Compared: Fortnite on the iPhone XR versus Note 9

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2
Fortnite continues to be a wildly popular mobile game, but while it has been shown to be a great game to play on the iPhone XS Max by AppleInsider, it has yet to be put through its paces on the iPhone XR. As a recent Fortnite update enabled the 60 frames per second option on iOS, now is the ideal time to see how the cheaper iPhone option for 2018 fares against the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Fortnite on the iPhone XR
Fortnite on the iPhone XR


The update to 60 frames per second is a big deal, since Fortnite Battle Royale is extremely competitive, and the higher refresh rate helps the game keep up with the rapid movements of players. In a game where knowing where things are is half the battle, a higher framerate provides a bit more useful data to users as things may be visible a frame earlier than those playing at 30 frames per second.






By comparison, the Nintendo Switch is still limited to only 30 frames per second. Yes, it's only $300, but if you already own of the new iPhones, you're getting better performance and refresh rate than the Switch, but you're obviously not getting the physical controls.

Android phones are still stuck at 30 frames per second as well, including Samsung's powerful Note 9, so it was decided to play Fortnite on both the iPhone XR and the Note 9 to see which phone offers a better gaming experience.

For testing, both phones started at 100 percent battery life with brightness turned up to the maximum level as well. Bluetooth is turned off, and all of the background apps are also closed on each device.

iPhone XR at 60 FPS

On the iPhone XR, the frames per second was set to 60, but notably the graphics only go as far as "High" in the settings, with the "Epic" graphics option still greyed out for some reason.

In the game, the higher refresh rate is instantly noticeable, with everything incredibly smooth, with no choppiness or motion blur at all. Running the game at 60 frames per second takes twice the graphical performance compared to 30 FPS, therefore needing more processing power to pull off, and there were not any sightings of dropped frames at all.

  • A dimming issue in Fortnite for the iPhone XR
  • A dimming issue in Fortnite for the iPhone XR


One issue we noticed was that the screen would randomly dim, and it sometimes would take a few minutes before it would go back it's maximum brightness like we originally had it. Apart from that, everything was perfect.

The phone felt great to hold, whereas the iPhone X and XS felt a little bit small. The XS Max, on the other hand, felt a little bit too big and uncomfortable to use. The XR is a perfect middle-ground.

For the displays themselves, I personally feel the iPhone X and XS are too small for a game like Fortnite. The iPhone XR looks great but the iPhone XS Max is really where it's at if you want to play mobile games.

The iPhone XR after 45 minutes of Fortnite gameplay
The iPhone XR after 45 minutes of Fortnite gameplay


Throughout all of the gameplay, Fortnite ran incredibly smooth with no hiccups or dropped frames, and after around 45 minutes of gameplay, the battery life dropped from 100 percent to 76 percent, which isn't too bad considering the power-demand of running the game at 60 frames per second.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 at 30 FPS

Moving onto the Note 9, we instantly noticed the difference in frame rate. It may not be as bad if you haven't experienced it at 60 frames per second, but once you have, it's extremely obvious. It's difficult to get over how choppy it looked at 30 frames per second.

Not only that, but we experienced drop frames multiple times throughout the gameplay session, which didn't make sense because the Note 9 is packing a pretty powerful chip. Obviously it's nowhere near as powerful as the A12 in the iPhone XR, but it should definitely be able to handle Fortnite at 30 frames per second.

Fortnite on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Fortnite on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9


I believe the dropped frame issues come from Android optimization issues, and there's a chance that it'll take quite a while to get the performance up-to-par with newer iPhones, even with updated processors and hardware.

Another issue we noticed was a lack of volume while playing Fortnite on the Note 9. It just didn't get very loud compared to how loud it gets on iOS devices. Hopefully, Epic Games will be working to fix these issues.

One thing we did like about the Note 9 was the larger screen compared to the iPhone XR, making it easier to see players in the distance and it also made the gameplay controls seem less cramped together.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 after 45 minutes of Fortnite gameplay
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 after 45 minutes of Fortnite gameplay


After around 45 minutes of gameplay, the battery life was at 82 percent, meaning it used less power than the iPhone XR for a similar-length gameplay period.

Conclusions Royale

Thanks to the 60 frames per second support on the iPhone XR, and it being able to run the game perfectly at that frame rate, the overall win goes to the iPhone XR. The difference in frame rate really makes it feel like a whole new game.

This is what mobile gaming was meant to be like, and we're finally getting a taste of it thanks to Apple's incredible A12 Bionic processor. Now we just have to wait for more game developers to start more impressive and power-demanding games so that the smartphone can finally be recognized as a viable gaming console.

Don't get me started on the A12X processor that comes in the 2018 iPad Pro. It's extremely powerful, but unfortunately Fortnite on the iPad is being held back by a lack of software support. You still can't choose the Epic graphics preset, and there's no 60 frames per second support either.

Technically, it could run the game at 120 frames per second thanks to ProMotion, but it's basically a pipe dream since the iPad Pro is the only mobile device with a 120hz display, so it wouldn't be worth it for Epic Games to put in the research for that, at least not yet.

Back to the Note 9, we're disappointed that the game experienced dropped frames even at only 30 frames per second. The hardware should be able to run it just fine, but it's being held back by optimization issues. This means that even Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S10 may experience the same issues, even with a new more powerful processor.

Deals on the iPhone XR and Samsung Note 9

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:

  • AT&T Wireless: Buy one iPhone XR, get a second $700 off when you add a line.
  • Verizon Wireless: Buy an iPhone XR and save up to $300 with a qualifying trade.
  • Sprint: Get the 64GB iPhone XR for $0 per month with eligible trade-in and Sprint Flex lease.
Those interested in purchasing the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can take advantage of no tax collected in many states when ordering from B&H.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Brightness fluctuating might be due to covering the sensors with you hands whilst playing? I’m not sure I’ve seen any app adjust brightness... seems like it would be an OS level thing for mine.
    GeorgeBMacradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    The iPhone XS and XS MAX are PRESET to dim the screen to save battery life via a setting called Auto-Brightness.  

    It is an irritating setting since I have to constantly to go the control panel to brighten the screen.
    But it prolongs battery life enormously to the point the iPhone XS Max can last 2-3+ days. So I have learned to live with it.

    You can turn it off by turning off the Auto-Brightness setting in the Accessibility settings when playing games:
    Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Auto-Brightness.


    radarthekatbb-15watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    vadimyuryevvadimyuryev Posts: 158member, editor
    Autobrightness was turned off prior to filming. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    According to my understanding, the newest iPhones, while they don't have ProMotion technology (intelligently changing framerates between 23.97 and 120 Hz automatically based on content), can still go up to 120 Hz, just not with the added benefit of automatic adjustment.
    cornchipGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 218member
    After around 45 minutes of gameplay, the battery life was at 82 percent, meaning it used less power than the iPhone XR for a similar-length gameplay period.” - actually, it’s pretty much a toss-up: the Note 9 has a 4000mAh battery and used 720mAh.  The XR has a much smaller 2942mAh battery and used 735mAh.
    cornchipradarthekatbb-15elijahgbestkeptsecret78Banditwillcropointwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,059member
    I never thought I'd see the day but I genuinely believe that we've already hit Peak iPhone vs Samsung.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 22
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,570member
    Review is weird, you didn’t like the max because it was too big but you preferred the note 9 as the screen is bigger than the xr?? The max is near as dammit the same size and weight as the note 9.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,223member
    Well, considering that the Note 9 has about three times the pixels to move about, render, etc, it’s not surprising that it lagged here. Trying a phone with a smaller screen with fewer pixels would have been a better match to the X-ray,  if it had the same SoC as the Note 9. The Xs Max is the only real proper match against the Note 9 here.
    edited December 2 GeorgeBMacelijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 22
    melgross said:
    Well, considering that the Note 9 has about three times the pixels to move about, render, etc, it’s not surprising that it lagged here. Trying a phone with a smaller screen with fewer pixels would have been a better match to the X-ray,  if it had the same SoC as the Note 9. The Xs Max is the only real proper match against the Note 9 here.
    Well, Galaxy Note has two times the RAM XR has: 6 GB vs 3 GB, that leverages the resolution difference. Yet it still stutters.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    samrodsamrod Posts: 11unconfirmed, member
    FINALLY heard you speaking normally, out of your serious, professional "host" mode. Glad to know you don't normally speak like that. Also, are you and the other AI dude brothers or just look like brothers?
  • Reply 11 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,188moderator
    melgross said:
    Well, considering that the Note 9 has about three times the pixels to move about, render, etc, it’s not surprising that it lagged here. Trying a phone with a smaller screen with fewer pixels would have been a better match to the X-ray,  if it had the same SoC as the Note 9. The Xs Max is the only real proper match against the Note 9 here.
    It's the rendering resolution that affects game performance, the screen resolution has little effect much like playing a 720p video on a 1080p display or a 4K display. The rendering resolution isn't exactly the same on each platform but very close at roughly 720p:

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinmurnane/2018/08/17/heres-how-fortnite-compares-on-android-ios-and-switch-mobile/

    There's a video here of someone enabling 60FPS on Android but clearly there's not much point as it can't render 30FPS smoothly:



    There are other tests that show the iPhone's GPU to be faster than Android devices:

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Smartphone-Graphics-Cards-Benchmark-List.149363.0.html

    The Note 9 has the Adreno 630 or the Mali G72 depending on the model, the iPhone XR has the A12 chip. Tegra X1 is in the Switch. The chips from the A10x and up are much faster than the Android devices there. Here's another set of results that are a bit closer. The iPhones still come out ahead of the others. Samsung is all the way down at position 22:

    https://benchmarks.ul.com/compare/best-smartphones?amount=200&sortBy=PERFORMANCE&reverseOrder=true&osFilter=ANDROID,IOS&test=ICE_STORM_UNLIMITED&deviceFilter=PHONE&displaySize=3.0,15.0

    Here's a lower screen resolution Xiaomi with the same Adreno 630, same lagging and stuttering at 30FPS target:



    Apple's chips are 7nm, they are the best around just now and other manufacturers are going to have to catch up to this year's iPhones next year.
    bb-15chiaericthehalfbeeelijahgracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Whoa Phil Schiller tweeted this article.
    radarthekatttollertonchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    A bit off topic but:
    I saw a bluetooth X-Box style controller at the Apple store that supposedly works with iPhones/iPads and Fortnite.   It sounds pretty sweet for my grandson for Christmas -- but has anybody had any experience with them?   Are there any drawbacks or limitations?
  • Reply 14 of 22
    lennlenn Posts: 10member
    I sense a great butthurt in the android universe. lol
    StrangeDayschiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    A bit off topic but:
    I saw a bluetooth X-Box style controller at the Apple store that supposedly works with iPhones/iPads and Fortnite.   It sounds pretty sweet for my grandson for Christmas -- but has anybody had any experience with them?   Are there any drawbacks or limitations?
    See game controllers here:
    https://www.apple.com/shop/ipad/ipad-accessories/toys-games?page=2

    If you don’t get an answer here you may request a demo from the Apple store staff. You may also see one on the Apple TV desk.
    radarthekatGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 22
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 52unconfirmed, member
    haha I made a video about iPhone vs. Note on fortnite.

    Basically no android can run it.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    haha I made a video about iPhone vs. Note on fortnite.

    Basically no android can run it.


    I’m confused by your video’s title (“iPhone sucks but”) -- is your video/channel an iphone troll source? Based on your handle that seems possible/probable. Don’t really feel like watching it to figure it out tho.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    ksecksec Posts: 1,515member
    I wish Apple could work with developers to get Fortnite and PUBG to release a benchmark mode. So you can benchmark the two widely popular game on different phones. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    A bit off topic but:
    I saw a bluetooth X-Box style controller at the Apple store that supposedly works with iPhones/iPads and Fortnite.   It sounds pretty sweet for my grandson for Christmas -- but has anybody had any experience with them?   Are there any drawbacks or limitations?
    See game controllers here:
    https://www.apple.com/shop/ipad/ipad-accessories/toys-games?page=2

    If you don’t get an answer here you may request a demo from the Apple store staff. You may also see one on the Apple TV desk.
    Thanks!  The reviews were helpful -- although they were mostly typical of today's politics -- either love or hate with no middle ground.   LOL
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,223member
    melgross said:
    Well, considering that the Note 9 has about three times the pixels to move about, render, etc, it’s not surprising that it lagged here. Trying a phone with a smaller screen with fewer pixels would have been a better match to the X-ray,  if it had the same SoC as the Note 9. The Xs Max is the only real proper match against the Note 9 here.
    Well, Galaxy Note has two times the RAM XR has: 6 GB vs 3 GB, that leverages the resolution difference. Yet it still stutters.
    RAM isn’t the major fix. It’s GPU and CPU speed, as well as memory bus speed.
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