- Apple‘s key features in its iPhone 11 lineup include an ultra-wide camera, Night Mode, and a fast-charger that comes included with the iPhone 11 Pro.
- At the same time, the iPhone 11 is missing some modern features that you can find on other smartphones.
- Apple can be slow to adopt certain features for iPhone, but the company is usually intentional when it does finally add certain things. Historically, the company has waited until the technology is fully developed and reliable before adding it.
- That’s why the iPhone 11 can be considered a placeholder until Apple adopts some more-or-less common features from other smartphones.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Much of the anticipation I typically feel leading up to a new iPhone announcement revolves around one question: “Did Apple finally add ‘this’ feature?”
For the iPhone 11, Apple delivered on some features I expected, like an ultra-wide camera, and a new Night Mode for better photos in low-light situations. And finally, finally, a fast-charger included in the box, at least for the iPhone 11 Pro.
As for other features I was hoping for, like a universal USB-C port and a super-fast and smooth display, the iPhone 11 didn’t quite deliver.
I can fully understand why Apple didn’t include most of the features below. Many of them might not be ready for Apple’s adoption yet. When Apple feels comfortable enough to add these features, the iPhone will be totally different than it is today. That’s why the iPhone 11 feels a bit more like a placeholder while the company works on adding some key, modern smartphone features to its iPhone.
Check out the features that some may have expected on Apple’s iPhone 11, but ultimately didn’t make an appearance:
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
USB-C is the undisputed modern standard when it comes to connecting and charging devices. Almost every Android device has a USB-C port now, and even Apple’s iPad Pros and MacBook Pro laptops have USB-C ports.
But Apple’s iPhone 11 series all come with Lightning ports, and you could say it’s getting a little old. It would be nice for USB-C iPad and MacBook Pro owners to use the same charger and cables to charge their iPhones, too. Alas, iPhone owners still need a separate Lightning cable to charge the iPhone.
There have been some improvement to the USB-C situation with the iPhone 11 Pros, however. The “Pro” iPhone 11 models come with Apple’s 18W fast-charger and a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. That means you can finally plug an iPhone directly into a USB-C MacBook Pro without using an adapter.
Including a USB-C-to-Lightning cable with iPhones is something Apple should have done since 2016, when the company introduced its USB-C-only MacBook Pros. Better late than never, I guess.
A faster, smoother screen
- Business Insider/Lisa Eadicicco
If there’s one thing that would make the iPhone 11 phones “feel” unstoppable, it would be a 90Hz screen.
The iPhone 11 has a 60Hz screen, which is fine. But 90Hz screens are faster and smoother, and they make a big impact on how premium the phone feels. It’s not a necessity, but since phones from Samsung, OnePlus, Razer, and Asus are coming out with 90-plus Hz screens, Apple’s iPhones are starting to look outdated, despite all the fancy designs and tech they have.
But I can see why Apple hasn’t adopted the 90Hz screen. Screens with higher refresh rates can use up more battery. Apple boasts better battery lives on the new iPhone 11 phones, which more people may value over a 90Hz screen, especially when the current 60Hz screen is good enough.
For reference, “Hz” refers to “refresh rate.” The higher the Hz number, the higher the refresh rate, which means the more frames per second a screen can display. With a higher refresh rate and more frames per second, animations like opening and closing apps, as well as swiping around an operating system and apps, look smoother. It makes a surprisingly big impact to how premium a device feels.
A no-notch design
Depending on who you talk to, the divisive notch is either a feature or a placeholder until Apple can figure out how to hide the iPhone’s selfie camera and various Face ID sensors behind the screen.
It’s not clear whether Apple embraces the notch, or if the company eventually plans to ditch it in favor of a notch-less design without compromising the selfie camera quality and the Face ID sensor.
Notch-less designs are currently possible, like the OnePlus 7 Pro’s no-notch screen that looks stunning. OnePlus was able to hide the selfie camera by making it pop out of the top of the phone when you needed it.
With that said, Apple’s Face ID facial recognition uses more sensors and is more advanced than a simple selfie camera, and the Face ID sensors occupy quite a lot of space. It’s surely a difficult task to hide so many sensors. It’s apparently so difficult that Google simply decided to return to the old-fashioned wide top bezel for the Pixel 4, just so that it can include its “Soli” radar technology for the Pixel 4’s upcoming advanced facial recognition.
An “in-display” fingerprint sensor
- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
There is one way that Apple could ditch the notch to offer a no-notch iPhone, but it would likely mean ditching the Face ID sensors, and therefore Face ID.
It’s a tall ask, but Apple could use in-display fingerprint sensors to unlock the phone and authenticate Apple Pay purchases instead of Face ID. With an in-display fingerprint sensor, there’s arguably no need for Face ID (although Apple has said FaceID is far more secure than TouchID). And without Face ID, there’s no need for all those sensors that lead to the screen notch.
I can understand why Apple hasn’t gone down the in-display fingerprint sensor route. The technology simply isn’t quite there yet, at least for things like Apple Pay that demand the utmost security.
I’ve used the secure in-display fingerprint sensors that use ultrasonic technology on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note 10 smartphones, and most recently on the Galaxy S20, and the experience isn’t as smooth and seamless as it was with old-fashioned fingerprint sensors on bottom phone bezels or backs. The experience is different for different people, but for me, it’s too often inaccurate and forces me to use my PIN code, instead.
Reverse wireless charging, or “bilateral wireless charging”
Reverse wireless charging is a recent feature that started popping up on Huawei phones in 2018, and most recently on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note 10 phones in 2019, and now the Galaxy S20 phones in 2020.
The feature is designed to let you charge other wireless charging devices, like a smartwatch or wireless earbuds, from the back of your phone.
The iPhone 11 was rumored to include reverse wireless charging, which many said would be a compromise for Apple’s now-cancelled AirPower wireless charging pad. It could have been useful for Apple Watch and AirPod owners.
Alas, reverse wireless charging didn’t make it to the iPhone 11. With that said, it’s rumored that the iPhone 11 phones actually do have reverse wireless charging tech, but it’s disabled by software.
No 5G support — but this is totally understandable
Some may be disappointed that the iPhone 11 phones don’t support 5G, the latest standard in wireless communications.
Indeed, 5G promises unrivaled speeds that will make waiting for things to happen on your phone a thing of the past.
At the same time, 5G is rolling out slowly – slowly enough that 5G is only available in a few cities across the US and the world at the moment. And in cities where it is available, 5G only covers “parts” of those cities, not even the entire city. T-Mobile has a wide-reaching 5G network, but it’s the long-range version that offers somewhat faster speeds than 4G LTE.
With that in mind, it can be strongly argued that 5G isn’t a “must-have” feature in 2019, especially if it means higher price tags on smartphones when connection to a 5G network isn’t guaranteed.
Check out YouTuber Marques Brownlee’s video on 5G and how it’s great, but not quite here yet: