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Apple fans will deny it, but the iPhone 11 is missing a feature that’s hugely important

Updated Sep 11th, 2019 8:23AM EDT
iPhone 11 Price
Image: Apple

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After months upon months of leaks and rumors, Apple’s next-generation iPhone lineup is finally official. Were there any surprises left after all those leaks? Shockingly, there were plenty! The new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max indeed feature many of the things we saw in insider reports leading up to Tuesday’s big press conference. But leakers who are typically reliable got so much about the new iPhone lineup wrong. The phones’ new designs were pictured dozens and dozens of times, but no one nailed it. The camera arrays look totally different, the finish on the back is totally different, there’s no new color with a “shimmer” effect like all those Chinese smartphones, and the old mute switch has not been replaced by a tiny toggle like the one on the iPad Pro. As for features, mistakes were made there as well. No one leaked things like Spatial Audio or Slo-Mo Selfies, and the reverse wireless charging feature we heard so much about is nowhere to be found.

Those were all surprises, but the biggest surprise on Tuesday was the new starting price. Apple’s iPhone 11, which is the next-generation version of the iPhone XR, starts at just $699. It might seem crazy to read the word “just” ahead of a $699 price tag on a cell phone, but that’s a $50 decrease from last year’s model and it makes Apple’s new iPhones even more accessible. And speaking of paying a small fortune for a smartphone, there’s one thing from yesterday’s big event that didn’t come as a surprise, but it’s a huge disappointment and it’s something most people should consider if they plan to buy a new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Most of our iPhone coverage on Tuesday discussed features that the new iPhone 11 series does have. The new designs are sleek, the new cameras are impressive, the power improvements are going to give performance a big boost, and there’s plenty more to be excited about. In fact, you can read about the 10 best new features of Apple’s iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max right here. But now, let’s talk about something important that the new iPhones don’t have: 5G.

Now, savvy readers with knowledge of the current state of the wireless market might initially disagree with the notion that Apple’s new iPhones should have 5G. After all, 5G coverage is almost nowhere to be found right now. On top of that, the radio and licenses needed for 5G compatibility are still hugely expensive for manufacturers, and that added expense is passed along to the end-user. Apple’s new iPhones cost as much as $1,449 without 5G, so it might seem crazy to suggest that Apple should’ve added something that would drive prices up even higher.

The simple fact of the matter is that in 2019, smartphones don’t need 5G. Spending the extra cash on a 5G phone might even seem crazy right now. But all you have to do is walk outside and look around for a few minutes and you’ll see why it’s a huge problem that Apple’s new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models are missing 5G.

Most people out there aren’t tech fiends. They’re not early adopters who need the latest and greatest gadgets and are willing to pay top dollar each and every year for a new smartphone. Walk around in a mall or on a city street and you’ll see tons of people with older iPhone models like the iPhone 7, or even the iPhone 6s. I personally know several people who still use the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus phones that were released all the way back in 2014. That’s 5 years ago!

People keep their smartphones for longer and longer these days, and 5G compatibility will be an absolute necessity within the next couple of years. As I mentioned, there are some people keep their iPhones for 5 years or even longer. Can you imagine someone in 2024 with an iPhone that doesn’t work on 5G networks?

iPhones are built to last. It’s one of the best things about them, in fact, but Apple is shortchanging customers by omitting 5G from its higher-end iPhone 11 models. If you’re paying $699 for an “entry-level” flagship smartphone in 2019, it’s understandable that it would lack 5G support. But when you get up to the pricier iPhone 11, the $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro, or as high as $1,449 where the iPhone 11 Pro Max tops out, your new smartphone should absolutely have 5G support.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.