iPhone XR review

The iphone xr delivers fast performance, great cameras and long battery life for a good price..

iPhone XR review

Tom's Guide Verdict

The iPhone XR delivers fast performance, great cameras and longer battery life than other flagship phones, all in a colorful and affordable package.

Fast performance

Very long battery life

Big and colorful LCD

Great flagship value

No optical zoom

Portrait mode works only with people

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Update: The iPhone XR has officially been discontinued by Apple and is available through certain carriers like Straight Talk for just $299 (opens in new tab) . Overall, though, we now recommend the iPhone 11 , which is a very good alternative at $499. Take a look at our Apple Store coupons page to find some great offers from Apple. 

The iPhone XR remains a good buy if you're looking for an iPhone under $500. You get a roomy 6.1-inch display, swift performance from Apple's A12 Bionic processor and good camera quality in a colorful design. Most important, the price is a very reasonable $499.

There are some features you don't get here with the iPhone XR, such as a Night mode for the camera, 5G or an OLED display. If you can handle a smaller phone, the 4.7-inch iPhone SE is even cheaper while offering a faster processor. But based on my iPhone XR review, Apple's big-screen phone is worth buying for those on a budget. 

Some may want to wait for the iPhone 13 (opens in new tab) to see what Apple has to offer this fall, but those phones will likely have a much more premium price. The iPhone XR gives you pretty much everything you could want in an affordable phone with minimal trade-offs. 

iPhone XR review cheat sheet: What you need to know

iPhone XR tech specs

Iphone xr price and release date.

The iPhone XR went on sale Oct. 26, 2018. It now starts at $499 for 64GB of storage, and it's available through Apple and all of the major U.S. carriers, including AT&T (opens in new tab) , Sprint (opens in new tab) , T-Mobile (opens in new tab) and Verizon (opens in new tab) . You can also buy the iPhone XR through US Cellular (opens in new tab) and Xfinity (opens in new tab) , as well as through retailers such as Best Buy (opens in new tab) and Sam's Club (opens in new tab) .

iPhone XR review: Design

If you think most iPhones look too conservative, the iPhone XR will change your mind. Apple achieved a look that's fun yet elegant via a seven-layer color process.

The glass backs are available in black, white, blue, yellow, coral and red. I'm partial to the cerulean blue. All of these hues have color-matched aluminum bands, which blend together with the back seamlessly. I've also been spending some time with the yellow and coral models. The yellow isn't as bright as the photos would have you believe; it's more of a lemony yellow.

Again, as a phone snob, I can't help but notice that the bezels are slightly thicker on the iPhone XR than on the iPhone XS, but typical users won't care. The TrueDepth camera is up front, along with the notch, to help you log in via Face ID, as well as have fun with Animoji and Memoji and capture portrait selfies.

If you'll allow me to geek out for a moment, OLED screens are much easier to manipulate than LCDs, so it's a pretty impressive feat that Apple was able to deliver a near full-screen design on the LCD-based iPhone XR that curves toward the edges.

Apple pulled this off through a combination of precision milling, advanced pixel masking and subpixel anti-aliasing. That means that the very edges of the screen that look like bezels are actually part of the display and are made to look black.

iPhone XR review: Durability

In terms of ruggedness, the front of the iPhone XR has the same durable glass as the iPhone XS, but the back is not as tough, so you may want to get an iPhone XR case . The iPhone XR is IP67 water-resistant, which means it can withstand 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, compared to 2 meters for the same amount of time for the IP68-rated iPhone XS.

If you need to repair a cracked screen on the iPhone XR, it costs $199/£196.44 if you don't have AppleCare+ (opens in new tab) . It costs $29/£25 if you do pay for AppleCare+ service, which for the iPhone XR is $149/£149.

iPhone XR review: Size

I've been switching between the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max over the last month, so the 6.1-inch iPhone XR feels just right to me. It's big enough to deliver the immersive experience smartphone buyers want these days for Netflix bingeing, Instagramming and gaming, but it's not so big that it's unwieldy.

The design will take some adjustment for those stepping up from a puny, 4.7-inch iPhone 7 but not those stepping up from an iPhone 7 Plus. That's because Apple squeezed a bigger display into a design about the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus by banishing the Home button.

As you might expect, the iPhone XR's size and weight (6.8 ounces, 5.9 x 3 x 0.3 inches) is in between that of the iPhone XS (6.2 ounces, 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches) and that of the XS Max (7.3 ounces, 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches). Google's Pixel 3 XL (6.5 ounces, 6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches), with its 6.3-inch screen, is a bit lighter but noticeably taller than the iPhone XR.

It's worth noting that the Galaxy S10e delivers a colorful design in a more compact package, as it sports a smaller 5.8-inch display.

iPhone XR review: Display

The iPhone XR's 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD is one of the brighter and more colorful smartphone displays out there. It's just not OLED-great. On the plus side, the 1792 x 828-pixel screen delivered excellent detail when I watched the trailer for Aquaman, as I could make out every scale in his superhero uniform. (Yes, even though this panel is not technically full HD.) And the laser beams being shot at Amber Heard were an intense blue.

This LCD fared well in our lab tests as well. It registered an excellent 589 nits of brightness, and I had no trouble reading this screen in direct sunlight. That number blows away the Pixel 3 XL's 362 nits. The iPhone XS (606 nits) and Galaxy Note 9 (604 nits) are even brighter, though. The Galaxy S10e hit 603 nits.

The iPhone XR's screen registered a good 123.4 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is on par with the iPhone XS's result (123 percent) but is behind showings from the Pixel 3 XL (170.2 percent) and Galaxy Note 9 (224 percent). The Galaxy S10e registered 148 percent.

The color accuracy is great, too, as the iPhone XR turned in a Delta-E score of 0.28 (0 is perfect). That beats results from the Pixel 3 XL (0.35) and Note 9 (0.34) and is comparable to the iPhone XS' showing (0.25). The Galaxy S10e was behind at 0.57.

What you don't get on the iPhone XR's screen are the perfect blacks and ultrawide viewing angles that OLED displays offer. I noticed the difference when I put the iPhone XR and iPhone XS side by side with an aquarium screen saver. The OLED panel is just more vibrant, and blacks can look more gray on an LCD.

iPhone XR review: No 3D Touch an issue?

The iPhone XR's display doesn't offer 3D Touch capability like the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max do, which means you can't long-press on apps on the home screen to reveal shortcuts. But the XR does support what's called Haptic Touch, which delivers haptic feedback and a lot of the same functionality.

So, instead of deep-pressing to launch the camera from the lock screen, you long-press with a soft touch. And instead of pressing hard anywhere on the keyboard to control the cursor while you're typing, you just long-press gently on the space bar. This change took some getting used to for me after I'd been using 3D Touch-capable phones, but overall, I don't think most iPhone owners will notice the difference between Haptic Touch and 3D Touch.

iPhone XR review: Audio

With wider stereo sound, the iPhone XR's dual speakers delivered excellent audio quality when streaming Post Malone's "Better Now." The vocals and instruments were rich and full, so good that my family told me to keep it down. More importantly, there's a true volume boost over the iPhone X , which I appreciated when getting turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps while I was driving. I could even hear the directions over my car stereo played at moderate volume.

iPhone XR review: Cameras

If you're worried that the single-lens iPhone XR won't capture photos that are as good as those from the dual-lens iPhone XS and XS Max, you can stop worrying now. This phone has the same stellar wide-angle camera sensor as its pricier siblings and the same Smart HDR functionality, which delivers better highlights in the shadows.

You can even shoot Portrait mode shots with the rear lens, complete with artistic bokeh effect, but there's a catch: For now, the back camera can snap Portraits only of people, and if you try something else, the iPhone will tell you that it's waiting for a person to enter the frame. The Pixel 3 doesn't have that limitation.

The good news is that the iPhone XR's people portraits look pretty convincing. Plus, the iOS 12.1 update lets you tweak the depth control in your portraits in real-time preview as you shoot, not just after the fact.

Take this shot of my colleague Sherri. The street scene to her left is artfully blurred, and yet the edges of her jacket look crisp. The iPhone XR's camera delivered good results in uneven sunlight, though the left side of Sherri's face could be brighter. Just keep in mind that because the iPhone XR doesn't have a telephoto lens like the iPhone XS has, your results will look more zoomed out than they would on Apple's dual-camera phones.

How about food? The iPhone XR took a more appetizing shot of this dessert than the Pixel 3 did. The raspberry on top is much brighter on the iPhone's photo, and the chocolate topper is more in focus.

When shooting pink flowers, the iPhone XR's camera delivered less of a gradient in the color than the Galaxy Note 9 did, so I actually preferred the results from Samsung's phone.

The Pixel 3 outperformed the iPhone XR on this shot of a lion in bright sunlight. There's more contrast in the Pixel 3's shot, and the shadows don't get lost. There's also a bit of lens flare in the iPhone XR's photo.

Because the iPhone XR lacks the 2x optical zoom of the iPhone XS Max, I took this shot of the facade of the New York Public Library with the XR's digital zoom. As it turns out, the iPhone XR's image looks pretty sharp, though the text on the iPhone XS Max's photo is more defined and has better contrast when you zoom in further. Same thing goes for the stone figures to the left.

To test low-light performance we took the iPhone XR and Pixel 3 XL into our video studio and shut off all the lights, leaving just a bit of light coming in from the hallway. The iPhone XR captured a brighter shot, making the Cappy hat, Unicorn Meat tin and white water bottle more visible. The Pixel 3 XL’s image was dimmer with more noise.

The 7-MP front camera did an excellent job taking selfies. There's good detail in my blue-and-red checkered shirt, as well as in my hair, and the lamp post and street in the background are artfully blurred. Just as with the iPhone XS, you can tweak the depth effect and change lighting effects, although the Contour Light option made me look like I was wearing makeup.

MORE:  Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS Camera Face-Off: Why Google Wins

Apple is also issuing a bug fix in iOS 12. 1 that can result in selfies with a so-called skin smoothing effect. According to The Verge , this was because the iPhone XR's and iPhone XS' Smart HDR feature was selecting the wrong base frame for the shot.

iPhone XR review: Performance

No surprise here: The A12 Bionic processor in the iPhone XR is just as fast as those in the iPhone XS and XS Max, which means you're getting a phone that beats the best Android flagships for hundreds of dollars less. I enjoyed silky-smooth performance when playing the augmented reality puzzle game AR Blast, which has you shoot colored blocks in front of you. Plus, other people can join in on the AR action for multiplayer fun, something you can't do on Android (at least not yet).

On Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the iPhone XR scored 11,312, which is comparable to the scores from the iPhone XS Max (11,515) and iPhone XS (11,420). That beats scores from the Galaxy Note 9 (8,876) and OnePlus 6 (9,088) and blows past the Pixel 3 XL's result (7,684).

The Galaxy S10e, which has a fast Snapdragon 855 processor, scored 10,513 on Geekbench 4.

The iPhone XR also excelled in our video-editing test, taking just 40 seconds to convert a 4K clip to 1080p. That's only a second behind the iPhone XS and way faster than the Pixel 3 XL (2:42), Galaxy S9+ (2:32) and OnePlus 6 (3:45). The Galaxy S10e finished in 2:26.

On 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme Unlimited test, which evaluates graphics performance, the iPhone XR notched 4,416. The Pixel 3 XL was just a bit behind, at 4,396, but the Galaxy Note 9 reached a higher 4,639.

The iPhone XR pulled ahead in everyday tasks like opening apps, too. For example, it took the phone 12.3 seconds to open the Tekken fighting game, compared to 21 seconds for the PIxel 3 XL. The gap was a lot narrower on the Asphalt 9 racing game, with the iPhone taking 4.98 seconds to the Pixel 3 XL's 6.4 seconds.

While the iPhone XR doesn't support the fastest Gigabit LTE network standard that the iPhone XS and XS Max do, it delivered excellent data rates in our testing. On the Speedtet.net app, the iPhone XR averaged 58.4-Mbps downloads, compared to 58.2-Mbps down for the iPhone XS. However, the iPhone XS offered about double the upload speeds, at 25.4 Mbps versus 12.87 Mbps for the XR.

iPhone XR battery life

One of the best reasons to choose the iPhone XR over the iPhone XS Max and XS is longer battery life.

On the Tom's Guide Battery Test , which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, the iPhone XR lasted 11 hours and 26 minutes. That beats the times from the iPhone XS Max (10:38) and iPhone XS (9:41) by a significant margin.

The Pixel 3 XL lasted only 9:30, while the Galaxy Note 9 also endured for 11:26. The Galaxy S10e endured for 9:41.

In everyday use the iPhone XR's endurance also impressed. After unplugging at 100 percent at 7 a.m., I used the phone intermittently to play games, check Facebook and email, and stream Spotify and capture photos and videos, and I still have 24 percent battery left at 9 p.m.

Unfortunately, Apple once again doesn’t offer fast USB-C charging on this phone. You’ll have to pay about $50/£50 for a USB-C charger and USB-C to Lightning adapter if you want to get to 50 percent in 30 minutes. The iPhone XR does support wireless charging.

iPhone XR review: iOS 14

The iPhone XR runs iOS 14 . The top features of iOS 14 include widgets on the home screen to give you more info at a glance, as well as App Library for automatically organizing your apps. Other enhancements include compact incoming call notifications (so they don't take over your whole screen, picture in picture, pinned conversations in Messages, a Translate app and more.

iPhone XR vs iPhone 11

The iPhone XR remains a good value, but there are reasons to consider stepping up to the iPhone 11 . The iPhone 11 has a more durable design with tougher glass and a faster A13 Bionic processor, but the biggest reason to opt for the iPhone 11 over the iPhone XR is its new camera system.

The iPhone 11's camera takes much better pictures in low light and has a sophisticated Night Mode that takes stellar shots. On the other hand, the iPhone 11 starts at $599, so if you want to keep the price low on your next phone the $499 iPhone XR is still a good buy.

For more info see our iPhone XR vs iPhone 11 face-off.

iPhone XR vs iPhone SE 2020

Our iPhone SE vs iPhone XR face-off has more details, but here's the gist if you're on the fence between these two phones. The cheaper $399 iPhone SE is faster, thanks to its A13 Bionic processor, and that same chip enables several photography features, including Portrait mode for the rear and front cameras and Smart HDR. The iPhone XR makes due with an older A12 Bionic chip.

On the other hand, the iPhone XR has a larger display than the iPhone SE (6.1 inches vs 4.7 inches), longer battery life and Face ID. The iPhone SE uses a Touch ID sensor. 

iPhone XR review: Verdict

The iPhone XR has shockingly few trade-offs compared to pricier iPhones. You get a big and bright display, very good cameras, fast performance and long battery life for a very affordable price. Overall, we prefer the newer iPhone 12 because of its better cameras, OLED display and 5G, but if you're on a budget you should be very happy with the iPhone XR.

A tougher choice is between the $499 iPhone XR and even cheaper $399 iPhone SE 2020 . The iPhone XR offers a larger screen and Face ID, but the new iPhone SE has a faster A13 Bionic chip and better cameras in a more compact design. See our iPhone XR vs iPhone SE face-off for more info.

Some may want to wait to see if Apple launches a new iPhone SE 3 , but that's apparently not being launched this year. And while the iPhone 13 is on the way this fall, we expect prices to continue to start at $799. Overall, the iPhone XR is one of the best iPhones out there if you don't want to pay a flagship premium.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar , Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

21425122 said: Great review! Mine (in blue) comes Friday!
21426402 said: Since the XR only has a 2x2 antenna design, have you noticed any differences in reception between the XS and XR?
21485502 said: Just made a comment and it didn't post. Very disappointing. It was in response to the comment about the 2x2 antenna design being a negative factor. As Tom and others know by now PC Mag.com just recently wrote a VERY critical article about this antenna situation and concluded that it was a black mark against the XR. The author Sascha Segan all but pounded a stake through the heart of the XR. I am hoping that someone will address this serious criticism and debunk it, if possible. I just bought a new XR ONE week ago and this will be in the back of my mind now. This reviews is really amazing and so thorough. My compliments to Mark for his detail. Perhaps in the near future he will read Sascha's damning article and offer some rebuttal.

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Apple iPhone XR review: The best iPhone value in years

If you're buying a new iPhone, this should be your starting point.

Scott_Stein.jpg

Editors' note, April 22:   Read our iPhone SE 2020 review . Original story follows.  

041-iphone-xr-review

Apple iPhone XR

The bottom line.

Editors' note, Nov. 8 : We've updated this review, originally published Oct. 23, with final battery benchmarks, camera testing, drop test results and additional impressions. The overall rating has moved from 8.8 to 8.9 and the phone has been awarded a CNET Editors' Choice.

Does the iPhone shopping landscape seem daunting? There's an easy solution. If you're looking for a great iPhone that costs well under a grand, dive right in to the iPhone XR. This is the iPhone. This is the one you're looking for. (When I reviewed the iPhone XS in September, I said you should wait before buying. I'm glad I did.)

The iPhone XR in blue looks stellar under a macro lens

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With the iPhone XR,  Apple has created an iPhone that delivers 95 percent of the high-end iPhone XS experience at 75 percent of the cost. Yes, there are compromises : The screen and the camera take small steps back from the XS models, along with a few other feature nips and tucks. Using the XR after living with the XS, the only feature I truly missed was the rear camera's telephoto lens. 

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The iPhone XS, XR and XS Max (left to right). Can you spot the differences?

But the iPhone XR actually makes a few improvements on its more expensive siblings. Its screen is bigger than the XS' (6.1 versus 5.8 inches), it comes in a wider array of fun colors and -- significantly -- it has the best battery life of any current iPhone you can buy.

I still wish Apple had introduced an even less expensive phone. At $749 (£749, AU$1,229) to start, no one would call this phone cheap -- that's how much the top-end iPhone 6 Plus cost back in 2014 -- but the XR still costs considerably less than the $999-and-up iPhone XS.

That said, go for the $799 128GB version. Apple finally included a middle storage tier, instead of jumping straight from the $749 64GB (fine, but not quite enough) to the $899 256GB (more than most people need, unless they shoot a ton of video). You won't be able to upgrade your storage later, so the extra $50 will pay off.

iPhone XR prices

Camera: almost the same as xs, iphone xr photos, and how portrait mode works.

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Apple put the same camera sensor and almost all the same lenses on the iPhone XR as it did on the XS and XS Max . The front-facing TrueDepth camera is the same: I took great-looking portrait photos, did weird Memoji head things using Apple's emoji tools, and it's all better than what the  iPhone 8 can do. The rear single camera is wide-angle, the same as the XS' wide-angle lens. Smart HDR shots and everyday photos look the same. Our recent iPhone XS camera comparison to the Pixel 3 shows where Smart HDR succeeds, and where it still isn't as good in low light as what the Pixel 3 can do.

The real difference is that this phone doesn't have the rear telephoto lens. That impacts photos two ways: no 2x optical zoom or extra levels of digital zoom; and no telephoto-enhanced Portrait-mode photos. The XR can take Portrait photos, too, but the results are different.

Not having 2x optical zoom bothered me more than I thought it would. I rely on that 2x for framing close-up shots, I found. It also makes a difference for zooming in on far-off objects. My 5x zoom on the Flatiron building looked far crisper with the XS than it did with the XR's purely digital zoom.

That's not to say that Portrait mode is missing from the XR altogether. Apple has taken a page from Google's book and delivered portrait mode effects with a single lens via software. The effects really do work, but they're different than how the XS takes its portraits.

The wide-angle portrait mode's simulated bokeh blur is more subtle than with the iPhone X and XS. The photos also look farther away from the subject, requiring you to get closer, as there's no digital zoom in Portrait mode. For example, in the shots above, I photographed my colleague Marrian Zhou from the same distance, but she appears "farther" away in the XR shot. Below, I got closer with the XR to compensate for the focal length difference.

Faces end up looking a little more distorted than the better composed, more flattering telephoto Portrait mode on the X and XS, although faces on XR shots can sometimes look more detailed in low light than the telephoto versions.

While the effects can be a little more subtle than on the iPhone XS, I've never had them fail when taking a photo of a person. And, once I got the hang of its limitations, it ended up producing some really nice results. Portrait Mode, when it first debuted in beta on the iPhone 7 Plus , seemed a bit artificial at times. A year later, it's producing much better results with just a single lens. 

The iPhone XR lets you adjust the bokeh effect and a few other portrait-lighting effects afterward, just like on the iPhone X and XS. The image above shows before and after the bokeh effect is added. (You can see where the strands of flyaway hair get blurred into the background.) A future software update will allow previews of the depth effect before shooting. There's no Stage Light or Stage Light Mono modes on this camera, however.

And... the iPhone XR's portrait mode effects only work on people.

Apple's AI demands the presence of a person. If it doesn't "see" a person, it won't engage portrait mode at all. I tried with people, mannequins, photos, people-like sculptures, animals and things like fruit and flowers. Occasionally, the camera's portrait mode was tricked by a wig-wearing mannequin head or a sculpture of a face, or a wall poster that featured actors' faces, adding a bokeh blur effect. I couldn't get it to recognize adorable dogs at a dog park, though, while the Pixel 3 did just fine.

The Google Pixel 3 has a single rear camera lens, too, but Google performs more computational photography tricks with that phone, enabling crisper digital zoom and a portrait mode that works on anything, including pets.

Pets! That's the missing part of the iPhone XR's portrait mode. Sure, the XR takes great shots otherwise, but pet portraits? Not this year.

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One odd camera note: Occasionally, I saw bits of blue lens flare when shooting at night near bright lights, something that also happened occasionally on the iPhone XS. 

Additional deep dives on the iPhone XR camera:

Note that the Pixel 3 camera is better for still photos -- even before the impressive Night Sight feature was activated -- but the XR is better for video. 

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Size: The right fit

I admire Apple's plus-size iPhones, but I've never enjoyed holding them. The width hurts my hand. They're not one-hand-friendly. That's what made the iPhone X great: It shrunk that big screen down into a smaller case.

The XR isn't iPhone XS size, or XS Max size. It's right in the middle, and that middle size feels much more comfortable to hold than the wider XS Max. It feels more one-hand-able than the Plus and Max phones , just by shrinking a tiny bit. If you're a fan of smaller phones, it'll be too big for you, but the XR is smaller than most large-screen premium phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Google Pixel 3 XL .

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (left), iPhone XR (center), Google Pixel 3 XL (right).

Display: LCD is fine

At first glance, the 6.1-inch screen on the iPhone XR looks all but identical to that of the iPhone XS, except for its slightly smaller 5.8-inch size. It has a notch at the top, curved corners and a tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. But put the phones side by side, and you'll see differences. The bezels around the display are a little bigger, lending to a slightly less "to the edge" feel. Swiping and interacting with the XR, however, feels just as responsive as on the OLED screen of the iPhone X, XS and Max.

Yes, the actual screen technology is different, too. On paper, the LCD on the iPhone XR is just as bright as the OLED screen on the XS -- 625 nits , according to Apple. But it doesn't always seem as vibrant to the eye. Side by side, the XR looks a little dimmer, whites not quite as white, and black levels obviously not the super black of OLED. If you're directly comparing, you'll see the OLED's superiority, but in everyday use, I barely noticed. Colors look excellent, and the display seems better than the iPhone 8, and as good as recent iPads.

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Sometimes it gets really hard to spot the differences. (XR in the middle, XS and XS Max either side.)

Technically the display is lower resolution than the XS' "Super Retina" display. (The XS has a 2,436x1,125‑pixel resolution at 458 ppi, while the XR has a 1,792x828-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, the same pixel density as the iPhone 8.) My eye can't perceive the missing pixels. All the apps I downloaded, from games to news apps to video and camera apps, looked superb in the new display size.

Other notes on the display:

No HDR means some missing detail. I watched Blade Runner 2049 on the iPhone XS and XR, and the difference stood out -- darker areas of rooms, or the folds of Harrison Ford's jacket didn't have the same detail on the cheaper phone. High-contrast videos won't look quite as good on the XR.

iPhone Plus and XS Max "split view" app support is here.  Turn the XR on its side, and you'll get the iPad-style split-pane mode that's available on some larger iPhones, but not the higher-end iPhone XS. The catch is that there aren't many apps that use extra panes for multitasking -- Mail, Notes and a few others use it. But it's welcome when it's there.

The speakers sound great, too. The dual front-facing speakers are louder than pre-2018 iPhones, and they deliver clean sound without distorting.

Goodbye, 3D Touch

The iPhone XR doesn't have the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature that lets you do things like preview links, messages and files before opening them, as the iPhones 6S , 7 , 8 , X and XS series do.

In its place, the iPhone XR gives little pulses of vibration feedback -- called "haptics" --  for the lock screen camera and flashlight icons. Instead of pressing down, holding a finger on them will open them. Same for the Control Center's deeper controls. It kinda feels the same as 3D Touch. Apple's iPhone haptics are fantastic and add that physical-feedback "tap" satisfaction.

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Camera and flashlight shortcuts on the lock screen work by holding, not pressing, but you might press in on instinct.

In the end, I still miss having those 3D Touch press-to-peek preview options, just a little. But since 3D Touch always felt somewhat underutilized on the iPhone, its absence here isn't a huge loss -- and if it's a must-have, that's a signal you should move up to the iPhone XS or XS Max.

There is a good 3D Touch holdover, too: iOS 12 lets you depress the spacebar to turn the keyboard into a de facto touchpad . It makes text editing a thousand times easier.

Also, by the way: The onscreen keyboard's size and feel on this tweener 6.1-inch display is terrific. For my hands, at least, I like it better than on other-sized iPhones.

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Performance and battery life: Fantastic

The iPhone XR uses the same A12 Bionic processor as the iPhone XS, which adds up to modest speed gains in everyday use over last year's phones, and more impressive graphics boosts -- early benchmarks show the 50 percent gain Apple promised. This year's iPhones have processors promising much bigger boosts for AI-driven functions, including the bulk of those camera effects listed above, but perceiving that in most everyday app and game performance is next to impossible. 

If you do want to see side-by-side improvements, boot up an augmented reality app such as Ikea Place -- it'll look much smoother than with last year's iPhones.

Battery life (offline video playback)

Battery is where the iPhone XR really shines. Apple promises an hour more video playback battery life on the XR over the iPhone XS Max, and 2 hours more internet use. (Compared to the XS, it's 2 hours more video, 3 hours more internet.) But the news is better than that. On CNET's video playback battery test, the XR got a fantastic 19 hours, 53 minutes. The iPhone XS, in comparison, lasted just 13 hours, 30 minutes on the same test. 

Everyday use doesn't always reflect what benchmarks show, but the XR also does great in the wild. I charged the XR fully each day and used it for lots of photos, videos, games, video streaming, music, reading and everything else, and didn't find the need to charge back up midway through the day that I usually do on other iPhones. It's a smart choice for anyone who's been waiting for some extra battery kick without needing to bring a battery pack, and the best iPhone battery life we've ever seen.

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Other iPhone XR features of note

Colors are nice. My review unit was white, but the colorful iPhones -- lighter blue, coral, red and bright yellow -- look cheerful and well done. It's a return to the candy-color days of the iPhone 5C and the iPod Mini , and a refreshing break from silver, black and gold.

Yes, it's water resistant. Much like the iPhone 7 and onward, the XR can last up to 30 minutes in up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water, according to Apple. Full immersion testing is coming soon. The  iPhone XS has a slightly better water resistance rating , up to 2 meters. Either way, know that the phone should survive a dunk, but don't go swimming with it, and Apple says dry the phone for 5 hours before using Lightning charging. 

Durable glass, but not quite as hardy as the iPhone XS. Again, per Apple's claims, the front display glass is as strong as the XS, while the rear glass is "better than the iPhone X," but not as strong as what the XS has. The iPhone XS did superbly on CNET's drop tests . The XR did well -- it survived the first three drops, but cracked on the fourth . Moreover, the its aluminum is more prone to get dinged up than the stainless steel body of the XS (as you'd expect). Bottom line, as always: buy a case . And note you can get decent clear ones (so your fancy colors shine through) for less than $20 .

Best iPhone XR cases

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Cellular data should be the same as the iPhone 8. The iPhone XS has Gigabit LTE and 4x4 MIMO Wi-Fi, while the XR "only" has LTE Advanced and 2x2 MIMO. That means the XS is technically a bit better for wireless than XR. In everyday use around New Jersey and New York, however, the XR didn't feel appreciably "slower" or otherwise compromised from a wireless perspective. At home, Verizon wireless on a test SIM ran at 230 megabits per second -- significantly faster than my home broadband. (Looking for 5G ? You're a bit too early .)

Dual-SIM support.  As of iOS 12.1 , the current gen of iPhones (XS, XS Max and XR) are dual-SIM capable . A physical SIM card plus an eSIM (set up in phone settings) will enable you to have two phone numbers on a single handset -- work and home, international and domestic, superhero and secret identity -- but your phone needs to be unlocked to take advantage of cross-carrier setup, and the three biggest US carriers aren't quite ready for compatibility .

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Wireless charging. The XR works with Qi-supported contactless charge accessories . Apple says the redesigned coils on the new iPhones in 2018 should charge more reliably and slightly faster, but they're not fast-charging: They're still only enabled up to 7.5 watts, whereas many Android phones can charge faster.

Speaking of which, the XR is fast-charge enabled via a USB-C-to-Lightning adapter, but Apple still only includes a 5-watt adapter and Lightning cable, which charge the phone pretty slowly. Spring $19 for a 12-watt iPad charge adapter for a significant boost.

No headphone jack. If you're coming from a pre-iPhone 7 model, just remember that the 3.5mm headphone jack is long gone -- and Apple annoyingly no longer includes a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the box (it'll set you back $9 ). Thankfully, Lightning-tipped EarPod headphones are still on board.

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The go-to iPhone

I haven't been this excited about an iPhone model in years. The iPhone XR is built to be the best everyday phone engine in Apple's iPhone lineup, based on things I value: price, battery, speed and key features like the camera. The iPhone XR is the sensible car with the good gas mileage, but with a supercharged engine under the hood and an understated spoiler on the trunk -- and I love that. It's what more Apple products should shoot for. It's a good size and, very nearly, a perfect phone for its price.

What about those XS models? Technically, they're top-notch. They've got fantastic OLED screens, slightly more sleek (and durable) steel bodies, and those dual rear cameras, which add that nice telephoto to photos. But they're luxury picks. Cars with all the trimmings. If money were no object, sure, I'd pick the iPhone XS. But for most of us, the XR is the way to go. It's not an ultrabudget iPhone some have been fantasizing about -- that's what the price-reduced iPhone 7 and 8 are for. But the iPhone XR is the iPhone I'd recommend to most people.

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So many iPhones (8, 8 Plus, XR, XS, XS Max).

Quick upgrade guide

If you have an iPhone XS or XS Max:  You're fine, obviously, and technically you have the better phone (except for battery life).

If you have an iPhone X:  Stick with the X. The performance gains aren't always great, and you'll lose the telephoto camera in exchange for some photo quality improvements, which will feel like a wash. And the X's OLED display is better. (But the XR's battery life is nicer.)

If you have an iPhone 8:  There are enough changes to merit an upgrade, and the display size and battery gains are welcome. But I'd still wait and use the phone you have.

If you have an iPhone 8 Plus:  Stick with the Plus. Size, screen and battery are similar, even if the XR is better... but the 8 Plus' dual cameras are still great. 

If you have anything before the iPhone 8:  The XR is your starting point for an upgrade. Speed, photo quality and screen size will feel like a quantum leap forward. Look to the XS if you want the best possible iPhone camera (with optical zoom and no-compromise Portrait photos), and consider the iPhone XS Max if you want the biggest and best screen, too. But know that you'll pay a huge premium in both cases.

If you're looking for an affordable iPhone SE-type phone:  Get an SE on sale, or get the iPhone 7 , or hang in there for a possible SE sequel next year (always a crap shoot). I really like the size, price and performance proposition of the XR, but it might not be a good fit for everyone.

If you're comparing to Android phones: The Google Pixel 3 XL seems like a nearly direct comparison, since both phones have a clean-design feel, similar price and both have single rear cameras. The camera on the Pixel 3 XL is better overall for still photos -- it's more optimized for better low-light and digital zoom, and has an extra wide-angle front-facing camera for selfies. (The iPhone XR/XS still has the leg up on video performance.) If you're OK with switching to Android, the Pixel 3 XL is your best bet until 2019. (Price-sensitive Android-friendly shoppers should consider the OnePlus 6T , too.)

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

3dmark ice storm unlimited, score breakdown.

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iPhone XR review

The iphone xr has decent battery life and a lower price tag.

The bottom half of an iPhone XR, resting on some wood

TechRadar Verdict

The iPhone XR is a strong contender if you're looking for an affordable iPhone, boasting the latest software, enough power and surprisingly good battery life... for an iPhone. With the introduction of the iPhone 11, the XR price has dropped further, making it great value for money.

Great battery life for an iPhone

Attractive array of colors

A great value option

Portrait camera mode doesn't impress

Some apps still not fully optimized

Lower-res screen

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .

The iPhone XR is no-longer the core 'affordable' option in Apple's smartphone line-up, but that's not to say the handset is past its prime. In fact, it remains on sale and has proven itself to be one of the most popular of Apple's phones.

While the new i Phone SE (2022) may now have the crown as the firm's 'affordable' choice, the iPhone XR is still possible to buy from some stores, and with a more modern full-screen design than the SE.

With the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series' here, it's far from the newest Apple smartphone. But it will still be one of the best iPhones for some buyers, as our iPhone XR review will explain.

The iPhone XR does one-up the iPhone SE in terms of design however, as it keeps the all-screen display and Face ID notch, while the newer SE reverts to the older iPhone style of chunky bezels above and below the display, a home key and Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Not only that, but it's also received the latest iOS 15 update - which means it runs the same software as the iPhone 12 range and iPhone SE (2020).

Apple's latest operating system update brought many new features to the iPhone XR, such as redesigned widgets and an App Library, allowing you to make the most of your iPhone experience.

So if you're looking for the latest Apple design language in an affordable package, look no further than the iPhone XR.

iPhone XR: price and release date

Weight : 194g Dimensions : 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm Display size : 6.1-inch Resolution : 1792 x 828 Chipset : A12 Bionic RAM : 3GB Storage : 64/128/256GB Rear camera : 12MP Front camera : 7MP Pre-installed software: iOS 12 Battery : 2,942mAh Charging : 15W

Announced on September 12, 2018, the iPhone XR launch price started at $749 / £749 / AU$1229 for the 64GB model, $799 / £799 / AU$1299 for 128GB of storage and $899 / £899 / AU$1479 for the 256GB version.

However, it's since received multiple price drops, most recently with the launch of the iPhone 12 range. That brought it down to a starting price of $499 / £499 / AU$849 for the 64GB model, rising to $549 / £549 / AU$929 for the 128GB one.

However, with the launch of the iPhone 13 range, Apple discontinued this phone, so you'll have to shop around to find it - with refurbished models now being more common.

iPhone XR: key features

Compared to the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR was a 'downgrade' in a number of ways to hit a lower price point. 

That said, there are a number of key features that are the same: an update to iOS 13 means both handsets have the same operating system, and it's backed up by the powerful A12 Bionic chipset inside.

The notch contains all the same front-facing cameras and sensors as the iPhone XS, and the dual speakers still face the same way when pumping out sound. 

To the untrained eye, or someone not holding the iPhone XR and XS side by side, it might even be hard to instantly tell the two apart – but there are a number of key differences that we need to dig into.

iPhone XR: a single camera

While the iPhone XR offers the same 'standard' lens as the XS, it lacks the telephoto second sensor, so has to do some fancy tricks with software to compensate.

This means you aren't able to zoom in as far with the XR, as the telephoto lens offers (relatively) lossless photography at two times zoom, while portrait mode, where the background is blurred out, isn't as effective.

You can still take a portrait shot and have the background attractively blurred to keep the focus on the subject, but unlike with the iPhone XS, you can’t take pictures of objects and animals in the same way.

This is due to the fact the software can’t identify those subjects as easily from the single sensor, where the additional hardware on the more expensive XS is able to draw on more info.

iPhone XR: the Liquid Retina screen

Apple is never one to shy away from some marketing hyperbole, and the iPhone XR comes with a different type of LCD, a screen that's been designed to allow it to make this curved, 'all-screen' display.

The effect is much like the LCD screens Apple has made before, to be honest, as they’ve always been colorful and sharp, but with the 'Liquid Retina' display things are supposed to closer to the high-end OLED screen.

We'll delve more into the quality of the screen later in this review, but it's one of the key differences you'll want to consider if you're thinking about going for the less-costly iPhone.

iPhone XR: no 3D Touch on the iPhone XR

There’s one way to know if you use a feature on an iPhone, and that’s to take it away, and see if you miss it. Anyone coming from a later-series Apple handset will have had access to 3D Touch, where pressing the screen harder opens menus or activates different features in apps.

This feature has been removed for the iPhone XR, presumably to save money – instead you have to do a 'long press' to do the same thing. So if you ever accessed shortcuts by pushing harder on an app, or opened the torch with a harder prod on the lock screen… well, that’s gone.

We didn't realize how much we used that feature before – and it's irritating to not have something that feels like a real button to open the camera – but it doesn’t take long to get used to the alternative… it just feels a bit less premium.

iPhone XR: chunkier design

The iPhone XR has a thicker design, with chunkier bezels around the side of the phone – hold it side by side with an iPhone XS and you’ll feel it’s clearly the cheaper model, with a thicker feel in the hand.

However, looking at it and handling it in isolation you’ll just feel that it’s a smooth, rounded design that apes the popular form of the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 – basically, the iPhone XR is the all-screen version of those handsets, bringing a screen the size of those on the  iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus in a form factor that’s more akin to the smaller models.

iPhone XR: multiple colors

The iPhone XR is the first in a long time to come in so many colors: (product) RED, which is the sample we have, blue, white, yellow, coral and black - to some, this would feel like the natural successor to the iPhone 5C.

It's a nice look, although it would be nice to have some more flashes of color on the front of the phone too. 

If you're thinking of buying an iPhone from a fashion point of view, this could well be the way to do it, with the colors chosen impressing when we checked them all out at the launch event.

iPhone XR: improved battery

Apple believes you'll be able to get 90 minutes more battery life out of the iPhone XR than the 8 Plus, which is a big jump in real terms.

Well – and we don't want to spoil the surprise a little later – we'd say it's even better: the iPhone XR finally achieves the holy grail of all-day battery life in an iPhone. A year on, and the iPhone XR is still regularly getting through a day on a single charge.

If you play a lot of games, or watch a lot of videos, you'll likely need to charge it before bed, but on average the iPhone XR battery life is reliable.

Perhaps that's giving Apple a little too much credit – after all, there are plenty of Android phones out there that can utterly smoke the iPhone range for power longevity, giving you far longer between charges.

Apple has offered terrible battery life for years, incrementally improving it to be 'just good enough', and the iPhone XR is the first iPhone we haven’t had a real worry about day to day.

Current page: A worthy downgrade

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.

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Customer Ratings & Reviews

Front Zoom. Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - Black (AT&T).

Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - Black (AT&T)

User rating, 4.8 out of 5 stars with 2267 reviews.

Customer reviews

Rating 4.8 out of 5 stars with 2267 reviews

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Rating by feature.

Rating 5.0 out of 5 stars

Rating 4.9 out of 5 stars

Rating 4.7 out of 5 stars

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

6.1 inch screen perfect

This phone is significantly cheaper than the XsMax. And performs just the same. Screen size is perfect. If you do not care about .4 more inches of screen, and the dual camera for another 400 plus dollars, I recommend this phone.

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 128GB - White (AT&T)

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Love my iPhone XR!

Spectacular phone! Sooo happy with the upgrade! Great videos, great pics! Lotsa memory 128GB!

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 128GB - Blue (AT&T)

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Reliable sources for high data demand!

I use to have 6 s, that battery die fast; let’s see how this is going to keep it up, so far so great!

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - Blue (AT&T)

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IPhone 10 Xr

Solid piece of hardware very fast durable and cool. I’m really happy with this iPhone.

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I loveee this phone. The service at Best Buy was great as well!

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - (PRODUCT)RED™ (AT&T)

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An Amazing Phone

I have used higher end smartphones since 2012 and I am using an iPhone XS Max as my primary phone. I bought this iPhone XR for my dad, and I have used it for a couple days before handing it to my dad. I would say this is an amazing phone because of the smoothness of iOS, great cameras and battery life. Even though the LCD screen on XR is not as good as the OLED screen on my XS Max, I would say you will be ok with that unless you have other higher phones in hands. My dad is also loving his new phone too even though he needed time to get use to iOS. If you are not a hard core smartphone user like me, I highly suggest this phone over Xs. In addition, the Best Buy online tool made my purchase easy! It has a much better web interface than AT&T, which is carrier I am on.

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 128GB - Black (AT&T)

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Great camera resolution with face recognition

It has a great camera resolution. Also, it has a face recognition feature. Moreover, it does have a apple pay system which allows us to pay online more easily and effectively. Overall I like this iPhone very much

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Great phone

Great quality phone, and dependable. Signal depends on the carrier

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 128GB - (PRODUCT)RED™ (AT&T)

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Rated 3 out of 5 stars

Well it was great until it switched my contacts

I love the phone it’s just it goes insane after awhile of having it, also the camera drives me insane so yeah it’s an alright phone.

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Review Apple Iph XR 64GB

My iPhone 6S finally gave out had to buy a new phone but couldn't afford the prices of new phones. Looked at all phones and decided to stay with the Apple and based upon reviews from varies people and consultants they stated for your money the iPhone XR 64GB was the best especially for people who just could not afford to really upgrade to the newest multi lens iPhones. So big difference between the 6S and the XR had to go and talk to guys at Best Buy to help with how to use the phone and problems I was having with the autozoom coming on and staying on my main screen and after learning about the various 1 finger, 2 finger and 3 finger swipes usage in various areas of the iPhone I was finally on my way. I had also shopped around for the best deal and Best Buy had the phone on sale and so bought the phone from Best Buy. Now u may think how can someone not know this little stuff, well, I'm in my late 60's and not very iPhone knowledgeable, just enough to get done what I use the phone for, be dangerous and then eventually I learn other neat things to use later as time progresses. But I'm really glad I did upgrade and I am very happy with this phone and I'd buy it again. Thanks again Best Buy for having the phone on sale when I really needed it! <]:^)=OOO:

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - White (AT&T)

Charged for broken shield over scree by Best Buy.

Love my phone . At and t service great. Screen saver from otter ZAGG cracked and fell off . Got charged 35.00 to put new one on. I want to know how would I know to bring in broken screen . I have apple care does not cover this. Very upset with boardman Best Buy . Could not provide me with anything written as to why I was charged.

What a great device !

Have had this for about a year now and got another one this month .. this is such a great phone....brilliant in all aspects. Convenient form factor, ideal weight and feel . Great picture and sound quality and really nothing much to say against . I keep it simple and just functional, so I cannot comment on other aspects like gaming and apps usage...one thing I should point out...I have seen at times during usage the screen expands....almost zooms in twice or thrice the original page....and becomes difficult to do anything other than fully reset...that's a pain and happens a couple of times a month .

iPhome XR 64GB *****

My wife chose this phone upgrading from a iPhone 6. Battery life was her biggest complaint. The XR is bigger than the 6 and obviously with new tech functions. The Best Buy employee set the phone up and except its a different phone with newer capabilities, the transition to the new phone was virtually painless. I am glad that she is happy with her new phone.

Nice Upgrade

Went from Samsung GS7 Edge to iPhone XR and its been an awesome experience. It takes some getting use to switching from Android but its been great so far. Thought about getting the XS or XS Max but didn't see much of a difference in the screen resolution. I can see the difference but not enough to warrant the price

I just upgraded from an iPhone 7 to the latest iPhone XR... I have to say, I’m not a “plus” size phone person.. however I really have begun to appreciate the size of this 6.1 display !! I’m a huge fan of the surface charging capabilities .. and would recommend a Yootech brand as your choice of chargers .. amazingly fast charging.. the only downside would be based on your choice of phone cover as the pop out button will be in the way - I was able to find a great clear protective cover (as the new iPhones have glass cases) you need something worthy .. I found a nice ESR brand, clear to show off my color (white) includes a fold out metal bar that replaces a pop out button for phone stand, yet it is located in a spot lower on the case allowing adequate charging surface contact with my yootech. Love the face recognition vs touch thumb button on the iPhone 8 and lower .. also this phone boasts the best battery life of all iPhone to date .. surpassing X /XS ... I believe it.. as I never need to recharge my phone until the end of my day... it’s a huge difference from my iPhone 7 for sure .. I like this phone also because while it has the largest screen to date also 6.1 vs 5.8 of the X / XS.. and it doesn’t have dual rear facing cameras, it has a portrait feature not offered prior and it’s the lowest costing of all the X series .. I like it so much, I went back and bought another one to replace my daughters phone as an XRmas gift.,!!

My iphone died and I wanted to purchase a new (Later model) one without going under a new contract with my carrier. I had already decided that I wanted an XR this time with more memory than my old phone had. I was in the store a total of 25 min and walked out with exactly what I wanted. I love this phone. It took me 2 days to get used to the difference between it and my old phone.After a little bit of trial and error, I have loved it. Great camera takes much clearer pics than my old one. I am really enjoying it.

My wife got jealous of mine

I’ve never owned an iPhone prior to owning a XR. I got a blue 128GB and my wife immediately wanted a new phone too. Don’t let online reviews about the resolution make you think the phone sucks, the screen looks great and battery life is really great. If you can at all afford it get the 128GB. It’s only $50 more and we’ll worth it.

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 128GB - Coral (AT&T)

Why did I wait so long to upgrade?

I held onto my iPhone 6 forever because it was good enough. Apple replaced the battery under its special deal and I figured I would wait through all the technology changes. I went in to get the 8plus and pretty non existent. The Best Buy professional answered all my objections and made me feel confident with my purchase. Love the endless features. Awesome phone. So glad I made the move!

Slightly bigger, and much better

I upgraded from an iPhone 7 and really like the XR. It's certainly heavier, but the performance is nice. I adapted to the screen without home button quickly. Somehow the phone seems simply better quality. I always have two phones to avoid single point of failure. So the 7 is still alive, replacing an old flip-phone. Yes, I'm finally without a flip phone. No regrets there. All the data transferred just fine. Yolanda (if I recall her name correctly) did a great job. Best Buy earns my business by carrying the best products and having the best customer service. Remember that (I have no doubt), and I'll keep coming back for more.

This review is from Apple - iPhone XR 256GB - Black (AT&T)

I bought this phone with 256GB of storage space mainly because I take lots of photos and videos and needed the extra strorage space. The other reason I bought it is because I like the camera, it takes nice quality photos and also record video in 4K. It serves as a great camera and as a phone at the same time. It’s lightweight and I haven’t had any issues with using it in making/receiving calls, texting or browsing the internet with it. I would highly recommend this phone to anyone looking for a budget phone and won’t have to spend over a thousand bucks like other high end phones out there.

Know Your Mobile

iPhone XR Review: Still Worth Buying In 2022? Let’s Investigate…

The iPhone XR is Apple’s Best-Selling iPhone. And With Good Reason Too. But Is All As It Seems? Or Are You Better Off With A Newer Model?

The iPhone XR is one of Apple’s most popular iPhone releases of all time. Between the years 2018 and 2019 it was the best selling iPhone by a country mile, beating both the iPhone X and the iPhone XS series.

It was the first iPhone that was positioned as a value proposition, meaning it cost a lot less than Apple’s other models (the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max). And people loved this.

But the big question today is this: should you buy an iPhone XR in 2022?

In order to answer this question properly, I’m going to cover off everything you need to know about the iPhone XR, including its specs and hardware (and how they stack up in 2022), how much it costs in 2022, and the PROS and CONS of buying one in 2022.

Where appropriate, I’ll also make suggestions about different potential options you should maybe be looking at – newer models like the iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 12, and even the iPhone 13 – because the iPhone XR, while still perfectly viable in 2022, does come with quite a few caveats that you need to be aware of…

When Did The iPhone XR Come Out?

iPhone XR Review: Still Worth Buying In 2022? Let's Investigate...

When the iPhone XR got its release date, way back in 2018, in simpler times, it was something of a game-changer. Both for Apple and many of its long-standing fans. The XR also earned Apple a fair few new users, thanks to its way-lower-than-usual price tag –  $499.99 at launch .

Since then Apple has released a slew of newer models, culminating in 2022’s iPhone 14 range . To say a lot has changed since the release of the iPhone XR would be the understatement of the century.

All iPhones – even the base models – now ship with 5G, OLED displays in the form of Apple’s Super Retina XDR Display, massively improved camera modules with the inclusion of telephoto and LiDAR sensors on the Pro and Pro Max models.

iPhone XR Specifications 

And yet, the iPhone XR – even from the vantage point of 2022 – is still kind of appealing. Part of the reason is its price: the iPhone XR costs literally next to nothing in 2022 , so if you’re after a way of cutting your monthly phone bills, this phone could well be it.

But you definitely need to keep certain caveats in mind, should you choose to buy the iPhone XR in 2022. For starters, it doesn’t have 5G. It also lacks a dual-lens camera module. And it runs Apple’s older LCD screen technology .

But it does still look as modern as ever, so that’s something. And it is available in a range of colors. The battery life on the XR is also incredible , even by 2022 standards.

In addition to this, the iPhone XR will get iOS updates for years to come but the internal hardware, while perfectly adequate for basic stuff, is now starting to show its age, especially if you plan on doing anything too complex with it – video and image editing for instance.

iPhone XR Camera

The iPhone XR runs the same 12MP sensor as the iPhone XS. For basic stuff, uploading pictures to social media and snapping photos of your friends and family, it is perfectly adequate with excellent color balance and natural-looking color production.

It does lack plenty of the features you’ll find on modern phones; there’s no ultrawide lens, no telephoto lens, and its zooming capabilities are somewhat limited. Again, if you’re a basic user – meaning you don’t take that many pictures and/or videos – it’ll be perfectly fine.

iphone-xr-colors-guide

It still has things like Portrait Mode which will blur out the background but it does lack plenty of the features you’ll find on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.

Low-light performance isn’t great either, thanks to its smaller aperture (again, compared to newer models) but this is pretty much par for the course with a phone released four years ago – camera tech comes along in leaps and bounds between generations.

Alongside its lack of 5G, the iPhone XR’s camera is one of the areas where the phone shows its age most. Again, though, this is all relative. If you’re currently using a really old iPhone, like the iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, it will feel like a massive leap forwards.

For a phone that now costs less than $250, the camera is more than adequate on the iPhone XR.

If you’re dead set on having a cheaper iPhone but do not want to scrimp on photography performance, go with either the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro Max – both are significantly better.

iPhone XR CPU

The iPhone XR runs Apple’s A12 Bionic CPU. By 2022 standards, and more specifically Apple’s current standards, it is now pretty old. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t fit for purpose in 2022.

Apple’s CPUs are insanely powerful. Most users never even tap 20% of its latent performance abilities, so while the A12 is now four generations old, it still packs a punch in the all the areas that count.

Comparatively, the iPhone XR’s CPU is only a smidge slower than the iPhone 11’s – it scored 2100 in Geekbench multi-core, while the iPhone 11 got 3077.

Benchmark tests are great for showing how one chip is better than another, but they don’t translate into real-world usage that well. In practice, the XR has more than enough power under the hood to run just fine in 2022.

Indeed, prior to updating this review, I broke out my old iPhone XR and used it for a few days. I currently run an iPhone 13 and while the 13 is obviously faster and has a better camera, general stuff like running apps and browsing the web were comparable.

For those looking for what is arguably the cheapest and best value iPhone right now, do not be put off by the iPhone XR’s four year old CPU. Apple’s CPUs are insanely powerful and they remain that way for years at a time.

If all you do is use apps, run email, browse the web, and make calls and IM, the iPhone XR has more than enough performance to handle these things with ease. Even with gaming, the phone still handled everything I threw at it.

And that should tell you everything you need to know about the iPhone XR’s performance chops in 2022.

Is The iPhone XR Still Worth Buying In 2022? PROS & CONS

iphone-xr-offers

But 2018 was four years ago now which begs the question: is the iPhone XR still worth buying in 2022?

As always, it depends – it depends on what you want from a phone and what you don’t want. If you want a cheap, yet still very powerful phone, then, yes, the iPhone XR is totally worth buying in 2022.

But it is only worth buying as long as you can handle and are aware of its caveats –  it doesn’t run 5G, its CPU is getting old but it still perfectly good, and it doesn’t have an OLED display.

The iPhone XR runs Apple’s A12 Bionic SoC and this chip is still very potent, even by 2022 standards. The iPhone XR looks like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 , thanks to its all-display frontage and the fact it runs FACE ID, not Touch ID like the iPhone SE 2020 .

You also have a range of color options with the iPhone XR too; in fact, this is one of the reasons, besides price, why it was so popular for so long – Apple users love having lots of color options, seemingly.

iPhone XR PROS – Why You’d Buy It…

The PROS of buying an iPhone XR in 2022 vastly outweighs the cons, in my opinion. The phone itself is now quite a bit cheaper than it was in 2018 –  you can grab one for next to nothing .

On top of this, you have full IP67 water and dust resistance, a decent(ish) 12MP rear camera, and one of the nicest chassis designs in the business. Add in the fact that the iPhone XR now costs less than $300 and you’re looking at one of the best value iPhones on the planet .

Oh, and the iPhone XR will be getting iOS updates well into the late 2020s, so you don’t need to worry about software support either. Like all iPhones, you’ll be able to use this phone for 6-8 years without issue.

iPhone XR

The iPhone XR is now one of the cheapest routes into Apple’s ecosystem. It doesn’t have 5G and it runs Apple’s older LCD screen. But the phone itself looks as modern as ever and now costs next to nothing. If you’re looking for a cheap way to buy an iPhone, this is it… 

iPhone XR CONS – Why You’d Avoid It…

For me, the cons for buying an iPhone XR are pretty minimal, especially if you just want a functional phone with great software and excellent battery life.

The main issue, for many, will be that the iPhone XR’s camera isn’t that impressive; it’s a single-lens 12MP shooter – the same as the iPhone XS’. Missing 5G connectivity is also a growing concern, as 5G becomes more readily available across the nation.

Is it terrible? No, but it pales in comparison to the camera on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.

If camera performance, meaning market-leading camera abilities, is important to you, you’ll have to pony up the big bucks for one of Apple’s more recent models, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is now well a look – it’s way cheaper than you’d think.

And now that the iPhone 14 is out, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are now a lot cheaper –  even the Pro models.

If you’re not fussed about 5G, or you cannot get it where you live, like me, this isn’t actually an issue. And a side benefit of not running 5G is that the iPhone XR, like the iPhone 11, has incredible battery life.

Keep in mind the iPhone 12 has 5G and its battery life SUCKS . I would 100% avoid this entire series for this very reason – it just isn’t up to standard with respect to battery performance.

Apple fixed this, more or less, with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 but the iPhone 12 is definitely not great in the battery department, so please do keep that in mind before jumping at a sweet-looking iPhone 12 deal.

Wrapping Up: Is The iPhone XR Worth It In 2022?

iPhone XR Review: Still Worth Buying In 2022? Let's Investigate...

Other than these three things, that’s about it for the CONS. Me personally, I’m a big fan of the iPhone XR, especially since it is now so cheap –  less than $250 in some cases .

The iPhone XR looks great, is still a solid performer, and has excellent battery life, and will receive iOS updates for years to come. If you don’t mind not running the latest specs and hardware, things like triple-lens cameras and 5G, then, yes, the iPhone XR is totally worth a buy in 2021.

Full iPhone XR Review: Our Original Take From 2018

While Apple perhaps wants people to focus on the more expensive iPhone XS and XS Max , the staggered launch of the iPhone XR – billed as the ‘budget’ option by many – suggests that this third model could offer something special.

Just like the iPhone 5C all those years ago, and the newer iPhone SE 2020, this cut-price offering sits alongside 2018’s flagship iPhones as a more accessible alternative, despite the fact that it uses the exact same A12 Bionic processor and comes with Face ID as standard.

Basically, this phone – like the iPhone SE 2020 and the newly launched Apple Watch SE – is all about value for money.

MORE: iPhone 11 Reviews: Was It Worth The Wait?

There are some other things to consider, however; the XR lacks the OLED screen seen on the iPhone XS, XS Max, and the iPhone X , there’s no 3D Touch and the resolution is lower, too. You also lose the second telephoto camera on the back of the phone, so optical zoom isn’t an option.

The iPhone XR screen size is also very different to Apple’s older iPhones – the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X – and is rather large; the iPhone XR screen is a 6.1in LCD panel . But thanks to the removal of the home button, the phone itself does not “feel” like a big phone.

The overall footprint of the iPhone XR , while having a bigger display than the iPhone 8 Plus, is actually smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus overall, as you can see below:

The iPhone XR does not have an OLED display , and it runs the same single-lens cameras the iPhone 8 and the newer iPhone SE 2020. But it does feature the same design language as Apple’s X series phones , so the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.

Are these concessions really worth the saving of around £250, or should you opt for the full-fat XS version?

Read on to find out.

iPhone XR Review: Design

iPhone-XR-Review

Available in a range of nice, eye-catching colours, the iPhone XR is designed to look a little more vibrant and appealing than the stately XS. It has the same basic design – a metal frame with rounded edges, backed by the easily-breakable glass (ProTip: get yourself a case, pronto) – but there are some subtle differences to note. Perhaps the most obvious is the lack of a dual-camera array on the back; instead, there’s a single lens which protrudes rather alarmingly, which means it’s impossible to lay the phone down on a flat surface without it wobbling. This is, perhaps, the only genuine grumble you can have about the XR from a pure design perspective.

MORE: Why Everybody Should Consider Buying A Refurbished iPhone …

The bottom of the phone is home to the Lightning port (making perhaps its final appearance – Apple has shifted to USB Type-C on its new iPad models), one of the speakers (the other is at the top, in the earpiece) and the in-call mic. On the right-hand side, there’s the Nano SIM tray (the XR, unlike its Android rivals, doesn’t allow for two SIMs to be inserted at once) and power button; the left-hand side features the two volume keys and the traditional ‘mute’ switch. It’s an incredibly clean phone overall, something which is of course helped by the fact that Apple has once again decided that a fingerprint scanner isn’t required when you have Face ID. We’re not entirely sure that’s the case, but more on that later.

It’s worth noting that the XR is slightly larger than the standard XS and slightly smaller than the XS Max – it’s a neat middle ground between the two. Apple’s phones have traditionally been a little daintier than their Android rivals , and the wisdom of making the XR larger than the standard model seems off; however, in reality, the XR is on par with pretty much any typical Android device these days. It has the same footprint as the BlackBerry Key2 LE – which we felt that was quite a compact device – and is much smaller than the Honor 8X . Even though the XR might sound bigger than you’d like on paper, it’s actually perfectly pocket-sized if you’re used to Android phones. The problem is when you’re upgrading from the iPhone SE or iPhone 7 – it might take some getting used to.

The XR is water and dustproof, with a rating of IP67 – that’s lower than the XS and XS, which have a rating of IP68. The difference? Well, the XR can withstand half an hour of immersion in depths of up to a metre, while the XS and XS Max can handle half an hour in depths greater than a metre.

iPhone XR Review: Display

iPhone-XR-Review

Outside of the camera, the single biggest difference between the XR and its stablemates is the screen. It uses a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display which Apple is calling the most advanced of its type – and we’re inclined to believe them. While it can’t quite match an OLED panel for colour vibrancy and deep, dark blacks, it’s easily the best LCD screen we’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s bright, colourful and has great contrast; the only fly in the ointment is that there seems to be some slight ‘ghosting’ when scrolling through certain apps (white backgrounds with black text are when this is most noticeable).

MORE: The #1 Top-Rated iPhone XR Cases For 2019 & Beyond

With a resolution of just 1792×828 pixels, the screen offers a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. Compare that to any modern flagship phone and it sounds awful, but we’ve long argued that cramming all of those pixels into a mobile display is ultimately pointless; after a while, it becomes impossible to see the benefit and all it does is add more pressure on the phone’s processor. While it’s possible to pick out individual pixels on the XR’s screen if you really squint, it’s still perfectly serviceable. We’d even argue that the average person wouldn’t be able to tell that this display is pushing fewer pixels than the one on the XS – our anecdotal tests seem to back up this viewpoint.

The notch is still there, of course; it has become a fashion statement rather than a functional feature now, and we’d imagine that will prolong its lifespan for many years to come yet. It’s a shame that Apple couldn’t reduce the size of the notch in same way OnePlus has done on the 6T, but it houses some pretty complex tech, so we can’t complain too much.

The only other thing to note is that the bezel around the screen is slightly bigger than the one seen on the XS and XS Max, presumably because LCD tech has been used. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s worth noting. There’s also no 3D Touch, but even the most hardcore Apple fan will admit that the omission of this feature isn’t worth crying over.

iPhone XR Review: Software & Performance

iPhone-XR-Review

Because it’s launching a few weeks after the arrival of the XS and XS Max, the XR benefits from the first bug-fixing update to iOS 12, 12.1 . After the mess that was iOS 11 last year, iOS 12 feels totally different; it’s smoother, faster and more intuitive. Features like Screen Time offer tangible advantages, in this case helping you to take control of how many hours you spend staring at your handset’s display. It might sound like an odd feature to include – something that makes you use your phone less – but it’s refreshing to see hardware makers recognise that sometimes, we take things a little too far when it comes to smartphones.

As previously noted, there’s no fingerprint scanner on the iPhone XR, so you’re totally reliant on Face ID – again. While this system is massively improved over the one that launched with the iPhone X , it’s still far from perfect. There were multiple times during our review period when it failed to work properly, and even more times when it did work, eventually, but nowhere near as rapidly as a finger on a scanner.

FaceID is an amazing piece of tech – there’s no doubt about that – but it should never, ever have been positioned as a replacement for the fingerprint scanner, and we’re not sure it will ever rival that option when it comes to speed and accuracy. We remain eternally hopeful that next year, Apple will adopt an in-screen fingerprint scanner and give us both options, but it feels like the company is throwing its weight behind Face ID in the hope that we’ll all eventually forget that it’s not as elegant and precise as Touch ID was (even the 2018 iPad Pro uses it).

Because it’s rocking the same A12 Bionic chipset that’s seen in the XS and XS Max, the iPhone XR is one of the most powerful phones on the planet right now. Apple’s tech is way ahead of what Qualcomm comes up with traditionally because Apple knows its chips will only go into a handful of devices – devices which it designs from the ground up. Therefore, it can extract every bit of power from the chip in a reliable manner, whereas Qualcomm’s Snapdragon range has to cope with the Android sector’s dizzying number of different hardware variants.

Because the XR is pushing fewer pixels than the XS and XS Max, this power is even more obvious; fewer pixels to push means the processor can go that extra yard, and performance is never anything less than exceptional. Every single activity or function on the XR feels buttery-smooth and moving between apps is instantaneous. Apple fans often boast that in terms of the UI experience, the iPhone is king – and it’s hard to argue after spending a few days with the XR; it’s an absolute pleasure to use. While it has 3GB of memory compared to the 4GB found in the XS and XS Max, we can’t say we noticed any dips in performance.

In terms of benchmark scores, the XR scored 362243 in Antutu’s test. In Geekbench 4, it clocked up a single-core score of 4792 and a multi-core score of 11156.

iPhone XR Review: Battery & Memory

iPhone-XR-Review

While it lacks an OLED screen so all of those black pixels are lit rather than turned off, the iPhone XR comprehensively beats the XS and XS Max when it comes to stamina – and we think that lower-resolution display is the reason.

In normal day-to-day use – where we used the phone as our main handset and browsed the web, replied to emails, listened to music, took photos and video and played some 3D games – the XR was still full of juice by the time the sun went down. In fact, we were able to forgo charging the phone in the evening and still had some power left the next day – something that rarely happens with modern smartphones, and certainly hasn’t happened before with any iPhone we’ve owned.

Of course, the caveat here is that your personal usage will impact the XR’s battery life. If you decide to set the screen to maximum brightness and watch two or three films in a single day, then the battery is obviously going to take a battering. Recording 4K video also sucks power at an alarming rate, but this is the same across all phones.

The phone supports both fast charging and wireless charging – we tested the latter on our Samsung Galaxy charging dock – but sadly the bundled wall charger doesn’t quick-charge the phone. You’ll need to buy another (expensive) charger from Apple to do this, which is quite a cheek when you consider that pretty much every other smartphone maker on the planet includes a fast charger in the box.

In terms of storage, the XR is available in three flavours: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. 64GB is pretty much the entry-level for a 2018 smartphone these days and will be enough for a typical user, but the fact that you can’t add in more memory means you need to pick the right capacity on day one.

iPhone XR Review: Camera

The headline news here is that the XR drops the secondary telephoto camera and opts for a single 12-megapixel wide-angle snapper. This means the fancy ‘Portrait’ shots are done entirely with software, and you can’t zoom in quickly on objects, either.

Outside of that, it’s hard to be disappointed with the quality of the photos and video produced by the XR. The camera is basically the same as the main sensor on the XS and XS Max, so you can expect the same kind of quality – in short, photos look sharp, colourful and showcase good levels of contrast and dynamic range. Apple’s new HDR system works brilliantly too, taking multiple shots to really bring out the detail in each scene. Portrait shots are also great, despite the lack of a second sensor to judge depth.

It’s worth noting also how quick the XR’s camera is to focus and shoot; this has been a hallmark of Apple’s hardware for years, and it’s pleasing to see this maintained even on ‘cheaper’ hardware. While Android phones like the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 3 are catching up – and even surpassing – Apple in this regard, the vast majority of Android handsets come a poor second to Apple’s devices when it comes to focus-and-shoot speed.

The lack of a proper optical zoom is a shame, and we did miss it when we were messing about the XR’s camera. Digital zoom isn’t as bad as you might assume on this model, but it’s not as easy to use. Meanwhile, the selfie cam is fine, and video recording is very good indeed.

iPhone XR Review: Conclusion

Listing the things that the iPhone XR lacks when compared to the XS and XS Max makes it seem like you’re losing a lot just to shave £250 off the asking price: no OLED screen, no telephoto camera, weaker water and dust protection, no 3D Touch, 1GB less of RAM.

However, these things mean little when it comes to the day-to-day performance of the phone, which is utterly superb. By selecting a lower-resolution display Apple has given the XR a real boost in terms of performance, and the great thing is, most people won’t even notice that there are fewer pixels moving around. An OLED panel would have been nice, but Apple’s fancy new Liquid Retina technology is seriously striking, so it’s not a massive loss.

There are annoyances here and there – no fast charger in the box, Face ID isn’t as good as Touch ID, and then there’s the yearly merry-go-round of finding which dongle you need for simple things like plugging in a pair of wired headphones – a standard situation for Apple fans these days.

Ultimately, though, this is perhaps the best iPhone option of 2018 . While it’s not cheap when compared to what the Android market has to offer, if you’re a diehard Apple fan then the notion of switching sides means this will seem reasonably priced when compared to the company’s other iPhones this year – yet it never feels like you’re missing out by choosing the XR.

If you absolutely have to own the very best iPhone then the XS remains the better choice, but for everyone else, this is the one to go for.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Damien McFerran

Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life .

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

iPhone XR: Premium without the cost

For once, the cheaper iPhone is the better choice.

Review by Raymond Wong (opens in a new tab)

By definition, the iPhone XR (opens in a new tab)  is lacking. Its screen resolution is less than 1080p, the bezels are thicker than on most other phones with edge-to-edge displays, and the display is an LCD instead of an OLED. It has just one camera on the back, not two. Its frame is aluminum instead of stainless steel. It’s not as thin as many iPhones, including last year's models.

Yet, none of these “missing” or downgraded features makes the iPhone XR feel any less of an iPhone than the pricier iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max (opens in a new tab) .

The iPhone XR is the iPhone for everyone. It's every bit as powerful as the iPhone XS and XS Max. The cameras take stunning photos. It comes in six vibrant colors. And it starts at $749, which is less than a Google Pixel 3 (opens in a new tab) and not much more than a Samsung Galaxy S9 (opens in a new tab) .

After setting up Mashable's review unit as my main phone, I worried whether I’d become annoyed by the iPhone XR’s extra girth in my pocket. I wondered if the thicker bezels would distract from the screen.

Mostly, though, I was curious about the camera. I wondered if I could make do without have the versatility of a secondary telephoto lens. I wanted to see if the blurred-focus portrait mode effects, which Apple (opens in a new tab) popularized on smartphones with its dual-camera systems, were as good with a single lens. And I was curious just how effective it was when compared to the other big phones of the moment.

To really put the iPhone XR camera through its paces and show how effective it can be, we decided to give it a serious challenge: We used it to shoot all the product shots and video footage in this review. Typically we use either a DSLR or mirrorless camera to do product shots, so it ended up being an effective test to see how the iPhone XR fared in a “pro” level challenge. And given how far smartphone cameras have come, we think that’s fair — some professionals are even using smartphones to shoot magazine covers (opens in a new tab) , after all.

Mashable Score 4.75

Cool Factor 4

Learning Curve 5

Performance 5

Bang for the Buck 5

I’m not a psychic, but I can probably guess the burning question on your mind: What does the “R” in iPhone XR stand for?

While Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller has only ever explained what the “S” has stood for in one iPhone (opens in a new tab) — spoiler, it’s speed — the “S” model has now become known as the “tock” to the “tick” of the numbered iPhones. S year iPhones usually mean a repeat of the same physical design with mostly internal and feature upgrades.

Apple switched things up in 2013 with the iPhone 5C, which was really a rebadged iPhone 5 in an “unapologetically plastic” shell that came in five colors.

The iPhone XR is similar, but different. With this release, Apple has brought back an array of attractive colors (blue, red, coral, yellow, black, and white) as well as a new letter — this time an R instead of an S or C. It’s officially pronounced "iPhone ten-are," but most people will certainly end up calling it the "iPhone ecks-are" since that’s how it reads.

So what does the R stand for? In a briefing on the XR, Apple told me it doesn’t stand for anything. Apple went with a letter it’s never used before so people would have a different expectation for the device compared to, perhaps, the “S” iPhones.

A more satisfying, but not entirely definitive answer, is that some sports cars use “R” and “S” in their model names. Sports cars are fast, and the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max are the fastest phones you can get, according to Apple. So tacking on the letter R to "iPhone X" is a good analogy for representing speed and sleekness.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Too pretty to be covered with a case

I have always been a picky person. It’s this obsessiveness over details that sometimes makes it hard for my friends and family to tolerate me.

Whenever I get a new phone (and I get a lot them because I review so many in a year) and excitedly show it to my friends, they always ask me what’s so special about it? What’s new that makes it worth upgrading to? Why should they care?

I usually end up waxing poetic about things like slimmer bezels, and thinness, and materials, and cameras. And every time I know I’ve lost them almost immediately after geeking out.

The simple truth is: Most people don’t give a hoot about these things. While I’m crying over the size of a notch, they don’t care. While I’m nitpicking about phones having a “chin” or “forehead” bezel, they only care if the screen is bigger. While I’m like, “oh this phone is a whole millimeter thicker than another phone,” they’re like, “I’m gonna put an Otterbox on it to protect it.”

As a tech reviewer, I’m exposed to all kinds of devices, and the differences between one phone and another jump out at me. In reality, these nuances pass right over most people.

Split apart, the iPhone XR’s features appear insufficient compared to the iPhone XS’s. Weighed together, though, it’s crystal clear the phone is not lacking at all as a premium device packed with some of the best mobile technologies available.

I’ve been using the yellow iPhone XR for a week, and oooh, is it gorgeous. Besides pairing well with my yellow sunglasses (opens in a new tab) , the color just makes me happy. Imagine that: In 2018, when phone anxiety is real and tech companies are inventing new ways to make us use our phones less, a gadget’s brightly colored paint job actually puts me at ease.

The five other colors the iPhone XR comes in are just as fun. I have a soft spot for the coral after yellow.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The iPhone XR's aluminum is no less premium than stainless steel.

Lili Sams/Mashable

The metal frame is made from a strengthened aluminum and not the scientific-sounding “surgical-grade stainless steel” that the iPhone XS (and XS Max) frame is cut from, but it doesn’t feel any less premium.

In fact, I’d say because the iPhone XR’s 0.33 of an inch thick (8.3mm) and fatter than the 0.30-inch (7.7mm) iPhone XS/XS Max, going with aluminum helps balance the phone so it doesn’t feel as heavy as it otherwise might. Aluminum is also easier to grip than stainless steel. Extra bonus: It doesn’t attract fingerprints.

Besides the difference in metal, the iPhone XR is IP67 water- and dust-resistant (submergible in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes). The iPhone XS phones are IP68 rated, giving them double the water depth submersion, but unless you’re worried about it dropping your iPhone in a lake or the ocean, IP67 is still darn good. The iPhone XR can also easily survive a splash of beer, tea, coffee, soda, etc.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Go ahead and pour beer all over the iPhone XR. It'll survive.

The glass back, which lets the iPhone XR support wireless charging, is as durable as the glass on the iPhone X. Meanwhile, the front glass appears as scratch-resistant as on the iPhone XS.

The iPhone XR still lacks a headphone jack — I feel like a parrot reminding people to stop mourning its loss and move on to either wireless headphones or earbuds like AirPods — but at least the stereo speakers are louder and have a wider soundstage.

To the ear, the speakers on the iPhone XR played just as loud as those on the iPhone XS or even the iPhone XS Max. However, the speakers on the Pixel 3 sound slightly clearer, probably because both speakers on the Pixel are front-facing whereas one of the speakers on the iPhone XR is along the bottom of the phone (the other is the earpiece).

Like the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR supports dual SIM. In the U.S., there’s a single nano SIM card slot, and you have the option to activate a second eSIM. Per Apple’s website (opens in a new tab) , if you use two SIMs, you can make and receive calls and send and receive messages from both phone numbers. However, you can only access one data network at a time.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The iPhone XR supports two SIM cards for two phone numbers at the same time.

Kevin Urgiles, Ray White/Mashable

However, dual-SIM support won’t be ready until later this year, so I haven’t tried it (I did see it in action during a demo with Apple, but only briefly). In China, the iPhone XR, like the iPhone XS and XS Max, will include a SIM card tray with two nano SIM card slots, ostensibly because eSIM isn’t as widely available in China.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

A screen that’s more than just pixels

With a 6.1-inch screen, the iPhone XR has a larger display than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus and the 5.8-inch iPhone X/XS, and it’s just barely smaller than the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max.

Physically, it slots right in-between the iPhone XS and XS Max. In that sense, it’s counterintuitive — it’s a bigger screen than the iPhone XS without the larger price tag that comes with it.

The main trade-off of the display is the screen technology. It uses an LCD “Liquid Retina” display compared to the iPhone XS’s OLED “Super Retina” display.

The advantages of OLED over LCD are numerous: OLED displays produce deeper blacks, are capable of better brightness and contrast, and tend to have more accurate color reproduction. OLED screens are also more power efficient since they — to get nerdy for a second here — light up each individual pixel only when it’s necessary to do so (black pixels are completely “off” which is why they’re so dark), whereas an LCD needs a backlight that individual pixels block when they’re black (though it’s hard to block the light completely). Since OLEDs don’t have a backlight, they’re also thinner.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The iPhone XS (left) and iPhone XS Max (right) both have an OLED display whereas the iPhone XR (center) has an LCD screen.

However, Apple’s LCD technology has always been a cut above everyone else’s, and the LCD screen on the iPhone XR is no different. Apple calls it the most advanced LCD ever made with a faster 120Hz touch-sensing rate for more touchscreen responsiveness (the display still refreshes at 60Hz for viewing content, though).

Not only has Apple applied a lot of nerdy stuff like “advanced pixel masking” and “sub-pixel anti-aliasing” to curve the corners of the screen and make the bezels uniform on all sides, it says the display has better color accuracy the iPhone 8. Side-by-side with an iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone XR does look better in my opinion. You can also tap on the screen to wake it (good for checking the time and notifications) just like on the iPhone XS; this is something you can’t do on the previous iPhones 8 and any other iPhone with an LCD screen, for that matter.

Phone geeks will complain about the iPhone XR’s 1,729 x 828 resolution and 326 pixels-per-inch (ppi) display density, but that won’t change the fact the screen’s really bright, colors reproduction is great, and viewing angles are really wide.

As proof that resolution doesn’t matter and image quality matters more, I confess I don’t even know what the iPhone XS and XS Max’s resolutions are without looking at a spec sheet. Apple’s iPhones don’t usually use conventional screen resolutions like 2,960 x 1,440 or 2,880 x 1,080, because most people don’t buy a phone based on pixel count. If that were the case, Sony’s 4K smartphones wouldn’t have flopped so hard.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Do the thicker bezels on the iPhone XR (right) bother you?

The bottom line is: The iPhone XR’s screen looks terrific and unless you’re comparing it to the iPhone XS, you’re not gonna find much to dislike. Sure, you’re giving up deeper blacks for a very dark gray, and the XR’s screen isn’t HDR-ready like on the XS, but neither of these are deal breakers.

The same goes for the thicker bezels around the display. They were larger than I remembered from my hands-on with them back in September, but they didn’t bother me at all. Almost all the time, you’re looking at the screen, not the bezels around it. At the same time, some people are bound to find them downright distasteful. If you’re that person, there’s always the iPhone XS models or Android phones like the OnePlus 6 or LG V40 ThinQ, which have thinner top and side bezels, but do come with a bottom “chin.”

I even asked a couple of colleagues what they thought about the bezels — people who are considering upgrading to the iPhone XR from an older phone like an 6, 6S, and 7 Plus — and the litmus test was just as I expected: non-techies couldn’t care less about the bezel.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Haptic Touch works in a few places on the iPhone XR like the flashlight and camera buttons on the lock screen.

One feature I personally feel is a real downgrade from other iPhones is Haptic Touch. Yes, I know most people don't even use 3D Touch on their iPhones, but I really like it (opens in a new tab) , despite its flaws.

Haptic Touch is similar, but different to 3D Touch. Whereas 3D Touch detects how hard you press into the screen, Haptic Touch is just a long press with a vibration.

3D Touch is more versatile and works on app icons and within apps. Haptic Touch only works in some places, like when you're long-pressing the flashlight and camera buttons on the lock screen, the shortcut buttons in Control Center, or on the space bar on the keyboard to turn it into a cursor (opens in a new tab) .

I know I’m in the minority that’s pro-3D Touch and I think most people won't mind its replacement with Haptic Touch, but its no-show on the iPhone XR sort of fragments the iPhone experience across Apple’s lineup.

While I can’t say I miss the app shortcuts (the equivalent of a right-click to bring up a menu of shortcuts) when an app icon is 3D touched, I did miss the “Peek” feature, which lets you preview something like a website link or a photo with a light press and then “Pop” with an even harder press to expand it full screen. These features are especially useful in apps like Instagram and Twitter.

Haptic Touch is limited right now, but Apple told me it’s possible its use could be expanded elsewhere in iOS in the future.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Face ID on the iPhone XR is just as fast as on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

And the notch? Old news. The notch is there because it houses the TrueDepth camera system, which includes a 7-megapixel camera for selfies and a suite of sensors for Face ID and face tracking. It’s the tech that makes Animoji and Memoji possible.

There are many other phones with smaller notches and face unlock, but those are almost always less secure and can sometimes be fooled by photos. I’ve never been able to trick Face ID to unlock with a photo, though having a twin (opens in a new tab) is a different story.

On the iPhone XR, Face ID is faster than on the iPhone X and as quick to unlock as on the iPhone XS models. While it doesn’t work in landscape mode, I found Face ID to work better off-angle compared to my iPhone X.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Cameras that nail the shot

We all want our smartphone’s camera to be amazing, getting good, sharper photos in all kinds of situations and conditions — even low light. The iPhone XR has the same front- and rear-facing cameras as on the iPhone XS models, minus the secondary 2x telephoto lens on the rear, of course.

I lamented the loss of that lens at first but then stepped back to count the number of times I’ve ever used the 2x telephoto lens and actually share the shot. For me, it wasn’t many. While the 2x optical zoom is useful to sharpen shots from afar, I can’t say I’ve used it more than portrait mode, the other major ability the secondary lens bestows.

Up until the iPhone XR, portrait mode from the back camera required the second lens to create a depth map, which provides the data that tells the phone what’s in the foreground and what’s in the background before blurring out the latter.

Apple introduced portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus and didn’t really improve it until the iPhone X. It then stepped things up again for the iPhone XS and XS Max. But as Google demonstrated with its Pixel 2, you don’t need a secondary camera for portrait-style shots if you can train AI with machine learning to analyze a photo and figure out which objects are in the foreground. Once you’ve done that, it’s (relatively) trivial to isolate them from the background and process them however you want (usually by enhancing the bokeh effect).

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The iPhone XR has a 12-megapixel camera — same as the iPhone XS's — but no secondary telephoto lens.

The iPhone XR’s 12-megapixel camera has a f/1.8 aperture — identical to the iPhone XS’s main camera. But whereas the iPhone XS uses the telephoto lens to create portrait shots, the iPhone XR relies on machine learning to perform the same trick.

Apple says it trained the Neural Engine in the phone’s A12 Bionic chip to identify faces specifically for portrait mode. As a result, it can blur out the background, but only when a person is detected in the frame. If the camera doesn’t see a person, it’ll display “No person detected.”

When I asked Apple if it might be possible to train portrait mode on the iPhone XR to identify pets or other objects, it didn’t rule out the possibility but didn’t make any promises.

So how good are portraits with a single camera compared to portraits on the iPhone XS/XS Max with dual cameras? Actually, not bad at all.

As you can see in the portrait photos below of our Executive Editor Annie Colbert, the iPhone XR does a good job isolating the background. The focal length is of course different — the iPhone XR’s portrait mode takes photos equivalent to a 24mm camera lens (wider) and the iPhone XS’s portrait mode takes shots comparable to a 50mm camera lens (closer) — but it’s not as poor as I had expected.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Raymond Wong/Mashable

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Galaxy Note 9

Even zooming in, the iPhone XR's edge-detection for the subject is quite good. It's not always perfect — if your hair's in more strands and the borders of a person are more jagged, portrait mode can get confused. If you take a look at this front portrait selfie (opens in a new tab)  Mashable Tech Editor Pete Pachal took indoors with the iPhone XR's portrait mode, you can see the camera blurred most of his hair right out. 

Different lighting conditions will affect the quality of portrait photos. In my experience, shooting outdoors produces the best portraits with the cleanest separation between foreground and background. It also helps to tap a person's face to focus on it as the foreground.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

A 70 percent crop of Annie. (Left to right: iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Pixel 3, and Galaxy Note 9).

The shape and quality of the bokeh (the background blur) is also fundamentally different on the iPhone XR vs. the iPhone XS and XS Max. This is because light bends through a lens’ glass differently at different focal lengths (measured in millimeters) and at different apertures (measured with an f-stop number such as f/1.8 or f/2.2).

The difference in bokeh shape is especially noticeable when you edit a photo’s depth using the new depth editor tool in iOS 12. As I saw when shooting with the Pixel 3’s, the iPhone XS bokeh resembles more like a real SLR’s, whereas the Pixel 3’s bokeh (impressive as it is) looks like a gaussian blur effect yanked from Photoshop.

Apple tells me the iPhone team actually used complex optical mathematical models in machine learning to realistically mimic the bokeh from a real SLR lens. It’s nerdy stuff a guy like me really appreciates, but at the end of the day further spells the doom of bulkier interchangeable-lens cameras like DSLRs and mirrorless models.

If you’re into the portrait lighting effects on the iPhone X and iPhone XS, you might be disappointed to find the XR has doesn’t have the Studio Light and Studio Light Mono effects; those require the depth data from a secondary camera lens, I’m told.

Portrait mode also works with the front 7-megapixel (f/1.8) camera. It works as well as on the iPhone XS/XS Max and better than on the iPhone X. There are also no missing portrait lighting effects for the front (selfie) camera. Gotta hand it to the Pixel 3's camera, though — it really takes a crisp selfie.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Otherwise, the iPhone XR’s cameras take shots that are just as good if not sometimes better than the iPhone XS’s. I personally prefer the more true-to-life colors compared to the same shots taken by the Pixel 3 or Galaxy Note 9, but you might disagree.

Using the same Smart HDR camera technology in the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR does a better job with exposure on photos with a lot of dynamic range than on the iPhone 8 phones or the iPhone X, especially in low-light scenarios.

Furthermore, the iPhone XR benefits from 2x faster autofocusing as well as optical image stabilization. Taken together, all these features will let you get better shots in all kinds of day-to-day situations.

The below riverside photos were shot on a cold, but sunny weekday morning. Notice how the iPhone XR and XS preserve more of the highlights in the rocks in the foreground compared to the more overblown results from the Pixel 3 and Galaxy Note 9.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

For whatever reason, people love taking photos in places where it's really dark, like bars. So I put the iPhone XR to the test during a recent company happy hour with my colleagues as my models.

I let the camera autofocus on its own (like in virtually all of the camera samples in this review) and while the Pixel 3 creates a bright image, the picture quality was also softer than the iPhone XR and XS. 

I asked both of these awesome coworkers which photo they preferred and they both picked the iPhone XR. For me, the iPhone XS appears to be a hair sharper.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Even worse than taking photos in a bar is taking selfies (or group selfies) in a bar. Each camera was set to auto and each one chose to fire off the screen as a flash to illuminate our faces. The results speak for themselves I think. The iPhone XR and iPhone XS look the least harsh, but the Pixel 3 produces even lighting to expose both our faces and the background.

That said, you can see Pixel 3's selfie does look like it's artificially lit. The brighter reflections on our faces are dead giveaways. Personally, I think the iPhone XS does a good job making our faces look naturally lit while also exposing the background without ruining the mood that we're in this dimly lit place.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

I took the iPhone XR to Brooklyn Bridge Park to further test the iPhone XR's low-light shooting. As I watched the sunset cast an orange glow on the bridge and skyline, I snapped some quick shots on all four cameras to compare.

Here I prefer the iPhone XR's shot even over the iPhone XS. The sky's just a shade bluer on the iPhone XR compared to the iPhone XS, which is what it looked like IRL. The Pixel 3's photo looks bland in comparison with a duller gray-filled sky and the Galaxy Note 9's shot is way too cool and crushes the orange sunset.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Moving on to a closer low-light shot to see how well the cameras' HDR performs I went and took these shots of Jane's Carousel before an attendant walked in front to block my picture-taking.

Just like in my test of the iPhone XS's cameras in Grand Central Terminal, the iPhone XR's Smart HDR works wonders for low-light exposures. At first glance, the Pixel 3's photo looks crispy, but look at the light halos around the bulbs (especially on the first row of bulbs just above the wooden horses). On iPhone XR and XS, they're more defined and the color temperature (warm as it is) is accurate. And for once, the Galaxy Note 9 does a decent job in my camera shootouts, but neither it or the Pixel 3 compares to the iPhones.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

If you've read this far, you've seen the iPhone XR camera samples and you've seen most of the product shots and the video — all of which were shot with an iPhone XR — and you're either impressed like we are or disappointed. 

As a technology journalist, my work is defined by not just the text, but the images and videos that make a story or review a complete package.

Over the years, I've downsized my gear, choosing a balance between devices that are lighter, but can also get the job done. It's my job and goal to make the content look so good you don't even stop to think about the gear behind it. Because who really cares if you're shooting with a DSLR or an iPhone if the results are comparable? If I didn't tell you at the start that we shot all of our product shots and video with an iPhone XR, would you have even noticed? My guess is most of you wouldn't, especially if you're reading this on your phone.

While I think the photos and product shots are proof enough that the iPhone XR's camera is capable of shooting professional-quality content, I also wanted to see how it'd compare to my Sony A6300 (opens in a new tab) mirrorless camera, which I often use to shoot many of the photos for my reviews. How does the iPhone XR stack up? 

(For transparency: All product photos were taken with the XR camera or were screenshots taken from 4K-resolution video clips and lightly edited as with all our regular product shots in our other reviews that are taken with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.)

what are the reviews on iphone xr

As you can see for yourself, the two cameras are close. With shot both sets with the iPhone XR set to its default field of view (equivalent to a 24mm lens) and set my 16-50mm Sony A6300 kit lens to the same focal length. After each shot was taken, I opened both in Photoshop and increased only the brightness. I cropped the iPhone XR shot to match the A6300's aspect ratio.

The results are very interesting to compare. In the top shot photo, the iPhone XR does a better job exposing both the iPhone XR and the background — no doubt because of the Smart HDR which increases dynamic range. The A6300 is left in the dust with an overexposed skyline.

But in the second shot, because my A6300's lens is a zoom lens, it was able to shoot the iPhone XR without casting any reflections. With the iPhone XR, you have to get up close to get the same shot. I could have used tricks like placing a whiteboard in front of the phone to reduce the reflections, but for this exercise I didn't.

So what have we learned? A lot, really. First, the iPhone XS is a great camera and in the hands of a skilled shooter, can take professional-quality photos. And second, an expensive "real" camera doesn't necessarily mean you'll get better photos if you don't know how to adjust its settings.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The person behind the camera is what gets the shot, not the camera.

It was no easy task, but I’ve now reviewed just about all of the top smartphone cameras of 2018. Each camera has its own spin on image quality.

iPhone XS and XR cameras tend to lean towards more accurate colors, Galaxy S9 and Note 9 cameras take super-saturated photos, and the Pixel 3 uses machine learning to produce more contrasty and artificially sharpened images.

All are fine cameras if you know how to manipulate the camera and editing to get the results you want and, ultimately, which phones’ photos you like is a matter of personal preference. I prefer the iPhone’s lifelike colors, which gives me more room for editing later. But others swear by the Pixel 3’s cameras, which I admit look processed to fit many of the photographic aesthetics that are popular on Instagram.

At the end of the day, you should pick the camera images that please you, not what anyone else prefers. Once again, I leave you with a gallery of my favorite shots from straight out of the iPhone XR’s cameras (no edits).

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @raywongy (opens in a new tab) or on Instagram @sourlemons (opens in a new tab) if you wanna argue to the death about why another phone’s cameras might be superior. I love a good open discussion on phone photography. (No trolling, please.)

what are the reviews on iphone xr

The most powerful brain in any phone

In the Android world, a more expensive phone is expected to come with the most powerful system-on-chip (SoC) available at its time of release, and a less expensive phone, often called a “midrange” device, usually comes with a less powerful chipset.

There are exceptions like the OnePlus phones, which typically use the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chips as phones that cost hundreds more, but the rule generally sticks with: pay more to get more and pay less and get less.

Apple doesn’t follow this rule for the iPhone — at least it hasn’t in the last two years. Though the iPhone XR lacks some of the more advanced features from the iPhone XS, the silicon, or brain of the phone, is the exact same A12 Bionic chip as on its $999+ siblings.

In our iPhone XS and XS Max review, I detailed the tremendous power Apple’s custom A12 Bionic chip is capable of. It has processing power that’s up to 15 percent faster and graphics performance that’s up to 50 percent faster than in the iPhone X.

While it’s sometimes the case that phone makers throttle or intentionally slow down a processor in its more affordable devices to prevent overheating, I saw no significant performance difference between the iPhone XR and iPhone XS/XS Max.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

iOS 12's gestures take only a few minutes to pick up and get used to.

Running three tests in the Geekbench 4 CPU benchmarking app and then getting the average, the iPhone XR scored 4,773 on the single-core test and 11,301 on the multi-core test.

That makes the iPhone XR 12.52 percent faster on single-core computations and 9.7 percent faster at multi-core processing than on my iPhone X. And compared to iPhone XS, the iPhone XR’s only 1 percent slower on single-core and 0.8 percent on multi-core tasks.

In other words, allowing for margin of error in the app, the iPhone XR is as fast as the iPhone XS and XS Max and still blows away any Android phone.

Google’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL weren’t available yet when the iPhone XS phones launched, but if you compare the benchmark scores, the iPhone XR is clearly the more powerful phone. Its 102.42 percent faster at single-core and 86.3 percent faster at multi-core computations than Google’s latest.

The iPhone XR’s power is the result of Apple’s own custom-designed silicon. The A12 Bionic chip enjoys the performance lead it has over Android phones that use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips (opens in a new tab) because the software, iOS 12, is tuned to work most efficiently with the hardware.

The real-life power of the A12 Bionic is felt all throughout iOS 12. It’s what makes the operating system flow without hiccups, it makes 3D games look and run smoother than Android, it allows you to actually process 4K video without spending all day waiting for files to render.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

3D games like 'Asphalt 9' run buttery smooth on the iPhone XR.

Ray White/Mashable

And the A12 Bionic ensures everything from augmented reality with the Neural Engine, to the cameras with their improved image signal processing and Smart HDR, to the security of Face ID work are working properly.

In several AR games like AR Blast, I saw no performance difference between the iPhone XR and iPhone XS/XS Max.

If you’ve got an older iOS device that’s been updated to iOS 12, you’ll already know of the many changes and improvements that make it a no-brainer install.

Features like group notifications, Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, updated Apple apps (Photos, Books, Stocks, etc.), and two-factor authentication autofill are notable improvements. And for the first time on a non-$1,000 iPhone, the iPhone XR supports Animoji and Memoji. Maybe these goofy avatars aren’t your thing, but I think a lot of people are going to get into them the same way people obsessed over Nintendo’s Miis. I know my mom really loves playing with Animoji whenever I let her play with them. The real fun with Animoji and Memoji has still yet to come with Group FaceTime, which’ll let anyone show up to a video call as a digital avatar.

For our full review of iOS 12 and why it’s a must-download for older supported devices and a rundown of its many other features, be sure to check out our in-depth review here (opens in a new tab) .

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Google Play has tons of apps, but the newest ones often launch on iPhone first.

The only performance spec where you might notice a difference between the iPhone XR and iPhone XS models is cellular speeds.

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are Apple’s first devices to support gigabit LTE, which in layman’s terms means “really, really fast LTE.” The iPhone XR in comparison supports LTE-Advanced, which is slower than gigabit LTE, but still quite good.

On paper, download and upload speeds over LTE should be slower on the iPhone XR versus on the iPhone XS. But as always, that’s a best-case theoretical scenario that’s entirely dependent on your wireless carrier.

I used a Verizon SIM card and ran the Ookla Speedtest (opens in a new tab) app (disclosure: Mashable parent company Ziff Davis also owns Ookla) and found inconsistent speeds between the iPhone XR and XS.

On my first test, the iPhone XR managed an 8.63 Mbps download speed and a 4.64 Mbps upload speed. On the same server, the iPhone XS averaged 8.08 Mbps for download speed and 3.76 Mbps on uploads.

Running another test and selecting a different server, the iPhone XR pulled down 22 Mbps downloads and 27.4 Mbps uploads, in contrast to the iPhone XS’s 35.1 Mbps download and 9.44 Mbps upload.

As you can see, sometimes you’ll get faster faster LTE speeds and sometimes you won’t. But that’s also the case with any other phone. Actual real-world LTE speeds depend on a number of factors including where you’re connecting from and whether there’s a network congestion or not.

Should you be concerned the iPhone XR doesn’t support gigabit LTE? Not at all. While gigabit LTE promises much faster speeds, chances are you’ll never see the peak download and upload speeds touted in lab tests. Even with 5G on the horizon, LTE is still going to be around for many years and so it’s not like the iPhone XR’s LTE capabilities will be insufficient two or even four years from now.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Longer than expected battery life

It’s interesting how Apple compares the battery breakdown on its website (opens in a new tab) . The iPhone XS is advertised with one hour longer battery life than the iPhone X. The iPhone XS Max lasts 1.5 hours more than the iPhone X. And Apple says the iPhone XR lasts 1.5 hours compared to the iPhone 8 Plus.

Beyond suggesting how Apple sees the XR (hint: as a replacement for Plus-sized iPhones), it also sets expectations lower.

With the iPhone XS and XS Max, I consistently got a day and half of battery life, which was on par with the previous Plus-sized iPhones. The iPhone XR has a 2,942 mAh compared to the iPhone XS’s 2,658 mAh battery and the iPhone XS Max’s 3,174 mAh battery.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Fast wireless charging is the future.

Kevin Urgiles/Ray White

Disregarding specs because iOS and the A12 Bionic are more power efficient compared to Android phones, which need larger batteries with bigger capacities to run as long, the iPhone XR lasted longer than I expected it would.

Because the screen is so bright, I dialed the brightness down to 50-60 percent, and managed to get anywhere between 2-4 more hours than the iPhone XS and XS Max. Battery life is quite impressive to say the least and if you’re looking for the maybe the longest-lasting iPhone, the XR appears to be the battery life champ.

The iPhone XR supports fast charging and fast wireless charging just like the iPhone XS/XS Max. Unfortunately, like the more expensive iPhones, it too comes with only the 5-watt power adapter and USB-A-to-Lightning cable. To get the faster charging speeds, you’ll need to buy a separate adapter and cable set. I’ll keep wishing for it to be included in the box. Maybe next year!

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Nothing cheap about the iPhone XR

As somebody who recently upgraded to the iPhone XS (opens in a new tab) (I’m a real sucker for better cameras), I didn't think the XR would be enough for my needs as a power user, but boy was I wrong.

Despite being larger than my iPhone XS, the iPhone XR is still a good size — it’s a barely larger than my XS with a case so there wasn’t much of an adjustment pocketing it — and the bigger screen is really nice even if it’s not an OLED. The longer battery life lasts longer, and the premium construction, best-in-class performance, robust app ecosystem, and excellent cameras means you’re not really missing out much.

You also get to save a couple hundred dollars and choose a color other than space gray, white, or gold. At $750, the iPhone XR is truly Apple's new value iPhone, as strange as that may seem. The price is still less than the new Pixel 3, yet it’s more capable all-around.

The iPhone XR is the Goldilocks of iPhones. But if you’re going to get it, I’d advise not to opt for the entry-level model since it only has 64GB of storage. The 128GB model is just $50 more, so get that one instead.

Serious power iPhone users who want it all have no doubt already gotten a iPhone XS or XS Max. But if you don’t need things like a telephoto lens or the option of 512GB storage, the iPhone XR is the right iPhone for just about anyone who wants a new one.

Senior Tech Correspondent

Raymond Wong

Tech Editor

Pete Pachal

Video Producers

Alex Humphreys, Kevin Urgiles, Ray White, and Raymond Wong

Photography

Lili Sams, Kevin Urgiles, Ray White, and Raymond Wong

Pocket-lint

Apple iphone xr review: still worth buying.

The XR has the latest buttonless iPhone design, but without the big bucks asking price. Small compromises can save big bucks.

The Apple iPhone XR sits at the bottom of the Face ID iPhone range and while not sold by Apple anymore, you'll still be able to get your hands on it if you want to. Despite being almost four years old now, it's still got a powerful processor, a large screen and a great camera.

There are several compromises compared to the iPhone 13 series - it has a slightly lower waterproof rating, an LCD display rather than OLED, and just one camera lens rather than a pair but otherwise, it offers a lot.

Sitting below the standard iPhone 11 , and the newer but Touch ID iPhone SE (2022) , is the iPhone XR still worth a punt? Read on to find out.

Our quick take

Sure, the iPhone XR doesn't offer a screen or camera setup that's as good as the other Face ID iPhones, but that's the compromise with a more affordable handset. Many will be perfectly happy with what's on offer, especially as there's no compromise in power. 

For those who want Apple's Face ID design inside a colourful shell without spending a fortune, this iPhone could be for you if the iPhone 11 is out of budget. However, if you're not fussed by Face ID, it's definitely worth looking at the iPhone SE (2022).

This review was first published in September 2018 and was last updated in April 2022 to reflect market context and software updates.

Apple iPhone XR - 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the iphone xr in 2022.

The Apple iPhone XR was still sold by Apple until 2021, but, when the iPhone 13 models were introduced, the entry level Face ID switched from the iPhone XR to the iPhone 11. You'll still be able to buy the iPhone XR in other outlets, as we mentioned, but whether you should is an entirely different question? In short, we probably wouldn't recommend it.

The iPhone XR is coming up to four years old, and while it will still work well and does still supports iOS software updates, that won't be the case forever. You'll save yourself money by buying the iPhone XR, but it's possible you'll have to upgrade again sooner than if you were to opt for the iPhone 11, which not only offers a second camera lens on the rear, but also features like Night Mode, allowing for better low light photography.

If the iPhone 11 is out of budget, then we would recommend the iPhone SE (2022), which has the same power as the iPhone 13 models, making it much more powerful than the iPhone XR. It will also support future iOS updates and features for longer than the iPhone XR will. If you're still set on the iPhone XR, though, below you'll find our review.

Bright colour design stands out

Bright and colourful, the Apple iPhone XR is a playful device in comparison to the more serious iPhone 13 Pro models, although the standard iPhone 11 also gives you some decent colour options , and the standard iPhone 12 models  and iPhone 13 models come in a good range too.

Available in six finishes - comprising white, black, blue, yellow, coral and (Product) Red - it's the blue and yellow ones that stand out as the most desirable for the XR. The coral is very hit and miss, as it's neither orange or salmon.

iPhone XR review photos image 3

The iPhone XR features the same design language as its more premium siblings, with an all-glass back and a notched screen dominating the front. It delivers this with an aluminium frame, making it slightly thicker than the more expensive models - although the thickness isn't noticeable in the hand. It has a  slightly lower water resistance rating at IP67 rather than IP68 .

There's a single-lens camera on the rear, while hidden beneath the rear glass cover is  wireless charging . Like its predecessors, the iPhone XR is compatible with Qi wireless chargers. If you prefer the speed and convenience of wired then there's still the Lightning port on board for at-the-plug charging - that's the default anyway, as there's no wireless charger included in the box.

The iPhone XR is likely to appeal most to users of older iPhones who are looking to upgrade. By comparison, the buttons and large bezel have gone, giving you more phone for the form factor. There's also the iPhone SE (2022) to consider though which although retains the form factor of older models, offers more power than the XR.

A bigger LCD display

The Apple iPhone XR has a 'Liquid Retina' display - read that as an LCD display if you step away from Apple's language. Or look at it this way: it's not the 'Super Retina' OLED display that you'll find on the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 models.

iPhone XR review photos image 11

If you're looking to upgrade from the iPhone 6, 7, or 8 ranges, then LCD is what you've been using all along. The XR's pixel density is the same as the iPhone 6, 7 and 8 too, so clarity is one and the same. It's also the same as what you'll find on the next step up - the iPhone 11 .

This panel also caters for the P3 wide colour gamut, meaning strong blacks and good colour vibrancy, while True Tone technology uses sensors to change the screen colour according to the ambient light in the room (in the same way as many of Apple's other screens) for greater eye comfort.

The iPhone XR replaces  3D Touch  with Haptic Touch. This works in the same way as the trackpad on an Apple MacBook - making you think you are moving something even though you aren't. While different to 3D Touch, Haptic Touch still offers a lot of the same functionality, such as shortcuts from an app icon when you press and hold, it's just a slightly different technology.

Those who use the cursor on the keyboard when typing, you'll have to long-press on the spacebar instead on the XR.

Mobile HDR is a feature absent from the iPhone XR though. The standard iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models offer  Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, hence being a couple of steps above. So while the XR will do its best to deliver an 'HDR-like experience', it's not the real deal. That means you're Smart HDR pictures aren't going to pop as much when viewing on-screen, nor will you be able to see as much detail on a dark TV show or movie that's available in HDR. For reference, the iPhone 11 doesn't offer HDR either.

Performance

The Apple iPhone XR might compromise in a couple of areas, but power and performance are most definitely not one of them. The XR runs on the same A12 Bionic processor as we saw on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max that launched at the same time, which means it has plenty of power for running augmented reality apps, playing graphically demanding games, processing photographs or 4K video, or simply managing day-to-day tasks. It's not as speedy as the newer devices, but there's still plenty under the hood.

iPhone XR review photos image 6

We played Fornite and Asphalt 9 during our review time to put the iPhone XR through its paces with no issues whatsoever. Having extensively used the iPhone XS prior to the iPhone XR, there is no difference in terms of processing power or capabilities. The experience hasn't been subdued in terms of power or performance.

Apple claims the iPhone XR lasts 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus in terms of battery life, which should give you more than enough charge to last a day. During our use, the battery has certainly lived up to those claims. Unless you're performing really demanding tasks, like long stints of gaming. Light use would easily see you get through the day and a good way through day two as well.

iPhone XR review photos image 10

Like the all iPhones since the iPhone XS range, the XR also supports dual SIM using eSIM for the second SIM.

The single rear camera still delivers 

The iPhone XR features a single-lens camera sensor on the rear. No dual-lens offering here like the iPhone 11, standard iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. But don't let that put you off - because the iPhone XR still offers plenty in the camera department.

The wide-angle view and sensor is the same as found in the XS models, offering optical image stabilisation, wide colour capture for photos, and Live Photos . The difference compared to the XS is that you don't get the extra 12-megapixel telephoto lens. So the XR is only capable of digital zoom - not optical zoom - and it is therefore slightly restricted with some of the camera features.

The iPhone XR still offers Smart HDR, Portrait Lighting (albeit with three effects rather than the five), Portrait Mode (restricted to only working with people rather than any object - without that second lens it's not able to derive depth in the same way as the XS, hence this restriction).

Portrait Mode allows users to deliver blurred-background shots (known as the bokeh effect), but there's even more control in the XR. The Depth Control function allows users to play around with the bokeh effect after taking a shot.

It's also worth noting that because you don't have the second telephoto lens on the iPhone XR camera you are shooting portraits with the 24mm wide-angle rather than 50mm lens. That's less of a traditional approach for portrait photography and means you'll have to get physically close to your subjects. We found that does put people slightly on edge and the results differ due to the lens characteristics.

Apple iPhone XR review sample photos image 5

In terms of the front camera, the iPhone XR has the same 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera as found on the iPhone XS models, with Face ID , which is slightly lower in terms of resolution than the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models. You'll also be able to apply Portrait mode, depth of field, and Smart HDR to pictures taken with the front camera though, as well as use the Stage Light effects.

An iPhone for those who want Apple's latest Face ID design with a colourful shell without spending a fortune.

Apple iPhone XR - user opinions and reviews

I have mi 11 lite 5g ne is it worth it to change it in to ip xr?

I'm buying this for my sister.

ray10287, 13 Mar 2023 Hi, i have a TECNO CAMON 16, and I'm thinking to switch to a iPhone XR. Is it worth it? yes i would do it

Hi, i have a TECNO CAMON 16, and I'm thinking to switch to a iPhone XR. Is it worth it?

its-me-ya-boi, 11 Mar 2023 Is it a good idea to exchange my Galaxy A52s (128GB) for an iPhone XR (64GB)? No, the XR is worth A LOT more.

its-me-ya-boi, 11 Mar 2023 Is it a good idea to exchange my Galaxy A52s (128GB) for an iPhone XR (64GB)? no

its-me-ya-boi, 11 Mar 2023 Is it a good idea to exchange my Galaxy A52s (128GB) for an iPhone XR (64GB)? I think no.

Is it a good idea to exchange my Galaxy A52s (128GB) for an iPhone XR (64GB)?

Anonymous, 04 Mar 2023 No XR is better because it has the longest battery life of them, and it‘s more reliable. Thoug... more But also single camera, lower screen quality

jpn4, 05 Mar 2023 A shame for Apple that the iPhone SE 2022 isn't the XR with a new chipset and improved ca... more The SE is better because the XR is fat. But 5.6 inch XR form factor would be something

A shame for Apple that the iPhone SE 2022 isn't the XR with a new chipset and improved camera. It would sell much better than the 2022 SE for sure.

Great to see the XR still has 50 percent popularity here even after 5 years of release.

iPhone 5s User, 27 Feb 2023 https://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=9320&idPhone2=9318&idPhone3=8858#diff-*... more No XR is better because it has the longest battery life of them, and it‘s more reliable. Though the XS and X have a better size.

Anonymous, 11 Feb 2023 This phone is decent. I don’t know the difference between the XR, XS, and X but this is the on... more https://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=9320&idPhone2=9318&idPhone3=8858#diff-*,*,* Basically XS>X>XR

what are the reviews on iphone xr

Anonymous, 18 Feb 2023 I prefer the current SE because of the size, but you are right, if this was relaunched but in ... more go for 11 pro then, its a really good phone with long battery and fast performance and it is 5.8' inches

eid123, 25 Feb 2023 what is the best iphone for gaming at around 300usd? please help Go for an LG V60 Thinq it is blazing fast, 3 day battery life and a nice big screen .it used to be 800 USD but now U can find it on ebay for around 250 USD. It runs games like CODM nice and smooth. Its just as fast as iphone 14 pro max .

what is the best iphone for gaming at around 300usd? please help

Is iPhone xr good to go for

johnycash, 18 Feb 2023 much more better than my iphone 13, i love my XR You could try to return the 13, then save that money to buy like a 15 in two years or something.

what are the reviews on iphone xr

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COMMENTS

  1. iPhone XR review

    As you might expect, the iPhone XR's size and weight (6.8 ounces, 5.9 x 3 x 0.3 inches) is in between that of the iPhone XS (6.2 ounces, 5.7 x

  2. Apple iPhone XR review: The best iPhone value in years

    But the iPhone XR actually makes a few improvements on its more expensive siblings. Its screen is bigger than the XS' (6.1 versus 5.8 inches)

  3. iPhone XR review: decent battery life and a lower price tag

    The iPhone XR is a strong contender if you're looking for an affordable iPhone, boasting the latest software, enough power and surprisingly good

  4. Customer Reviews: Apple iPhone XR 64GB Black (AT&T) MRYR2LL/A

    Apple - iPhone XR 64GB - Black (AT&T) ... 98%would recommend to a friend. Write a Review.

  5. iPhone XR Review: Still Worth Buying In 2022? Let's Investigate

    The iPhone XR looks great, is still a solid performer, and has excellent battery life, and will receive iOS updates for years to come. If you

  6. iPhone XR review: For once, cheaper is better

    The bottom line is: The iPhone XR's screen looks terrific and unless you're comparing it to the iPhone XS, you're not gonna find much to dislike. Sure, you're

  7. Apple iPhone XR review: Still worth buying?

    Apple iPhone XR - 4.5 / 5 · LCD display can't beat OLED on more expensive iPhones · no mobile HDR · Not as good as other iPhone camera setups

  8. iPhone XR in 2022

    The iPhone XR was discontinued recently by Apple, but is by no means a bad phone- and might even be worth it for the right kind of person

  9. iPhone XR In 2023! (Still Worth It?) (Review)

    Get The iPhone 13 Here: https://amzn.to/39ERRv3Get The iPhone 13 Pro Here: https://amzn.to/3o6DMPzGet The Cheapest iPhones Here:

  10. Apple iPhone XR

    Great to see the XR still has 50 percent popularity here even after 5 years of release. Reply ? Anonymous; 3SI; 04 Mar 2023.