Quickly following the release of the iPhone XS, Apple introduced iPhone XR, which has nearly the same features as its predecessor. Both are indeed older generation models, but significantly cheaper if you cannot afford the latest iPhones.
Initial confusion aside, there are some distinctions between the two to consider. The iPhone XR is a better buy than the iPhone XS because of its larger display, longer battery life, and identical excellent performance at a significantly reduced price. Those looking for the finest possible screen and two back cameras might consider the XS. Camera quality is the determining factor for many. It is hard to ignore the XS if you love taking photos, as it features dual rear cameras.
So, which of these two iPhones—the XS or the XR—should you buy? Read on to learn about our in-depth comparison of the two phones and our recommendations for which one to buy.
iPhone XR vs XS: Side-by-Side Comparison
iPhone XR vs. XS: What’s the Difference?
- A12 Bionic chip
- 6.1-inch liquid retina display
- 12MP camera
- IP67 rated protection from liquids and dust
What you see on your phone’s display matters. It is the hub for documents, media, and more, and something you will be staring at constantly throughout the day. And that is why the size matters a lot.
Despite its popularity, the iPhone XR is only available in one size, with a 6.1-inch screen. However, the iPhone XS comes in two different sizes: The basic iPhone XS is 5.8 inches tall, and a larger 6.5 inch “Max” model, which looks cool but costs an extra $100.
The iPhone XR’s screen is around 5% bigger, but it is also 10% heavier and somewhat thicker than the iPhone XS. One of the main reasons for this is that, unlike OLED displays, LCD screens cannot be seamlessly incorporated into the chassis.
Upon first sight, the only noticeable difference between the two phones is the XR’s brightly colored bodies. But, if you look closely, you will notice more than that.
The iPhone XS is only available in three colors, including space gray, silver, and gold, but the XR comes in six color variations.
The iPhone XR’s larger display is probably the most notable difference. Despite this, the iPhone XR’s screen is subpar in every other way.
Where the XS comes with an OLED display that offers 2436X1136 pixels, you only get to see 1792 x 828 pixels on the XR and too on an LCD panel. Similarly, the contrast ratio of the iPhone XR is 1,400:1, and the XS supports a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1.
As you can see up top, the iPhone XR’s LCD instead of OLED and somewhat lower native resolution are its biggest shortcomings. It is astounding that the iPhone XR, which has a screen size of only 6.1 inches, cannot handle Full HD 1080p material.
OLED screens typically outperform LCD screens in terms of brightness, color accuracy, and contrast. While the iPhone XR’s LCD is impressive for a smartphone, it pales compared to the iPhone XS’s OLED display, which makes watching HD movies a joy.
Astoundingly, the A12 Bionic technology that powers the iPhone XS also powers the iPhone XR. But the difference becomes noticeable because of the RAM capacity.
The iPhone XS provides 4GB RAM, whereas 3GB RAM powers the XR. As a result, multitasking performance will increase marginally because more applications can stay in memory at once without being forced to reload.
While the iPhone X just had 3GB and was not slow, the iPhone XS’s dual camera system necessitates the increased RAM. And together with the A12 chip, the increased RAM delivers a 15% increase in peak CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics performance and idle power economy.
Network and Call Quality
Both phones offer great call quality. The exciting development is that these iPhones can use the faster 4G 600 MHz bands. Before iOS 11.3 was released, iPhones were incompatible with the 600MHz frequency band utilized by carriers to bring service to previously unserved areas.
Even while the iPhone XR lacks the iPhone XS’s new 4G Cat 16 LTE speeds, its Cat 12 600Mbit performance more than meets your needs. While Apple may be trailing behind in 5G support, no one using such lightning-fast 4G connections is likely to notice.
Software and Apps
For the time being, both iPhones come factory-installed with iOS 12, the version of iOS introduced simultaneously with the devices. This was a solid improvement over iOS 11, mostly due to the enhanced notification interaction and the arrival of group FaceTime.
Memoji joins Animoji, letting you create a real-time reactive emoji of yourself to transmit through iMessage. Only the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR, with their True Depth front-facing cameras, can use this feature.
In iOS 12, battery health data is available in the settings app so you can monitor your device’s battery life. One phone is identical to the other in terms of software. However, iOS 13 is available for download.
While both devices have nearly identical front and rear cameras, the iPhone XR cannot perform optical zoom. It relies on digital zooming as it has no additional telephote lens.
The digital zoom capabilities of the iPhone XS are also superior to those of the iPhone XR. With the XR, you can only achieve a 5X digital zoom for still images and a 3X digital zoom for video.
On the contrary, the XS can achieve a whopping 10X digital zoom for still images and a whopping 6X digital zoom for videos. And, of course, you cannot ignore its impressive 2X optical zoom.
These phones support Apple’s new ‘Smart HDR’ image processing. To compensate for the iPhone’s traditionally low dynamic range, this technique merges multiple images shot at different exposures to render a single image. It is similar to Google’s HDR+ on the Pixel 2, which will always be among the best camera phones available today.
Those on the fence regarding the iPhone XR’s LCD should know a lower resolution is much less demanding, and the larger size allows Apple to fit a bigger battery.
iPhone XS comes 2,658 mAh battery, whereas iPhone XR comes with a 2,942 mAh battery. This difference in battery size makes the iPhone XR perhaps more suitable than any other. It outlasts the iPhone XS in most uses and can compete with the more expensive iPhone XS Max.
Both these models are compatible with fast wired charging, reaching 50% from empty in 30 minutes. However, Apple has again opted not to bundle a fast charger with the device. It is bad enough that Apple does not provide one with the iPhone XR, but not getting it with the XS feels nothing short of daylight robbery.
- Unlocked phone for carrier of your choice
- Charger and cord included
- Storage: 256GB
- Apple's A16 Bionic chip inside
Both phones have additional features that help you make a better buying decision. For example, the iPhone XS has an IP68 rating, meaning it can withstand water immersion up to two meters deep for half an hour. The iPhone XR has a lower IP67 rating and is water resistant up to one meter.
Another interesting feature on the XS is “3D Touch”, which is not available on the XR. Using this feature, you can easily access the submenus by pressing your phone’s screen.
On the other hand, iPhone XR users can take advantage of Apple’s 3D Touch feature by touching and holding the screen. But unlike the iPhone XS, they will not feel any vibrations or other haptic feedback.
5 Must-Know Facts about the iPhone XR vs XS
- The OLED screen of the iPhone XS is more sophisticated and has a higher resolution than the LCD screen of the iPhone XR.
- The XR has a larger True Tone Liquid Retina display, which still looks amazing.
- IPhone XS and XR have a powerful A12 Bionic Chip for enough power to handle face recognition, cameras, and augmented reality games.
- The XS is the better option for camera lovers because it comes with dual lenses and the optical zoom required for amazing photos.
- With an IP68 rating, the iPhone XS is slightly more water-resistant than the XR.
iPhone XR vs XS: Which Should You Buy?
Despite that, Apple removed practically every useful feature from the iPhone XS to make the XR, the things they gave up were always expendable.
Yes, there is a difference in screen quality, but ultimately, it comes down to your budget. While OLED panels offer superior black levels and contrast, the great majority of consumers will find LCDs to be more than enough. The pixel density is 326 ppi, three times higher than the pixel density of a 40-inch 4K TV (110 ppi).
However, do not forget that the iPhone XR’s battery life is much better, and its many color options make it more attractive. The iPhone XS series is great for those who want to (or can afford to) always be at the forefront of technology, but the iPhone XR is the best option for everyone else.
For some customers, the iPhone XR’s lack of an OLED display, twin cameras, or thin bezels will necessitate upgrading to the more expensive iPhone XS. But for most consumers, the iPhone XR is an excellent value with all the unnecessary extras cut out.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©N.Z.Photography/Shutterstock.com.