points into Apple’s ecosystem.
With performance, the A13 CPU is still plenty powerful enough for most tasks, meaning the stuff that people like to do with their phones, so in this context, again, the iPhone 11 is still more than adequate in 2023.
The only area where the iPhone 11 is starting to show its age relates to its lack of 5G and its camera tech which, although not bad by any stretch of the imagination, pales in comparison to what you get on more modern phones like the iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
If you can stomach all that and you’re looking for a super-cheap, hassle-free phone that’ll get iOS updates until 2026, the iPhone 11 is probably well worth a look in 2023 – but ONLY if you understand all of the caveats we have outlined above.
It’s still A LOT of phone for less than $240 bucks.
If you need a newer, better specced-out phone, check out my guide to the best refurbished phones you can buy right now – there’s loads of great options at brilliant prices (and they all come with 5G too).
Below is our original iPhone 11 review from 2019…
Why You’d Get The iPhone 11:
- Value For Money – Prices Start At $699/£699
- Incredible Battery Life
- Improved Performance Over XR, Thanks To A13
- Vastly Improved Camera
- Multiple, New Color Options
iPhone 11 Camera Review
Apple’s main competition – with respect to imaging – is Google’s Pixel range of phones; right now, they’re considered the best. Pixel doesn’t bother Apple’s bottom line, as Google’s brand is still relatively niche, but the Pixel phones do have what many consider to be the best overall cameras.
This year’s iPhones want to change that, however, and initial reviews from Apple’s trusted review sites all seem to agree: the iPhone 11’s camera is not only better than the iPhone XR’s, but it is also on par and, in some cases, better than the Pixel 3’s.
This is largely down to Apple’s introduction of a second camera unit on the rear, an ultra-wide f/2.4 camera. It also improved the sensor inside the main f/1.8 camera. And the result? Improved clarity, depth of field, and low-light performance. Initial tests show that Apple’s iPhone 11 takes more natural shots in low-light versus the Pixel 3.
On top of this, Apple has also improved the camera’s Smart HDR using a technology it calls semantic rendering. Smart HDR can now recognize faces and hair and apply separate processing to them. Crazy, right? This feature also makes shots far less noisy; images captured on the iPhone 11 are better than similar images taken on the iPhone XS, a phone that is vastly more expensive/
Either way, the improvements Apple has made inside the iPhone 11 prove the company is still one of the best in the business when it comes to camera technology. The difference in performance and quality – even when compared to last year’s iPhones – is night and day. And that, my friends, is a significant point in and of itself…
iPhone 11 Review – Battery Life
Apple says the iPhone 11’s battery life will provide 60+ minutes more than last year’s iPhone XR. The initial reviews we’ve seen back this claim; all agree the iPhone 11 will go all day, no problem.
In fact, nearly every one of the initial iPhone 11 reviews mentions battery life – in a positive manner. The iPhone 11’s battery life is the same size as the iPhone XR’s. Apple has made improvements, not with size, but with optimizations enabled by its new, more efficient A13 chipset.
The result? Apple’s iPhone 11 – like the iPhone XR – has some of the best battery performance you’ll find on a handset inside 2019/20.
iPhone 11 Review – Design
Design is, perhaps, the least interesting thing about the iPhone 11. It looks more or less identical to the iPhone XR. Granted, there are new colors for the iPhone 11 available – notably green and purple – but from an external perspective, there’s really not much to talk about, save for the new camera array on the back.
The iPhone XR was – and still is – a great-looking phone. Do I wish Apple has changed the design slightly? Honestly, not really. Why mess with a willing formula just for the sake of it? It doesn’t make any sense. Improving core metrics like the camera, overall performance, and battery life make far more sense. As does Apple’s decision to sell the iPhone 11 for less than the iPhone XR.
Given all of the above, I think even the most ardent Apple-hater could probably forgive the company for not really touching the overall industrial design of the iPhone 11.
Apple’s New iPhone 11 Range Detailed
- iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 replaces the iPhone XR. It is the cheapest iPhone model in the iPhone 11 range. Prices start at $699. The design remains much the same as before. All the action takes place inside the handset, thanks to Apple’s A13 CPU, which is 20% faster than the outgoing A12. The iPhone 11 also features an updated, dual-lens camera for vastly improved imaging performance.
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro replaces the iPhone XS. It is the smallest iPhone in the iPhone 11 range with a 5.8in OLED display. On the back, you have Apple’s updated triple-lens camera array. Inside, you have the A13 CPU which will bring performance boosts and extended battery life – 4+ hours over the iPhone XS.
- iPhone 11 Pro Max – The iPhone 11 Pro Max replaces the iPhone XS Max. It is the largest of the new iPhone 11 models; it has a 6.5in OLED display and the most potential storage (512GB). It has the same camera as the iPhone 11 Pro. Inside you have Apple’s A13 CPU and the latest battery in the range. This one is for the most hardcore iPhone users.
Best Value iPhone 11 Model?
As always, Apple’s new iPhone 11 range is decidedly expensive. The top of the line iPhone 11 Max Pro starts at $1099 for the base model, while the entry-level iPhone XR replacement, the iPhone 11, starts at $699.
Once again, the iPhone 11 delivers the most value for money here. It has an excellent, updated camera. The same CPU as the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max and, best of all, it is cheaper than last year’s iPhone XR, Apple’s best-selling iPhone.
If you don’t need a triple-lens camera and you can do with an OLED display, the iPhone 11 will more than suffice for most users. It is an insanely powerful phone, thanks to Apple’s new A13 CPU, and it packs in a far more advanced, dual-lens camera compared to what we got with the iPhone XR.
My advice? If you want to save some money and still get 80% of the benefits, go with the iPhone 11. Want the best of the best and the biggest display? Go with the iPhone Pro Max. Another alternative for the super-savvy would be to get a reconditioned iPhone XS Max – you could save 40% doing this.
Things To Keep In Mind…
- No 5G – None of the iPhone 11 models support 5G
- The iPhone SE 2020 is Now Available – It retails for just £419 and is available on some really cheap contracts compared to the iPhone 11; it also features the same design as the iPhone 8, just with Apple’s A13 CPU and an updated camera module.
- They’re Still Expensive – There’s no way of getting around it; Apple’s top tier iPhones are still very pricy. However, Apple has made the entry-level iPhone 11 cheaper than the iPhone XR, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction. If money’s tight but you still want an iPhone, my advice would be to go with the iPhone 11 – it’s shaping up to be a great handset with a killer camera.