iPhone XR Review: The Best “Budget” iPhone to Buy

Apple iPhone now costs as much as laptops out there and that means you are not going to buy a new one frequently, or if you do, you may be thinking really hard about which one is right for you. That’s why the iPhone XR is a solid option for users who are in the market for a cheaper iPhone.

In reality, the iPhone XR now starts at $750 and that’s still a lot of money for some users with limited budget. However, that’s a lot less than the staggering $1,000 price tag of the iPhone X and iPhone XS.

The iPhone XR is slightly behind its siblings in terms of the display and the camera. However, it has its own cool things that make you pay for it. And we’ll help you discover how, in the section below.


iPhone XR and iPhone XS share some design elements. Indeed, it has the same shape, same glass back, and rounded corners. However, the difference lies in the anodized sides of the XR, which are made of aluminum, a slight material downgrade from the stainless steel on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

In reality, the aluminum is a design material which was once used on older iPhones. However, Apple officially moved away from its traditional material in 2016 in favor of the stainless steel. I don’t say the iPhone XR is not premium; in fact, it is still one of the most beautiful iPhones on the market.

Yellow or Red?

The iPhone XR comes in six new colors and the yellow one is my favorite. It’s actually a bright yellow color, which is pretty cool. The red option is still great to pick up, so I will give my second place to it.

There is a notch at the top of the display. To be honest, I am not a big fan a notch smartphone as it takes up some screen space. That’s not a big deal for some users, but it is pretty annoying to me.

Bezels on iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR

What really makes me super annoying is the bezels. These bezels on the iPhone XR, which are a couple millimeters thicker than the iPhone XS, are pretty noticeable to me everyday. To be honest, you do get used to it after a little while, but as an iPhone 10s user, it’s a big issue.


Display is the biggest difference between the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. Indeed, the iPhone XR has the so-called liquid Retina display. You can ignore the fancy name as it’s basically a 6.1 inch LCD display with curved corners and big bezels. To be fair, the screen on the XR is great; it has good viewing angle and good brightness.

The difference really stands out when you zoom in a picture and you should notice that the pixels are breaking up. But, the color is still so great and vibrant that you will probably never know the difference in most everyday use.

Haptic vibrations are cool on the iPhone XR

There is no 3D Touch on the iPhone XR, which is a little bit disappointing. Personally, I like 3D Touch for previewing links and peeking at some info and apps. However, if you hardly use 3D Touch on older iPhones or this is the first time you are using an iPhone, it’s really fine not to have it. In reality, the iPhone XR features what Apple calls haptic vibrations that still make me feel like I am pressing firmly on something.


The iPhone XR has a single camera on the back. Basically, that’s the same as the primary camera on the iPhone XS, but it does not have a second telephoto lens. For the most part, the iPhone XR is great and takes cool photos, just like its siblings.

The front-facing TrueDepth camera has the same setup as the iPhone XS and includes portrait mode effects like Face ID and Animoji. The iPhone XR also supports smart HDR, helping the phone grab more details and get faster focus.

The biggest difference is that this phone does not have a second camera at the rear, which pisses me off. In reality, the rear camera on the XR has only a single lens, just like the Google Pixel 3, but the Pixel 3 does a better job of producing portraits.

iPhone XR and iPhone XS portrait mode

In terms of portrait mode, the iPhone XR supports portrait shooting on the rear camera. But, there is a slight difference about taking a portrait on the XR. Indeed, The XR handles portrait photos using some kind of software, while the iPhone XR relies on a second telephoto lens on the back. That means that at the same distance, you will be seeing the subject a lot closer on the iPhone XS or XS Max.

Another thing that’s worth noting is that portrait mode on the XR only works with people, not animals and objects. That’s unlike the iPhone XS which can work with anything. The iPhone XR has digital zoom only and you simply pinch with two fingers to zoom in. However, the quality is not as good as you expect.

iPhone XR has 5x digital zoom and no optical zoom

After all, the iPhone XR’s camera is still great for general use. It has more sharpness and details. The lack of telephoto lens on the XR may affect your zoom scenarios, but it’s not a big deal for lots of users out there.

Battery life

The iPhone XR has a 2942mAh battery, which is pretty impressive. To be fair, the XR’s battery life is even better than the iPhone XS Max’s in some ways. That makes sense seeing that the XR only has a 720p display. Overall, you will get a full-day battery and even a longer battery in normal use.

Wrapping Up

Pros Cons
Beautiful, colorful design Lower-resolution screen
A12 Processor is powerful Lacks optical zoom
Great battery life Portrait mode limited to people
Good camera No 3D Touch
Fast Face ID Single camera
Wireless charging is good Aluminum seems outdated

The iPhone XR is a solid choice for those who are looking for a more affordable iPhone. Indeed, at $250 cheaper than the iPhone XS, this is a better deal after all. The biggest downsides are the display and the camera, but the XR is still a better phone when compared to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7.

Are you planning to grab the iPhone XR? Let us know in the comments below.

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