The iPhone XR versus the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max: Which is right for you?

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 17
The iPhone XR's launch yesterday revealed it to be a value proposition for those wanting to buy one of Apple's 2018 iPhone models, giving the vast majority of features found in the iPhone XS models but at a lower cost. AppleInsider explains the main differences between the latest models.






Apple just announced three brand new phones at its September event. The iPhone XS, an update to the iPhone X, is joined by a larger 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XR, a new $749 6.1-inch model that we suspect will be a big seller.

The XS models will be available to pre-order from 12:01 am eastern time on Friday, September 14th and will ship just one week later. If you want to buy the XR model, you will have to wait for about a month.

Considering there are some differences between the iPhone XS and XR models, it's worth examining further to you can choose the right iPhone for your needs.




We at AppleInsider are quite surprised by how much Apple is offering with this new XR model. It has the same A12 Bionic processor, which is the fastest mobile CPU on the market, a 6.1-inch rounded edge display that covers most of the front face, a glass back design for wireless charging, Face ID, Dual Sim, IP67 water resistance, and an updated 12MP rear camera with Smart HDR and Portrait mode.

Pricing and Storage

Getting into the differences, the one you'll likely notice first is the price tag, with the iPhone XR costing $250 less than the XS and $350 less than the XS Max. That's a pretty big deal, as you can buy a new Apple Watch or iPad with that money.

If 64GB of storage isn't enough, Apple gives you the option to get a 128GB version for $50 more. The XS models require you to jump all the way to 256GB for an additional $150.

If you're someone who really needs space, the iPhone XS offers a 512GB model, but it's definitely not for the budget minded, with a price tag of either $1349 or $1449 depending on screen size.

LCD, OLED, Screen Size, and Resolution

Now let's move onto another conspicuous difference: the display. The XR comes in right between the 5.8-inch XS and 6.5-inch XS Max. The 6.1-inch screen is going to be a really good size for the average person but those with smaller hands will have an easier time handling the XS, now Apple's smallest current model year phone.




Alternatively, if you love to have extra screen real estate like I do, the XS Max's massive 6.5-inch display is the only new iPhone that supports Apple's new landscape-oriented user interface. For first-party apps, the special UI will not only show more content, but will present iPhone XS Max-only options.

Even though they all have displays with gently curving corners and minimal bezels, the XR uses an LCD display that Apple calls Liquid Retina and claims is the best LCD it has designed. The XS and XS Max use OLED technology which is more efficient and boasts amazing contrast ratios, since individual pixels can completely turn off. While both phones have the same maximum brightness, the much deeper blacks of the OLED displays allow them to support HDR content, whereas the XR doesn't.

Those aren't the only screen-related differences, as the XR no longer supports force touch. Instead, the screen uses a haptic touch system that grants access to the same functions through touch-and-hold gestures.

The last difference in displays may be the most important for many, and that's resolution.

The XS iPhones has the same gorgeous 2436-by-1125 resolution display that the iPhone X did, coming in at 458 pixels per inch, while the XS Max's resolution is even higher due to screen size.

The XR has a lower 1792-by-828 resolution meaning it's less than 1080P. Being an Apple display it will still look good especially if you're upgrading from an older iPhone, though if you're used to an iPhone X or another high-end OLED device, Liquid Retina could be a step down in quality.

Other Considerations

The XR has the same IP67 splash, water, and dust resistance as the iPhone X, rated for 30 minutes of submersion at a depth of 1 meter. The XS takes this protection a step further with an IP68 rating, bringing it up to 30 minutes at a depth of 2 meters.

Just like in past years, the flagship model supports dual cameras, a wide angle and a telephoto lens which support portrait mode photos. The XR only offers a single wide-angle camera, but its the same shooter that's included in the XS.




Apple surprisingly allows portrait mode photos to be taken using the wide angle lens. Even though you won't get that same longer lens look, you can still take photos with blurred backgrounds, and the ability to adjust bokeh is also available just like with the XS.

Everything else in regards to photos is identical including the updated selfie cameras that support portrait mode and all new video features. One new upgrade the XR misses out on is Gigabit LTE connection, but for most that won't make a difference.

Apple says the iPhone XS charges faster than iPhone X when paired with a compatible wireless charger, but makes no such claims about the XR. Surprisingly, the XR has the best-rated battery life out of the bunch, likely because it has a larger frame that can hold a bigger battery, but a lower display resolution compared to the XS Max.

Internet usage is rated at 15 hours compared to 13 on the XS Max and 12 on the XS, and video playback is rated at 16 hours compared to 15 and 14 hours. The original iPhone X was rated at 12 hours of internet usage and 13 hours of video, and looking back at older models, this looks like it could be one of the longest-lasting iPhones.

The last thing to touch on is the color options, with the XR providing more variety. Apple added a nice looking gold option to the flagship models, but that doesn't even come close to the White, Black, Coral, Yellow, Blue, and Product RED colors offered with the XR.

You don't get the same shine and high end feel in the hand that the stainless steel iPhone XS' affords, but the aluminum anodized housing of the XR will likely last longer if you use your phone without a case.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    asciiascii Posts: 5,816member
    Max, they named a phone after you :)

    I think the XS Max is amazing, a bit of extra size was the only thing that the original X needed.
    redgeminipaSolichristopher126watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
    edited September 14
  • Reply 3 of 25
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
    We're more effecent (sic)
    wlymchristopher126mike1JaiOh81
  • Reply 4 of 25
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
    The "I" is pronounced, just differently. The word "ill" is an example of the pronunciation. At the 1:00 mark, he says "portrait," not Porsche.
    mike1
  • Reply 5 of 25
    I'll be buying the XS Max, but I'm not sure which color I want. I have the "silver" X now. I may go for the space gray this time.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 25
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? 
    For the same reason they don't pronounce the "v" in Lieutenant. (Because that's the way it's pronounced correctly.)  Why do Brits ignore most of the letters in place names (or sauce names) like Worchestershire? (Well, I guess we took their lead on this one.)
    edited September 14 space2001
  • Reply 7 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,231member
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
    Are you asking why words have different pronunciations in different cultures?
  • Reply 8 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,621member
    For current 6/6s/7/8 Plus series owners it's very reassuring to note that the iPhone Xs Max is nearly identical in overall dimensions to the Plus phones. The Max is 0.27 oz heavier than a 6 Plus but all other dimensions are virtually identical. If you are comfortable pocketing your current Plus phone the Max will not put any additional strain on your pocket. Your pocketbook on the other hand ... ouch.   
    JaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    XR's lack of HDR support for the screen is mentioned, but I'm surprised that it's not linked more closely with the camera function. You can shoot Smart HDR content on the XR, but you're not going to be able to see the full benefit of that on the phone itself, which in turn is going to limit how well you could edit Smart HDR content on the phone itself.
    edited September 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Why do the British insist on ignoring most of the letters in "Worcestershire"? ;-)
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
  • Reply 11 of 25
    dewme said:
    For current 6/6s/7/8 Plus series owners it's very reassuring to note that the iPhone Xs Max is nearly identical in overall dimensions to the Plus phones. The Max is 0.27 oz heavier than a 6 Plus but all other dimensions are virtually identical. If you are comfortable pocketing your current Plus phone the Max will not put any additional strain on your pocket. Your pocketbook on the other hand ... ouch.   
    I have the 7+ which is by far the best iPhone I’ve ever owned. The Max looks like a pretty awesome phone, the name is kinda cheesy though. I generally upgrade every two years but decided earlier in the year I didn’t see the value (plus I’d have to upgrade the wife’s phone too). I’m really annoyed that the $1,100 Max only comes with 64GB. So I’m looking at $1,250 for a Max with 256GB. I have a 128GB now and probably use 40-45% of that. 

    Will hold out until next year to see if they will up the storage, plus I’d like to see more camera improvements before upgrading. At $1,250, I’ll have to consider keeping the phone 4 years to get my value out of it. 
  • Reply 12 of 25
    alanh said:
    Why do Americans insist on ignoring the 'i' when they pronounce the word mobile? Also at the 1 minute mark, what is 'Porsche' mode?
    You know, for the same reason that they might say, "don't be such an ass" instead of... "don't be such an arse"...
    edited September 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    I just ordered the XS Max. 256
     Replacement for the 6S+ 128
    had previous battery replacement and current does not make the day.

    Yes, OUCH on the price. 
    iPad Pro was last year.....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,061member
    The XR looks like the device I might consider (seriously), having almost every bit of the "good stuff" without the 1K-plus price. I'm not seeing another $250 of value in the next model up and certainly not $350 to go further up the scale. $750 for the XR is a very fair price IMHO.

    So I might surprise you.  Not sure yet. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 15 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 572member
    gatorguy said:
    The XR looks like the device I might consider (seriously), having almost every bit of the "good stuff" without the 1K-plus price. I'm not seeing another $250 of value in the next model up and certainly not $350 to go further up the scale. $750 for the XR is a very fair price IMHO.

    So I might surprise you.  Not sure yet. 
    Agreed - I'm still using my trusty 6s, but the bigger screen is getting more and more tempting. 326dpi is the same as my 6s, so I wouldn't necessarily notice the poorer resolution compared to the Xs

    As I said in another post, there are certainly upgrades from the Xr to the Xs - higher resolution OLED screen, better camera, 4 vs 3 GB processor RAM,  & slightly better water resistance, but for many people, those won't matter enough to justify the additional $250 and the Xr will be a great value for them. 

    I'm really curious to see direct comparisons between them once they come out.
    edited September 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    plus was too big for me so have to check out Xr at the store first. Has to feel good and secure in pockets - I'm not going to carry a man-purse for a huge phone. if it doesn't feel right in the hand, holding on to 7 (although I do miss my fanny pack! haha)
    edited September 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    Came to read comments about new phones, wound up reading inane comments about word pronunciations. C'mon kids, try to stay on topic.
    JaiOh81jbishop1039watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,231member
    seankill said:
    dewme said:
    For current 6/6s/7/8 Plus series owners it's very reassuring to note that the iPhone Xs Max is nearly identical in overall dimensions to the Plus phones. The Max is 0.27 oz heavier than a 6 Plus but all other dimensions are virtually identical. If you are comfortable pocketing your current Plus phone the Max will not put any additional strain on your pocket. Your pocketbook on the other hand ... ouch.   
    I have the 7+ which is by far the best iPhone I’ve ever owned. The Max looks like a pretty awesome phone, the name is kinda cheesy though. I generally upgrade every two years but decided earlier in the year I didn’t see the value (plus I’d have to upgrade the wife’s phone too). I’m really annoyed that the $1,100 Max only comes with 64GB. So I’m looking at $1,250 for a Max with 256GB. I have a 128GB now and probably use 40-45% of that. 

    Will hold out until next year to see if they will up the storage, plus I’d like to see more camera improvements before upgrading. At $1,250, I’ll have to consider keeping the phone 4 years to get my value out of it. 
    I am with you.

    I typically update every year and I was on the iPhone Update Program but I paid off my last payment a few weeks ago and I still have no strong interest to update my iPhone 7 Plus so it’s likely i’ll keep it for a 3rd year.

    It’s not because of their cost or the tech, but because the Watch plays a more important role in my life. I’ll be replacing my Series 3 with a Series 4.

    Now, if Apple split HW category updates across different seasons of the year I would probably go back to updating everything annually just to get that new CE rush.
    edited September 14 JaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,621member
    inexco said:
    I just ordered the XS Max. 256
     Replacement for the 6S+ 128
    had previous battery replacement and current does not make the day.

    Yes, OUCH on the price. 
    iPad Pro was last year.....
    Ditto, just ordered Xs Max 256 GB. Last year was iPad Pro 10.5 512 GB. Still have 275 GB free. 

    I've been pocketing a 6 Plus since it first arrived. For whatever reason, the size has never bothered me in the least. If I'm wearing blue jeans I may remove it from my front pocket when I'm driving my manual transmission vehicle, but even then it's not mandatory and I mostly do this because it's more readily available and I can recharge it. With the Apple leather case I find the 6 Plus more comfortable in my pocket than my old 4s because the 4s had sharper edges.

    If you really think the Xs Max or Plus sized phones are too big you should try one for a while. There is an acclimation period, just like when you got your first really big HDTV. But after a short period of time it doesn't seem so big and you're looking for even more. Going from a 6 Plus to an Xs max you're actually getting a lot more screen real estate, significantly better resolution, and greater brightness, while the physical size is the same. It's amazing to get more of what really counts and not have to settle for a physically larger phone. The Xs Max nails it for people who are upgrading from a Plus model. My only disappointment with this upgrade is that I have to visit the AT&T Store to move my spouse's phone account from a 4s to my old 6 Plus (which is actually less than 2 months old). I was hoping to swap SIM cards myself, but no such luck, Micro to nano doesn't work. Visiting the AT&T Store is always friggen torture.  

    The lack of water protection with the 6 series and older phones has always been a concern. So far none of my phones have ever felt a drop of water, but mostly because I am cautious about taking them out if I may be caught in a deluge or I'm on the water. Having a phone with IP68 certification is a very big deal for me.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 25
    Disappointed they got rid of the 128g as I barely use 109g on my X but I ordered the 256g Xs Max (I really HATE that name). Next Friday can’t get here quick enough. Anyone know if preordered phones ever get delivered before the launch date? 
    watto_cobra
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