so i went to an apple store today

The lines weren’t all that long at 2pm in the afternoon, but they were still crowded enough.

I had a 2pm appointment to pick up an iPhone 11 Pro Max w/512GB of storage at Apple Millenia (or so I thought; read on). I’m a part of the Apple Upgrade Program, and I have been since the iPhone 6. It’s been good for me, in that I’ve been able to keep a decent up-to-date smart phone with me with software that is also being constantly upgraded with fixes and new features, a far cry from my experiences with Samsung and Android. It was the negative Samsung/Android software upgrade experience that finally drove me to Apple.

My current iPhone is the 8 Plus, released back September 2017 alongside the iPhone X. I wasn’t ready for the X, nor the XS when it was released. But the iPhone 11 Pro, now that’s a different kind of smart phone.

My reasons for buying now are varied, but they’re all technically and solidly grounded:

  1. Battery life. It is vital that I be reachable on my iPhone, and battery life figures significantly into that. Apple is claiming a four to five hour battery life increase (11 Pro, 11 Pro Max) over the XS pair released last year. While the iPhone 8 Plus has decent battery life if I’m careful, there’s a reason I have several wireless charging cradles around my house and one at work. I’m constantly dropping my 8 into one of those cradles to keep it topped up. With Optimized Battery Charging enabled (under Settings | Battery | Battery Health, iOS 13) my battery is pretty healthy even after nearly two years of constant use. Right now after nearly two years my battery Maximum Capacity is 96%. That extra four to five hours means I’m far less tethered to a spot to charge at.
  2. The processor. The A13 is considerably faster than the A11, even though both are multi-core using Apple’s variation of big.LITTLE architecture. What’s more reports are beginning to circulate that the A13 is faster than every other Apple Intel-based Mac except for one 15″ MacBook Pro. That also makes it noticeably faster than every other ARM processor in all the other Android high-end handsets. Consider that’s a hand-held near super computer that slips into your pocket. I’ll take that power and use it. A lot.
  3. The camera. I have read many stories already about the new camera, and I can read between the lines, and it’s all very good news. While Google with its Pixel 3 camera system set an overall high bar, Apple’s camera system has raised that bar much, much farther. So much so that I’m beginning to question if I even need a digital interchangeable lens camera any more. It’s one reason any thoughts of any more gear purchases have come to a total halt for me. I felt certain this was coming from Apple. From what I’ve seen so far the new iPhone 11 Pro camera will handle at least 80% of what I use a camera for, and in far more challenging light conditions than every before. Again, I can certainly put that to very good use.
  4. The overall design. While I was in the Apple store today I handled all three iPhone 11s, and I can indeed tell a difference between the regular 11 and the Pros. I love the Pro’s dark green color. The entire design effect is gorgeous, and far better looking in person that what I’ve seen all over the web. And I love the screen. I played a bit with apps, and while I’ve seen some of the 90Hz handsets so far, I can’t tell the difference at all between a 60Hz refresh rate on the Pro and faster refresh rates anywhere else. Keep in mind that refresh rate inversely impacts battery life. In a tradeoff between faster refresh rate and longer battery life, longer battery life will win with me every time.
  5. It doesn’t have 5G. I don’t want 5G, and I’m quite sure I’m not going to want it next year or the year after. Currently 5G is a power hog and with the frequencies it uses it’s going to require far more infrastructure buildout than 4G ever has. Remember point 2 above about battery life? I don’t want any feature that negatively impacts that, and 5G will most certainly negatively impact battery life. The fact that this may be the last iPhone that doesn’t have 5G was the final push to buy an 11 Pro.

All that love, and nothing to satisfy it. I left the Apple store today without an iPhone 11 Pro because even though I pre-ordered one a week ago, I wasn’t paying attention and the Apple Store app sent it to another Apple store in Orlando. I know where that other store is, but I had to ask the nice Apple folk why the Apple Store app sent my phone to a different store, rather than the one that’s just ten minutes away from where I live.

That led to a series of unfortunate events while I was there at the Apple Store at Millenia.

When it finally dawned on everyone what had happened the Apple staff tried very hard to have my order transferred to that store. That meant I had to cancel my current order and then open a new one at Millenia. I tried to cancel the order using the Apple Store app, but it failed with a message to call Apple support. So I called Apple support and wound up on infinite hold, right there in the store. While waiting I tried to use my MacBook Pro, which I had with me as well to speed up the transfer to a new iPhone via iTunes. That failed as well. The Apple Millenia staff were as helpful as they could possibly be. They’d even brought out an iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512GB in dark green, just like I’d ordered. But the Apple system didn’t scale well today, so I left unfulfilled. I was told that the other store will keep it until October 10th, so I have time to drive over when things aren’t so crazy and pick it up then. Until then I continue to use the 8 Plus and back it up to my MacBook every evening.

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