Apple revealed three new iPhones revealed at its September event, comprising a refreshed iPhone X, called the iPhone XS, a larger iPhone X called the iPhone XS Max and a replacement for the iPhone 8 called the iPhone XR. Yes you read that right, the iPhone XR, not the iPhone 9.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Design
- New design for iPhone XR
- iPhone XR between 8 and 8 Plus in terms of size
- IP67 water and dust resistance on all three
- No Touch ID for iPhone XR
The Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus feature aluminum cores sandwiched between a glass front and back. They come in gold, silver, space grey and product red colour options and they are both IP67 water and dust resistant.
The iPhone 8 measures 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm and weighs 148g, while the iPhone 8 Plus measures 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm and weighs 202g. Both feature the Touch ID home button beneath the display, and the iPhone 8 has a single camera on the rear, while the 8 Plus has a horizontally-aligned dual camera.
The iPhone XR ditches Touch ID entirely, as the iPhone X did last year, offering Face ID for authentication instead like the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max both do too. It therefore features a similar design to the iPhone X family, hence the new name.
There is a notched display on the front like the other models, though it features an aluminium core rather than stainless steel in order to keep costs down. There is also a single camera on the back of the iPhone XR, rather than dual like the iPhone 8 Plus.
In terms of footprint, the iPhone XR measures 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm and weighs 194g, putting it between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It also comes in black, white, blue, red, coral, blue and yellow, offering a little more variety than the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. There is also IP67 waterproofing on board.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Display
- iPhone XR has larger display
- True Tone on all models
- LCD panel on all models
- iPhone XR has different aspect ratio
The Apple iPhone 8 comes with a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with a 1334 x 750 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 326ppi. The iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch Retina HD display with a Full HD resolution for a pixel density of 401ppi.
Both are LCD displays and both feature Apple's True Tone technology, along with a P3 wide colour gamut and 3D Touch. They also both have a standard 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Apple iPhone XR comes with a 6.1-inch display, though as we mentioned above its footprint is between the 8 and the 8 Plus, which is thanks to the iPhone XR adopting the same 19.5:9 aspect ratio as the iPhone X.
The iPhone XR continues to offer an LCD display like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, rather than switch to OLED like the iPhone X, though Apple has made improvements, calling it a Liquid Retina screen. It has a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 326ppi, like the iPhone 8.
As expected, the iPhone XR continues to offer True Tone technology, along with the P3 wide colour gamut but it doesn't have 3D Touch. Instead, Apple has put something called Haptic Touch on the XR.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Hardware
- iPhone XR comes with new chip
- 64GB and 256GB storage options on all models
- 128GB on XR only
- Battery improvements on iPhone XR
The Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both come with the A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, a neural engine and embedded M11 motion coprocessor. They also both come in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities, neither of which offer microSD support.
A fingerprint sensor is built into the home button and both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have built-in stereo speakers and no 3.5mm headphone jack. They also both offer wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO.
The iPhone 8 has a slightly smaller battery to the larger model, promising up to 14 hours talk time, while the iPhone 8 Plus promises up to 21 hours talk time.
The iPhone XR arrives on an upgraded chip, called the A12, which is a 7nm processor that is said to offer 15 per cent increase in CPU speed and 40 per cent increase in efficiency, as well as 50 per cent increase in GPU speed. It also improves battery life with the iPhone XR offering 1.5 hours more than the iPhone 8 Plus.
Storage models remain the same as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus but the iPhone XR also adds a 128GB option. There is no microSD support or the resurrection of the 3.5mm headphone jack but the iPhone XR is eSIM compatible, allowing for two numbers or plans.
As mentioned earlier, the iPhone XR opts for Face ID over Touch ID and it also supports gigabit LTE data transmission speeds and 4x4 MIMO standards. Stereo speakers are on board again too and they too offer improvements with wider stereo sound and stereo recording capabilities.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Cameras
- iPhone XR has single rear camera
- iPhone XR has TrueDepth front camera
- Portrait Mode on iPhone XR and iPhone 8 Plus
The Apple iPhone 8 has a singular 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture, while the iPhone 8 Plus has a dual 12-megapixel rear camera made up of a f/1.8 wide angle sensor and a f/2.4 telephoto sensor.
Both models offer optical image stabilisation, as well as features including digital zoom, noise reduction and Auto HDR for images, but only the iPhone 8 Plus has optical zoom and Portrait Mode. Both models have a 7-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a Retina Flash.
The iPhone XR has a 12-megapixel singular rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture but it's a new sensor compared to the iPhone 8, with 1.4µm pixels and larger Focus Pixels. The new sensor coupled with the new processor allows the iPhone XR to offer a new feature called Smart HDR, as well as Portrait Mode with Depth Control and advanced bokeh and there is a new True Tone flash too.
Like the iPhone XS and XS Max, the iPhone XR also has the 7-megapixel TrueDepth front camera for FaceID and Animojis.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Software
- iOS 12
- Similar software experience
The Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both run on iOS 11, but they will both see an upgrade to iOS 12 when it launches.
The iPhone XR launches on iOS 12 meaning the software experience between all these devices will be very similar. The iPhone XR will have a few extras though including FaceID and the Portrait Mode with Depth Control, among a couple of other things.
Apple iPhone XR vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Price and conclusions
The Apple iPhone 8 started at £699 and the iPhone 8 Plus started at £799 when they launched in 2017. Their prices have now been reduced however, starting at £599 and £699 respectively.
The iPhone XR will start at £749 making it a little more expensive than the iPhone 8 Plus.
The new device brings a refreshed design, several new colour options and a more advanced processor, as well as improvements to the battery life and camera capability over the iPhone 8 models.
The new design might not be to everyone's taste though and with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus reducing in price, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are still excellent devices that could be worthy of consideration if you're looking to update your iPhone but you want the trust home button intact.
That said, if your budget allows, the iPhone XR is likely to be worth the extra £150 for with its new chip and that full screen.
You can read all about the 2018 iPhones in our separate feature if you want a bit more information on what each device offers.