Ap­ple iPhone XR

FI­NALLY, AN iPHONE WITH A DE­CENT BAT­TERY.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ GARETH BEAVIS ]

AP­PLE HAS MAN­AGED a mar­ket­ing mas­ter­stroke with the iPhone XR: not only has it de­layed the launch of the third of its trio of 2018 iPhones, thus cre­at­ing some mys­tery around it, it’s also man­aged to make this seem like this year’s ‘cheap’ iPhone.

Yes, it’s cheaper com­pared to the re­cently-launched iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but we’re talk­ing AU$1229 com­pared with AU$1,629, which is hardly bud­get. To the av­er­age price-con­scious, brand-neu­tral buyer this is a long way from a ‘cheap iPhone’.

To the Ap­ple fan who wants to stick with the brand though, the iPhone XR of­fers a much cheaper way to get a 2018 model without hav­ing to pay the sky-high prices of the XS duo, without sac­ri­fic­ing that much in terms of fea­tures – and with a cheeky lit­tle bonus for good mea­sure.

Well, Ap­ple has ei­ther pulled a mar­ket­ing mas­ter­stroke or screwed it­self by launch­ing late – as the XR is one of the best iPhones we’ve ever tested.

WHAT’S NEW?

Com­pared to the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR is down­graded in a num­ber of ways to hit that lower price point.

That said, there are a num­ber of key fea­tures that are the same: iOS 12 is the oper­at­ing sys­tem that runs things, and it’s backed up by the wildly-pow­er­ful A12 Bionic chipset in­side.

The notch con­tains all the same front-fac­ing cam­eras and sen­sors as the iPhone XS, and the dual speak­ers still face the same way when pump­ing out sound.

To the un­trained eye, or some­one not hold­ing the iPhone XR and XS side by side, it might even be hard to in­stantly tell the two apart – but there are a num­ber of key dif­fer­ences that we need to dig into.

ONLY A SIN­GLE CAM­ERA

Ar­guably the most im­pres­sive thing about the iPhone XS is the cam­era, as it’s the only thing that feels sig­nif­i­cantly up­graded over the iPhone X. While the iPhone XR of­fers the same ‘stan­dard’ lens as the XS, it lacks the tele­photo sec­ond sen­sor, so has to do some fancy tricks with soft­ware to com­pen­sate.

This means you won’t be able to zoom in as far with the XR, as the tele­photo lens of­fers (rel­a­tively) loss­less pho­tog­ra­phy at two times zoom, while por­trait mode, where the back­ground is blurred out, isn’t as ef­fec­tive.

AP­PLE IS NEVER ONE TO SHY AWAY FROM SOME MAR­KET­ING HY­PER­BOLE, AND THE IPHONE XR COMES WITH A ‘NEW’ TYPE OF LCD, A SCREEN THAT’S BEEN DE­SIGNED TO AL­LOW IT TO MAKE THIS CURVED, ‘ALL-SCREEN’ DIS­PLAY.

You can still take a por­trait shot and have the back­ground at­trac­tively blurred to keep the fo­cus on the sub­ject, but un­like with the iPhone XS, you can’t take pic­tures of ob­jects and an­i­mals in the same way.

This is due to the fact the soft­ware can’t iden­tify those sub­jects as eas­ily from the sin­gle sen­sor, where the ad­di­tional hard­ware on the more ex­pen­sive XS is able to draw on more info.

THE LIQ­UID RETINA SCREEN

Ap­ple is never one to shy away from some mar­ket­ing hy­per­bole, and the iPhone XR comes with a ‘new’ type of LCD, a screen that’s been de­signed to al­low it to make this curved, ‘all-screen’ dis­play.

The ef­fect is much like the LCD screens Ap­ple has made be­fore, to be hon­est, as they’ve al­ways been col­or­ful and sharp, but with the new ‘Liq­uid Retina’ dis­play things are sup­posed to closer to the high-end OLED screen.

The qual­ity of the screen is one of the key dif­fer­ences you’ll want to con­sider if you’re think­ing about go­ing for the less-costly iPhone.

NO 3D TOUCH

There’s one way to know if you use a fea­ture on an iPhone, and that’s to take it away, and see if you miss it. Any­one com­ing from a later-se­ries Ap­ple hand­set will have had ac­cess to 3D Touch, where press­ing the screen harder opens menus or ac­ti­vates dif­fer­ent fea­tures in apps.

This fea­ture has been re­moved for the iPhone XR, pre­sum­ably to save money – in­stead you have to do a ‘long press’ to do the same thing. So if you ever ac­cessed short­cuts by push­ing harder on an app, or opened the torch with a harder prod on the lock screen… well, that’s gone.

We didn’t re­alise how much we used that fea­ture be­fore – and it’s ir­ri­tat­ing to not have some­thing that feels like a real but­ton to open the cam­era – but it doesn’t take long to get used to the al­ter­na­tive… it just feels a bit less pre­mium.

CHUNKIER DE­SIGN

The iPhone XR is also a thicker de­sign, with chunkier bezels around the side of the phone – hold it side by side with an iPhone XS and you’ll feel it’s clearly the cheaper model, with a thicker feel in the hand.

How­ever, look­ing at it and han­dling it in iso­la­tion you’ll just feel that it’s a smooth, rounded de­sign that apes the pop­u­lar form of the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 – ba­si­cally, the iPhone XR is the all-screen ver­sion of those handsets, bring­ing a screen the size of those on the iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus in a form fac­tor that’s more akin to the smaller mod­els.

IM­PROVED BAT­TERY

Ap­ple be­lieves you’ll be able to get 90 min­utes more bat­tery life out of the iPhone XR than the 8 Plus, which is a big jump in real terms.

Well we’d say it’s even bet­ter: the iPhone XR fi­nally achieves the holy grail of all-day bat­tery life in an iPhone.

Ap­ple has of­fered ter­ri­ble bat­tery life for years, in­cre­men­tally im­prov­ing it to be ‘just good enough’, and the iPhone XR is the first iPhone we haven’t had a real worry about day to day – and that alone could el­e­vate it to the heights of be­ing the great­est iPhone ever cre­ated.

PER­FOR­MANCE

Ac­cord­ing to Geek­bench, the iPhone XR is equally as ca­pa­ble as the iPhone XS in terms of daily, eas­ier tasks, but strug­gles a lit­tle with the heav­ier stuff – which is some­thing we noted and could be part of the is­sue above.

That per­for­mance could well be due to the fact we’ve got 3GB of RAM in­side this hand­set, rather than the 4GB in the iPhone XS – so if you’re af­ter a hand­set with real power you might want to think about up­grad­ing to the iPhone XS.

When it comes to the me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence on the iPhone, it’s never been easy to fault it (even if you re­ally wanted to). The speak­ers not be­ing louder isn’t that much of an is­sue, as peo­ple don’t al­ways want to hear what you’re watch­ing or lis­ten­ing to, and while the head­phone jack is­sue is a real one, there are ways around it.

Siri still doesn’t get us all the time – es­pe­cially when we’re driv­ing and we want to play a cer­tain playlist. There are only so many times you can ask for the same thing in an ev­er­clearer voice be­fore you never want to ask again – and that drops to just the one time if you’ve got friends around laugh­ing at you.

VER­DICT

The iPhone XR is one of the best handsets Ap­ple has ever made, and that’s mainly down to the ex­cel­lent bat­tery life.

The rest of the phone doesn’t re­ally add much to the iPhone fam­ily in terms of pure spec­i­fi­ca­tion or novelty, but it does of­fer a more bud­get route into get­ting a hand­set launched this year.

With a range of col­ors on of­fer, this is the more bud­get- and fash­ion-con­scious iPhone buyer’s hand­set of choice; if you’re en­sconced in the Ap­ple way of things then you’ll find a lot to en­joy on the iPhone XR.

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