iPhone XR Hands-on: The Best New iPhone for Most People

Editors’ Note: This article was originally posted after Apple’s Sept. 12 launch event for the new iPhones. We’ve updated it with additional information now that we’ve had a chance to test and review the iPhone XS and XS Max prior to the the iPhone XR’s Oct. 26 release.

The $749 iPhone XR is a clear attempt by Apple to bring its whole lineup up to iPhone X standards while delivering a more affordable price, even if the company needed to make some trade-offs to get there.

And based on my hands-on impressions of the iPhone XR, this 6.1-inch phone may very well succeed in that mission. You get a big screen and cutting-edge features for $250 less than the iPhone XS Max. Also, I really dig the yellow.

On the plus side, the iPhone XR has Face ID, so you can unlock your phone by simply using your face as the password. And, thanks to the new A12 Bionic processor, that unlocking should be faster than with the iPhone X, especially if our experience with the now-available iPhone XS and XS Max are any indication. 

MORE: Buy iPhone XS Now or Wait for iPhone XR? Here’s Your Cheat Sheet

iPhone XR Specs

iPhone XR
Starting Price $749
Processor A12 Bionic
Screen 6.1-inch LCD (1,792 x 828 Pixels)
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Face ID Yes
Rear Camera Single 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
Front Camera 7MP, ƒ/2.2
Battery Life (claimed) Up to 16 hours of video playback
Metal frame Aluminum
Colors Black, White, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Coral
Weight 6.8 ounces
Size 5.9 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches

The glass back is where the fun starts. And that’s because you take your pick of six different colors: black, white, red, yellow, blue and coral. I spent the most time with the coral model, which felt a lot more premium than the plastic iPhone C back in the day.

While the 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display covers most of the phone’s face, there’s noticeable bezels all the way around compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max. I wouldn’t say it’s ugly, but it’s definitely noticeable.

MORE: iPhone XR vs iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max – What Should You Buy?

Are you bummed about the single rear camera? Don’t be. The iPhone XR will still offer the same Smart HDR feature that impressed us with the iPhone XS and XS Max, and more advanced bokeh that you can tweak after the fact. However, you won’t be able to do 2x zoom, which I would definitely miss.Apple is claiming up to 16 hours of video playback on this phone, which is 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X. On the storage front, you won’t be able to go all the way up to 512GB as you can on the iPhone XS and XS Max, but the 64GB to start isn’t shabby for the price.

As for the display, this LCD is colorful, but you won’t enjoy the same super-wide viewing angles that OLED panels offer. The resolution is fairly sharp at 1792 x 828 pixels.

At $749, the iPhone XR is priced between the former prices for the iPhone 8 ($699) and iPhone 8 Plus ($799), so it seems like a fair price to pay for a more full-screen design, faster processor and more advanced camera. Then again, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are now both $100 cheaper.

Unlike the iPhone XS and XS Max, which are both now in stores, you’ll have to wait another month for the iPhone XR. Pre-orders on the least expensive iPhone X model start Oct. 19, with the phone going on sale Oct. 26. Stay tuned for our full review of the iPhone XR to see if it strikes the right balance of features, performance and price. But as of right now, the XR looks like it will be the runaway hit this holiday season.

Credit: Tom’s Guide

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