iPhone XR Review Roundup: The iPhone to Buy!

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 23 Oct 2018

Ahead of the iPhone XR going on sale later this week, the first batch of reviews of the handset has hit the web. The device has been unanimously praised in all reviews, with most publications feelings that the trade-off made by Apple to reach the slightly lower price point is worth it.

Below is a roundup of what the reviews are saying about the iPhone XR.

iPhone XR Review Roundup

The Verge

iPhone XR

It calls the display on the iPhone XR as “fine,” with most users unable to really distinguish the drop in quality when compared to the iPhone X or iPhone XS.

The display on the iPhone XR is… fine. It’s fine! It has lower resolution and pixel density than the OLEDs in new flagship phones like the iPhone XS, Galaxy S9, and Pixel 3, but it’s the same 326 pixels per inch as Apple’s previous non-Plus LCD iPhones. Anyone coming to this phone from any iPhone save the iPhone X will not notice a huge discrepancy in resolution. I suspect most people will find it totally acceptable.

Despite the lower price tag, Apple has given the same attention to detail on the iPhone XR as it does on its other devices.

It’s somewhat easier to round the corners of an OLED panel: each pixel is its own light source, so you can turn them off individually around the curve to smooth it out. You can’t do that with an LCD panel because there’s just one single backlight for the entire display, which will shine through the black pixels along the edge. So Apple built little apertures for the pixels around the corners of the XR display to mask some of the light coming through, on top of antialiasing the curve in software. It’s a neat example of Apple’s attention to detail.

Despite the single camera setup at the rear, the iPhone XR takes photos as good as the iPhone XS except where the secondary telephoto lens is required.

Overall, I think most people who are in the market for an iPhone XR will be happy with its camera — it’s a significant update from previous iPhone cameras, and, like the XS, it makes the iPhone X look downright bad. But the Pixel 3 still produces winners more consistently, and I prefer the more contrasty, natural look of its photos. And I’d much rather have the Pixel 3’s wide-angle selfie lens than the telephoto lens on the XS. We’ll have to see if Apple’s aggressively flattened photos take over Instagram and push everyone else to change their looks.

The best part? The iPhone XR offers better battery life than the iPhone XS which is on par with the iPhone XS Max.

The XR also has a larger battery than the X and XS, and it ran for about 13 hours in my everyday use of browsing, email, Slack, and various apps, with about 6 hours of screen on time, which is about the same as the XS Max and slightly more than the 8 Plus from last year.

Ultimately, The Verge believes Apple is going to sell a ton of iPhone XRs.

If one thing is clear about the iPhone XR, it’s that Apple is going to sell tons of these. They’re huge upgrades from the iPhone 6 era of Apple phones, with the latest processors and cameras, a big screen in an updated design, and a competitive opening price of $750 for the 64GB model. That’s $50 less than the smaller Pixel 3. It’s priced to move.



The display really is not going to bother most people.

After living with the iPhone XR for a week, I can safely say that most people (which might not include those of you reading Engadget) simply will not care about the dip in resolution. It’s true that you can see some individual pixels if you press your nose right up against the glass. It’s also true that you can easily spot the difference between the XR and XS displays when zooming in on photos. In typical, everyday use, though, the difference is negligible. Yes, you can tell it’s different from a premium Apple display, and yes, it would’ve been nice if Apple just went with the industry standard 1080p. Even so, I’ve found this display to be good enough. And I seriously doubt the average person upgrading from an older iPhone will find much to complain about. Colors are bright and vivid, and viewing angles are still excellent.

The lack of 3D Touch is odd but if you never used the feature, you are not going to miss it.

While it has nothing to do with the type of screen being used, the lack of Apple’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology is noticeable. A lot of people I know never actually use it, and it almost certainly would’ve driven the XR’s cost up, but hey, it debuted on the 6S back in 2015, and ditching it in a phone that is otherwise superior feels a bit odd.

The sole 12MP shooter at the rear is pretty darn good.

You’ll find a lot of detail and some excellent colors in the resulting stills, and it’s been surprisingly handy in low-light thanks to its f/1.8 aperture and sensor with deeper tranches between those pixels. Apple’s Smart HDR kicks in to improve dynamic range pretty often, too, which is often really helpful for preventing parts of some photos from being blown out entirely. But overall Apple’s approach here is a measured one that churns out consistently solid (if somewhat neutral) photos. And it even stays off completely in some situations when the camera doesn’t think it’s necessary.

Even the Portrait mode works pretty well despite relying on a single 12MP camera. However, it is important to note that it will only work when you point the camera to a person — anything else and it will simply won’t work.

And then there’s portrait mode, a feature that debuted on the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus. Reconfiguring it for a single, primary camera must’ve taken some work, and Apple pulled it off quite well. Backgrounds are appropriately blurred out while the subject’s face remains in sharp focus (you can change the level of bokeh after you’ve snapped the photos).

The iPhone XR really excels in the battery life department.

There is, however, one area where the XR does much better than either the XS or the XS Max: battery life. Simply put, the XR lasts the longest of any iPhone we’ve tested in the past two years. Because this is a review unit, I can’t exactly crack this thing open to see how big the battery is, but it’s a safe bet that the lower-resolution screen is partially to thank. Whatever the reason, the results were clear: I’ve routinely been able to squeeze north of seven hours of screen-on time out of the XR, which even more than I got out of iPhone XS Max’s massive battery.



iPhone XR Wired

The display is good but not great.

In many ways, the iPhone XR’s display is functionally the same as the iPhone XS’s, but it’s not materially the same. It’s also not as high-resolution as the screens that have shipped on other flagship phones this year. While the iPhone XR’s display is quite nice, it’s no OLED. OLED is the pool of water you just can’t help but dip your toe into, approximately 80 times a day, or however many times a day you check your phone. On second thought, maybe LCD is not such a bad thing.

The camera is excellent as well just like it is on the iPhone XS series.

But, if you’re comparing the XR with the XS, the camera capabilities on the iPhone XR are nearly the same as those on the XS, both when it comes to capturing still images and recording video. It has that wide-angle 12-megapixel rear camera, a 7-megapixel front camera with 3-D sensors, and dynamic range that has been improved from the HDR in last year’s phones. Overall, it’s an excellent camera.

The iPhone XR is a battery life champion.

I was seriously impressed with how long the handset lasted on a single charge, and have only experienced comparable battery life on a Plus-size phone. The XR’s battery life was even better than what I got on the iPhone XS Max.


Overall, it looks like if you can live with the subpar display, the iPhone XR is definitely a good option at $750. It offers 90 percent of the features of the iPhone XS series for a couple of hundred dollars less while offering even better battery life.

What do you think about the iPhone XR?