Apple announced its new iPhones at an event in September 2019 and like last year, there are three new iPhones to choose from: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

We've compared the three new models in a separate feature, but here we are looking at how the iPhone 11 compares to last year's iPhone XR

Should you upgrade from the iPhone XR, or if you have an older iPhone, should you buy the iPhone XR or the iPhone 11 given they are being sold alongside each other?

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Design

  • iPhone 11: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm, 194g
  • iPhone XR: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm, 194g

The Apple iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR both offer a similar design in that they both come in a number of colours, offer an aluminium frame and a glass rear. There's a notch at the top of both their displays and they are identical in terms of footprint and weight.

The iPhone XR is IP67 water resistant however, enabling it to be submerged up to one-metre for 30 minutes, while the iPhone 11 is IP68 rated, offering submergence up to two-metres for 30 minutes.

The iPhone 11 also has a dual rear camera, with a camera housing that features frosted glass to differentiate it from the rest of the glossy body and the Apple logo moves to the centre of the rear, with the iPhone working removed entirely. The iPhone XR meanwhile, has a single rear camera - making for the main difference in design between these two handsets - and it has the Apple logo higher up the rear, while the iPhone branding sits towards the bottom.

The colour options also differ between the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, with the iPhone 11's colours more pastel in their approach and nicer as a result. The green and purple options of the iPhone 11 are lovely, but we are big fans of the coral and blue options in the iPhone XR too.

Display

  • iPhone 11: 6.1-inch, LCD, 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, no HDR, 625nits
  • iPhone XR: 6.1-inch, LCD, 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, no HDR, 625nits

Both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR have a 6.1-inch, Liquid Retina LCD display that has a 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 326ppi.

Nothing has changed in terms of display when it comes to the cheaper iPhone models - the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR are identical. True Tone technology is still on board, along with a wide colour gamut, and there is still Haptic Touch over 3D Touch. Neither device offers the punch you'll find on the iPhone 11 Pro models, or other OLED smartphones, and there's no HDR either, but you'd only notice the difference if you placed them side-by-side with one of these other devices.

Otherwise, the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR deliver great displays with ample brightness and arguably more realistic colours compared to OLED panels. 

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Cameras

  • iPhone 11: Dual rear camera (12MP wide angle and ultra wide angle), 12MP TrueDepth front camera
  • iPhone XR: Single rear camera (12MP), 7MP TrueDepth front camera

One of the biggest differences between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR is their camera capabilities, with the iPhone 11 the superior device.

The iPhone 11 has a dual camera on the rear, comprised of a 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 and a wide-angle sensor with an aperture of f/1.8. There's optical image stabilisation, a brighter True Tone flash and Portrait Lighting with six effects, as well as next-generation Smart HDR for photos.

There is also Night Mode and Auto Adjustments on the iPhone 11, but it's the Night Mode that's the real stand out feature. The ultra-wide angle sensor allows you to get more in the shot than you would get on the iPhone XR, but Night Mode offers a significant improvement in low light environments compared to last year's model.

The iPhone XR meanwhile, has a single 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and digital zoom up to 5x. It also only offers three effects for Portrait Lighting, and first-gen Smart HDR for photos. 

The iPhone XR also has a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera system with an aperture of f/2.2 on the front, allowing for Face ID, among plenty of other features. It offers 1080p video recording at 30fps or 60fps.

The iPhone 11 meanwhile, has a 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front, with an aperture of f/2.2, next-gen Smart HDR for photos and 4K video recording at 24fps, 30fps and 60fps. There's also a slow-motion video option on the iPhone 11's front camera, allowing for what Apple calls Slofies. In reality, this is a pretty gimmicky feature - like Animoji and Memoji - but you can have some fun with it.

Hardware

  • iPhone 11: A13 chip, 64/256/512GB storage, Dual SIM
  • iPhone XR: A12 chip, 64/256/512GB storage, Dual SIM

Another of the main differences between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR is hardware. As you would expect, the iPhone 11 has a bump in hardware, moving from the A12 chip found in the iPhone XR to the A13 chip. Both devices are smooth in operation but the iPhone 11 offers a better battery life than the iPhone XR, even though the iPhone XR is actually very good still.

Both models come in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options though, and microSD for storage expansion isn't available on any model.

Both devices support dual SIM with a nano-SIM and eSIM and both devices are charged via Lightning. They also both offer Apple Pay and they both offer 4G, but not 5G capabilities.

Software

  • iPhone 11: iOS 13
  • iPhone XR: iOS 13 compatible

The Apple iPhone 11 brings the launch of iOS 13 with it, which means several new features including Dark Mode, a new Find My app that combines Find My Friends and Find My iPhone together, a swiping keyboard, an overhaul of Reminders and several other updates. 

You can read all about iOS 13 and what features it offers in more detail in our preview. The iPhone XR will also run on iOS 13 when the software lands on 19 September so it will offer the same overall user experience as the iPhone 11.

The iPhone 11 has a couple of features here and there that are hardware based - mainly in the camera department - and therefore not available on the iPhone XR but on the whole, the software experience between these devices is identical.

Price

  • iPhone 11: From $699/£729
  • iPhone XR: From $599/£629

The Apple iPhone 11 starts at $699/£729, which is a little cheaper than the Phone XR started at when it launched last year and very good value when compared to the iPhone 11 Pro models.

The iPhone XR will be sold alongside the iPhone 11, starting at $599/£629, making it a cheaper alternative.

Conclusion

The Apple iPhone 11 has a couple of upgrades over the iPhone XR, with the processor and camera capabilities being the main differences. The design remains largely the same between the two devices though, and the display and software experience are pretty much identical too. 

Upgrading from the iPhone XR to the iPhone 11 therefore only really offers a boost in camera - which might be enough for some - as well as a boost in speed, but aside from that, you'll get a pretty similar experience this time round.

Upgrading from an older iPhone to either the iPhone XR or iPhone 11 will offer plenty of differences, though you'll need to decide if you want to spend the extra £100 for the camera and processor boosts in the iPhone 11.

The iPhone 11 is a fantastic device, but the iPhone XR is too so chances are you'll be pleased with either. If you can afford the extra £100, the iPhone 11's Night Mode and secondary ultra-wide angle lens are worth it, as well as the extended battery life, but you won't be disappointed with the iPhone XR as it's still a great performer and great value now.