iPhone XR vs iPhone XS: Which should you buy?

The iPhone XR and iPhone XS are two of the latest iPhone releases from Apple (the iPhone XS Max is just like the iPhone XS, except with a whopping 6.5-inch screen), and surprisingly, the iPhone XR is very close to to having all of the features of the iPhone XS for a few hundred less. Honestly, it's rather impressive for the price.

Let's break it down

iPhone XS and XR depth data camera

When you look at them side-by-side, the iPhone XR and iPhone XS aren't too different from each other, which is rather surprising, considering that the iPhone XR is supposed to be Apple's budget iPhone this generation. If you're looking for a good set of features but don't need the best camera, display, or fastest cellular radios, then the iPhone XR is actually a pretty good pick.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone XRiPhone XS
CostFrom $749From $999
ColorsWhite, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral, (PRODUCT)REDBlack, White, Gold
BodyAluminumStainless Steel
ChipA12 BionicA12 Bionic
Storage capacity64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
DisplayLiquid Retina LCDSuper Retina OLED
Pixels-per-inch326 PPI458 PPI
3D TouchNoYes
Face IDYesYes
Rear cameraSingle 12MP/4KDual 12MP/4K
Front camera7MP TrueDepth7MP TrueDepth
Portrait ModeYes, only humansYes, including pets and inanimate objects
Depth ControlYesYes
Gigabit-class LTENoYes
Wireless chargingYesYes
Water resistanceUp to 1m for 30 minUp to 2m for 30 min

Let's take a look at what both the iPhone XR and iPhone XS have in common: the A12 Bionic chip, Face ID, 12MP rear-facing camera and 7MP front-facing camera with Portrait Mode and Depth Control, and wireless charging. In fact, it's even more impressive that the XR is capable of Portrait Mode at all, considering that it only has a single, wide lens camera. The only negative thing about Portrait Mode on the iPhone XR is the fact that it will only work with human faces, so you can't take Portrait Mode images of your pets and inanimate objects. But the Liquid Retina LCD display is not too shabby at all, considering the price and other features of the handset.

However, if you care about having the best display that can show you the truest blacks and most vibrant colors, then you can't go wrong with the Super Retina OLED display of the iPhone XS. If you must take Portrait Mode images of your furry friends and inanimate objects, then the dual lens system on the iPhone XS is definitely better, as it can also do 2x optical zoom. Also, if you want the fastest LTE speeds possible on your handset, then you can't pass up the iPhone XS and it's Gigabit-class LTE capabilities, assuming you can get the fastest speeds with your carrier in the first place.

However, if you can make a few sacrifices, including lack of 3D Touch, and don't mind saving at least $150, then we think the iPhone XR is good enough for most people. Plus, with six color options, there's at least one color that you'll love.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.