Hands on: Apple's iPhone XR brings color and value to the 2018 lineup

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 27
Arriving just over a month after the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the cheapest of Apple's three iPhone launches for 2018 has started to arrive with consumers. AppleInsider spends some time with the latest release to see how it measures up to its more expensive stablemates.

iPhone XR leaning on its box
iPhone XR leaning on its box

What's in the box?

Existing iPhone owners will be unsurprised with the internals, as it's practically the same as last year's releases and for both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Aside from the iPhone XR itself, there is a 5W USB-A wall charger, headphones, and a Lightning to USB-A cable to supply power.





Just like the other 2018 releases, the iPhone XR is bundled with the standard issue white earbuds, which connects via the Lightning port. Apple has also dispensed with the Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter, which means users will either need to acquire it separately to use their own headphones or shift over to Bluetooth, if they don't want to use the ones in the box.

The contents of the box accompanying the iPhone XR
The contents of the box accompanying the iPhone XR in the U.K.

A quick examination

Just from external appearances alone, switched off, the iPhone XR looks a lot like the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone X from last year. There are relatively few external clues that it is a different device, and if the device is in a case, the casual observer will have no good way to distinguish it from the higher-end models at a glance from the front.

The yellow iPhone XR is striking
The yellow iPhone XR is striking


While the iPhone X and XS pair all have dual camera sensors and an oval camera bump, the iPhone XR opts for a single camera with a circular bump, which also shifts the flash below the camera when the iPhone is held in a portrait orientation. This is also different from the iPhone 8, which had its flash off to the side.

The size of the iPhone XR compared to the iPhone XS and iPhone X is noticeable, with it being slightly wider and taller, though certainly not to the extent of the iPhone XS Max. While it doesn't seem to be too big for one-handed usage, time will tell if the stretch to reach Command Center at the top right corner of the device will ultimately prove too discomforting.

The iPhone XR is bigger than the iPhone XS, but seemingly not too big for one-handed use
The iPhone XR is bigger than the iPhone XS, but seemingly not too big for one-handed use


While it is the middle-sized device in the 2018 collection, its weight certainly trends towards the iPhone XS of the scale, measuring 195 grams (6.84 ounces) compared to the XS Max's 208 grams (7.34 ounces). This makes the 177-gram (6.24-ounce) iPhone XS seem lightweight.

At the bottom, the iPhone XR shares the XS Max's six speaker hole pattern instead of using the iPhone XS' three-and-six pattern to fit in an extra antenna band. In fact, the lower edge doesn't even have an antenna band at all.

Six speaker holes and an offset Lightning port
Six speaker holes and an offset Lightning port


On the back is a glass panel, just like the others, enabling it to perform wireless charging. The metal band is also changed from stainless steel to aluminum, which probably affects the weight and the strength of the chassis a bit, but probably won't matter to most people.

The display

Arguably the main change between the iPhone XR and the other two models is the screen. While the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max use OLED panels, which offers fantastic contrast ratios among other benefits, Apple has instead opted for a "Liquid Retina HD" LCD IPS screen in the iPhone XR.

That's not to say that it's a bad display at all. At first glance, it appears to be bright, clear, and certainly adequate enough for most owners to use without complaint. It still offers the same True Tone and P3 wide color features albeit without a HDR display mode, but the use of LCD does introduce a few issues worth knowing about.

iPhone XR powered on
iPhone XR powered on


For a start, the resolution of 1,792 by 828 pixels is a lot lower than the Super Retina versions in the XS and Max. This also brings the pixel density down to 326 pixels per inch versus the 458ppi of the other two variants, which may seem disappointing at first, but it's the same density as the iPhone 8 display.

The screen is very much different, but at the same time familiar, at least to those who have used non-OLED iPhones in the past.

Decent performance

While the iPhone XR is the cheaper model of the current range, Apple hasn't reduced performance to go with the price. According to the specifications, it has practically the same internals as the XS and XS Max, aside from a reduction of RAM from 4 gigabytes to 3 gigabytes, which in theory means it should be in the same ballpark in terms of performance.

The benchmarks will have to wait for the full review, but an initial playing around with the features suggests it is just as quick. Even if the benchmarks show it to be a few percent slower, users are unlikely to see anything dramatic when navigating iOS.

The question here is probably not whether it is powerful, as it certainly is. In reality, it's how close the iPhone XR gets to the iPhone XS.

Shots, shots, shots

The front has the TrueDepth camera, which is used for Face ID as well as for self portraits, and is located in the screen's notch. On paper it seems to be identical to the version used by the XS and XS Max, and initial testing suggests there's no major immediate changes to worry about here.

The iPhone XR's single rear camera, and a pronounced bump
The iPhone XR's single rear camera, and a pronounced bump


The more interesting area is around the back, with the aforementioned single camera. The iPhone XR loses the telephoto lens, but the remaining camera still uses a 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, optical image stabilization, and 5x digital zoom.

Even though it can't display HDR images as well as its OLED-clad brethren, it still offers Smart HDR for photos, a quad-LED True Tone flash, most of the Portrait Lighting modes, and almost all of the video recording options.

The lack of a second telephoto camera doesn't stop it from being able to take portrait shots with the Depth Control to manage the bokeh.

Notably, while it offers the same Portrait Mode blur effect as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the iPhone XR is, for some reason, not able to be used on objects. A notice at the top of the screen advises "no person detected" when presented with a subject. This may be bad news for cat owners.

Portrait Mode is only for humans, apparently
Portrait Mode is only for humans, apparently


Initial non-portrait photographs taken with it seem to be on par with the other two models, with a closer inspection arriving as part of its full review.

  • iPhone XR camera test with flash
  • iPhone XR camera test using local light sources


While the time with the iPhone XR has been brief so far, we strongly feel that customers acquiring the device will certainly be happy with what they receive, and with barely a chance of buyer's remorse.

AppleInsider will be making a closer examination of the iPhone XR and its features in the coming days and weeks, so keep reading for updates on our findings.

Deals on the iPhone XR

If you haven't already ordered Apple's iPhone XR, wireless carriers are incentivizing the purchase. Want to get your hands on a new device asap? eBay sellers are also shipping units now.

Carrier deals:
«134567

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 125
    irelandireland Posts: 17,477member
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    edited October 26 williamlondonelijahgcanukstormavon b7larz2112boogerman2000aylkmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 125
    It looks like Apple managed to produce great balance of features and price. Good to notice is that real screen estate difference compare to XS is marginal as XR has bigger bezels. It would be great if you can measure it exactly. i guess 3-4 %.
    edited October 26 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 125
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,730administrator
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    edited October 26 peterhartairnerdGeorgeBMacchiaracerhomie3ericthehalfbeeStrangeDaysmacxpressbb-15watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 125
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,779member
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Mike great review ... but it leaves me with more questions than answers,  I really like my iPhone 7 Plus and wonder if this is worth an upgrade? Cost isn't an issue I just don't buy things I don't need and all I do is read Safari and Mail when in waiting rooms or use it as a phone (quaint eh? lol) although truth be told I use my Watch more for that these days and an Watch v4 is on the way.  The iPhone's man use for me is wirelessly pairing and enabling my Car Play to be honest.  Now, on the other hand, a new Mac Pro is a definite yes.  I carry my Sony A7 III most everywhere so I'm not worried about camera features on a phone either.  So ...  I am trying hard to think of a reason to go for a newer model iPhone.  I suspect once it can't run the lastest iOS that will be my trigger.
    aylk
  • Reply 5 of 125
    irelandireland Posts: 17,477member
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Actually, that two year old 32 GB iPhone starts at €539 here. But I’m clearly talking about new iPhones continually increasing in price. And the reality is at a certain point value doesn’t depends on who’s asking. €50 toilet roll is €50 toilet roll, and a new LCD phone that starts at almost €900 starts at almost €900. Shareholders, apologists, people with a lot of money and Apple bloggers—very few other people defend these price increases. It’s telling that Apple execs are all multi-millionaires. I’m not denying Apple make good hardware, I’m just pointing an awareness to the reality of new iPhones continually increasing in price.
    edited October 26 williamlondonelijahgasdasdavon b7larz2112boogerman2000aylkmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 125
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,730administrator
    MacPro said:
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Mike great review ... but it leaves me with more questions than answers,  I really like my iPhone 7 Plus and wonder if this is worth an upgrade? Cost isn't an issue I just don't buy things I don't need and all I do is read Safari and Mail when in waiting rooms or use it as a phone (quaint eh? lol) although truth be told I use my Watch more for that these days and an Watch v4 is on the way.  The iPhone's man use for me is wirelessly pairing and enabling my Car Play to be honest.  Now, on the other hand, a new Mac Pro is a definite yes.  I carry my Sony A7 III most everywhere so I'm not worried about camera features on a phone either.  So ...  I am trying hard to think of a reason to go for a newer model iPhone.  I suspect once it can't run the lastest iOS that will be my trigger.
    I'll pass the kind words off to Malcolm. 

    Based off your description of what you use the iPhone for, I’d stick with your 7 Plus.
    edited October 26 racerhomie3muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 125
    Was hoping this review would cover the latest controversy on it having less viewing angle than the iPhone 6/7/8 LCDs
    boogerman2000williamlondonaylk
  • Reply 8 of 125
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,730administrator
    Was hoping this review would cover the latest controversy on it having less viewing angle than the iPhone 6/7/8 LCDs
    It isn't a review. We'll be examining that over the coming days.
    edited October 26 indiekidukmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 125
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Actually, that two year old 32 GB iPhone starts at €539 here. But I’m clearly talking about new iPhones continually increasing in price. And the reality is at a certain point value doesn’t depends on who’s asking. €50 toilet roll is €50 toilet roll, and a new LCD phone that starts at almost €900 starts at almost €900. Shareholders, apologists, people with a lot of money and Apple bloggers—very few other people defend these price increases. It’s telling that Apple execs are all multi-millionaires. I’m not denying Apple make good hardware, I’m just pointing an awareness to the reality of new iPhones continually increasing in price.
    Inflation is a thing.  You know gas, bread, milk, etc all cost more each year as well.
    racerhomie3StrangeDayswilliamlondonbb-15
  • Reply 10 of 125
    This one might be the best gift for the spouse or the kids this holiday season.
  • Reply 11 of 125
    BluntBlunt Posts: 219member
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.

    A lot of spoiled rich kids have jobs. My daughters gymnastics cost way more for just one year then this iPhone. And no, we are not rich.

    However I do agree with youre shareholders argument. Almost all compagnies put the shareholders in first place. Like most Adobe customers dodn't like subscriptions but the shareholders love them.
    racerhomie3macsince1988
  • Reply 12 of 125
    MacPro said:
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Mike great review ... but it leaves me with more questions than answers,  I really like my iPhone 7 Plus and wonder if this is worth an upgrade? Cost isn't an issue I just don't buy things I don't need and all I do is read Safari and Mail when in waiting rooms or use it as a phone (quaint eh? lol) although truth be told I use my Watch more for that these days and an Watch v4 is on the way.  The iPhone's man use for me is wirelessly pairing and enabling my Car Play to be honest.  Now, on the other hand, a new Mac Pro is a definite yes.  I carry my Sony A7 III most everywhere so I'm not worried about camera features on a phone either.  So ...  I am trying hard to think of a reason to go for a newer model iPhone.  I suspect once it can't run the lastest iOS that will be my trigger.
    Even my 12 year old grandson feels that way!
    When I offered to buy him an X_  he was rather indifferent about it saying his iPhone 7 is working fine.

    (My offer to him has since been rescinded for the same reason:  I made the offer because my 6+ was performing poorly and needed replaced, but now that Apple replaced it with a new 6+ it's now running really, really well.   So, I too have a phone that simply doesn't need replacing.)
    aylk
  • Reply 13 of 125
    irelandireland Posts: 17,477member
    airnerd said:
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Actually, that two year old 32 GB iPhone starts at €539 here. But I’m clearly talking about new iPhones continually increasing in price. And the reality is at a certain point value doesn’t depends on who’s asking. €50 toilet roll is €50 toilet roll, and a new LCD phone that starts at almost €900 starts at almost €900. Shareholders, apologists, people with a lot of money and Apple bloggers—very few other people defend these price increases. It’s telling that Apple execs are all multi-millionaires. I’m not denying Apple make good hardware, I’m just pointing an awareness to the reality of new iPhones continually increasing in price.
    Inflation is a thing.  You know gas, bread, milk, etc all cost more each year as well.
    Give me a fecking break ffs.
    edited October 26 williamlondonaylk
  • Reply 14 of 125
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,273member
    ireland said:
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    Good news! The iPhone 7 is what, $499? "Value" very much depends on who's making the assessment.
    Actually, that two year old 32 GB iPhone starts at €539 here. But I’m clearly talking about new iPhones continually increasing in price. And the reality is at a certain point value doesn’t depends on who’s asking. €50 toilet roll is €50 toilet roll, and a new LCD phone that starts at almost €900 starts at almost €900. Shareholders, apologists, people with a lot of money and Apple bloggers—very few other people defend these price increases. It’s telling that Apple execs are all multi-millionaires. I’m not denying Apple make good hardware, I’m just pointing an awareness to the reality of new iPhones continually increasing in price.
    I feel your pain.   It's a legitimate complaint.
    But, there is (as always) another side to that story:
    The iPhone has become so potent and powerful that it has, for many replaced the need for separate cameras, landlines and even desktops and laptops (or at least pushed them into to background). 

    So, yes!  That's a ridiculous amount of money for s stupid, damn phone -- until you realize how much it's saving you!

    Carnagewilliamlondonbb-15
  • Reply 15 of 125
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,273member
    I am looking forward to next year's phones actually:
    To be honest, I have a hard time discerning a difference in the screens between the Xs vs the Xr.   And, while the Xr is a very reasonably priced offering, it's TOO BIG!  

    I'm tired of carrying one of these plus sized phones.
    Now that Apple has reasonably priced iPads, I am more than happy to carry a smaller phone and use an iPad or iPad Mini while at home -- it makes for an all around better experience:  The iPad is easier to use, to see and to type on while I'm not burdened with huge chunk of something in my pocket.  And, actually, that's one of the reasons I won't be getting one for my grandson:  it's just too big for his 12 year old pockets.
  • Reply 16 of 125
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,644member
    I plan to upgrade 5 lines with XR but one thing bothers me is why XR has limitation of not able to take in portrait mode for animals/objects when Pixel 3 with it's single camera can do so. Why is so ? Could such XR's limitation be overcome in future with software updates ?
  • Reply 17 of 125
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,730administrator
    wood1208 said:
    I plan to upgrade 5 lines with XR but one thing bothers me is why XR has limitation of not able to take in portrait mode for animals/objects when Pixel 3 with it's single camera can do so. Why is so ? Could such XR's limitation be overcome in future with software updates ?
    Unclear, but probably not. Simplified: the XR portrait mode uses software in total to generate the effect as it has only the one lens. The dual-lens iPhones use less software to do so, and as such can use non-human objects as a subject.
  • Reply 18 of 125
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    ireland said:
    At €879 for a 64 GB LCD iPhone, I'm going to say it does not bring value. What it does however it bring the price of iPhones higher than last year. Higher and higher. What Apple has actually done in the past two years is of benefit mostly to shareholders. And the spoiled kids of rich people.
    So when will you finally be leaving the platform for cheaper pastures? Inquiring minds want to know.
    edited October 26 ericthehalfbeeStrangeDayswilliamlondontmayguscat
  • Reply 19 of 125
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,273member
    Another thing that needs to be addressed or clarified with the Xr:

    Apple.com does not provide a "Buy with any carrier - SIM-free" option like it does for every other iPhone.

    Instead it says "We’ll work with your current carrier to activate your new iPhone".  
    Does this suggest that we're returning to the dark ages of condemning a phone to work only with a particular carrier's network because of its internal modem can only work with either GSM or CDMA instead of both?

    For me, that would be a deal breaker for the Xr.  I don't ever want to go back to those dark days.

    boogerman2000aylk
  • Reply 20 of 125
    macguimacgui Posts: 966member
    And, while the Xr is a very reasonably priced offering, it's TOO BIG!  

    I'm tired of carrying one of these plus sized phones.
    Now that Apple has reasonably priced iPads, I am more than happy to carry a smaller phone and use an iPad or iPad Mini while at home -- it makes for an all around better experience:  The iPad is easier to use, to see and to type on while I'm not burdened with huge chunk of something in my pocket.
    This is my complaint and position as well. I thought the XR would be just what I was looking for, then see that it's bigger than the XS. Less tech but bigger ? WTF. 

    So now my game plan is first and foremost to upgrade my mini to a mini 5, should there be one. Then I'll consider a phone, maybe. I like the look of the edge-to-edge display, but I may just hold off. 

    I was hoping Apple would do a little upgrading on the SE. But apparently the Slab is king.
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