iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone X: Should you upgrade?

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone X
(Image credit: Future)

I have bad news if you spent $1,000 or more on the iPhone X a couple of years ago. The iPhone 11 Pro is a lot better, and it's one of the best phones overall. In fact, the improved camera alone on the new iPhone might compel you to upgrade, especially if your current iPhone X is in good condition and you can trade it in.

Still, a grand is a lot of money and you may just be finishing up paying off your current iPhone X. Is it really worth the splurge for the iPhone 11 Pro, especially with the iPhone 12 on the way? Here's what you need to know before you make up your mind.

iPhone 11 vs. iPhone X specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Apple iPhone 11 ProiPhone X
Starting Price$999$899
Display (Resolution)5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (2436x1125)5.8-inch Super Retina OLED (2436x1125)
CPUA13 BionicA11 Bionic
Storage64GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB
Rear CamerasTriple: 12-MP wide (ƒ/1.8), 12-MP ultra wide (ƒ/2.4), 12-MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0)Dual: 12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.4)
Front Camera12-MP (ƒ/2.2)7-MP (ƒ/2.2)
Battery3,046 mAh2,716 mAh
Battery Life (Hrs:Mins)10:249:51
Water ResistanceIP68; 4 meters up to 30 min.IP67; 1.5 meters up to 30 min.
Size5.7 x 2.8 x 0.32 inches5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30
Weight6.6 ounces6.14 ounces
ColorsGold, Space Gray, Silver, Midnight GreenSpace Gray, Silver

iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone X: Cameras

The iPhone 11 Pro has a distinct advantage over the iPhone X with its triple rear cameras, which include an ultra-wide lens that can produce more dramatic-looking shots. The iPhone X makes do with a standard wide camera and telephoto lens. Apple goes even further on the iPhone 11 Pro with improved HDR, a new Night mode and Deep Fusion for offering unparalleled levels of detail. 

The iPhone 11 Pro's Night mode is a real standout feature compared to the iPhone X. You'll see much better results in low light, as evidenced by this comparison shot taken of a candle and surrounding decorations.

Not only is the wick of the candle more visible in the iPhone 11 Pro's shot, you can make out the placemat in the foreground and the golden decorations surrounding the candle. With the iPhone X's photo, nearly everything except the candle itself is shrouded in darkness.

In this next shot, you can see how much more detail the iPhone 11 Pro can capture indoors, even when there's a fair amount of light. Everything from the squirrel and leaves to the vase looks sharper on the iPhone 11 Pro, while part of the iPhone X's shot looks blurry.

As you see in the above photo comparison of a golden retriever taken in low light, the iPhone 11 Pro does a much better job rendering the dog's fur and the blanket he's laying on. You can make out his whiskers. The iPhone X's shot looks dreary and fuzzy.

iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro design and display

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone X

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 11 Pro looks identical to the iPhone X from the front, notch and all, but Apple's newer phone comes in two more colors in Gold and Midnight Green, adding to the Space Gray and Silver options. 

The rear of the iPhone 11 Pro has three cameras arranged in a square, compared to the vertical strip for the dual cameras on the iPhone X. The new look is imposing, but in a good way. We also like the matte finish on the back of the iPhone 11 Pro, compared to the glossy look on the iPhone X.

iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone X

(Image credit: Future)

Apple says the iPhone 11 Pro has the toughest glass ever in a smartphone, so it should be more durable than the iPhone X. However, in our drop test we found that the iPhone 11 Pro cracked after a drop from 3.5 on concrete. Regardless, you'll probably want an iPhone 11 Pro case.

The only design drawback on the iPhone 11 Pro is that it's heavier than the iPhone X at 6.8 ounces, versus 6.14 ounces for the earlier iPhone.

The OLED display on the iPhone 11 Pro is much brighter than the one one the iPhone X. The 11 Pro's panel registered 722 nits, which blows away the 574 nits on the iPhone X. In other words, you'll have an easier time using the iPhone 11 Pro in direct sunlight.

iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone X performance and battery life

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 11 Pro packs Apple's latest A13 Bionic processor, which is the fastest chip you can get in a smartphone (for now). The A11 Bionic inside the iPhone X is no slouch, but you'll enjoy faster application open times, better graphics performance and smoother gameplay with the iPhone 11 Pro, especially if you want to take advantage of the Apple Arcade gaming service. The iPhone 11 Pro's A13 chip is also better optimized for iOS AR apps.

When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 11 Pro offers a 3,046 mAh battery, compared to a 2,716 mAh battery in the iPhone X. The iPhone 11 Pro lasted a very good 10 hours and 24 minutes on the Tom's Guide web surfing battery test. The iPhone X lasted 9:51 on the same test, so you should expect at least 30 minutes of more endurance.

The iPhone 11 Pro comes with an 18-watt fast charger in the box, which can juice the phone to 55% in 30 minutes. The iPhone X came with a 5W charger that is much slower; you can get fast charging only if you buy an additional USB-C to Lightning cable and USB-C charger.

What about the iPhone 12 Pro?

The iPhone 12 Pro is set to debut this fall and pack an even faster A14 Bionic chip. Plus, the iPhone 12 Pro should feature 5G connectivity for future-proofing your purchase, along with a more powerful telephoto zoom and a LiDAR sensor for better augmented reality performance. If you need a phone right now, though, the iPhone 11 Pro is still a great buy.

Bottom line

If you're on the fence about upgrading from the iPhone X, you may want to avoid holding the iPhone 11 Pro in your hand. And that's because you'll really want it after spending just a few minutes with Apple's newer flagship.

Not only is the display on the iPhone 11 Pro a lot brighter than the iPhone X's screen, the camera system is a true leap forward, from the ultra-wide camera to Apple's new Night mode. The iPhone 11 Pro also benefits from faster performance, longer battery life and faster charging out of the box.

That's not to say you shouldn't hold onto your iPhone X. Its performance will be sufficient for most users, and the cameras are fairly good (at least when there's a decent amount of ambient light). The biggest reason to wait is 5G, as the iPhone 12 Pro should offer that when it launches.

But if you're in the market for a new iPhone now, the iPhone 11 Pro will not disappoint.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.