iPhone XR: The Definitive Guide to This Year's Cheapest Apple Smartphone
Everything you need to know.
Apple’s 2018 iPhone trifecta is complete. The iPhone XS and XS Max have stunned the most ardent tech fanatics with their crystal-clear OLED screens, but now it’s the XR’s turn to make a splash in the smartphone market.
The colorful handset went on sale Friday. It’s the cheapest out of this year’s iPhone trio, starting at $749 compared to the $999 and $1,099 price tags of its siblings. Externally, the XR is fundamentally distinct from its pricier counterparts but its internal components are identical.
Its six different color variants — black, white, red, yellow coral, and blue — double the options available for the XS and XS Max. Aside from sheer aesthetic, it will also lack display and camera features that are major selling points for the other two devices. But otherwise most of the parts powering the XR are almost identical to the other releases.
Think of the XR as being a less flashy sports car than the XS and XS Max. Sure it doesn’t have the spoiler or racing wheels but it has the same engine and the better paint job. This makes Apple’s most affordable phone perfect for iOS users who are using an iPhone 8 or older.
iPhone XR: Specs
For starters, the XR packs the same A12 Bionic chip that powers the XS and XS Max. Apple said the 7-nanometer processor is capable of carrying out more than 5 trillion operations per second, compared to last year’s 10nm A11 chip’s 600 billion operations. In terms of raw computational power, the XR is just as good as the XS and XS Max.
It even comes with a bigger battery than the XS. The XR runs on a 2,942 mAh battery, compared to the XS’s 2,658 mAh and the XS Max’s 3,174 mAh batteries. All-in-all these are pretty lackluster batteries compared to other flagship releases that pack upwards of 4,000 mAh batteries, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro. But the XS and XS Max have been tested to hold their own in terms of battery life. We’ll have to wait for tests to see if the same goes for the XR.
The screen is the department it falls the flattest. Instead of coming with an eye-popping OLED display, the XR has a 6.1-inch LCD screen. LCD screens are by default less bright and more rigid than OLEDs so that water-like quality of the XS and XS Max screens will be glaringly absent.
There has also been a controversy regarding the XR’s resolution and pixel density. The device’s resolution is 1,792-by-828 pixels and had a density of 326 pixels-per-inch, compared to the iPhone XS’s 2436‑by-1125‑pixel resolution at 458 PPI.
The former means the XR will only be able to play videos at a maximum of 828p, which will only be mildly annoying if you constantly watch Netflix or YouTube your smartphone. But the 326 PPI had certain users concerned because it was the same density found on the iPhone 4.
However, a smartphone expert previously told Inverse that 326 PPI is actually optimal for LCD screens. So if you were skeptical about picking up an XR only because of the screen, it won’t be a big deal.
iPhone XR: Cameras
All three of this year’s iPhones leverage the A12’s power to enable some game-changing camera features. However, photos on the XR will be slightly lesser quality especially if you want to zoom in on something. The 7-megapixel selfie camera, on the other hand, will be exactly the same on across the trio.
The cheaper of the three only has one wide-angle, 12 MP rear camera while the XS and XS Max also include a telephoto lens of optical zoom. All this means is that the XR is only capable of digital zoom, which has the tendency to make images grainy. But don’t count it out just yet. Thanks to its processor, users can still edit images’ depth of field after a photo has been taken
iPhone XR: Who It’s Perfect For
For everyone trying to upgrade from an iPhone 8 or older and not spend a month-worth or rent, it’s definitely worth considering the XR. iPhone X users might be disappointed in its LCD screen and lack of dual-rear cameras. But for everyone else Apple’s revival of the iPhone 5c will be an upgrade for the low.