Apple announced the iPhone XR in September 2018 alongside the iPhone XS and XS Max. The XR is the cheaper and more 'affordable' of the latest iPhone models, succeeding the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus as one model. You can read how they differ to the 8's in our separate feature.

For those with an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus or the older iPhone 6S or 6S Plus wondering if you should upgrade, you've come to the right place. Here is how the iPhone XR compares to the iPhone 7 models and iPhone 6S models.

We've included specs, features, cameras and prices from both the standard models and the Plus models as the iPhone XR sits in the middle of the two in terms of footprint so it is a plausible upgrade for either user.


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Design

  • iPhone XR: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm, 194g
  • iPhone 7 Plus: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm, 188g
  • iPhone 6S Plus: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm, 192g
  • iPhone 7: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm, 138g
  • iPhone 6S: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1, 143g

The Apple iPhone XR has a stainless steel frame with a glass rear and an almost all-screen front. The Touch ID home button below the screen has been removed in favour of more screen within the footprint. There is a notch at the top of the display that features a speaker along with various sensors and a camera that allows for Face ID, Apple's facial recognition technology.

A single camera is present in the top left corner on the rear, and the iPhone XR is available in six colour options from yellow to your standard black and white options. The iPhone XR is IP67 water and dust resistant and it is compatible with wireless charging.

The iPhone 7 models and the iPhone 6S models both feature Touch ID below their screens along with slim, solid aluminium builds - no glass on their rears. The 7 Plus model has a horizontally-arranged dual-rear camera, while the 6S Plus and the two standard models have single cameras.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are both IP67 water resistant like the iPhone XR, but the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus aren't. Neither the iPhone 7 models or the iPhone 6S models support wireless charging. As you can see from the measurements, the iPhone XR sits in the middle of the standard models and the Plus models despite its larger screen.

Display

  • iPhone XR: 6.1-inch, 1792 x 828 resolution, 326ppi
  • iPhone 7 Plus/6S Plus: 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • iPhone 7/6S: 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 resolution, 326ppi

The Apple iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display with a 1792 x 828 pixel resolution and an aspect ratio of 19:9, delivering a pixel density of 326ppi. Unlike the iPhone XS models and the older iPhone X, the iPhone XR has a LCD display rather than OLED and it doesn't support HDR, nor does it offer 3D Touch - Apple's version of a pressure sensitive display

It does have Apple's True Tone technology though, which means the display adapts based on its surroundings, like the iPad Pro models. It's also worth noting that the 19:9 aspect ratio is what allows such a large screen within a reasonable footprint. The XR has the largest screen of the devices in this comparison but it is only a little bigger than the old standard iPhone models and smaller than the Plus models.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S both feature 4.7-inch Retina HD displays with 1334 x 750 resolutions and a 326ppi, offering the same pixel density as the iPhone XR. The iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus meanwhile, have 5.5-inch Retina HD displays with 1920 x 1080 resolutions and a 401ppi, making them sharper than the iPhone XR on paper. In reality, you are unlikely to notice.

The iPhone 7 models and 6S models all have aspect ratios of 16:9, so more bezel and less screen compared to the XR, LED-backlit IPS displays and none of them offer HDR or True Tone technology. They do all offer 3D Touch though, something we previously mentioned the iPhone XR misses.

The iPhone 7 models and XR models also have P3 wide colour gamuts and brighter displays compared to the iPhone 6S models.

Camera

  • iPhone XR: 12MP f/1.8 rear, 7MP f/2.2 front
  • iPhone 7 Plus: Dual 12MP f/1.8 wide angle and f/2.8 telephoto rear, 7MP f/2.2 front
  • iPhone 7: 12MP f/1.8 rear, 7MP f/2.2 front
  • iPhone 6S/6S Plus: 12MP f/2.2 rear, 5MP f/2.2 front

The Apple iPhone XR has a single camera on the rear made up of a 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and optical image stabilisation. It offers wide colour capture for photos and Live Photos, a Quad-LED True Tone flash with slow sync and Smart HDR for photos.

Despite being a singular lens, the XR is also capable of Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, like the iPhone XS and XS Max, as well as Portrait Lighting with three effects - the XS and XS Max have five. The front camera is 7-megapixels with an aperture of f/2.2, a Retina Flash and it offers facial recognition in the form of Face ID. The XR's front camera also has Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control and Portrait Lighting with five effects. 

The iPhone 7 has a single 12-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/1.8, optical image stabilisation and a Quad-LED True Tone flash. Like the XR, it has wide colour capture for photos and Live Photos, but only standard HDR and there is no Portrait model or Portrait Lighting.

The iPhone 7 Plus has a horizontally-aligned dual-camera made up of two 12-megapixel sensors, one wide-angle and one telephoto. The wide-angle lens of the iPhone 7 Plus has an f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto lens has an f/2.8 aperture, allowing it to offer 2x optical zoom rather than just 5x digital zoom like the other devices being compared.

Optical image stabilisation is on board again, but not in dual form like the iPhone XS models, and there is a Quad-LED True Tone flash, as well as Portrait Mode but not Portrait Lighting mode. The 7 Plus doesn't offer Depth Control for Portrait Mode either, a feature that allows you to alter the background blur after you've taken the shot.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both have a 7-megapixel front-facing camera like the iPhone XR with a f/2.2 aperture and a Retina Flash, but neither is capable of facial recognition, Portrait mode or Portrait lighting.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus meanwhile, both have single lens rear cameras with a 12-megapixel sensor and a f/2.2 aperture. There is optical image stabilisation on the 6S Plus but not on the standard 6S and both come with a True Tone flash but not Quad-LED like the newer models.

A 5-megapixel sensor is present on the front of both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, with an f/2.2 aperture and a Retina Flash like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models. The 6S and 6S Plus are only capable of 720p recording from the front though, while the iPhone 7 models offer 1080p from the front camera.

In a nutshell, the iPhone XR is the strongest camera performer of the models being compared here so if you're looking to upgrade your old iPhone because you want a better camera, the iPhone XR will offer this.

Hardware specs

  • iPhone XR: A12 chip, 64GB/128GB/256GB storage
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus: A10 chip, 32GB/128GB storage
  • iPhone 6S/6S Plus: A9 chip, 32GB/128GB storage

The Apple iPhone XR has an A12 Bionic chip with next-generation neural engine, which is the same as the iPhone XS and XS Max. It is available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage options and it offers a battery life of up to 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8, according to Apple.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both come with the A10 Fusion processor with embedded M10 motion coprocessor. They are available in 32GB and 128GB storage options, and the iPhone 7 is said to last two hours longer than the 6S, while the iPhone 7 Plus is said to last an hour longer than the 6S Plus.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus both come with the A9 chip with embedded M9 motion coprocessor. Like the iPhone 7 models, they are available in 32GB and 128GB store options but their battery lives will be slightly shorter than the likes of their respective predecessors as we mentioned.

The iPhone XR is also compatible with Qi wireless charging, while the iPhone 7 models and iPhone 6S models are not. It is worth mentioning that the iPhone XR and iPhone 7 models do not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the iPhone 6S models do.

Software

  • All run iOS 12
  • Extra features on iPhone XR

All models being compared here are capable of running on iOS 12, even if they didn't launch on this software like the iPhone XR.

There will be a few extra features here and there on the XR model however, especially as it uses Face ID over Touch ID and it has extra camera features such as Depth Control within the Portrait mode, but the overall user experience will be very similar across all five models.

Price

 

The Apple iPhone XR starts at £749 - it is on sale from 26 October. It comes in six colours comprising black, white, blue, yellow, coral and PRODUCT(RED).

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are still available through Apple in four colours comprising Black, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold. They start at £449 and £569 respectively, which is £100 cheaper than when they originally launched.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are no longer available through Apple, though you might find them elsewhere. They will be the cheapest of the models being compared here, if you can get your hands on them.

Conclusion

The Apple iPhone XR is the most exciting of the models being compared here and it is also the most advanced in terms of specs, offering the largest display, camera improvements and a redesigned body.

It also offers the highest storage capacity, plenty of colour options and extra features, such as wireless charging and excellent facial recognition (you won't miss Touch ID after a few days). For those considering upgrading from either the 6S models or the 7 models, the iPhone XR will deliver a big difference. If the price is a little too high though, you could consider the iPhone 8 models, or see if you can get a deal on the older iPhone X.

If you want a fresher design and you're happy to take the plunge from Touch ID to Face ID though, the iPhone XR is an excellent option and significantly cheaper than the iPhone XS and XS Max. If you want a more wallet-friendly option that still offers great specifications and an excellent camera, the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus remain good bets even if they are a little bit older and they still bring a few extra features over the iPhone 7 and 6S models.

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