The iPhone XR came out in late 2018 alongside the XS and XS Max. As it has been out for over a year now, many people are curious to know if it is still worth buying. This device comes with incredible specs, and the general hardware is pretty impressive. For the average phone user, this phone is actually considered to be more than enough.
Among the three iPhones released in 2018, it serves as the pocket-friendly option as its price started at $749. Following the release of the iPhone 11 in 2019, the iPhone XR price was lowered to $599 at Apple Stores and now starts at around 208,500 Naira in Nigeria, making it a pretty competitively-priced option for those looking to upgrade to a new smartphone. Now that the iPhone 11 is only $100 more, going for $699, is it still a good decision to purchase the XR?
What are the pros and cons of this device?
- It features a high-end design.
- Superior battery life.
- There are multiple colours to choose from.
- It has powerful internal components.
- It has a highly effective and reliable Face ID biometric feature.
- Users have the dual SIM option.
- The display quality is quite low.
- 3D touch is absent.
iPhone XR specs
- Announced: September 2018
- iPhone XR release date: October 2018
- Build material: Front/back glass, aluminum frame (7000 series)
- Size: 6.1 inches, 90.3 centimetres squared (~79.0% screen-to-body ratio)
- Weight: 194 g
- Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
- Colours: Black, White, Yellow, Coral, Blue, and Product Red
- Display: Liquid Retina IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
- Display resolution: 828 x 1792 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~326 ppi density)
- SIM card: Single SIM or Dual SIM
- SIM type: Nano and eSIM
- Expandable memory: None
- Operating system: iOS 12, upgradable to iOS 13.2
- Chipset: A12 Bionic chip
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- CPU: Hexa-core (2x2.5 GHz Vortex + 4x1.6 GHz Tempest)
- Internal memory: 64GB 3GB RAM, 128GB 3GB RAM, 256GB 3GB RAM
- Rear camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, PDAF, OIS
- Rear camera video: 2160p@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, stereo sound recorder
- Selfie camera: 7 MP, f/2.2, 32mm (standard)
- Selfie camera video: 1080p@60fps
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 2942 mAh battery (11.16 Wh)
- Sensors: Face ID, barometer, proximity, accelerometer, three-axis gyro, and ambient light
- Bluetooth: 5.0, A2DP, LE
- WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
- USB: 2.0, proprietary reversible connector
- Price: Around $599/ 208,500 Naira
So, what is the XR’s hardware like?
The frame around the phone is well rounded like in the other X models, but the XR uses anodized aluminium instead of a polished stainless-steel frame. It features glass on the front and back and comes in different colours. The glass makes the back look sophisticated as it embodies the respective colours.
The colour options available for this model are Product Red, White, Coral, Blue, Black, and Yellow. Considering all these colours to choose from, users can now try out something different to break from the monotony of Black and White.
It features a display of 6.1 inches, which is somewhere in between the XS and XS Max, which feature a 5.8 inch and 6.5-inch display respectively. Its resolution is 828 by 1792, which is closer to 720p than full HD.
It also sits at 326 PPI, which is the same pixel density as its predecessors, up to the iPhone 5. This pixel density is starting to feel dated, especially after Apple announced a Retina display on the iPhone 4.
The display of the XR is not a deal-breaker, despite not having as high a resolution as the other pricier models. Comparing it to the other more expensive iPhones, this is a small factor that can be overlooked to save a significant amount of money.
The left side of the device has the standard notification switch and the volume keys, while the right side has the power button and a SIM tray. New generation iPhones support both Nano-SIM and built-in eSIM, so they are technically dual-SIM phones. However, the Hong Kong and Chinese versions of all the new iPhones can physically hold two Nano-SIM cards.
At the bottom, you will find the lightning charger port and loudspeaker, which complements the other speaker in the earpiece for dual stereo audio. The bezels on the XR are decently thicker than on the XS, XS Max, and 11 Pro. If you have not yet used any of the mentioned phones, it will be hard for you to notice this.
Processor, storage, and performance
This phone is powered by the same A12 Bionic chip as the XS, clocking at 2.49GHz. This chip is comparable to the processors that power some of the recent Android flagships, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.
The iPhone XR memory is 3GB of RAM, while the ROM is 64GB/128GB/256GB.
The XR blows away any Android phone in performance. Its performance is also significantly similar to that of its successors.
iPhone XR battery capacity
This handset is powered by an inbuilt 2942mAh battery, which is really good. For most phones, that statement would not line up. However, this device has an A12 Bionic, which is so powerful, and it pushes way less pixels to sustain the battery life.
Although the XR is the cheapest one compared to the other 2018 models, it has a comparable battery life to the XS Max, with only one hour less. Interesting to note is the fact that the battery life of this device has been found to last longer than the XS while browsing and watching videos by certain users.
It is disappointing that Apple still includes its original 5W charger, which is way behind other fast charging technologies. For the sake of convenience, this phone supports Qi wireless charging.
Speaker and call quality
The speakers on this device sound surprisingly good and are acoustically well-tuned and loud.
The iPhone XR features a number of amazing software properties.
Operating system & features
The iOS 12 brought a bunch of new changes such as group FaceTime, screen time, enhanced stability, and a better Do Not Disturb mode that has more controls and options. It also came with group notifications, which neatly arranges notifications from the same app, rather than giving you a long list of chronological alerts.
Similar to the more expensive iPhone models, the XR has Face ID which works pretty well. 2018 marked Apple’s full transition to Face ID for all the phones to be released by the brand. Face ID is also quicker, thanks to a faster algorithm on the A12 chip which processes information from the true depth camera system way quicker. However, it is quite challenging to unlock the phone while it lays on a desk or when the screen is not facing the owner directly.
The XR does not have 3D Touch, but considering how limited its functionality is in the first place, it is not a deal-breaker for most people. The closest thing to 3D Touch there is the tap holding action on the shortcuts on the lock screen, or simply tap holding a thumbnail on an app like Instagram to preview it.
Screen time is another late addition on iOS that allows you to manage daily time limits for apps, downtime, and you can see how much time you have spent on social media.
iPhone XR camera, video, and image quality
This phone takes great photos, just like the XS. The front-facing 7 MP camera is the same on these two devices and does the same portrait mode effects, Face ID, and Animoji. Apple’s onboard camera sensor in ISP is also the same in both. Therefore, general photos and smart HDR work the same, helping grab extra detail, get faster focus and avoid bright light blowout in high contrast areas.
The XR features a 12 MP rear camera, unlike the XS model, which has two rear lenses. Although there is only one camera on this device, you can still take some really nice shots with it. One of the differences is that its single camera cannot do 2X zoom like the higher-end iPhones. This is because it lacks the dual camera which features a telephoto lens.
This handset does have portrait mode on its rear camera, but it is quite different from other phones. First, it is all handled via software. When you are switching to portrait mode effect, it is based on a wide-angle, whereas for its successors, it leans towards telephoto. This means that at the same distance, a person will appear further on the XR.
Keep in mind that portrait mode on the XR is designed to work with people, not objects or animals, unlike its successors. It may also work on pictures of people and people models such as statues that resemble a human being. Both cameras take excellent shots in low light surroundings.
When it comes to video, it can take up to 4K at 60 frames per second with the main camera, and up to 1080p at 60 frames with the front camera, which now has image stabilization. The details and colours are excellent in the videos. Videos shot at 30 frames in 4K have more dynamic range than the 60-frame video.
On the same note, 30 frames 4K is also electronically stabilized. Additionally, all videos now record with stereo sound.
Accessibility features on iPhone models are aimed to assist people with disabilities to operate their phones more easily. Therefore, these people can enjoy using their handset as it comes with in-built hearing, learning, mobility, and vision. Some of the features in this category include:
- Type to Siri
- Switch Control
- Voice Control
- RTT and TTY support
- Siri and Dictation
- Closed Captions
- Speak Screen
Upon purchase, the handset comes alongside a USB power adapter, documentation, lightning to USB cable, and EarPods with lightning connector.
iPhone XR reviews
Here is what some of the users of the XR commented about the handset on the GSMArena Official YouTube channel.
- Everyday Bree: I have the red iPhone XR. Excellent battery life.
- starlight: I have this phone and honestly it’s so, so good. I’ve used android since I got my first smartphone in 2011. My favourite thing is the battery life, it’s phenomenal- a whole day and then some. I’m happy
- Yong Duan Kang: This is honestly the best phone I have ever used and the trade-off of lower screen resolution for better battery life is one that I would make anyday.
- Neit LNU: I spent about an hour at the Apple Store trying to see the difference between the XR and the XS/XSmax. I couldn't tell the difference after an hour, so I went with the XR. I don't regret it one bit.
With the XR, Apple made a less expensive phone that undercuts the price of the higher-end models while making a few minor compromises. As the cost of iPhones keeps going up each year for the new models, it is becoming somewhat difficult to upgrade each year. Therefore, some people prefer to wait for newer models to be released so that the prices of the previous ones can decrease. In 2019, this device goes for a fair price, considering all the amazing features it offers. It is an excellent choice for an average phone user.
In 2018, it was the first time since 2014 that the entry-level iPhone got a new look, after four generations! It was also the first time that Apple used the letter R on an iPhone name. It is not known what inspired the naming of the phone, but it could be that R precedes S, and the iPhone XR is a step down from the higher-end versions released last year.