iPhone 11 launch: Where's the 'innovation?'
Updated 19:05, 11-Sep-2019
By Gong Zhe
Screenshot from Apple

Screenshot from Apple

Apple revealed its latest "iPhone 11" lineup of smartphones with few surprises. The Huawei Mate 20-ish camera set, the iPhone X-ish front side and the grave setback of no 5G make the product one of the slightest upgraded iPhones.

On the invitation to the event, Apple wrote "By innovation only."

A lot of the new features that Apple CEO Tim Cook and his colleagues emphasized on during the Tuesday launch event are new only to Apple users. Many of them are years old on other flagship, or even budget, smartphones.

Let's list some of the old smartphone features that's new to Apple fans.

A better charger in the box

Battery life is the Achilles' heel for modern smartphones and iPhones are no exception. As the battery capacity moves slowly forward, phone makers are adding fast-charging features to their gadgets. Apple is one of the slowest to adopt this technology, with many users complaining about the in-box charger being several times slower than other brands' basic models.

The Chinese-language internet created a meme "5V1A" based on iPhone X's charger specifications to bash Apple’s stinginess on this matter.

Now Apple has finally become generous to its fans after years of delay – but only to a limited extent. The included charger can juice up an iPhone more than three times faster at 18W, while modern charging technology can easily enable more than 40W. The new iPhone also supports faster charging speeds, but the charger is sold separately for about 50 U.S. dollars.

Triple camera system

Apple is also trying to catch up to competitors by installing three cameras on the back of the iPhone 11 Pro series. The triple-lens system enables users to shoot photos from a much wider angle, or zoom in 4x without compromising image quality.

But similar camera systems have been on Huawei products for more than a year. Samsung, Xiaomi and other phone makers also adopted the tech in their previous-generation gadgets, including the 400 U.S. dollar, mid-range models.

By the way, potential buyers of iPhone 11 complained heavily on the social media about the positioning of the three cameras. Some said the triangular positioning looks weird while others wonder why the square camera module looks so similar to that of Huawei’s Mate 20 5G.

A comparison of camera set module between Huawei Mate 20 and Apple iPhone 11 Pro /Picture by CGTN

A comparison of camera set module between Huawei Mate 20 and Apple iPhone 11 Pro /Picture by CGTN


To all the die-hard iPhone users, the 5G technology will be delayed for another year, because the new iPhone has absolutely no support for the next generation telecom tech that will probably define the next few years.

During the launch event, a lot of livestream viewers commented that the lack of 5G is OK since it’s not here yet. But that may not be a good defense.

iPhone users tend to use their phone longer and other brands because they believe in the gadgets' longevity. It's very common for an iPhone to be used for more than three years as the main driver.

Though 2019 will only see big metropolitan areas getting 5G network, the coverage will surely expand massively in 2021.

A 5G smartphone from ZTE, which was launched in August, 2019 /Screenshot from ZTE

A 5G smartphone from ZTE, which was launched in August, 2019 /Screenshot from ZTE

Chinese telecom companies are already giving out 100GB of free traffic to each 5G phone. The iPhone 11 users will be very disappointed when they see others enjoy much faster networks.

Learn how Apple lost control over its 5G supply chain.

The good side

With all that said, the iPhone 11 will surely be another global hit because most Apple users are tied up to the gadget empire and the Pro version is their only way to get a triple-camera phone. Outdoor people would love the 1200-nit screen brightness when they bathe in the sunlight. Faison lovers may also consider the new color options and the new glass feeling the iPhone 11 provides, if they can live with the big, unbalanced triple camera module. Users of big and slow apps will find the iPhone 11 very smooth thanks to the new CPU and bigger memory. The faster speed will also benefit video enthusiasts who shoot and process their work on the go.

In conclusion, the iPhone 11 is not very much about innovation, but it is a better tool than those from previous generations. Some of the tech is not top of the line but it's more than enough for most ordinary people. The lack of 5G is a bummer, but a lot of people can bet on the chance that their places will not get 5G network in the coming year.

After all, will you consider the iPhone 11 series? Send your opinions to tech@cgtn.com and we will post the best comments here.