iPhone XR vs iPhone XS: Which should you buy?
The iPhone XR is a great budget-friendly option. It has the same interior guts as the iPhone XS, but it comes in six bright and fun color options and has a slightly larger screen at 6.1-inches. It has Portrait Mode photos using just a single wide-angle lens, and can do Depth Control. However, it feels less premium with the aluminum casing, less storage capacity, doesn't have a rich OLED display, lack of 3D Touch support, and Portrait Mode only works on human faces (no pets or inanimate objects).
- Cheapest option for modern iPhone line
- Large 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display
- Has A12 Bionic chip with Face ID
- Single lens camera still capable of Portrait Mode and Depth Control
- Comes in six colors
- Portrait Mode only works on human faces
- No OLED screen
- Lack of 3D Touch
- Only goes up to 256GB of storage
The iPhone XS is a small powerhouse of a smartphone. The 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display is absolutely gorgeous, and it still has 3D Touch for those who like to use the feature. It has a great dual lens camera system that can take Portrait Mode images of even pets and inanimate objects, and it can receive the fastest LTE download speeds with Gigabit-class support. However, it doesn't have great battery life, has the smallest screen, and is fairly expensive with only three color options.
- Compact size with full 5.8-inches of Suer Retina OLED screen
- Has up to 512GB storage capacity
- Supports 3D Touch
- Dual lens camera system and Portrait Mode works on pets and objects
- Has support for Gigabit-class LTE download speeds
- Considered expensive
- Sub-par battery life
- Only three color options
- Screen size is smallest of current iPhones
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
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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||iPhone XR||iPhone XS|
|Cost||From $749||From $999|
|Colors||White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral, (PRODUCT)RED||Black, White, Gold|
|Chip||A12 Bionic||A12 Bionic|
|Storage capacity||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Display||Liquid Retina LCD||Super Retina OLED|
|Pixels-per-inch||326 PPI||458 PPI|
|Rear camera||Single 12MP/4K||Dual 12MP/4K|
|Front camera||7MP TrueDepth||7MP TrueDepth|
|Portrait Mode||Yes, only humans||Yes, including pets and inanimate objects|
|Water resistance||Up to 1m for 30 min||Up 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.
The iPhone for most people
The iPhone XR is a great budget iPhone that's a good in-between size and comes packed with most of the same features as the iPhone XS and XS Max. It has an A12 Bionic chip, Face ID, Liquid Retina LCD display, ability to do Portrait Mode with some caveats, and comes in plenty of fun colors. For most of the same features, you're saving a few hundred in your pocket, and the battery life is also fairly impressive.
When you need it all
The iPhone for techies
The iPhone XS is the way to go if you require the superior camera with the dual lens camera system that includes both wide angle and telephoto for 2x optical zoom and Portrait Mode with non-humans. The Super Retina OLED display is also absolutely stunning, with the blackest blacks and most vibrant colors on the screen. It also comes equipped to handle Gigabit-class LTE download speeds and up to 512GB storage capacity. Just be warned that the battery life is not as great as the XR or XS Max.
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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.