By Jurica Dujmovic, MarketWatch
The long wait is over. Apple introduced its 2019 line of smartphones Tuesday, and pre-orders have now started.
Sadly, the latest lineup brings nothing new to the table. Like previous devices, the iPhone 11 features technology that has been available to Android users for some time.
Today, I want to compare features of Android smartphones you can get today with those of Apple’s latest flagship smartphone. You’ll see that Android smartphones also are much cheaper than Apple’s /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.48% .
Three types of iPhones
New iPhones come in three flavors: iPhone 11 (starting at $699), iPhone 11 Pro (starting at $999) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (starting at $1,099). They look much like older XS, XS Max and XR models — so much so that even the annoying notch that blocks part of the screen was cloned. (The notch houses a camera, speaker and Face ID technology.)
Other brands have come up with solutions: The Samsung Galaxy S10 series ($749-$999) reduced the notch to a small cutout, and the OnePlus 7 Pro ($699-$749) has removed it altogether. The camera on that device is tucked inside the body of the smartphone, taking up no screen real estate. When you need to use it, it simply pops up . Nifty!
But what about the new triple 12-megapixel camera setup on the iPhone 11 Pro? Cameras seem like the biggest upgrade the iPhone has had in years. Here, too, Apple came late to the party. While great, they’re by no means better than cameras on some of the already available Android models.
According to Apple, the telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro is capable of four times optical zoom. Nice, but Huawei P30 Pro ($746-$790) enables five times optical zoom on its telephoto lens, as well as 10 times of what’s called hybrid zoom, which is software-augmented. (It looks great .) The P30 Pro also has a 32-megapixel selfie camera that captures more details than that of the 12-megapixel iPhone 11.
The iPhone takes great night shots, but if you want a phone with a superior nighttime mode, look no further than the Google Pixel 3 ($499-$699). Proprietary technology makes sure every night shot comes out with unmatched detail and color clarity. Also, watch out for Google’s Pixel 4 launch, which is likely to take place in October.
The iPhone’s charging speed (at 18 watts) is lower than the Samsung Galaxy S10’s 20W, or optional 45W, charger. Samsung’s flagship is also faster at wireless charging, providing 15W of power vs. Apple’s 7.5W.
What you don’t get
When buying an iPhone 11 series, you also get to enjoy the “amenities,” such as:
• No direct 3.5-millimeter connection for headphones. (You need to use that annoying dongle.)
• No expansion slots. (The Samsung Galaxy S10 can be expanded to 512 gigabytes.)
• 60-hertz screens. (The OnePlus 7 Pro has a 90-Hz screen, and it’s a trend other Android phones are likely to follow.)
• No wireless reverse charging, so you can’t top up your friend’s phone as you can with the Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and some others.
• Apple has cut prices for the cheapest phone in the lineup, but you are still paying a premium.
Let’s make one thing clear: The iPhone 11 series is not a bad smartphone lineup. Far from it. They are sleek and elegant phones, and their users will find them enjoyable. My bet is that the cheapest model, the iPhone 11, will sell like hotcakes.
Lack of innovation
However, Apple is not what it used to be. If the company wants to reclaim the title of innovation leader that it once had, it needs to start noticing the competition, work on its feature set and lead, rather than follow. At this point, innovation for Apple means refining and iterating what real industry innovators — Android manufacturers — did years ago. Either do that or lower prices and find profits elsewhere ( service subscriptions ). And it seems Apple may be set on the latter.
Lynnette Luna, principal analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, said in a release that “the question with this new range of iPhones is whether consumers will find enough value to upgrade to a new phone or wait until 2020 when Apple is expected to introduce 5G-enabled smartphones, which will be capable of transmitting faster data speeds. The primary selling point for the iPhone 11 line is better camera features.”
Even though Apple has cut prices, it’s still not enough. You’re simply not getting a cutting-edge device, and that is Apple’s biggest flaw this year.
Jurica Dujmovic is a MarketWatch columnist.