The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen has lost his shit

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, the most powerful and advanced smartphones ever, feature a triple-camera cluster
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, the most powerful and advanced smartphones ever, feature a triple-camera cluster

Brian X. Chen for The NYT:

Over more than a decade of writing about technology, reviewing a new iPhone has long been one of my simplest assignments.

Year after year, the formula was this: I tested the most important new features of Apple’s latest smartphone and assessed whether they were useful. Assuming the newest iPhone worked well, I generally recommended upgrading if you had owned your existing smartphone for two years.

MacDailyNews Take: In other, fewer words: Chen was doing his job as a personal technology reviewer.

But with this review of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max — which Apple unveiled last week and will become available Friday — I’m encouraging a different approach.

MacDailyNews Take: I.e., no longer doing his job.

And, by the way, Brian is it really you who’s doing the encouraging or were you actually “encouraged” by your editors to take a “different approach?”

That’s because we are now living in the golden age of smartphones, when the gadgets’ improvements each year are far from seismic. Devices that debuted three years ago remain zippy and more than capable. Those with the iPhone 7 from 2016, for example, still have a very good phone with a stellar camera and fast speeds.

MacDailyNews Take: Exactly how much bat shit did Chen ingest before pecking out that delusion? The iPhone 7 features an A10 Fusion chip, three generations behind the iPhone 11 Pro’s A13 Bionic. The benchmarks highlight Chen’s lie:

Geekbench single-core:
• iPhone 7: 744
• iPhone 11 Pro: 5472

Geekbench multi-core:
• iPhone 7: 1324
• iPhone 11 Pro: 12769

As for the cameras: on the front, the iPhone 7 sports a less-than-stellar 7MP camera with 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps. The iPhone 11 Pro offers an actually stellar 12MP camera with 4k video recording up to 60 fps. On the back, the iPhone 7 offers a single 12MP Wide camera with a Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture whereas the iPhone 11 Pro offers Triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto cameras with apertures of Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture, Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4, and Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture.

In short, versus the current state-of-the-art, those with the iPhone 7 from 2016 do not have a stellar camera nor do they have fast speeds.

These are simply facts. Of course, this is The New York Times we’re talking about here, so facts that do not fit their narrative are optional, as usual.

So now is the moment to ask: Do we really need to upgrade our iPhones every two years?

MacDailyNews Take: Only if you’d like to have a much better iPhone than what you bought two years ago. Forget about the iPhone 7, the difference between even 2017’s iPhone X and the new iPhone 11 Pro are stark.

Based on my tests of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, the answer is no… You should definitely upgrade if your current device is at least five years old. The iPhone 11 models are all a significant step up from those introduced in 2014. But for everyone else with smartphones from 2015 or later, there is no rush to buy. Instead, there is more mileage and value to be had out of the excellent smartphone you already own.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s right iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus users, there’s nothing to see here in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to The New York Times‘ personal technology reviewer.

Put down the pipe, Brian.

Photos taken with the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro looked crisp and clear, and their colors were accurate. But after I finished these tests, I looked back at my archived photos taken with an iPhone X.

Those pictures, especially the ones shot with portrait mode, still looked impressive. Some of the low-light ones looked crummy in comparison with the ones taken by the iPhone 11s, but I wouldn’t recommend that you buy a new phone just to get better night photos. You could always just use flash.

MacDailyNews Take: “You could always just use flash?” WTF? Popping a flash bulb is no match for Night mode. It’s awful vs. fantastic.

Here’s a better idea: You could always just cancel your subscription to The New York Times.

Apply your savings to a new iPhone.

All the iPhone 11 models have a new ultra-wide-angle lens in their cameras, which provides a wider field of view than traditional phone cameras. This makes them handy for shooting landscapes or large group gatherings. The iPhone X lacks the ultra-wide-angle lens, but its dual-lens camera is capable of shooting portrait-mode photos, which puts the picture’s main subject in sharp focus while softly blurring the background.

MacDailyNews Take: Which of these things has absofsckinglutley nothing to do with the other?

This is what passes as a tech review in a so-called “paper of record?”

This racehorse has four legs. These come in handy in a horse race. This dolphin lacks legs, but its powerful tail makes it capable of high-quality swimming. Hey, good luck on your Kentucky Derby entry, Flipper!

So, hang onto your iPhone 6S, because it’s basically the same as an iPhone Pro 11. Hey, man, don’t bogart the magic mushrooms! I need even more!

Each year, the most common question I get from friends and colleagues is whether they should buy a new iPhone.

MacDailyNews Take: They must be looking for a quick laugh. It’s like asking Steve Ballmer how to run a company.

Read any iPhone 11 Pro review other than Chen’s. He obviously has no earthly idea what he’s talking about.

See also this gem from Brian X. Chen:
• NYT claims Apple has tough job trying to sell Apple Watch to ‘an uninterested public’ or something – February 28, 2015

The Apple Watch quickly became the world’s best-selling watch; not just smartwatch, the world’s best-selling watch.

And Dean Baquet is so confused that he shouldn’t even be editing a small-town weekly, much less The New York Times. Yeah, yeah, we know: We’re “racist.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


    1. Wrong. You have obviously turned off your brain and decided that brand name is everything. Here’s a clue: no author and no media outlets are correct 100% nor incorrect 100% of the time.

      In general, the brands you label as liberal report the human effects- you know, subjective stuff like health and safety and long term ramifications of what people do. Often that means reporting from the view of minorities and people unlike you. A newspaper for a city that literally welcomed immigrants for 300 years from every corner of the world does that.

      The outlets you consider properly conservative, in general, push the narrative that everything was better yesterday and nothing should change in the future except all taxation should be slashed. The wild west was the best and vigilante justice was great. It’s your fault if you get sick swimming downriver from my job-creating factory. If you don’t praise the one party or politician who we always back, then you’re a [insert nasty label here]. Money is good, talking tough is good, poor people should die already, they are an inconvenience. I have literally read and heard all this and worse from self proclaimed “true conservative” sites.

      The sad reality is that the shock jocks like Limbaugh and Hannity that you trust so much are college dropouts who never created a thing in their lives. They are dumb talking heads, their narrative stories handed to them by paying companies. All they do is dole out the fire and brimstone for the shallow thinkers who drink up the paid narrative every day.

      The NYT is seldom so one sided that it cannot criticize a brand or person. Can you say the same for partisan media you ingest?

      Apple, by the way, deserves plenty of criticism. The 11 is a modest update on the tock cycle, as is just about everything else Apple is doing these days. All made in China.

    2. MDN lays pretty hard on the idea that not recommending this as a major improvement over the previous models constitutes dereliction of duty for a journalist, as if Chen’s job is to move phones.

      Yes, individual features are improved over earlier models. The question is whether they are likely to be significant/important to the majority of workaday owners/users.

      I’m with Chen. The cameras are an important change for those who are heavily into photography. Apple as much as wrote them off for regular schmoes with their exhibition of pro work. I (and most others, I’d wager) just don’t care enough to make it a compelling upgrade. Slofies? There’s a segment who will want that. The processor? Definitely a group who will want to use apps that utilize it. But each of these is a pocket. Many many (most?) others are being well-served by the phone they have and will NOT realize any important change by replacing it today.

      The comparison between portrait mode w/ 2 cameras & the new 3-camera system is not a non sequitur comparison. It’s a demonstration that portrait photos were a more significant, front-of-brain change to the camera system, and were a reason for people to upgrade. The wider-angle lenses is not.

      MDN – stop berating journalists for reviewing rather than selling.

    3. Lets remember in the 1930s the NYTimes praised Hitler as the moderate who would keep the Nazi thugs under control and how that turned out. In the late 1950s the NYTimes created the myth that Castro was the George Washington of Cuba. Oops again.

      1. System cut off my comment. From 1969 to about 1979 the NYTimes, and practically everyone else predicted a “world without summer” where clobal cooling would reduce agriculture production to starvation levels with millions dying in the 1990s.

        1. Yes, and now the NYT’s serial peddling the exact opposite canard of global warming for more than a decade.

          The problem for the NYT staff is NO DIVERSITY. By Democrat definitions they excel diversity requirements as narrowly defined by their party voters. But true diversity must include independent and conservative voices not welcome or sought in the biased newsroom.

          When 99% of the so called NYT journalists graduate from liberal colleges and are registered Democrats, how can they be trusted to report news without bias?

          Answer: They fail miserably on a daily basis. They have improperly reported on MAJOR stories like the FAKE Russian dossier, the Clinton e-mail scandal and now the Biden son Ukrainian debacle where guilt is admitted on video.

          NYT FAKE NEWS. Nuff said….

  1. Meh; I have the iPhone X and I’ll be sticking with it for another year. Sure, opening Safari in 12 nanoseconds would be great, but 32 nanoseconds is just fine for me. And I finally gave up the crackpipe of Facebook and guess what—I take exponentially fewer photos when I’m not looking for a social fix from “friends” sharing likes. So Chen makes sense to me. If you need bleeding edge, by all means pony up. You’ll be thrilled. For normal humans, you can wait 2, 3, 4 years with your current phone and somehow still manage to survive through 2019-2020.

    1. Some people understand that life is short and are looking for a bit more than just to “survive.” I’m worth a new iPhone every year. I’m sorry you don’t think you’re worth having nice things.

        1. I was in your quandary and have a paid off IPhone X but I’m getting the iPhone 11 Pro mainly because of greatly improved cameras & video and I’m taking a lot of trips next year. Speed isn’t really an issue for me. Loving Dark Mode on my iPhone X but I wish more apps would use it too.

      1. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. 😔

        Rule Number One: NEVER and I mean NEVER SPEAK for someone else. You don’t know them and you don’t know their motivations. That is the height of hubris combined with arrogance.

        That aside, you buy a new iPhone every year to make yourself feel good, well, good for you. However, the TREND you are not part of, is the build quality of iPhones combined with high prices and minor upgrades — owners like myself are choosing to upgrade at a much slower rate.

        Nothing wrong with that. Personal choice, to each his own it’s ALL GOOD…

        1. I don’t buy a new iPhone every year to make myself feel good. I buy a new iPhone every year because I’ve worked hard to have a career where any iPhone purchase isn’t life or death, but rather an inconsequential purchase, and I desire to have the many improvements offered each year by Apple.

          1. “I buy a new iPhone every year because I’ve worked hard to have a career where any iPhone purchase isn’t life or death”

            Certainly, but you miss the economic point of WASTING hard earned MONEY every year on MEDIOCRE UPGRADES that most of us realize is just not worth the cost. You don’t agree, too each her own.

            “but rather an inconsequential purchase”

            An “inconsequential purchase” Right, got it.

            “and I desire to have the many improvements offered each year by Apple.”

            Wonderful. Freedom of choice and enjoy. That said, not good speaking for others and brow beating them for being realistic and prudent with personal finances to spend money that need not be spent.

            Do you understand?…

        2. I still use my trusty iPhone 6s. I’ll trade it in only when the hardware doesn’t support the latest version of iOS.

          Admittedly, I preferred the iPhone 4s because it fit nicely in my pocket, but I managed to adjust to the larger 6s by carrying it on a lanyard, velcroed to my shirt when out riding.

          Because they are Apple stockholders, the fellows who run MacDailyNews would prefer that everyone upgrade annually.. the merrier the hype, the more gaga the fanboys; keep that revenue streaming! Not falling for that.

          1. OMG! Herself lives! I feel honored by your response. 😊

            “I still use my trusty iPhone 6s. I’ll trade it in only when the hardware doesn’t support the latest version of iOS.”

            Agreed, I still use my trusty SE bought in April when Apple held a liquidations sale. Same as you it goes in the e-trash when Apple renders the iOS obsolete.

            I remember your previous posts adjusting horse riding reality with iPhone usage. Certainly, you have creatively worked it out — WooHoo! And GREAT to hear from you… 👍🏻🤠🐎

      1. You want to pay $200-300 more dollars for each hour of battery life?

        Most sane people will replace their current phones when it no longer suits their needs, not when MDN hypes the latest incremental release. Sheesh….

  2. The very average person can make due with their phone longer now due to some of the comments made by Chen. Also with us now paying pretty much full price for our phones, no more 2 year contract deals for a much reduced cost phone, people are much more hesitant to run out and upgrade as there is less of an impetuous to do so unless you need the latest and greatest tech. In general people are more content with good enough than bleeding edge best. For me, I held my iPhone 6 Plus for approx 4 years and I hated that last year. 2 years is max for me now. Right now I have the 8 plus and it is showing its age. I really want to wait for the 12 but I can’t stomach another year of this phone because of slow downs lag and other age related issues. For people who do not push their phones to the limit holding onto them for an extra year to save money makes sense. Remember, these phones no longer cost $199.

  3. Chen misses the point. bashing the Times is irrelevant- you’d find him more credible on Fox “news” or in the NY Post? Watching the demos for the new phones for me felt like seeing into the future- the cameras are incredible, and that battery life is icing on the cake. Unlike my iPad, my phone is literally with me all day long, in restaurants, on the toilet- except when I’m sleeping. Makes sense to treat yourself to state of the art each year, although I usually wait 3 or so… I have an X. Do I wait till 2020 for advanced cellular even though the 11’s are future proofed for next generation of WiFi? My wife may kill me, but I’m lusting after the 11 Pro Plus. Chen could have made his point without sounding like an idiot. Who replaces a battery in an old phone? Maybe he changes cases and feels satisfied.

    1. Actually, bashing the NYT is not irrelevant. The Times Editorial Staff as represented by Executive Editor Dean Baquet dictate how stories are to be shaped, and one of the Times missions right now is to downplay Big Tech. A recent transcription of a leaked staff meeting make this style of news news reporting at the Time quite clear, based on Baquets own words. I believe Chen was given marching orders as to how he is to review tech products. Downplay advancements and question the need. The NYT no longer is in the business of providing facts so individuals can make educated decisions about how to comport their private lives. They are in the business of shaping the way you should, in their opinion, think. In this case their mission is reduce consumerism and reduce the power and impact of Big Tech on society at large.

      1. Nicely said and thanks for background info.

        Gives insight to the bizarre NYT coverage of the Apple launch presentation where the NYT main theme was that it was too focused on products! A product launch that was too focused on products?

        Political Social Opinions creeping too much out of editorials onto review pages.

      2. “The NYT no longer is in the business of providing facts so individuals can make educated decisions about how to comport their private lives.”

        Astute observation, Spark. This betrayal began circa 2007 when the NYT LOST its mind and subsequently the mantle of the paper of record, throwing out ALL rules of ethical journalism, while enthusiastically backing the Obama campaign.

        Further, it got much worse during the Clinton presidential run ignoring the TRUE Russian collusion of Russians donating millions of dollars to the Clinton foundation, half a million to hubby for a speech and the Russian uranium deal directed and executed by Hillary.

        The NYT rather than win Pulitzer’s with several story angles to choose from totally ignored the stories, sat on their brains and in unprecedented amnesia DID NOTHING.

        “They are in the business of shaping the way you should, in their opinion, think.”

        Absolutely! To define precisely they are in the business of promoting POLITICALLY CORRECT politics circa 2007 and fast forward to present day, SOCIALIST POLITICS. Both benefiting the Democratic Party and at the same time —demonizing the Republican Party.

        January 20, 2007: Republican presidential election winner Donald J. Trump put his hand on the Bible standing on the Capitol steps. Not the day the music died, the day journalism DIED…

        1. LOL! Your rightwing ideological blinders are on full display.

          Trump is the most corrupt president in U.S. history. Indeed, he is un-American — not just in his beliefs, but in his actions, disrespecting American values, the rule of law, and democracy — and coddling foreign dictators. He’s selling out his country for personal profit and you’re falling for it.

          You clearly don’t even know what socialism is. No doubt, you even think Trump is a truth teller! Sad! Stop watching Fox Fake News.

          1. “LOL! Your rightwing ideological blinders are on full display.”

            LOL! Your leftwing ideological blinders are on full display.

            “Trump is the most corrupt president in U.S. history”

            Drinking the NYT Fake News Kool-Aid again I see.

            To be brief: The reality that you refuse to accept, is after all the investigations, FAKE HEARINGS and 40 million taxpayer dollars wasted, coupled with 24/7 saturated negative media stories, drum roll please — BIG NOTHING BURGER!!!… 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    2. “Chen misses the point. bashing the Times is irrelevant- you’d find him more credible on Fox “news” or in the NY Post?”

      NO, the NYT is FAKE NEWS and Chen fits right in. For him to migrate to Fox News or NYP he would be held to higher standards to report the TRUTH. No matter, neither one hires from the fake news pool.

      That ridiculous off topic remark aside, Chen is RIGHT about one thing. In the age of thousand dollar iPhones with only better cameras and a faster chip for the most part, for many, it makes no sense to upgrade your trusty once state of the art phone, when it just keeps getting the job done….

  4. I have a 7+ and will not be buying this cycle. My phone works perfectly and I just installed iOS 13 today and it is great on my 7+. The speed and new capabilities of the cameras on he 11’s sound nice. But, my 7+ is not slow. It does everything well, runs iOS 13 well, takes very good photos. I’ll hold out one more year. The new phones look and sound great but, for me, not worth the expense.

  5. Chen is right — and it has nothing to do with his employer.

    You DON’T need to update to a new iPhone every year or two. The same way you don’t need to buy a new car every year or two.

    For people who like driving new cars, or carrying new phones, that’s wonderful. I’m happy for you.

    But I tend to keep my cars until at least the loan is paid off, and it’s the same with my iPhone. I’d like to go at least a few months not having to pay off my loan to Apple or AT&T. My iPhone 8 does its job. Just like my four-year-old Honda. I’m keeping both for at least another year…

    1. Fair enough. However, you can live without just about anything except water, food, and basic shelter, so just about anything else could be described as “something that most could live without.” If you can swing the [cost], why live without it? [iPhone 11] is a great product – check out the reviews… — MacDailyNews, May 30, 2008

  6. Isn’t Brian Chen the writer, for Wired, who wrote the story about the iPhone being a failure in Japan, then he kept doubling down on that story, even after the japanese expert he quoted, disagreed with Chen’s interpretation of his comments?

  7. This is such a crude, off base column. The effort to score points has led the writer astray and to an unfounded, poorly supported critique of Chen.

    By the way, Chen is making a decent living doing tech writing. Not sure what your shtick is!

  8. “Here’s a better idea: You could always just cancel your subscription to The New York Times”
    MDN, now who is bat shit crazy?!?!?
    You wan’t people to cancle to newspapers because someone thinks not everyone wants to (or can) get a new iPhone every year? Just how much do you think the rest of the world makes?
    You have been listening to Trump way too long!

      1. spelling? on a fscking blog you can’t edit? sure, covfefe. Did you remember to correct The Chosen One when he accidentally typed his immigrant wife’s name as Melanie?

        Trump the spelling ace also uses bigly great terms like :

        tapp my phone
        waist of time
        pour over my tweets
        unpresidented act
        Secretary of Educatuon
        will loose big
        special councel
        some peopel
        State of the Uniom
        lose cannon
        Texas is heeling fast
        no challenge is to great
        Lying Ted Cruz and leightweight chocker Marco Rubio
        no smocking gun
        wether crimes exist
        I here by
        my busineses
        I love japen. I am always watching animey.
        one of the dummer people
        Prince of Whales
        to achieve succuess
        I know words I have the best words.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.