Comparing the iPhone XR with the iPhone 8 Plus in the real world

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 25
The iPhone XR has been available for around three months now, and there are still many users reluctant to upgrade from their old iPhones. AppleInsider compares the real-world differences between the iPhone XR and the iPhone 8 Plus, to see if those using the one-year-older model would stand to benefit from trading up.

The iPhone 8 Plus (left) and the iPhone XR (right)
The iPhone 8 Plus (left) and the iPhone XR (right)

Size matters

At 6.1 inches, the iPhone XR's display is technically larger than the iPhone 8 Plus' 5.5-inch display when measured diagonally, but looking at them side by side, there isn't that much of a difference in actual screen space. The iPhone XR's taller aspect ratio shows more info in apps like Facebook and Instagram, social media that offers a long feed to scroll down.






The iPhone XR is actually a good amount smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to the removal of the home button and the addition of the notch, which makes a huge difference in how comfortable it feels in your hand. The iPhone XR is marginally thicker than the iPhone 8 Plus, but you really have to look closely to see the difference.

Of course, that notch will take some time to get used to, but after a while, you get used to its presence.

  • The iPhone XR is slightly thicker than the iPhone 8 Plus
  • Showing the thickness of the two iPhone models.
  • Comparing the widths of the two models


Something that's often overlooked is the sleep/wake button on the side is effectively twice as large on the iPhone XR, and you'll really feel that difference if you're coming from the 8 Plus, which also had that button located much higher on the enclosure.

One difference that I absolutely love is tap-to-wake, and I'm pretty confident you'll love it too after you get used to it. While writing this article, I found myself trying to tap the 8 Plus' display to try to wake it.

Face or finger

The iPhone XR's Face ID authentication will take some time to get used to, especially if you're used to Touch ID. With my old iPhone 8 Plus, I was able to use Touch ID while my iPhone was laying on the desk to unlock it and check my messages.

Enrolling into Face ID
Enrolling into Face ID


You can't do that anymore with Face ID, and that's the only scenario where it can get a little annoying. Overall, once you get used to using Face ID, you won't ever want to go back.

One thing I loved about Touch ID is that you could register multiple fingerprints. At launch, the worst part about the iPhone X was that you could only register one face at a time, but with iOS 12 you can now register two faces using Face ID.

Animoji, a feature you simply can't have on the iPhone 8 Plus
Animoji, a feature you simply can't have on the iPhone 8 Plus


You also get to use the new Animoji and Memoji features on the XR, but in my experience, they're just gimmicks. I've only used those features once or twice since I got my iPhone XS Max, so I don't factor them into my purchasing decisions, but this all depends on how much you use your phone for iMessage.

Interactions

The app switcher is now a gesture rather than a home button interaction, necessitating a prolonged swipe-and-hold motion upwards from the bottom of the iPhone XR's display. It'll definitely take some time to get used to, but after a while it does become second nature.

The iPhone XR is smaller in stature, but as it doesn't have Touch ID, it gains the bigger screen
The iPhone XR is smaller in stature, but as it doesn't have Touch ID, it gains the bigger screen


The XR gets the new home bar, and my favorite part about it is that you can easily swipe left and right to switch between apps, so I honestly don't really use the app switcher anymore.

One thing the XR lacks is Force Touch, and this is one of the things you might miss the most. You simply don't get as many options anymore with Haptic Touch, and it's slower to use.

Display and performance

The biggest downside to the iPhone XR is the LCD display, which isn't quite as high resolution as the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. However, if you're coming from an older iPhone with an LCD display, you'll never really see the difference.

The iPhone XR's screen is nice and big, ideal for two-handed use
The iPhone XR's screen is nice and big, ideal for two-handed use


When it comes to display sharpness, the iPhone 8 Plus seems better with 401 pixels per inch compared to 326ppi on the XR, but again it's a difference you may not notice unless you try looking for it.

For performance, the iPhone XR's A12 Bionic processor definitely scores higher in benchmarks compared to the A11 Bionic in the iPhone 8 Plus. In everyday use, either processor is more than enough for a user's needs.

The iPhone XR is more powerful than the iPhone 8 Plus in terms of processing performance
The iPhone XR is more powerful than the iPhone 8 Plus in terms of processing performance


However, some apps or games run better on the XR, such as Fortnite, which can run at 60 frames per second on the XR, making a huge difference in terms of gaming experience.

The other kind of shooting

Where the extra performance really makes a difference is in the camera. Along with upgraded sensors, the extra power gives the iPhone XR the new Smart HDR feature, which greatly increases dynamic range in both photos and video. Not only that, but there's so much more detail as well.

  • Comparing the self portraits you can produce on the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone XR
  • Shots from both iPhones with added contrast
  • Zooming in with both iPhones


One thing to note is that a lot of 2018 iPhone users are complaining about a lack of contrast and smooth-looking skin in their photos which comes thanks to Smart HDR. Adding some contrast back in with a little bit of editing can easily fix those issues and make for some incredibly good-looking photos.

A downside with the iPhone XR is that it only has one camera lens, so you can lose some detail when zooming in too far. Plus, you can't take Portrait photos of objects with the rear camera like you can on the 8 Plus, only of humans.

Portrait mode shots on the iPhone XR are simply unavailable for objects
Portrait mode shots on the iPhone XR are simply unavailable for objects


With the XR, you can now take Portrait shots with the front camera, and this really does make selfies look so much better compared to the iPhone 8 Plus.

Overall, there's a huge difference in terms of camera quality. The XR's camera is just so much better.

The iPhone 8 Plus (left) and the iPhone XR (right)
The iPhone 8 Plus (left) and the iPhone XR (right)


Lastly, battery life, likely the most noticeable difference coming from the iPhone 8 Plus, and an even bigger change when moving from the smaller iPhone 8. With the XR, your battery will actually last all day with regular use.

Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone XR have wireless charging, so if you're worried about battery life, a Qi charger on your desk is inexpensive and worth it.

Where to get the best deals on Apple's iPhone XR and 8 Plus

If you haven't already ordered Apple's iPhone XR or iPhone 8 Plus, wireless carriers and eBay sellers are incentivizing the purchase with instant savings and buy one, get one offers.

Carrier deals:

  • AT&T Wireless: Buy one iPhone XR or iPhone 8 Plus, get one free when you buy both on AT&T Next.
  • 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.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    please do same comparison between 8plus and XS 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    elfig2012 said:
    please do same comparison between 8plus and XS 

    The XS and XR were compared in a recent article.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 16
    19831983 Posts: 1,158member
    My biggest disappointment concerning the 8 Plus when I got it was the rear camera image quality, which was poorer than I was expecting, especially at high magnification, where a water color effect was much more noticeable than on my previous 5S. As well as image quality in low-light especially on video where there was noticeable noise that I didn’t have on the 5S. On the other hand, the 8 Plus’s telephoto lens has proved very useful to me and was the main reason I upgraded in the first place. I think I actually use it more in photography than the standard lens. A reason I wish it had the OIS of the X at that magnification. I had a look at an XR at a local Apple store, to me it was noticeably thicker than my 8 Plus, too thick for my liking.
    edited January 25 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,431member
    Of course, that notch will take some time to get used to, but after a while, you get used to its presence.

    Not nearly as long as you think. I don't even notice the notch, in terms of "getting in the way" on my XR.

    I absolutely love the gestures this phone brings to the experience! They feel so natural!

    The only downsides of the XR for me are the size/mass. It's difficult to use one-handled while walking, but that's partly due to a bulky case that I got for it. And this may seem silly, but adding a photo to a Messages conversation is annoying. They moved the photo selector to the top-left corner and I always find it difficult to reach that one-handed. Seems like a big step backwards in terms of usability.
    albegarcJFC_PA
  • Reply 5 of 16
    I don’t really see how this is a fair comparison. The XR is a cheaper version of the XS not a cheaper version of an eight and eight is the older phone
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,995member
    I thought I'd miss the home button when moving to an X phone. Boy, was I wrong. 
    albegarcbrianmking editor the grateredgeminipaJFC_PAwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    What home button?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    Make a XR Mini, the size of my current 6, and I’m there. I tried out the XR but it was way too big and heavy; about 50% heavier than my 6. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 16
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,012moderator
    What’s the precise difference in display area between the two phones?  The XR display seems meaningfully less wide.  

    Too busy this morning (it’s morning on this side of the planet) to do the math.  Maybe I’ll post that later.  
    edited January 25 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    4 inch phone or bust. Who wants to carry a large brick?
    edited January 25 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 16
    1983 said:
    My biggest disappointment concerning the 8 Plus when I got it was the rear camera image quality, which was poorer than I was expecting, especially at high magnification, where a water color effect was much more noticeable than on my previous 5S. As well as image quality in low-light especially on video where there was noticeable noise that I didn’t have on the 5S. On the other hand, the 8 Plus’s telephoto lens has proved very useful to me and was the main reason I upgraded in the first place. I think I actually use it more in photography than the standard lens. A reason I wish it had the OIS of the X at that magnification. I had a look at an XR at a local Apple store, to me it was noticeably thicker than my 8 Plus, too thick for my liking.
    I agree.  The iPhone X camera was a disappointment to me.  From 5s to X, i just did not see much improvement.  Tiny ones.  I still love the 5s camera...it was a breakthrough back then (2013).  It took one visit to Apple store to convince me how much better XS camera is compared to X.  

    The XS camera is so good that it reminded me of the 5s camera when it first came out.  Game changer.
    gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,169member
    mccargos said:
    I don’t really see how this is a fair comparison. The XR is a cheaper version of the XS not a cheaper version of an eight and eight is the older phone
    technically that is true.   But from a buyer's perspective, the Xr competes with the 8+ because they are only $50 apart in cost.
    JFC_PAwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,217member
    For just $50 more to get an Xr, I don’t see how there can be much of a market for the 8. The X-ray is a much better phone. I recently switched from a 6s to an Xs and the notch is a non-issue. The only thing I miss is having the battery percentage at the top. 

    FacieID is incredible. It’s classic apple - it just works. Period. Now you can have 2 faces enrolled, so my wife won’t have to enter the pass code. There are some cases where I can see Touch ID being better (if you have to wear a mask, for example,) but Face ID is just so convenient and reliable that those are pretty rare 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    MplsP said:
    For just $50 more to get an Xr, I don’t see how there can be much of a market for the 8. The X-ray is a much better phone. I recently switched from a 6s to an Xs and the notch is a non-issue. The only thing I miss is having the battery percentage at the top. 

    FacieID is incredible. It’s classic apple - it just works. Period. Now you can have 2 faces enrolled, so my wife won’t have to enter the pass code. There are some cases where I can see Touch ID being better (if you have to wear a mask, for example,) but Face ID is just so convenient and reliable that those are pretty rare 
    And in those cases you can simply enter your passcode :) 

    Let is know if you guys want any other comparisons to be done. With phones or certain features, whatever you’d like. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    Plus, you can't take Portrait photos of objects with the rear camera like you can on the 8 Plus, only of humans. 
    I just don't get that bit.  It baffles me that someone thought making that a restriction was a good idea.  Why?  Obviously, since the camera itself is perfectly capable of taking pictures in portrait mode, it seems overwhelmingly likely that it's simply a software thing, so someone actually had to write code that says "this isn't allowed" and then run it through the QA process.
  • Reply 16 of 16

    And this may seem silly, but adding a photo to a Messages conversation is annoying. They moved the photo selector to the top-left corner and I always find it difficult to reach that one-handed. Seems like a big step backwards in terms of usability.
    They've actually made this somewhat easier, but it's in two places and I find muscle memory has me jumping up the top right too (also because it took me a while to figure out it was in two places).

    When you want to add a photo, the trick is: instead of tapping the camera icon and then having to tap the camera roll way up in the top left corner after the camera slides up, instead, directly under the camera icon, tap the Photos icon. This will swap out your keyboard with all your recent photos..
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