The iPhone XR was a very highly anticipated release for Apple as it has created a new generation of iPhone line-up for those who don’t want to break the bank but want to taste all the sweetness of the Apple ecosystem. Despite it not being the high-end iPhone back in the 2018, the year of its release it is still worthy of being considered as one of the best iPhone devices, Thanks to Apple’s superior optimization and powerful hardware.
Yes, the iPhone SE 2020 (We’ve covered it a few days ago) is about to take its spot having a lower price tag of just $399, those who want a bigger display the iPhone XR is a solid choice.
In this long term review, we will feature all the goods and bads we’ve come across with this device. Stay tuned till the end to find our more.
Our Short Review
- While the A12 Bionic chipset isn’t the strongest option anymore, It packs enough to get by.
- A Superior battery life
- Promising quality of photos and videos
- Wide and loud Stereo speakers
- Smooth and throttle-free gaming performance
- IP 67 dust and water resistance certification
- LCD Display quality is slightly lower than OLED panels
- Single camera without telephoto or ultra-wide lens
- 15 Watts fast charging isn’t the greatest
- Huge notch along with thicker bezels
- No 3D touch, Headphone Jack or 5G
Taking a look onto the box you will see the same old iPhone packaging with the apple branding on the sides. On the back, you will see the writings about the typical iPhone stuffs included inside the box which are as follows:
- At first you get the iPhone XR itself
- Paper works for quick start-guides with regulatory information
- Apple stickers along with a sim ejector tool
- Wired Apple air-pods with lighting connection
- Apple’s very own lightning cable
- Usual 5W Apple adapter
The specs of this device is still one of the bests in modern market. A quick glance of the specs:
|Release Date||October 2018|
|Display||Liquid Retina IPS LCD screen, 6.1 inches, 828×1792 pixels resolution, 326ppi,19:5:9 ratio, |
120Hz touch sensing, 625nits max brightness
|Dimensions||5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches|
|Chipset||Apple A12 Bionic (7 nm+), Hexa-core (2×2.5 GHz Vortex 4×1.80 GHz Tempest) with Apple GPU (4-core graphics)|
|Storage and Ram||3GB/64GB, 3GB/ 128GB, 3GB/256GB.|
No SD Card Expandability
|Rear Camera||12MP Wide (f/1.8, 26mm, 1.4micron, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)|
LED Flash, Panorama, HDR
|Front Camera||7MP Standard (f/2.2, 32mm) with SL 3D (Depth & Biometric Sensor), HDR|
|Video||[email protected]/30/60 fps (4K) |
[email protected]/60/120/240 fps
HDR, Stereo audio recording
|Battery||3110 mAh (non-removable), Li-Ion, with 18W Fast Charging, Wireless Charging available|
|Network & Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac) Hotspot, Dual Band|
Bluetooth 5.0 (LE, A2DP)
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
No FM Radio
|Sound & Audio||Stereo Speaker,|
No Headphone Jack
|Sensors||Face ID, Accelerometer, Compass, Proximity, Gyroscope, Barometer|
|Water/Dust Resistance||Yes (IP67 certification)|
Design & Build
The iPhone XR is basically an iPhone XS with a slightly worse display. Because it has got the same A12 Bionic processor, the same main camera with smart HDR, the same iOS 12 now upgraded to iOS 13 but instead of that edge to edge OLED, you get a 6.1 inches Liquid Retina LCD on the iPhone XR. We would definitely recommend that you hold this phone going to the stores as it has got this taller screen with a narrower body and feels gigantic, unlike the previous iPhones.
The left side of the phone has the standard notification switch and the volume keys while the right side has the power button and a SIM tray. The new generation iPhones support both Nano-SIM and a built-in eSIM; so technically we can call this a dual SIM.
The bottom of the phone has the Lightning charger port and a loudspeaker with dual Stereo audio support. The frame around the phone is well rounded and uses anodized aluminum instead of polished stainless steel to color match them with the glass backs. Hence, the phone comes in six different colors – Black, White, Red, Blue, Yellow, and Coral.
The screen on the XR is made of the same glass of XS which Apple claims to be the most durable ever. But for the back, you need to be careful as it is reported to be catching scratches badly after a few days’ use. Other than that, the glass finish on the back feels really sophisticated and gives a premium in-hand feel. Also, with the aluminum frame, it is even more slippery than the stainless steel. So, you might want to use a protective case on the phone.
The complete lack of a fingerprint sensor definitely seems quite strange on this phone as the Face ID has to struggle a bit while getting the accurate read in low light condition. The phone supports wireless charging with the same redesigned coil for faster charging as the XS and has also got an IP67 water resistance which works fine for occasional splashes.
This is the most controversial and criticized part of this phone. The display has curved corners and Apple calls it the Liquid Retina display. It has a resolution of 828×1792 pixels with a density of 326ppi which is similar to the previous iPhones. The aspect ratio of the phone is 19:5:9 while the screen to body ratio is around 79%.
The display is surely not as high-res as the other premium iPhones but if you are a display nerd, only then you will notice that it looks a little shimmery and turns a tiny bit of pink with a drop in the brightness when you look at it off the axis. What you will definitely notice is the slightly thicker bezels around the entire display which you will get used to after a little while and a huge horizontal notch that houses the Face ID system and the front-facing camera.
But Apple did a re-engineering with this display and built little apertures for the pixels around the corners to mask some of the backlight coming through on top of anti-aliasing curving software. And all of these ended in replacement of the 3D touch with something Apple calls the Haptic touch which is nothing but a long press with haptic feedback.
Now, the LCD screen is definitely not as advanced as the gorgeous OLED panels but if you are familiar with Apple’s LCDs, you will know how balanced and accurate they are compared to the OLEDs in most of the Android phones and hence the XR is nothing different.
That goes without mentioning that it is certainly not as good as iPhone OLEDs as it lacks the deep black levels, infinite contrast, HDR, and Dolby Vision video playback. The display is a bit warmer than the premium XS but it does have True Tone which will help you getting visuals that are quite crisp and color accurate with a natural vibe. Apart from that, this phone is great to use outside as it can produce a maximum brightness of 625nits.
Around the back of the iPhone XR, there is this single 12MP Wide (F/1.8, 26mm) camera which is basically the same as the iPhone XS’s wide-angle lens. But the iPhone XR’s single camera cannot do the 2x zoom like the iPhone XS’s dual camera because the telephoto lens is missing. Although there is only one camera on the iPhone XR, you can still take some really nice shots in it.
The portrait mode may not impress as much as many of its rivals due to the lack of a dedicated depth sensor but it still provides great portraits especially in low light. It has the ability to give you a wider-angle field of view on the portrait mode which you cannot perform on the iPhone XS Max. So, in some respect, the camera system is better on the iPhone XR. Although there is no night mode here, the camera does a great job of capturing details in low light without blowing out any lighting elements.
The iPhone XR comes with Apple’s Smart HDR System where it merges a bunch of different exposures together to create one single image. The feature actually flattens the highlights and lifts shadows so aggressively that sometimes it ends up reducing the details in the photos and makes it look artificial.
There is a 7MP Standard (F/2.2, 32mm) front-facing camera on this phone along with which you will get portrait mode for selfies as well. It uses the Face ID set up to take those portraits and you can adjust the blur effect alongside the portrait lighting features in order to make the lighting look more dramatic. As it uses the true depth sensor for Face ID, you do get those studio lighting-effects that are not found on the rear-facing camera. The Smart HDR System finds its way here too which helps in taking sharp and accurate photos with a good dynamic range.
You get excellent video quality in the iPhone XR. The Phone has the same video capturing features as the iPhone XS. It can shoot 4K videos at up to hyper-realistic 60fps on the main camera which results in some stunning footage aided by the image stabilization. The dynamic range increases as you lower the fps to 30 but when you shoot at 24fps it adds frames to create a greater dynamic range. And it records the Stereo audio from the surroundings. On the front camera, you can take videos in 1080P at 60 frames per second which also comes with the image stabilization feature.
In terms of performance, the XR will be essentially identical to the XS in your day to day usage as it is having basically the same benchmark scores. Apple’s A12 Bionic Chipset is integrated inside the phone, which will give you a really amazing performance if you ask. There are no slowdowns while multitasking or running any kind of intensive apps.
The phone has the storage variants available in only 3 gigabytes of RAM with either 64, 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. But that should not be a problem as the XR has to push a lot less pixels than those of iPhone XS or XS Max. So, basically you will be getting about the same performance and RAM management in iPhone XR which leads you to hardly find any app closed in the background while switching between them.
You will get the same UI experience and slick performance here on the iPhone XR as you will do in the premium XS. The gesture navigation on iOS is one of the most fluid and polished ones which will make it effortless for you to flick between windows and slide back to the home screen so easily. Now, you might be more of an Android fan compared with an iOS; mostly due to the enhanced customization and more logical settings menus. But people coming from the Accessibility and Security viewpoint would still love to stick with iOS.
Talking about the security, the Face ID is 15% faster now and you will really like the way that Face ID works against the touch ID as you can hide the notifications on your lock screen which will show up immediately after recognizing your face. Alongside the Face ID, you also get the alert features like when the alarm goes on your face, the phone will quickly silence that alarm. The fun part of the iOS is that, you will get some unique anomalies to play around with.
The major difference of performance between the XR and XS is LTE as XR does not support the faster gigabit LTE speeds where the XS does. You will face no issues with Bluetooth connectivity even in hideously overcrowded places. But one of the bollocks here is ongoing Wi-Fi issue where the phone disconnects from the network without any kind of warning.
The XR has a larger battery of 2942mAh than the XS which will be providing you a battery lifetime of about 6 to 7 hours even if you are constantly whipping it out to shoot or stream videos or having continuous gaming sessions.
As for recharging, you get Qi wireless support of 7.5 watt but not the reversible charging feature. The phone supports 15W of fast charging which can charge your phone up to 50% within half an hour as the company advertised. But there is no fast charging adapter included in the box, rather you get to see the usual 5W charging brick.
As Apple’s powerful A12 chipset is stuffed inside, the phone runs super smooth while gaming. You can play the comparatively less optimized game, PUBG in HDR Extreme mode and the rest goes without mentioning for the optimized games like Asphalt, Fortnite, COD and others. As the back of the phone is glass built it will definitely heat at one point but the heating issue is not severe at all. So, the phone will be very constant regarding seamless gaming performance.
Speakers & Audio Quality
For the audio part, you will get Apple’s wide Stereo speakers which are much louder than before although they are not quite as loud as the XS Max. But the speakers sound surprisingly good and are acoustically well-tuned for enjoying your contents in louder volumes without much distortion.
And it is no surprise that there is no headphone jack on the phone which will probably prompt a round of annoyance among the people who are fond of this feature.
So, you are probably wondering where the conclusion is being drawn with the iPhone XR especially as it relates to the iPhone XS and XS Max.
The XR offers almost everything you would want from a 2018 phone minus an OLED display and a telephoto lens. But if you are really picky about the screen of your phone then you might want to pay the extra money for OLED display in a heartbeat. When it comes to value for money, the XR would certainly be a better buy than the iPhone XS. It is still not an amazing deal compared to Android phones but for an Apple product, this is one of the best values in years. Finally, if you are intending to buy an iPhone XR in 2020, you had better check on the new iPhone 11 over this one.