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Apple iPhone XR Review: The iPhone that serves you well

The iPhone XR gives you what much of the other iPhones offer, only for much less.

  • Published: December 10, 2018 12:26 PM IST
Apple iPhone XR (19)

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

Apple iPhone XR 4 5
BGR Rating :


  • The iPhone XR starts at Rs 76,900 in India.

  • It's available in a range of colors including White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral and Product RED.

  • It offers very similar hardware and performance capabilities compared to the more expensive XS and XS Max.

There’s always room for choice in this world. You’ll always have alternatives. You’ll always find yourself stuck between options. How do you decide? For some, it’s preference. For some it’s experience. For some, it’s cost. The smartphone market, already divided across the two ecosystems – Android and iOS – finds itself further crowded with three iPhones this year. In the last month, December 2018, iPhone advocates would find it difficult to choose their favorite. I had the opportunity to use the Apple iPhone XR for a month. Here’s my review.

Computing and graphics

The last time Apple decided to have a less expensive iPhone alongside its flagship was with the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C, back in 2013. It turned out consumers opted for the iPhone 5S, and it was a runaway success. It outperformed the iPhone 5C by more than double. While that defied expectations, the rational explanation is the fear of missing out. The iPhone 5C was powered by the A6 processor compared to the A7 on the 5S. This time around, the Apple iPhone XR runs the same processor as the XS and XS Max.

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

You won’t find a difference in performance between the XR and the XS or XS Max. Although there are differences between the XR, XS, XS Max and last year’s X, the XR package as a whole functions just as well as the others, thanks to effective optimization. If you want that little bit more, want the best iPhone you can have this year, or somehow feel having two cameras at the back is necessary, then you could read our review of the iPhone XS and XS Max.

The ‘Pixel’ that runs iOS

For Android and iOS purists, that’s blasphemy. I stand to be at loggerheads with about 90 percent of hyper-vocal fans out there. Apologies comrades! The iPhone XR attempts to accomplish what the Pixel 3 does for Google. Does it do a good job? Well that wouldn’t be a fair question. Because of the same ‘Apples vs Oranges’ precondition. The Pixel boasts of an impressive camera. Again, in daylight, there’s hardly a difference. But in nocturnal environments you’d see a significant world of change. Google’s prowess lies in software processing of sensor information. It appears Google has better image processing engineers.

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

I still find the iPhone XR a better phone though. It stands at par with this year’s best – iPhone XS and XS Max. There are differences in terms of a single camera instead of two, LCD instead of OLED. But let me be blunt here. You’d not find a difference. I try and get about 7 hours of sleep everyday. Like a phone on its charging cradle, I rejuvenate every night, sapping out during waking hours. Daily routine aside, I’m in front of a screen of some form or the other.

My tryst with screen light begins when I squint at my smartphone as I get out of bed. Through my office commute voraciously consuming content, to typing away on my laptop during the work day, I’m obsessed with my smartphone. Soon enough, I’m slowly getting lost in the dark of the night on my smartphone. Given my intensive use, I’ve activated Night Mode from evening to morning. It kicks in at 5pm and stays active till 7am. A yellow screen looks yellow. Admittedly, I exaggerate the extent of Night Mode. I’m phobic towards blue light given the volumes I’ve read on it. But then, given preferential settings and the alterations and modifications available to care for your circadian cycle, there’s no point differentiating between screens.

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

The reason I’m emphasizing so much about Night Mode is that specifically for me, it didn’t make a difference at all. Whether my iPhone has an OLED or LCD, it hasn’t made any difference whatsoever. To be sure, I reset display settings and compared the iPhone XS with the iPhone XR and showed it to a few friends and colleagues. None could tell the difference. Yes, you’d read about differences in the two, but it’s so negligible that you simply can’t have display as a factor to choose between the two devices. While we’re at it, you should use blue light filters available on your smartphone, no matter what you use. This is also known as Night Settings or Night mode on most devices.

When one works, why two?

This is a tricky one, but you don’t necessarily need two cameras. And I don’t mean to say this just because I lean towards iOS. The XS and the XS Max have two cameras, and they do a great job. Now that manufacturers are offering up to four rear cameras, the Pixel and the XR stand out for going against the tide. With standard conditions, you’d not really find a difference between the XR and the XS or XS Max, and in most instances even with low light landscape shots, you won’t find any difference whatsoever.

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, there’s no reason to back off from the iPhone XR if you believe that a single camera is a deal-breaker. The only reason being multiple portrait effects on the rear camera. For me personally, it doesn’t matter. After showing off the different lighting effects, I’ve found that I prefer using the default output for most needs. In a social world and photo editing apps, I’m sure you’d tend to process images using an addition app. The portrait effects again don’t stand to be a deal breaker.

Image credit: Rehan Hooda

The magic of Face ID

I’ve said this before during my iPhone X review, and I’ll say it again. Face ID with its array of 30,000 infrared dots and seamless authentication is unheard of in other devices today. The result is seamless transactions that are safe and secure. That Apple has managed to pull it off without any instances of financial fraud speaks for it.
The iPhone XR brings you the same secure face unlock that we have come to know of with the iPhone X and now on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Apple iPhone XR. Image credit: Apple


This is a tough one: appreciate the value, or obsess about what it misses out on? I’d put it as succinctly as possible. Apple iPhones aren’t among the cheapest or affordable smartphones around these days. The standard price for an Apple iPhone is breaching the one lakh benchmark. Consumers the world over who have traditionally preferred Apple products have also been facing tough choices to make.

It’s natural then, for Apple to see opportunity for a more affordable variant of the iPhone. From past experiences, it’s learnt to build a product that doesn’t make you feel like you’re left out. On that front, Apple has done well with the XR. It comes with the same design language as the XS and XS Max. It’s got a premium build. You can do away with what you stand to gain in the other two iPhones as well. If you can stretch your budget without burning your pocket, and a colorful smartphone body doesn’t matter to you, then you could pay the Rs 25,000 premium to be absolutely sure that you have the best of what Apple offers this year. Else, if you’re like me, then the iPhone XR is a bet you can’t go wrong with.

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  • Published Date: December 10, 2018 12:26 PM IST

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