A couple of years ago, I skipped the iPhone 7 because the feature I wanted, the dual-lens camera, was a Plus exclusive, and I don’t do Plus phones. A year later, Apple placed a dual-lens shooter on a device that had a screen as big as the Plus phones, but in the same familiar body that housed 4.7-inch displays before.
Even with the various deals and promos that will be available around the world, the $999 iPhone XS is still expensive, especially after buying the iPhone X last year. The $749 starting price for the iPhone XR, meanwhile, reminds me of regular iPhone prices before the iPhone X. For $50 more, you get 128GB of storage, and $799 still looks a lot better than $999. You don’t get to go up to 512GB of storage, however, which is reserved to the iPhone XS and XS Max.
But the price isn’t the only reason that makes the iPhone XR so attractive. The phone is basically an iPhone XS variation, sporting a few downgrades that make it more affordable. The iPhone XR has the same all-screen-with-notch design like the XS phones, but it swaps the OLED display for LCD. And Apple’s LCD tech is still great, so ditching OLED for LCD wouldn’t be difficult.
The rear camera is also a downgrade compared to the iPhone X. You still get the same upgraded 12-megapixel wide-angle lens available on the iPhone XS phones, and that’s it. But this time around the single-cam lens of the iPhone XR is able to replicate some of the tricks of the dual-cam setup on the XS phones, including portrait photography.
The iPhone XR only has 3GB of RAM, as much as the iPhone X, and 1GB less than the iPhone XS and Max, and wireless charging speeds that will be slower than the iPhone XS phones. Finally, the phone has an aluminum enclosure compared to stainless steel on the iPhone X and XS phones. That said, I hardly touched the stainless steel of my iPhone, which has been sitting in a bulky case for almost a year now.
But what’s really great about the iPhone XR is that it features the same chip as the iPhone XS phone, the A12 Bionic that has no rival right now. Like last year, all three iPhones have the same chip, which means they’re all as powerful. This isn’t 2013 anymore, when the cheaper, more colorful iPhone 5C shipped with a one-year-old processor, while the iPhone 5S had the best A-series chip Apple could produce.
Also, because it’s slightly bigger than the iPhone X/XS, battery life is going to get a noticeable upgrade. But the 6.1-inch screen should be a lot more manageable than the 6.5-inch display of the iPhone XS Max — by the way, the Max will be about as big as the former Plus phones.
The last thing I care about when buying a phone is color. That said, I absolutely love the color choices available on the iPhone XR right now. And it’d be yellow. No questions asked.
To upgrade or not to upgrade?
With all that in mind, I’m convinced that, if I were to upgrade my iPhone this year, the iPhone XR is the phone I’d buy without skipping a beat. However, because the iPhone X is still such a great phone a year later, it still feels wrong to upgrade it. The iPhone XR launches in about a month, with preorders going live on October 19th, and shipping and in-store sales slated for October 26th.