Those looking to buy a new iPhone this year face one of the toughest decisions ever presented by Apple. Rather than just offer you a new iPhone, or a larger version of the new iPhone, there is a third choice this year: iPhone XR.

The "middle device" comes with the same powerful processor, a bigger screen, and is £250 cheaper than the iPhone XS.  

Which one should you choose? We run the numbers to see which one is best suited to you.


Best Apple iPhone XR deals

 

What's the same on iPhone XS and iPhone XR

The key similarities with the two devices are that the two phones run the same Apple A12 Bionic processor, and both offer a buttonless experience similar to iPhone X when it launched in 2017.

That faster processor certainly makes a huge difference when it comes to running power hungry apps or games, and combined with the new iOS 12, makes things run a lot more smoothly. The swipe gestures compared to the home button experience found on all the single-digit named iPhones is quickly forgotten and using an all-screen device is intuitive to the point that you'll wonder how you coped previously.

Both devices also offer wireless charging, which is certainly welcome addition if you've not enjoyed that before. Buy a wireless charger from the likes of Mophie or Belkin and now you can simply plonk your phone on the charging pad and it will start charging. No faffing around with plugging in cables as you fall into bed.

Both also offer the same front facing camera and both offer Face ID, which will change the way you unlock your phone for the better. Pick up your phone, look at the display, and swipe to unlock, it's that easy.

What different on iPhone XR and iPhone XS?

While the core design experience, software and processor are the same, there are plenty of differences between the two models and that's what makes the job of choosing one harder.

Price

 

The price is always going to be a big deciding factor in choosing a new phone. The new iPhone XR starts at £749 while iPhone XS starts at £999 in the UK. There are plenty of great deals available and how much you want to pay up front will determine your monthly on-going costs.

Colours

Apple has though opted to be more "playful" with iPhone XR colours and it comes in black, white, red, yellow, coral and light blue compared to the more "grown-up" gold, silver and space grey colours of the iPhone XS.

The new iPhone XR also features an aluminium chassis compared to the more robust stainless steel found in the iPhone XS which might make a difference over time as the aluminium is likely to pick up scuffs more easily.

Display

One of the biggest physical differences between the two devices is the display. iPhone XS gets a top of the line 5.8-inch display with a pixel density of 458ppi. iPhone XR in contrast features an LED Retina display, but that display is bigger.

iPhone XR display is 326ppi on a 6.1-inch panel using the same tech that was used in iPhone 6 and 7, so users upgrading might be happy to stay with the same technology. There is no question that iPhone XS screen is better, but you might find you prefer the slightly larger screen area of iPhone XR.

The new iPhone XR model also loses 3D Touch (who uses that anyway?) and HDR - which you might find useful if you watch a lot of Netflix or Amazon Prime on the go.

Size

Because of the bigger screen, iPhone XR is physically bigger than iPhone XS, which measures 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm and weighs 177g.  iPhone XR measures 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm and weighs 194g. As you can see from those numbers, there is very little between the two. Perhaps a more visual way of seeing it is that iPhone XS is slightly bigger than iPhone 7, while iPhone XR is slightly smaller than iPhone 7 Plus.

Cameras

In simple terms, iPhone XS has two cameras on the rear, iPhone XR only has one. But before you think that solves it, it's not as easy as that.

iPhone XR still offers all the same Portrait Mode and Depth control features as the iPhone XS. The biggest difference is that iPhone XR doesn't feature the secondary 12-megapixel telephoto lens so doesn't offer optical zoom in the same way iPhone XS can, and because of that Portrait Mode only works on people on iPhone XR rather than anything as in iPhone XS.   

In our tests, both take fantastic pictures, and both iPhones show a noticeable improvement over previous models and what has been capable before. We especially like the new Depth of Field feature on both models that lets you adjust backgrounds to make the subject "pop".

Conclusion

As we stated at the start, the decision of which one to go for is really tough. iPhone XS comes with a more premium build, a better, albeit smaller screen, and the second camera for better zoom.

However, the new iPhone XR comes with a bigger, although less technically impressive screen, that cheaper £250 starting price, more colour options, and a camera that for many will be just as good as the one on iPhone XS.

Either way, both are fantastic devices.

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