iPhone XR vs iPhone X: Better to stay put?

With new iPhones for 2018 now in the spotlight, we’re left wondering how Apple’s best of 2017, the iPhone X, compares to the most conservative member of the new guard, the iPhone XR.

Can the new base iPhone be considered an upgrade over last year’s flagship, or are those already in possession of an iPhone X better to stick with or instead consider the XR’s more potent companions – the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max?

iPhone XR vs iPhone X – Design

The iPhone XR has the iPhone X to thank for its good looks. Last year’s flagship iPhone signified a fork in Apple’s smartphone design language, most notably with the adoption of an elongated display and the characteristic notch – a feature that’s become commonplace in 2018.

The X and XR both take the form of a sandwich of curved glass with a metal frame bordering the face and back – polished stainless steel on the iPhone X, colour-matched matte 7000 series aluminium on the XR. Whichever handset you pick, there’s no headphone jack here, just the company’s own Lightning connector at the base. The 5.8-inch display of the older X is dwarfed by the newer, larger 6.1-inch Liquid Retina Display on the XR.

Despite its additional size, however, you could argue that it offers the weaker viewing experience; it trades AMOLED technology for LCD (even though Apple claims this is “the most advanced LCD ever in a smartphone”).

Both handsets are pretty hardy, too, thanks to IP67 dust and water-resistance, while their glass-backed bodies also accommodate Qi wireless charging.

The iPhone X gave us our first taste of Face ID, doing away with the long-standing Touch ID-laden physical home button that once defined the look of an iPhone. Instead, it incorporated Apple’s new TrueDepth camera array, plus Animoji – a feature unique to the X amid 2017’s iPhone crop. Now all three of this year’s entrants, including the iPhone XR, sport a TrueDepth sensor of their own and, as such, share in the X’s Animoji and, now, Memoji support.

iPhone XR vs iPhone X– Specs and features

Beyond the TrueDepth sensor and the capabilities it facilitates, the handsets share a few other features too. They offer the same 64GB and 256GB storage configurations, although the XR also comes in a 512GB configuration; both run iOS 12 (with the iPhone X getting an upgrade from iOS 11); both pack in 7-megapixel front-facing cameras; and both support HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

iPhone X iPhone XR
Display 5.8-inch 1124 x 2436 AMOLED 6.1-inch 1792 x 828 IPS LCD
Processor Apple A11 Bionic Apple A12 Bionic
Rear camera Dual 12-megapixels Single 12-megapixels
Front camera 7-megapixels 7-megapixels
Software iOS 12 (upgraded from iOS 11) iOS 12
Storage 64/256GB 64/256/512GB

Apple’s A11 Bionic chip is still proving to be a formidable piece of silicon in benchmarking tests. It continues to render the iPhone X an unquestionably responsive handset, delivering a flagship-class experience whether you’re browsing social media, gaming or enjoying an augmented-reality experience. The XR’s newer A12 Bionic chip simply takes things up a notch, topping the iPhone X in every benchmark and real-world performance test you can throw at it.

iPhone XR vs iPhone X – Camera

The biggest visible difference, aside from size, may well be what lies on the back of both of these robust smartphones. The iPhone X’s dual 12-megapixel camera array sat atop the pile with regards to features and quality when compared to what its launch siblings, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, had to offer.

The main advantage of that dual setup is lossless optical zoom, which the single sensor on the XR lacks. Despite its monocular configuration though it’s the first iPhone that retains the company’s portrait mode (which throws subtle background blur or virtual lighting effects into the mix) technology on the rear camera too.

iPhone XR vs iPhone X – Price

Unless you were living under a rock from September to November time last year, you would have heard about the £1000/$1000 iPhone. Due to the technical advancements that Apple brought about with the iPhone X, the company decided that its new top handset justified a bump up to the ceiling of iPhone starting prices. At £999/$999 for the base 64GB model, the iPhone X was unapologetically pricey.

The newer iPhone XR, meanwhile, is a slightly different proposition. It’s still far from an affordable handset at £749/$749, but provided you’re okay missing out on the X’s superior screen and dual camera, you can pick up a more powerful smartphone with greater future-proofing for a touch less.


The iPhone X remains a stonkingly good smartphone and trumps the XR in a number of ways, but for the right buyer the XR’s beefier processor, larger display and/or lower price tag may be enough to entice people who are torn between the two.

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