Apple iPhone XR: Pros And Cons

By Amit Chowdhry ● Updated August 6, 2019

Since Apple transformed the design of the iPhone with the introduction of the iPhone X in 2017, consumers were curious about what to expect with the lower cost options in 2018. With the design of an iPhone X and a price of the iPhone 8, the iPhone XR is considered one of the best smartphones that Apple made as it blends high-end hardware with affordability.

Between 2014 and 2017, the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7, and iPhone 8 all looked the same so the iPhone XR also represents that Apple was ready to make fundamental changes to its design rather than playing it safe with minor iterations. To help you decide whether to buy one, here is a comprehensive overview of the iPhone XR pros and cons:

The biggest advantage of the iPhone XR is the price. The base price of the 64GB iPhone XR is $749. As a comparison, the 64GB iPhone XS starts at $999 and the 64GB iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099. Upgrading to the 128GB iPhone XR is only $50 more at $799 and the 256GB option is $899.

The iPhone XR looks similar to the iPhone XS as it has the same rounded corners and strengthened glass on the back along with the notch at the top of the device. With a screen size of 6.1-inches, the iPhone XR feels like a phablet, but it is smaller than the iPhone XS Max.

There are a few compromises Apple had to make in order to drop the cost of the iPhone XR. For example, the sides of the iPhone XR were designed with aluminum rather than stainless steel — which is what is used on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. However, the advantage of using aluminum is that the matte reflection makes the iPhone XR look elegant.

Often times, iPhone device owners want the color of their device to be visible as they use it so Apple released a clear case for the device. The iPhone XR Clear Case retails for $39.

Even with the larger bezels, the iPhone XR allows you to use a device that is physically smaller the iPhone 8 Plus, but has the same display size. This is because the iPhone XR does not have the Touch ID fingerprint sensor at the bottom like the iPhone 8 Plus does. Like the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the TrueDepth camera in the notch at the top of the device for facial recognition support (more on that below).

iPhone XR colors / Credit: Apple

Another feature that distinguishes the iPhone XR from the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max is that it is available in multiple colors. This includes a red color option where a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this red version is donated to charity. The iPhone XR is available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and red.

Apple did not sacrifice the internal components of the iPhone XR. The iPhone XR uses the same A12 Bionic chip that is integrated into the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

This ensures that apps open quickly and animations do not lag. And since Apple optimized iOS 12 to substantially improve performance on its devices in 2018, the iPhone XR is lightning fast. This is also because the iPhone XR has a whopping 3GB of RAM built-in as well. You will especially notice an improvement if you are upgrading to the iPhone XR from an iPhone 6S or iPhone 7.

One of the advantages that the iPhone XR has over other the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max is the battery life. Since it has fewer pixels per inch to power, the battery capacity of the iPhone XR is one of the longest lasting flagship devices of 2018.

The iPhone XR has the same biometric facial recognition feature as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. With an upgraded True Depth camera on the front of the iPhone XR, it makes the facial recognition feature faster than the iPhone X of 2017.

With the Face ID feature on the iPhone XR, you can also add a second face just like what is possible on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. And you can use Face ID to make Animoji and Memoji animated emoji with your facial gestures.

iPhones getting splashed on / Photo: Apple

The iPhone XR has an IP67 rating so it is dust resistant and it can be used underwater up to 3.28 feet (one meter) for 30 minutes. This is not as good as the IP68 rating on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but it is still beneficial for those of you who want to use the device at the beach or the pool.

The iPhone XR has a dual SIM mode so that you can use the device for personal and for business phone numbers. Note: The iPhone XR has to be unlocked for this feature to work.

The iPhone XR has thicker bezels around the device. One of the reasons why the iPhone XR requires thicker bezels is because it has an LCD screen. The thicker bezels prevent light from escaping the backlit screen.

Another tradeoff with because a lower cost device is that the screen quality is slightly lower than the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XR has a 720p HD LCD display at 326 pixels per inch (dubbed as the Liquid Retina HD display), which is lower in quality than the 458 pixels per inch on the iPhone XS.

But this is rationalized because the screen quality differences between the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS is barely distinguishable to the human eye. But the OLED screen on the iPhone XS has superior color accuracy and deep blacks than the iPhone XR. However, you will likely only notice these differences if you use the devices side-by-side.

The iPhone XR has Haptic Touch rather than 3D Touch. What makes 3D Touch superior is that you can use it to press down on app icons to activate Quick Actions such as “Take Selfie,” on the Camera app. And Quick Actions can also be used on the Notification Center. 3D Touch also has a feature called “Peek” and “Pop,” which allows you to preview menu options and activate certain actions quickly.

Devices that have 3D Touch also support a feature called Live Wallpapers. This allows you to push down on your wallpaper to animate it assuming that it is a Live Photo.

Apple attempts to compensate with the Haptic Touch support on the iPhone XR by offering some Quick Action options on certain apps. But it is slower and “Peek” and “Pop” does not work. Live Wallpapers do not work on the iPhone XR also.

In order to offer a lower price for the iPhone XR, it has a single camera rather than dual cameras on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. So the iPhone XR does not have a 2X optical zoom. Fortunately, the digital zoom on the iPhone XR is sufficient in most cases.

And the single-camera also brings limitations to the Portrait Mode. Portrait Mode adds a bokeh effect to photos, meaning the background can be blurred while the subject in the foreground sharp. The limitation of the Portrait Mode in the iPhone XR is that it can only be used on people. So you cannot use it to take Portrait Modes of your pets or food (sorry Instagram fans).

This is still good news because Apple had to improve its computational photography algorithms to make Portrait Mode available on the iPhone XR in the first place, which is an impressive feat for a single camera device. The computational photography algorithms also ensure that the iPhone XR camera works well in low light conditions.

Another point worth mentioning about the iPhone XR’s single camera is that it was awarded a shooter mark of 101 by DxOMark. This is the highest score ever for a single lens smartphone. As a comparison, the iPhone XS has a shooter mark of 105 making it ranked #2 after the Huawei P20 Pro — which has three cameras.

Note: This article will be updated as more information is gathered on the iPhone XR so stay tuned!

Pulse 2.0 Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Apple iPhone XR has received a Pulse 2.0 Score of 5 out of 5 stars. The reason why the score is maxed out is due to the large beautiful display, the low price, the high-quality camera, and impressive specifications.

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