If you’re looking for an affordable iPhone, the iPhone XR is a strong contender boasting the latest software, enough power, and surprisingly good battery life for an iPhone.
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.
While the new iPhone SE may now have the crown as the firm’s ‘affordable’ choice, the iPhone XR is still widely available, with a more modern full-screen design than the SE. And with the iPhone 12 series here, including the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro, it’s not the newest Apple smartphone. But it’s still a core part of the company’s device lineup.
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.
However, with the arrival of the iPhone 11, the iPhone XR price has now dropped to $599 / £629 / AU$1,049 for the 64GB model.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re new to the all-screen design, let’s get something out of the way right now: yes, the iPhone XR has a notch at the top. It encroaches into the screen, and it’s no coincidence that Apple chose the ‘planet’ motif to advertise these phones, the black backdrop of which conveniently hides the slice taken out the top of the screen.
You will get used to this after a short while – it’s generally not that bad watching films generally, but it can chop out key information on some movies. However, the notch contains the important elements of the Face ID camera, the front-facing snapper for selfies, and all the other sensors in there which help your phone to work its magic.
Overall, the camera quality on the iPhone XR is just fine, and it can go toe to toe with a multitude of other handsets on the market. The Smart HDR capabilities of the iPhone XS are present, if not quite as incredible as in the more expensive model, and the low light performance continues to be on the right side of impressive.
The iPhone XR is one of the best handsets Apple has ever made, and that’s mainly down to the excellent battery life.
The rest of the phone doesn’t really add much to the iPhone family in terms of pure specification or novelty, but it does offer a more budget route into getting a handset.