Last year I bought my Apple iPhone X using the T-Mobile Jump On Demand program so upgrading to a new phone this year was a simple option with a small price to pay. I jumped to the iPhone XS Max, but returned it within the two week evaluation period.
Yesterday the new iPhone XR arrived as I decided to try a slightly smaller iPhone with a $10/month lower monthly fee. The iPhone XR may turn out to be the best-selling iPhone in 2018 with compromises made in subtle ways at a price $250 less than the iPhone XS and $350 less than the XS Max.
Also: iPhone XS Max review: The iPhone’s future is big and bright
The Apple iPhone XR is the least expensive iPhone released this fall, but it is not the smallest. The iPhone XS has a 5.8 inch display and the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5 inch display. The iPhone XR falls in between with a 6.1 inch display. Compromises made by Apple to get the iPhone XR to be the lowest priced option include LCD instead of OLED, IP67 instead of IP68, haptic touch vs 3D Touch, aluminum vs stainless steel frame, CAT 12 vs CAT 16 LTE support, one rear camera instead of two rear cameras, and 3GB of RAM instead of 4GB.
The iPhone XR has Face ID, the loud stereo speakers, support for Apple’s advanced camera software enhancements (Smart HDR, portrait mode, etc) even with just a single rear camera, dual SIM support, and an Apple A12 Bionic chipset. The iPhone XR also has longer rated battery life than the iPhone XS and XS Max.
- Processor: Apple A12 Bionic six-core CPU, rour-core GPU, M12 motion coprocessor
- Display: 6.1 inch 1792×828 pixels resolution IPS LCD (326 ppi)
- Operating system: Apple iOS 12
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 64, 128, and 256 GB internal options
- Cameras: 12 megapixel f/1.8 aperture, OIS, Quad-LED True Tone flash. 7 megapixel front facing camera with f/2.2 aperture.
- Wireless technology: LTE Advanced, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo
- Dust and water resistance: IP67
- Battery: 2,942 mAh battery rated at up to 25 hours of talk time, 65 hours of audio playback, and 16 hours of video. Wireless charging and fast charging (with charger sold separately)
- Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm and 194 grams
- Colors: Black, White, Blue, Yellow, Coral, and PRODUCT Red
The iPhone XR is the only one of the new generation iPhones with the 128GB storage option and it may be the sweet spot in 2018 with a premium over the 64GB one of just $50. It’s the capacity I bought and given that I made it a year with a 64GB iPhone X, should be plenty to satisfy me.
Given that I ordered the Coral color iPhone XR, the first thing I did was remove the phone from the package and flip it over to see what Coral really meant. Orange is one of my favorite colors and the images online appeared to show this was the closest match to orange.
The back panel is salmon color and more of a pink than orange in most lighting conditions. It appears orange-ish in some environmental conditions and so far I still like Coral. The aluminum edges are a different shade and look more orange or copper in color. It’s different and considering I can add a case or skin I don’t think I’m returning it just for the color.
I also like the color yellow so may have to stop by a T-Mobile or Apple store to check out that color option as well. The good thing this year with the iPhone XR is that you have six color options to choose from and with T-Mobile Jump On Demand I can switch color/storage options in the future too.
When you first hold an iPhone X/XS/XS Max in your hand the first thing that strikes you is the way the display takes up most of everything you see in your hand. The viewable display extends out to the very edge of all four sides, while most Android phones tend to have noticeable top and bottom bezels. The iPhone XR has a similar full display look, but with bezels more reminiscient of the iPhone 8 due to the space requirements for the LCD technology.
The black bezels around the display are noticeable, but they are consistent around all four edges so that the display still extends to the top and bottom further than most Android phones. Holding the iPhone X next to the iPhone XR, we see there are still black edges around the iPhone X so it isn’t as dramatic as you might think on the iPhone XR.
The iPhone XR also uses LCD technology instead of OLED, but in typical fashion that we have seen from Apple for years it still looks fantastic. With my aging eyes, I don’t see any real difference in resolution and so far the brightness, color, and clarity is perfectly fine.
Also: iPhone XS review: Everything Apple has to offer, but in a smaller package
The ringer switch and volume buttons are on the upper lift, the side button is on the upper right, the SIM card slot is on the lower right, and the Lightning port is on the bottom. The single camera lens sits out prominently on the upper left corner of the back with the LED flash below it.
The stereo speakers sound great, the phone is extremely responsive, and so far my experiences mirror what I have seen on the iPhone X and XS Max.
The iPhone XR runs the same iOS 12.0.1 seen on all other modern iPhones. Even though I bought this iPhone XR from T-Mobile there is not a single piece of bloatware installed, as expected from Apple iPhones where Apple controls the experience and doesn’t let carriers contaminate it like we see on Android phones.
I loved using the iPhone X over the past year and it was a rare thing for me to keep an iPhone for an entire year. However, with the T-Mobile JOD program, I’m jumping to one of the new devices. After finding the XS Max to be too big, I figured I would just get the iPhone XS that comes in the same form factor as my beloved iPhone X.
After a day of using the iPhone XR, it looks like this one may actually be a keeper. It is definitely larger than the iPhone X/XS, but still smaller than most of the Android phones I’ve been using for the past several months.
While I thought I liked the rear fingerprint scanner on most Androids, it sure is wonderful to use Face ID again with its flawless fast performance.
The Coral color is different and I think it will grow on me. The yellow or red are the only other colors I might consider as I try to mix it up a bit this year and skip the bland black phones I usually pick. I might cover the back with a skin eventually and keep the attractive orange edges showing.
We have a lot of testing and trials to carry out with the iPhone XR to confirm whether or not it is a keeper, but it sure helps that it is $250 and $350 less than the flagship XS models.