Survey Results: Sorry, Apple, Tech Pros See Right Through Your iPhone 11 ‘Pro’

If Apple thought the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max would get actual professionals to buy them, that plan may have backfired. Our latest survey shows an overwhelming number of technologists think the ‘Pro’ label is just a way for Apple to squeeze more money from users.

In a survey published shortly after the iPhones 11 Pro launched, we asked tech pros a simple question: “Is Apple’s New iPhone 11 Pro Meant for Pros, or Just Expensive?” We got a huge response (it was one of our most popular surveys ever!) and a clear answer.

Around 65 percent of technologists think the ‘Pro’ label for new iPhones is complete garbage. While the specs are (mostly) the same across the iPhone 11 lineup (there are three: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max), the main differentiator is the third camera on the Pro models. The Pro phones offer other benefits, such as the ability to go four meters underwater instead of two, and have OLED displays rather than LCD with better resolutions.

But do those features really mean ‘Pro’? Around 35 percent of respondents think so.

To us, there’s a major pitfall with Apple’s ‘Pro’ moniker for the iPhones 11: The A13 SoC is found throughout the lineup, along with the third-generation neural engine. If you recall the Fall Apple event keynote, Apple carved out time to get really nerdy, and did a quick dive into why the A13 and third-generation neural engine were so awesome. (And they are: The iPhone 11 Pro Max I have is snappy, and a very decent upgrade from the iPhone 10S Max I was using.)

But if we’re comparing iPhones 11, there’s nothing I can argue is truly ‘Pro’ about it versus the standard-bearer iPhone 11. I would say (and it seems most technologists agree) that a true ‘pro’ device should be more powerful than the ‘regular’ version of it, and in that regard, the iPhones 11 Pro simply aren’t. They have upgrades, sure, but for many of us, that’s not worthy of the ’pro’ label.

It’s also sort of difficult to see where Apple’s ‘pro’ angle for mobile devices will come into play, but augmented reality (AR) seems like the best bet. The company has been toying with AR for a few years, and the company has hinted AR will be its next big thing. Indeed, within iOS 13 is mention of the platform and tooling that Apple is using for an AR headset for mobile.

We won’t fault Apple for including the A13 across the iPhone 11 lineup, specifically because AR is important. The iPhone 11 is essentially an upgrade of the iPhone XR, which analysts point out sold exceedingly well compared to the XS and XS Max. And if this incoming headset needs a powerful neural engine and SoC, of course Apple should have included it on the iPhone 11… which will likely out-sell the two Pro model phones.

For Apple, the iPhone 11 Pro also creates a suite of hardware that ‘professionals’ will be drawn towards; now it has Pro hardware across the iPhone, iPad, and the Mac ecosystems, along with ‘regular’ devices in each category.

Augmented reality seems to be the real ‘pro’ use-case for mobile, especially for iPhones and the incoming AR headset Apple has yet to unveil. But that opens up another can of worms. Do technologists really believe in AR? Our survey below sets out to answer that question, and we’d (naturally) love to see your participation to help frame this ‘pro’ debate even more fully.

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