The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen tries to defend his idiotic, sanctimonious iPhone 11 non-review

Brian X. Chen for The New York Times:

As a tech reviewer, I’ve watched the smartphone market evolve… Despite all these market changes, many smartphone reviews, including mine, had not revised the formula that was born over a decade ago. As per tradition, we took a deep dive on the new phones, made comparisons to competing products and wrote about how much faster and better they were than their predecessors.

Assuming the new phones were better than old ones — and when are they not? — we reviewers encouraged people to upgrade. I wondered last week: Are we putting upgrade pressure on people when even the carriers are not?

MacDailyNews Take: You see, whatever The New York Times and Brian X. Chen proclaim makes you stupid sheep run right out to stores, stand in line, and spend money that The New York Times and Brian X. Chen don’t think you have. You’re too stupid to read a product review that actually reviews the product and then make rational distinctions between your current product and the one about which you’ve just read. You’re also far too stupid to know if you can afford to improve your device or not. Let The New York Times and Brian X. Chen tell you what to do. They know your financial situation and they know far better than you whether you need an ultra-wide camera or 5 hours more battery life per day.

So with all this in mind, after testing the new iPhone 11s, I talked to my editor about how things felt different, and we devised a fresh approach: a review that discusses the new features while taking into account market changes, followed by recommendations for those who truly need to upgrade, those who can maybe upgrade and those who don’t need the upgrade.

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, it’s so nice to have The New York Times and Brian X. Chen lead you by the nose, isn’t it, you silly, stupid, bleating sheep?

Anyone can come up with a reason that they “need” a new gizmo. But the most objective advice we could come up with for people who are thinking about upgrading from an old iPhone is that they need a new device if their current one is at least five years old. That’s because Apple’s new operating system, iOS 13, which arrived last week, stopped supporting iPhones that were released before 2015.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s right iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus users, there’s nothing to see here in the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. An iPhone 6S vs. an iPhone 11 Pro, they’re pretty much the same. You just do what you’re told by us smart people, m’kay?

Chen continues:

Who can upgrade if they feel like it?

MacDailyNews Take: Ooh, the anticipation is killing us! Who will be allowed to upgrade by the all-powerful, all-knowing Wizard of… New York Times and Brian X. Chen?

I wrote that for owners of the iPhone 6S (from 2015) and iPhone 7 (2016), the new iPhone 11s were a nice (but not a must-have) upgrade for their bigger screens and increased speeds, among other perks. But this time we included this context: Those older iPhones are still fast and their cameras are still great, and owners of those devices can replace their batteries for cheap to extend their lives.

MacDailyNews Take: And what The New York Times and Brian X. Chen wrote is what goes, capiche? Again, dumb-asses, your iPhone 6S is still “fast” and your camera is still “great” and, what are you, stupid?! Just replace your batteries, morons. Again, you don’t need an ultra-wide camera or 5 hours more battery life per day. You certainly don’t deserve them, either. You just do what you’re told.

The New York Times and Brian X. Chen have lost the plot.

An iPhone review should explain what is new, how things work, what’s good, what’s bad, and how much it costs without proclaiming that $X is “expensive,” since the reviewer has no zero knowledge whether $X is “expensive” to the reader or not. Include some photos and screenshots. Period. That is the job of a product reviewer. Any publication or reviewer that executes that simple formula respects their readership’s intelligence and trusts their readers to make their own decisions.

The claptrap that The New York Times and Brian X. Chen is peddling in their iPhone 11/Pro/Max non-review is nothing more than sanctimonious twaddle that holds their readership in contempt.


  1. I upgraded from a 6S with 64 GB to an 11 Pro with 256 GB. I read all the reviews beforehand, including Chen’s and wasn’t really sure I needed the new phone, other than the fact that the charging connector on my 6S was stretched and charging was a real problem (even after cleaning out the belly button lint.)

    Well, one week in with the 11 Pro and I have to say that the advancements to the 11 Pro from 6S are both very obvious and very nuanced. What the reviewers should be saying is that if you still have the home button, there is no question you should upgrade to ANY 11 for the new user interface, for the camera, for the battery life, for the display, and for a myriad of other nuanced advancements. Using the 11 Pro is like going from a car with, crank starter, manual shifting and steering to electric starter, automatic transmission and power steering and breaking. Night and day experience. So much faster, crisper and more usable.

    The media has made it their responsibility to worry about the price of the iPhones. Screw them – I almost skipped the upgrade because they created unnecessary FUD. Once you have the new 11 in your hands, you will wonder what all the fuss was about.

    On the other hand, if you have an X or Xs, I could see holding onto those for a couple more years.

    1. Stop it, MDN. You’re foaming at the mouth and starting to look crazy.

      The job of a product review is obviously more than to list the published specs of the device, its price and photos of it. That’s the job of the manufacturer’s documentation and marketing departments. The “what’s good, what’s bad, what’s new” piece has everything to do with comparisons to earlier versions of the product.

      A review of any product should illuminate the consumer on the meaning and practical upside of the marketing and put the feature set into the consumer’s perspective. One such way is by spending time using the product in a normal context and reporting experiences and impressions, even sharing results when reasonable — e.g., show photos taken with the camera, report how privacy settings didn’t do what they were set to or explain how the salesperson at the Apple store recommended buying a second one just in case the phone starts to shut off 10 minutes after the battery is driven off the lot.

      And yes, OF COURSE they should provide an educated opinion on who the new device will serve best.

      And if you think the NYT doesn’t have detailed demographic information about its readership, you’ve spent too much time licking the paint off the iDevices.

  2. The claptrap that MDN is peddling is nothing more than sanctimonious twaddle that holds their readership in contempt.

    See how snide opinions work both ways?

    For the record, Chen and his employer have the thankless job of attempting to put things in perspective with increasingly harsh constraints while taking potshots from all sides. MDN on the other hand reposts others’ work under a pile of Google ads and swipes at anyone who doesn’t worship Apple.

    The iPhone 11 offers modest improvements that appeal to some people and not others. Is that too much for MDN to accept???????

    1. Snide opinions only work when they are based in fact, not when some random moron plugs a different name into a sentence they clearly do not understand regardless of its utter simplicity. You should probably look up “sanctimonious,” “contempt,” and based on your comment, “is” and “the,” too.

      So, no, snide opinions don’t work both ways.

      MDN clearly respects their readers’ intelligence by extolling reviewers to present the facts and allow readers to determine if they’d like to upgrade to a new product or not. Obviously, MDN does more than “repost others’ work.” See above. They are rather extensively critiquing others’ work and doing it very well, too. It obviously touched a nerve with you, Brian… uh, “Sarah.”

      The New York Times and Brian X. Chen clearly do not think their readers can grasp simple facts and make rational decisions based upon them. The NYT is the perfect fishwrap for you.

    2. I think Chen, Who I still associate with PC Magazibe rather than The NY Times really missed the boat here. Might as well be working for Consumer Trports. But MDN disqualified themselves with their over the top mouth foaming rant against the Times- would they be nearly as upset if Chen reviewed technology on Fox News or the NY Post? I think not.

      1. MDN opinion is not based in the political media. It is based in facts. If you are saying their take would be different commenting on Chen if it was published in Fox or NYP just exposes your stupidity and bias…

        1. Ah, yes. But — As there exists an entire spectrum of facts, one must ask: which facts?

          Every one of us is predisposed to select those facts that stand out—that support our personal biases. And we’ll wave away the rest. We are all hard-wired that way! Critical thinking is hard work, too hard to bother with in most cases.

          When staying in New York City, I’ll endure the light drizzle to walk to a nearby minimart for some strong coffee and a bagel, and sit down to enjoy the NY Post.

          The Post’s celebrity gossip is really funny, and I savour their hit pieces on baseball managers and local pols. All the stories are based on facts, and it’s a fun little game of mine to pick them out, and admire how artfully a story was developed around them.. No matter the topic, a certain social narrative is reinforced.

          Different newspaper, different agenda. I prefer the agenda to be out in the open, unlike the NY Times which has splendid typography but sometimes perplexing writing. Like that iPhone review.. it seems to be a veiled attack on American consumerism. This is the kind of stuff Hunter S. Thompson used to write. Chen and the Times need to step up and insert “fear and loathing” into their headlines.

          As for MDN, their facts are (1) the existential threat—to MDN’s bottom line— of stories diminishing Apple’s sales, and (2) the perceived arrogance of social criticism, disguised as an advice column, disguised as an analysis of electronics specs.

          1. The wise one is back. 😊

            Certainly agree “critical thinking” is toughest, but the only way to go and what is rapidly becoming extinct in our schools, colleges, media, political parties and general discourse.

            Thoroughly agree with your take on the NYP and NYT. Biases diametrically opposed to each other and yet I find the Post funniest, open and more honest than the Times sanctimonious preaching and half-truth style of reporting a Democratic Party bias.

            It’s not only what they say, but more importantly, what they ignore, omit and don’t say (read HIDE) that skews facts and taints credibility like no time before in their history. Since they are the dead tree media leader opposing President Trump, with a far left editor, there circulation has soared 3-4X. I find reading them the last few years they have just about lost critical thinking and paper of record status.

            Agreed MDN is protecting their bottom line and thought take a tad over the top. Actually agree with some of Chen’s opinions. It’s all good… 🤠🐎

  3. The New York Times is written for stupid people with no ability to think critically. It is a propaganda sheet that is read by people who want to get the fashionable opinions so they don’t have to think. It is written by socialist millennials to create more socialist “useful idiots”, as Lenin called them. It does a good job.

    1. Ah…kent is back to tell us who to believe and what to think. Thank, goodness! Where would be be without the guidance and wisdom spewing from his ossified brain?

      With respect to MDN, Sarah has a point. First, why don’t you respect the intelligence of your readers enough to believe that we are able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to a news source – any news source including the NYT? Your denigration of the entire publication based on this product review is ludicrous since it likely involves just a few people within a much larger organization. Yet, you believe that it somehow reflects on the whole in a way that warrants trashing the whole entity and anything that it might publish? Pot – Kettle syndrome…

      Sometimes we fall so in love with our witty ripostes in this forum that we go a little overboard. If I was unfamiliar with the long history of MDN, then I might be inclined to write this off as just another over-the-top MDN Take trying to recover the genius and dry wit of the SteveJack of yore. But the history of MDN, especially over the past decade, leads me to conclude that this take is actually representative of the true beliefs of the MDN staff, which cannot seem to separate its Apple commentary from its politics.

      1. Funny how we interpret things differently. I read the MDN take based on honest critique and comparisons of iPhones. The liberal bias of the NYT has nothing to do with MDN’s take…

    2. That is ridiculous. Do you actually expect anyone to respect you when your first sentence is complete rubbish? ALL mainstream media presents simplified narratives. The extreme positions from each end of the spectrum are the ones that present themselves as authoritative while offering zero analysis or identifying multiple verifiable data points.

      It’s not even worth debating if media Brand A is better than media Brand B. If you can’t even discern that thousands of individuals work at each outlet, with varying quality output, then you are not being reasonable.

      Some here are cheering MDN’s pathetic attempt to smear the entire NYT because they did not agree with a single story presented in it. I fail however to see any facts presented to counter what you claim are lies on the part of the NYT. If another person comes to a differerent conclusion than you want to hear, this IS NOT lying. It may be bad taste or bad judgement, but it isn’t the reviewers’ job to sell more iPhones. He’s offering one take. Isn’t the burden of proof supposed to be on the accuser? We’ll wait for MDN to bring forth its “alternate facts”.

      Let’s pick one of MDN’s favorite tech experts as a comparison.

      Because Faux apparently has no one on its staff that can competently review tech products, Chris Ciaccia was tasked to repost a roundup from other media outlets. You know, selectively cutting and pasting to form the narrative, like MDN likes to do. Ciaccia repeats some basic facts from the Apple press release and then cites such amazing experts as The Verge, USA Today, The WSJ, Engadget, and Tech Crunch for their expert OPINIONS about the newest iPhones.

      OPINION: “”If you’ve got an iPhone older than the XR and you’re looking to upgrade, I think the answer is yes,” Patel wrote in response to a self-imposed question whether it was worth it to upgrade to the new model.”

      OPINION: “USA Today’s reviewer Ed Baig said the new iPhones are the best ones Apple has ever made, but upgrading depends on when you last bought an iPhone.

      “I’ve had a week testing the new iPhones to come to a conclusion, and while not all the answers are clear cut, these are the best iPhones Apple has engineered,” Baig wrote. “But whether you should rush out to buy one still mostly depends – on your budget and how long it’s been since you last upgraded your phone.””

      OPINION: Velazco wrote. “It’s probably not worth buying if you have an iPhone XR or XS, but for everyone else, it’s the easiest way to get a taste of modern flagship iPhone…”

      OPINION: “TechCrunch’s Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino reviewed the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro by taking them to Disneyland, adding that the Night Mode on the phones are “great” and that he expects the iPhone 11 to sell “really well.””

      So much for 100% facts and data. It would appear that ALL media, even your personal favorite media, loves to push their opinions.

  4. Bullwinkle said: ‘The media has made it their responsibility to worry about the price of the iPhones.” The majority of media, especially the NYSlimes and its owner/operator Pinchy Sulzberger has assumed that they have the duty to steer the public in practically every decision in life—particularly in politics. What a joke they have become. If they would just give us an honest review in anything, as in; an accurate summary review of a candidate’s previous performance, their written materials, their voting history, and then leave us to decide for ourselves how we will vote then we can hold them in high regard. As it is, most of them can’t win in the arena of logic and good sense so they attempt to coerce and sway us at all times. Take a walk! Off a short pier! I loved and laughed along with MDNs takes on this “reviewer’s” comments. Give us MORE!!

    1. Oh so wise, because Fox News and the WSJ would never even consider steering people in their political beliefs

      For the record, I see the nytimes as a truly great paper which just wrote an entirely stupid article on smartphones

  5. Most reviewers compare the iPhone 11 features and performance with that of earlier models, usually focussing on the remarkable improvements in the camera. Where Brian goes horribly wrong is to presume that he knows best what iPhone users want or need. His review is a complete waste of paper and ink (or pixels for that matter).

  6. Brian Chen’s last week’s review even technically is garbage.

    In his review he stated those with iP 7’s and above don’t have to upgrade as the differences are minor. Here he mentions even the 6 is acceptable agains the 11.

    Yet OBJECTIVE tests and reviews have shown the iPhone 11 is a VAST improvement over even the 7 and surely over the 6, in camera performance, battery life, durability etc.

    The iPhone 11 camera is big improvement over even the X but for the 7… it’s vast i night shots where the 7 might have a blank screen the 11 can record the whole scene. This is a BIG difference.

    Yes you can still use the 7 , just like you like Warren Buffet still use a FLIP PHONE but the problem is Brian tries to hide the objective facts (camera lighting differences, etc) instead of giving users real info.

    iP 7 vs iP 11 Pro
    Camera is 7 MP vs 12 MP
    Geekbench 700 vs 5000
    (c’mon this is significant)

    Yeah some people might not care, but give them the FACTS to decide, don’t colour the review due to the NYT’s HIDDEN POLITICAL SLANT.

    2) The NYT’s editor Dean Banquet has been raked over by many people
    In meeting records leaked to the Slate, it shows the NYT Baquet telling his staff how to ‘shape ‘ the news . I.e not longer ‘reporting’ but actively changing and slanting stories to a pre conceived notion.

    Ex Times editor Jill Abramson complains about this, so does Catholic League president in an open later to Banquet says about the Times reporter “objectively disqualifies him from covering the issue”.

    Yes, I understand newspapers have leanings and opinions but they should be kept to the Commentary, Opinion and Editorial columns and marked clearly as such.

    Not especially in product REVIEW pages. Don’t like certain products (maybe like Guns) then don’t review them but when you do a review be objective and fair.,

    worse the NYT’s slants are HIDDEN, readers thought the news items and reviews were objective.

    The NYT slant is to attack apple, reduce product sales. That’s why the bizarre report on the Phone launch , a diatribe against Apple saying Apple spent too much time on products instead of other things in the event (too much time on products during a product launch ?)

    Chen’s defence against the blowback of the ridiculousness of some of his iP review comments last week shows that he realizes people caught on to this hidden bias and now lamely tries to excuse himself.

    This is NOT a RIGHT LEFT etc issue, it’s objectivity and accuracy in the press . Without it it’s fake news.

    If people don’t get this…
    Imagine if publication had a hidden slant and say they were doing a Kitchen Utensil review of a MEAT CLEAVER:

    Review : One Star. (Hidden agenda Vegan)
    Review : 5 Stars. (Hidden agenda Paleo meat lover)

    No, a review should objectively tell us how well the item did it’s job. i.e here : Can it Cut Meat and if so how well?

    4) NTY’s criticism of ‘people spending too much is ‘ is hypocritical.

    Why doesn’t it editorialize people should BUY FEWER NEWSPAPERS and save some trees? Even recycling consumes energy.
    And newspapers like the NYT are funded by Ads that scream ‘buy, buy’.

    1. Your comments on the Dean Banquet Slate story are the exact opposite of reality. Read the slate story and see for yourself.

      He was actually defending his paper for NOT calling trump a racist. His position was clear that the paper did the right thing there, because the situation was more nuanced that the complainers perceived.

      The NY Times article on smartphones was stupid, plain and simple

      1. Did I mention Trump?

        You guys automatically think I because criticize NYT because i’m somehow ‘conservative ‘ or pro trump something

        I and some reviews criticize NYT for ‘shaping’ news per se, we’re not into really pro or neg Trump.

        I’m not interested in Trump but since you brought it up, Baquet’s not using ‘racist’ was strategic, he wanted to hurt Trump more, but HIDE it, using ‘racist’ would show his hand.

        The Slate: “Baquet argued it was “more powerful” to avoid directly using the label. ”

        (Get that? attack Trump but hide it and pretend the articles were objective. Just like Chen want’s to push a ‘less products sold is better’ social agenda by PRETENDING THE IPHONE 11 IS NOT A SIGNIFICANT UPDATE. Chen and NYT is screwing objective tests to push their own hidden social political beliefs . Like i said there’s a place for that in Editorials or Comment sections, not reviews )

        1. Once again I’m not pro or neg Trump, I don’t think about it much at all.

          I’m not very political.

          I’m an apple investor and an apple product user, that’s why I comment on Chen. My Banquet note was just trying to show the NYT’s bias is detrimental to accurate news especially when it comes to things like reviews.

          Note that the NYT’s editorial policies have made it a lot of money: ever since it began an
          anti Trump crusade, readership has shot from 600k to over 2 million.
          (There is cold hearted financial reasons why it’s doing what it’s doing)

          Now it knows with NYT’s mostly liberal readers, climate change etc is a hot issue and it’s pushing a ‘less product sold is better’, thus an Attack on Apple selling stuff.

          This is to please it’s readers. But to do so it’s twisting objective tests into monster pretzels.

          Saying that there is not much upgrade from an iPhone 6 to 11 is CRAZY.

          But like I said NYT is HYPOCRITICAL , since it tries to push MORE of it’s OWN sales,

          Like I said why doesn’t NYT tell people to buy less news papers , you know maybe SHARE them? Save some trees…

          AND it sells a lot Ad space in it’s papers promoting consumerism.

          (Selling a lot of stuff like it’s own papers and that of it’s advertisers I guess it’s OK to NYT editors. Of course attacking Apple sells even more Papers ! )

          1. All the down voters I want to ask you simple question:

            I figure you are probably down voting me due to your political beliefs and your conceived notions of what mine are (I’m a neutral centrist but I know just saying this isn’t going to convince you. Polarization is a religion now. )

            So I’ll just ask you:

            Say you were in the market for a TV or car or something:

            there’s NYT reviews of say Samsung TV, Ford Cars, etc.

            NYT says there are not worth buying.

            Now with whatever happened to Apple (the fantastical crazy claim that the iPhone 11 is not much of an upgrade over the 6 with way better camera, night ability, durability : the body is several hundred percent stronger , waterproofing, way longer batter life, 300 vs 5400 Geekbench scores etc etc),…

            Would you now believe a NYT review of the TV, car where it says they are no good, skip the buy etc . With what happened with Apple you don’t have DOUBTS about the review ?

            People supporting Right or Left news media DISTORTIONS of reality to fit a social or political position are nuts, you are helping to make a world (you financially incentivizing these publications by patronage) where we can’t trust news anymore and without at least attempts at facts, how can you have sources where you can make actual real decisions ?

            You think the world is CHAOS?, By supporting distortions you are helping create it.

            you want to help the world ? Tell the publications left or right: ” tell me the TRUTH, or I’m complaining or leaving”.

  7. Outside of comparing features and improvements most reviews ARE opinion pieces based on the experience of the author(s) and possibly past experiences of readers that commented on earlier pieces.

  8. NYT should bring back David Pogue. His technology perspective and his product reviews were of high merit compared to Chen who offers little analysis and even less humor or thoughtful writing.

Reader Feedback

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