The Good The less expensive iPhone XR delivers most of the iPhone X and XS features, including a gorgeous large screen with a convenient body, fast performance, Face ID and wireless charging, and a camera that’s mostly as good as the iPhone XS.
The Bad One rear camera lacks optical zoom and has a limited portrait mode. Its LCD screen, though large, bright and bright, is still one step below the OLED iPhone XS by contrast. The aluminum XR is a little less durable than the steel XS.
The Bottom Line The iPhone XR is the best-priced iPhone, providing most of the benefits of the iPhone XS for hundreds less.
Editors note, November 8: We updated this review, originally published on October 23, with definitive battery benchmarks, camera testing, crash test results, and additional impressions. The overall rating moved from 8.8 to 8.9, and the phone received a selection of CNET editors.
Does the landscape of iPhone shopping seem awful? There is a simple solution. If you’re looking for a great iPhone that costs well, dive right into the iPhone XR. It the iPhone. This is the one you are looking for. (When I looked at the iPhone XS in September I said I should wait before buying. I’m glad I did.)
The iPhone XR in blue looks stellar under a macro lens
With the help of the iPhone XR, Apple has created an iPhone that delivers 75 percent of the high-end iPhone XS experience at 75 percent of the cost. Yes, there are compromises : Screen and camera take a few steps back from the XS, as well as a few other tips and bends. Using the XR after living with the XS, the only feature I really missed was the rear camera telephoto lens.
But the iPhone XR is actually a few improvements to her dear brothers. Its larger screen than the XS (6.1 vs. 5.8 inches), it comes with a wider range of fun colors and – more importantly – it has the best battery life of any current iPhone you can buy.
I still want Apple to introduce an even less expensive phone. When $ 749 starts (£ 749, $ 1,229) no one will call this phone cheap – it costs so much top-end iPhone 6 Plus cost in 2014 – but the XR is still worth far less than the iPhone XS 999 and above.
That said, let’s go for the $ 799 128GB version. Finally, Apple included medium storage instead of jumping straight from $ 749 64GB (fine, but not enough) to $ 899 256 GB (more than most people would need if they didn’t shoot a ton of video). You won’t be able to upgrade your storage later, so the extra $ 50 will pay off.
iPhone XR prices
|iPhone XR (64GB)||iPhone XR (128GB)||iPhone XR (256GB)|
Camera: Almost the same as XS
iPhone XR photos, and how Portrait Mode works
Apple has put the same camera sensor and almost all of the same lenses on the iPhone XR as on the XS and XS Max ($ 1,000 on Amazon) . The TrueDepth front camera is the same: I did great portrait photography, did amazing things in Memoji using Apple’s emoticon tools, and all the better than the iPhone 8 ($ 599 on Amazon) can be done. The rear single camera is wide-angle, the same as the wide-angle XS lens. Smart HDR photos and everyday photos look the same. Our last Compare iPhone XS Camera with Pixel 3 shows where Smart HDR is succeeding, and where it’s still not as good in low light, as what Pixel 3 can do.
The real difference is that this phone does not have a rear telephoto lens. It affects photos in two ways: without 2x optical zoom or additional digital zoom levels; and no photos with an enhanced photo. The X-ray can also take portrait photographs, but the results are different.
Not having 2x optical zoom bothers me more than I thought it would. I rely on this 2x for the closeup framing I found. It is also important for zooming in on distant objects. My 5x zoom on the Flatiron building looked much clearer with the XS than the purely digital XR scale.
This does not mean that portrait mode is absent from the XR at all. Apple took the page Google’s book and deliver portrait mode effects with one lens using software. The effects do work, but they are different from how the XS takes portraits.
The modeled blur of wide-angle portrait mode is thinner than the iPhone X and XS. The photos also look farther from the subject, requiring you to zoom in, as there is no digital zoom in portrait mode. For example, in the photos above, I took a photo of my colleague Marian Zhou from the same distance, but it was shot “further” in the XR image. Below, I approached the XR to compensate for the difference in focal length.
The faces end up looking a bit more distorted than the better-composed, more facelifted photo-portrait mode on the X and XS, though the faces in the XR shots can sometimes look more detailed in low light than in the telephoto version.
Although the effects may be a little more subtle than on the iPhone XS, I have never failed them when photographing a person. And as soon as I understood its limitations, it ended up with some really nice results. Portrait mode when it first debuted in beta iPhone 7 Plus seemed a little artificial at times. A year later, it produces much better results with just one lens.
The iPhone XR allows you to customize the bokeh effect and several other portrait lighting effects later, just like the iPhone X and XS. The image above shows before and after the bokeh effect is added. (You can see where the strands of flying hair are being blurred in the background.) A future software update will allow you to preview the previous depth effect before shooting. However, there are no Stage Light or Stage Light Mono modes on this camera.
And … the effects of the iPhone XR portrait mode only work on people.
The Apple AI requires the presence of a person. If he does not “see” the person, he does not start portrait mode at all. I tried with people, mannequins, photographs, sculptures similar to humans, animals and things like fruits and flowers. Sometimes the portrait mode of the camera has been tricked by a dummy’s head, a wig or a sculpture of the face, or a wall poster depicting the actors’ faces, adding a blurring effect to the bokeh. I couldn’t get him to recognize the adorable dogs in the dog park, though the Pixel 3 is really great.
The Google Pixel 3 It also has one rear camera lens, but Google takes more of the focus for computing photography with this phone, allowing for clearer digital zoom and portrait mode that works for anything, including pets.
Pets! This is not part of the iPhone XR portrait mode. Sure, the XR takes great shots differently, but portraits of pets? Not this year.
One weird camera note: Sometimes I saw bits of blue lens flare when shooting at night near bright lights, which also occasionally happened on the iPhone XS.
Additional deep dives on the iPhone XR Camera:
- iPhone XR vs XS: Is the XS camera worth the extra money?
- iPhone XR vs Pixel 3: Which Phone Has the Best Camera?
Note that the Pixel 3 is better for stills – even for impressive ones Night Sight function has been activated – but XR is better for video.
Size: Proper placement
I admire the plus Apple iPhone phones, but I have never enjoyed carrying them. The width hurts my arm. They are not one-handed. This is what made the iPhone X great: it reduced this large screen to a smaller body.
The XR is not the size of an iPhone XS or the size of an XS Max. It’s a mid-range deal and the mid-size feels much more comfortable than the wider XS Max. It feels more man-made than the Plus and Max phones, just reducing the tiny amount. If you are a fan of smaller phones, it will be too big for you, but XR is smaller than most premium big screen phones, including Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Google Pixel 3 XL ($ 1,000 on Amazon) .
Display: The LCD is beautiful
At first glance, the 6.1-inch screen on the iPhone XR looks almost the same as the iPhone XS, except for the slightly smaller 5.8-inch screen. It has a notch at the top, curved corners and a high aspect ratio of 19.5: 9. But put the phones side by side and you’ll see the differences. The frames around the display are slightly larger, slightly smaller to the edge. However, when passing and interacting with the XR, it feels just as responsive as it does on the OLED screen of the iPhone X, XS and Max.
Yes, the actual screen technology is also different. On paper, the LCD on the iPhone XR is as bright as the OLED screen on the XS – 625 nits , Apple reports. But it doesn’t always seem so bright to the eye. By the way, the XR looks a bit darker, the whites aren’t quite that white, and the black levels are obviously not super black OLED. If you compare directly, you will see the advantage of OLED, but in everyday use I barely notice. The colors look great, and the display looks better than the iPhone 8, and is as good as the latest iPad.
Technically, the display has a lower resolution than the “Super Retina” XS display. (The XS has a resolution of 2,436×1,125 pixels at 458 ppi, while the XR has a resolution of 1,792×828 pixels at 326 ppi, the same pixel density as the iPhone 8). My eye cannot perceive missing pixels. All the apps I downloaded – from games to news programs to videos and cameras – looked great in the new display size.
Other notes on the display:
No HDR means no details. I watched Blade Runner 2049 on the iPhone XS and XR, and the difference stood out – the darker rooms, or the folds of Harrison Ford’s jacket did not have the same details on a cheaper phone. High-contrast videos will not look good on the XR.
Here is support for iPhone Plus and XS Max “split look” apps. Turn the XR to your side and you’ll get an iPad-style split panel mode, which is available on some larger iPhones but not the higher-end iPhone XS. The problem is that there are not many applications that use additional panels for multitasking – Mail, Notes and some others use it. But it is welcome when it is.
The speakers also sound great. Dual speakers on the front are louder than iPhones by 2018, and they deliver clear, distortion-free sound.
Goodbye, 3D Touch
The iPhone XR does not have a 3D pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature that allows you to perform actions such as preview links, messages, and files before opening them, such as iPhones 6S ($ 160 on Amazon) , 7 , 8 , X and XS series.
In its place, the iPhone XR produces small vibration feedback pulses called “haptics” — for lock camera and flashlight icons. Instead of pressing, holding them with your finger, they will open them. The same for deeper control of the Control Center. It’s like the same as 3D Touch. Apple’s Apple Haptics are fantastic and add that physical feedback is a “pleasure”
After all, I still lack these 3D Touch preview options to see them. But since 3D Touch has always felt underused on the iPhone, missing it is not a huge loss – and if it is a must, it’s a signal that you should switch to the iPhone XS or XS Max.
There is also a good hold of 3D Touch: iOS 12 lets you Press the space bar to turn the keyboard into an actual touchpad . This makes text editing a thousand times easier.
Also, by the way, the screen size on the keyboard and the touchscreen 6.1-inch display are looking for. At least, I like my hands better than other sizes of iPhone.
Battery Performance and Life: Fantastic
The iPhone XR uses the same Aion Bionic processor as the iPhone XS, which increases the speed of day-to-day use compared to last year’s phones, as well as more impressive graphics – early figures show the 50 percent profit Apple promised. This year’s iPhones have processors that promise far more acceleration of AI-driven features, including most of the above camera effects, but bearing in mind that most everyday metrics are almost impossible to use.
If you want to see improvements, download an augmented reality app such as Ikea Place – it will look much smoother than last year’s iPhones.
The battery is where the iPhone XR really shines. Apple is promising an hour more video playback on the XR than the iPhone XS Max and another 2 hours more Internet usage. (Compared to XS, it’s 2 hours more video, 3 hours more internet.) But the news is better. While testing the CNET video playback battery, the XR got a fantastic 19 hours 53 minutes. The iPhone XS, for comparison, lasted only 13 hours 30 minutes on the same test.
Daily usage doesn’t always reflect what the figures show, but the XR also works great in the wild. I recharged the XR every day and used it for lots of photos, videos, games, streaming videos, music, reading, and more, and didn’t find it necessary to charge in the middle of the day, which I usually do on other iPhones. This is a smart choice for those who have been waiting for extra battery life without needing a battery drive, and the best iPhone battery life we’ve ever seen.
Other iPhone XR Features
Colors are nice. My viewing unit was white, but the colorful iPhones – lighter blue, coral, red, and bright yellow – look cheerful and good. It’s a return to the candy days of the iPhone 5C ($ 95 on eBay) and the iPod Mini , and a refreshing break from silver, black and gold.
Yes, waterproof. Just like the iPhone 7 ($ 170 at Walmart) and beyond, the XR can last up to 30 minutes of water up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water, Apple reports. A full dive test is coming soon. The The iPhone XS has a slightly better water resistance rating , up to 2 meters. One way or another, be aware that your phone should survive the dive, but do not swim with it, and Apple says to dry your phone 5 hours before using Lightning.
Sturdy glass, but not as durable as the iPhone XS. Again, according to Apple, the front display glass is as strong as the XS, while the rear glass is “better than the iPhone X” but not as strong as the XS. The The iPhone XS did a great job of testing the CNET drops . The XR did well – it did survived the first three drops, but cracked on the fourth . Moreover, its aluminum is more drying-friendly than the XS stainless steel case (as you might expect). The result, as always: buy case . And note that you can get decent clear colors (to make your exquisite colors shine) less than $20 .
Best iPhone XR cases
The cellular data should be the same as the iPhone 8. The iPhone XS has Gigabit LTE and 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi, while the XR “only” has LTE Advanced and 2×2 MIMO. This means that the XS is technically a bit better for wireless than the XR. However, in everyday use in New Jersey and New York, the XR did not feel noticeably “slower” or otherwise compromised in terms of wireless. At home, the Verizon wireless network on the test SIM program was running at a rate of 230 megabits per second – much faster than on my home broadband network. (Looking for 5G ? You’re a little early .)
Dual-SIM support. As of iOS 12.1 , the current genus iPhones (XS, XS Max and XR) dual-SIM capable . A physical SIM card plus eSIM (configured in your phone settings) will allow you to have two phone numbers on the same handset – work and home, international and home, superhero and secret – but your phone needs to be unlocked to take advantage of cross-operator and the three largest US carriers are not quite ready for compatibility .
Unboxing the iPhone XR by Scott Stein04:52Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle Unboxing the… AutoplayOnOff 00:00 04:52 Settings
Wireless charging. XR works with Contactless charging accessories supported by Qi . Apple says the updated reels on the new iPhones in 2018 should charge more securely and a little faster, but they aren’t charging fast: they are still powered up to 7.5 watts, while many Android phones can charge faster.
Speaking of which, the XR is fast charging included via a USB-C-Lightning adapter, but Apple still only includes a 5-watt adapter and a Lightning cable that charge the phone slowly enough. Spring is $ 19 for a 12-watt iPad power adapter for a significant boost.
No headphone jack If you are coming from a model before the iPhone 7, just remember that the 3.5mm headphone jack is long gone – and Apple is annoying no longer includes a lightning adapter up to 3.5mm in the box (this will set you back $ 9). Fortunately, the EarPod with lightning is still on board.
The go-to iPhone
I have not been fond of such an iPhone model for many years. The iPhone XR is built as the best everyday phone engine in the Apple iPhone line, based on the values I value: price, battery, speed, and basic features like the camera. The iPhone XR is a smart car with good gas mileage, but with a supercharged engine under the hood and an understated trunk spoiler – I like it too. This is what more Apple products should be removed for. It’s a good size and, almost almost, the perfect phone for its price.
What about those XS models? Technically, they are first-class. They have fantastic OLED screens, slightly sleeker (and more durable) steel bodies, and those dual rear cameras that add photos to your photos. But they are magnificent choices. Cars with all trims. If money were not the subject, I would have chosen the iPhone XS. But for most of us, the XR is the way to go. It’s not the super-budget iPhone that some have fantasized about – it takes the iPhone 7 and 8 for a discounted price. But the iPhone XR is an iPhone that I would recommend to most people.
A quick update guide
If you have an iPhone XS or XS Max: You’re good, obviously, and technically you have a better phone (except for battery life).
If you have an iPhone X: Follow the X. Performance isn’t always great, and you’ll lose your camera in exchange for some photo enhancements that will feel like a wash. And the OLED display is better. (But the XR battery is nicer.)
If you have an iPhone 8: There are enough changes to warrant an upgrade, and display size and battery gain are welcome. But I’ll still wait and use the phone you have.
If you have an iPhone 8 Plus: Follow Plus. The size, screen and battery are similar, even if the XR is better … but the 8 Plus’ dual cameras are still great.
If You Have Anything Before The iPhone 8: XR is your starting point for updates. The speed, image quality and screen size will all feel like a quantum leap forward. Take a look at the XS if you want the best iPhone camera (with optical zoom and uncompromising portrait photos) and consider iPhone XS Max if you want the largest and best screen, too, But be aware that you will pay a huge premium in both cases.
If you are looking for an affordable iPhone SE phone: Get SE for sale or receive iPhone 7 or hang in there continuation of SE is possible next year (always a crap shoot). I really like the XR size, price and performance offer, but it may not be for everyone.
When comparing to Android phones: The Google Pixel 3 XL it seems almost a direct comparison since both phones have a clear design, similar in price and both have one rear camera. The Pixel 3 XL is best for photos – it is optimized for better light and digital zoom and has an extra wide-angle selfie camera. (The iPhone XR / XS is still about video performance.) If you’re OK with the move to Android, the Pixel 3 XL is the best bet for 2019. OnePlus 6T , too.)