Apple's third iPhone release of 2018 could well be its most exciting yet. The iPhone XR retains many of the standout features from the iPhone XS and XS Max, but costs far less. A colourful new design and longer battery life make the latest release a force to be reckoned with.
- Much-improved battery life
- Colourful, attractive design
- Super fast processor
- Cheaper than other new iPhone releases
iPhone XR: in more detail
The iPhone XR should not be seen as a cut-price version of the XS or XS Max - you could argue in some ways it's better. The XR contains many of the features loved in its sibling phones including the superb A12 Bionic chipset. Yet users will also benefit from a much-longer battery life and a striking set of finishes to choose from.
As you might expect from a cheaper phone, there are some compromises. The XR comes with an LCD display rather than the OLED found in the XS and XS Max. However, those looking for an upgrade for an iPhone 8 or any older iPhone model will probably not see much of a difference in screen resolution.
Overall, the critical reception has been very positive with TechRadar praising it as "one of the best handsets Apple has ever made".
The iPhone XR is a striking phone. On the front, you get an all-screen design created from the same durable glass found on the XS. As with its sibling models, the XR includes a top notch to house the Face ID and selfie cameras.
The XR is a little on the chunkier side, although the rounded edges and metal back mean this model still feels premium to the touch.
Apple has gone bold with its finishes for the XR, introducing a vibrant set of new colours; as well as the regular black and white, users can choose from blue, red, yellow and coral. A matching aerospace-grade aluminium band wraps around the edges to produce a truly elegant finish.
In praise, Digital Trends said "we feel like Gollum, constantly admiring the beauty of the one ring. It's perfection".
The biggest difference between the iPhone XR and its XS and XS Max siblings is the display.
Apple claims the new Liquid Retina display in the iPhone XR is "the most advanced LCD in the industry". With 326 pixels per inch you get accurate colours and sharp details, more than enough for a typical user to watch Netflix or play games.
While the screen's resolution of 1,792 x 828 is lower than that of the iPhone XS, you're really not going to notice the difference unless you put them side by side. Those who like their screens big will also be pleased to hear the iPhone XR comes with a larger display than the XS - 6.1 inches compared to 5.8 inches.
Performance and battery
The iPhone XR is powered by Apple's all-new A12 Bionic chip. The six-core CPU contains two performance cores to take care of high-intensity tasks and four efficiency cores for your everyday tasks; these are up to 15% faster and use 50% less power than the A11 Bionic.
In addition, a four-core GPU has been added to improve graphic performance for games, video editing and visually demanding apps. Combined with a separate eight-core machine-learning processor, known as the Neural Engine, the A12 can perform five trillion operations per second. As a result, expect speedier and more efficient performance than any A11-powered device.
The Verge said "Apple's chips are so far ahead of the industry that it's clear the A12 Bionic has tons of headroom to spare; this phone should feel fast for a few years".
However, the battery is where the iPhone XR really sets itself apart from Apple's other models. The XR comes with a 2,945mAh battery that dwarfs the XS' 2,658mAh. However, the XR even outperforms the larger XS Max, thanks to a smaller display that makes lighter work for the XR's CPU and GPU. A Tom's Guide Battery Test saw the XR lasts around 45 minutes more than the XS Max and 100 minutes more than the XS.
The improved quality has been widely praised by reviewers with Forbes calling it "the biggest deal maker" for the latest iPhone.
The iPhone XR boasts a 12MP rear camera with an f/1.8 wide-angle lens, optical image stabilisation and 4k video compatibility. There's an excellent 7MP front-facing camera too, complete with an f/2.2 wide-angle lens.
The Neural Engine provides the camera with a number of impressive automatic capabilities, including facial landmarking to find the right light for your portraits and depth mapping to separate your subject from the background.
Similarly, Depth Control enables you to take stunning portraits with artistically blurred-out backgrounds, while Smart HDR mode delivers enhanced highlights and shadows to your snaps.
The iPhone XR features the same home button-less design found on the XS and XS Max and is also unlocked with facial recognition. However, Apple has ditched the 3D Touch navigation system and replaced it with Haptic Touch. Unless you were a huge fan of 3D Touch, you're unlikely to miss it much. Haptic Touch performs many of the same functions 3D Touch does, but instead of hard pressing you perform a long, soft press.
As with the XS and XS Max, the iPhone XR comes with the latest operating system, iOS 12. The latest upgrade, iOS 12.1, includes some exciting new features such as Group FaceTime and more than 70 new emojis.
The iPhone XR features Apple's new Dual SIM technology, which allows you to have two plans on one phone. By using a physical SIM and a digital e-SIM, users can make and receive calls and texts on two different lines from one single device. This is particularly handy for those with both a business and a personal phone number, or for travelers wishing to add a local plan when abroad.
At present, the only wireless carrier in the UK that supports e-SIM is EE.
The iPhone XS has been available in the UK since 26 October 2018.