10.24.2018 12:00 AM

Innovation

iPhone XR: The Budget Smartphone Could Have a  Significant Downside

To buy or not to buy? The display holds the answer.

Apple’s colorful iPhone XR is now available for pre-order, and it’s a relatively budget-friendly option if you really want to upgrade this year. But a question about the display has Apple enthusiasts wondering if it’s worth the money.

The new iPhone XR is some $200 cheaper than the next-best iPhone XS, and $300 cheaper than the XS Max. Naturally, this lower price point means the XR won’t tout the same specs as its counterparts, and its display is where most people will likely notice these quality discrepancies.

For starters, the XR will come with an LCD screen, instead of an OLED display like the XS and XS Max, meaning it’ll be slightly less vibrant than the other two.

Members of the Apple user community, from a review of forum and social media posts, are concerned about the device’s screen resolution: 1,792-by-828 pixels. This means that there are exactly 1,792 rows and 828 columns of pixels making up the phone’s display, for a total of total of 1.48 million pixels in total. That’s substantially less than the 1,080 horizontal pixels needed to play 1,080p videos on YouTube and Netflix. That those HD videos won’t look as sharp on an iPhone XR is the concern in these early days.

Apple's blueprint of the iPhone XR's display.Apple

So does this mean that the iPhone XR won’t be able to play 1,080p videos at all? Not quite. And should consumers take this into consideration when making their smartphone purchase? Most definitely and especially if you’re obsessed with screen resolution and crisp video quality.

iPhone XR: Only 720p?!

The “p” at the end of 720p or 1,080p stands for progressive scan, which states how many vertical lines of pixels are used to draw out the image of a screen. The XR only has 828 compared to the iPhone XS Max’s 2,688-by-1,242 pixel display. So what gives, are XR users going to be stuck on the 720p option on YouTube forever?

“I was shocked and now I don’t really know what to do”

“I was so excited to see the XR because of its lower price point and similar features to the XS. When I read about it having 720p, I was shocked and now I don’t really know what to do,” commented an Apple fan on the MacRumors forum.

The XR will downsample 1,080p videos to fit its 828p display.Apple

The good news is that the XR won’t be relegated to only using 720p, but it will be capped at 828p. Through the power of downsampling, the XR will essentially adjust 1,080p videos to fits its native resolution. This will be better than 720p, but not as good at 1,080p.

The XR will get rid of the pixels it can’t fit on its screen and fill in the gaps using the pixels it has available. You’ll see slightly fewer details than you’d be able to on an XS and XS Max, which could result in less nuanced shadows or gradients.

iPhone XR: Should I Buy It?

This comes down to personal preference and what phone you’re upgrading. For iPhone X users, the XR would be a notable downgrade. The X has a 2436-by-1125-pixel resolution with an OLED display, so you’d be losing the bright and detailed screen you’re used to.

Anyone that has a “Plus” version of the 6, 6s, 7, or 8 might also notice a slight difference. All of the larger-sized iPhones have come with 1,080p-support so for those with a sharp eye for resolution might be able to spot the evidence of downsampling the XR will employ.

So should you pick one up? It really depends what phone you have now and how much you value resolution.Apple

Users with a non-“Plus” sized iPhone 8 or older are the best suited for the XR. The display will a resolution upgrade, plus it’ll pack greatly improved internals for faster performance. So you’ll be able to watch higher resolution videos faster than you once could.

The rainbow-colored XR won’t be for the Apple diehards the upgrade every year without fail or for the resolution buffs, that can’t live without 1,080p. It’ll be for the iOS users that have hung on to their older iPhones and are ready for a next-generation Apple smartphone that won’t cost $1,000.

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