XS or XR – That is the question

December 12, 2018 Dean Stalham
Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty

Displays – Why is the cheaper model bigger?

Perhaps the most shocking difference between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR is it’s the cheaper model which has the biggest screen. That said, everything else about the iPhone XR’s screen is not quite as powerful:

  • iPhone XS – 5.8-inch OLED, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, True Tone, 2436 x 1125 pixels (458 ppi), 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 82.9% screen-to-body ratio,
  • iPhone XR – 6.1-inch LCD, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, True Tone, 1792 x 828 pixels (326 ppi), 1,400:1 contrast ratio, 79.0% screen-to-body ratio

As you’ll see from the specs, the big changes with the iPhone XR are its downgrade from OLED to LCD and a substantially smaller native resolution. In fact, the iPhone XR won’t even display 1080p content – that’s surprising for a device of this size.

The iPhone XR is Dolby/ HDR10 compliant like the iPhone XS, but it does not include sensitive 3D Touch technology which has been a part of the iPhone range as far back as the iPhone 6S.

So should you care about the downgrades? Not at all!

LCD displays may not be on par with OLED in terms of contrast ratio and black levels, but they are more than fit for purpose for the user. The smaller 326 ppi (identical to the iPhone 8) is still 3x higher than a 40-inch TV that us 4K ready which is actually 110 ppi, and you’ll still get the same 19.5:9 aspect ratio as the iPhone XS, the same colour accuracy and touch sensing for a faster response to touch input.

As for the absence of 3D Touch, iOS 12 has enabled a long press to replace this anyway and the technology is expected to be done away with due to – to be frank – nobody uses it. So while the display is one of the larger technical differences between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, in a side-by-side comparison I’m not convinced most users will be all to bothered.

Cameras – One vs Two

Aside from their different screen sizes, the second most externally noticable difference between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR is the cheaper model only has a single rear camera:

The good news is all iPhone XR users miss out on is the 2x optical zoom. Yes, this is a handy feature but many times you can just walk closer to a subject. Meanwhile, previous iPhones required the second camera for Apple’s popular Portrait Mode but the iPhone XR can deliver it with both its single front and rear cameras.

Like the newest Google Pixel, both the iPhone XS and iPhone XR rear cameras also have a larger 1.4µm pixel size which enables them to take in more light. This is an important upgrade for better low light photography and a big deal for both models.

The iPhone XR has another compromise compared to the iPhone XS, but it is probably one that won’t be a deal breaker for most. Furthermore, the XR has one big area where it easily thrashes the XS!

Battery Life

For those of you on the fence about the iPhone XR’s LCD display, here’s where it delivers considerable upsides: the lower resolution is far less demanding and the larger size means Apple has more space to fit a bigger battery.

  • iPhone XS – 2,658 mAh
  • iPhone XR – 2,942 mAh

In Conclusion

Although the XR has an inferior display and also one less camera lens this does not seem to warrant shelling out an extra £350 for the more expensive model.

With this in mind YCC highly recommends the iPhone XR as it is more practical for business and will save your self a small wedge at the time however, if photography is a big part of your life you may want to opt for the XS as the camera really does pack a punch!





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