Five rea­sons why the iPhone XR is a wor­thy up­grade to the iPhone X

Don’t let the price and specs fool you into think­ing it’s as big of a down­grade as you might think, writes Leif John­son

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

The iPhone XR is tech­ni­cally Ap­ple’s ‘bud­get’ phone from this year’s line-up, but you’d have a hard time telling that from specs alone. Af­ter all, it’s quite sim­i­lar in specs to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. At £749, it’s also still rel­a­tively pricey, partly be­cause so many of the in­nards are the same. The

dif­fer­ences are mainly ex­te­rior, such as its LCD screen, its sin­gle rear cam­era, and its alu­minium cas­ing.

All of which means that if you want to up­grade to a new iPhone from your iPhone X, you’ll prob­a­bly be wellserved with the iPhone XR when it fi­nally ships on 26 Oc­to­ber if you don’t want to go whole hog with the XS. You’ll lose the lovely OLED screen, of course, but you’ll get a lot of boosts in the process. For that mat­ter, you won’t even have to feel all that guilty about up­grad­ing from the iPhone X, as its starter 64GB model starts at £250 less than the £999 start­ing price of the iPhone X. And there are plenty of other rea­sons.

1. It’s got Ap­ple’s pow­er­ful A12 Bionic chip

Like the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, the iPhone XR sports Ap­ple’s pow­er­ful new A12 Bionic chip, which by al­most all ac­counts marks a mas­sive im­prove­ment over the A11 chip in the iPhone X (which was im­pres­sive it­self at launch). Ru­mours pointed in this direc­tions for months, and just last month our own Ja­son Cross pointed out that the gains could be tremen­dous. And lucky for us, that ap­pears to be the case.

On stage, Ap­ple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the A12 Bionic “the smartest, most pow­er­ful chip ever in a smart­phone” and said that it’s the first seven-nanome­ter chip on the mar­ket, and we see no real rea­son to dis­pute that. It’s packed with a six-core CPU and a four-core GPU (which al­lows it to be 50 per­cent faster than the iPhone X’s A11 chip), along with a new ver­sion of Ap­ple’s Neu­ral En­gine. The Neu­ral En­gine im­prove­ments are par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive in that

they can now go through 5 tril­lion op­er­a­tions ev­ery sec­ond over the 600 bil­lion we found in the iPhone X. Trans­lated: it’s a hell of a lot faster. Frankly, this won’t mat­ter for a lot of apps, but it’ll cer­tainly help with apps with de­mand­ing cal­cu­la­tions. Ap­ple, for in­stance, showed off Home­court, an app that analy­ses your per­for­mance in bas­ket­ball with the iPhone’s cam­era.

With the new Neu­ral En­gine, you can get that kind of power in a smart­phone that’s sig­nif­i­cantly less ex­pen­sive than the one you paid for last year.

2. The cam­era isn’t bad

Like the iPhone X, the iPhone XR sup­ports a 12Mp cam­era, so you won’t be see­ing any down­grades on that front. The front cam­era (which ap­pears to be 7Mp, much as with the X) re­port­edly han­dles Face ID bet­ter thanks to some soft­ware op­ti­miza­tion, but it’s not clear

if this means that Face ID’s per­for­mance on an iPhone X run­ning iOS 12 would also be the same.

At any rate, one draw­back of the new iPhone XR is that it only has a sin­gle wide-an­gle cam­era on the back, although for­tu­nately it’s the same cam­era used in the iPhone XS. The iPhone X’s dual cam­era sys­tem was touted as the means by which Por­trait Mode worked so well on the iPhone X at launch, but Ap­ple has ap­par­ently made the feature work well with a sin­gle lens through some soft­ware magic. And af­ter all, Google showed it was pos­si­ble with the Pixel.

But here’s a caveat: we haven’t had a chance to run any com­par­i­son tests yet, so there’s a chance that the truth and what Ap­ple says turn out to be slightly dif­fer­ent things. For­tu­nately, the iPhone XR doesn’t ship un­til 26 Oc­to­ber, so there will be plenty of time to test out the cam­eras in the fu­ture.

3. De­spite com­pro­mises, the dis­play is still pretty im­pres­sive

First off, the 6.1in LCD dis­play is ac­tu­ally larger than the 5.8in dis­play on the iPhone X (and the new iPhone XS). Phil Schiller called it the “Liq­uid Retina” dis­play, and it earns that cool moniker with a 1,792x828 res­o­lu­tion and 326 pix­els per inch (ppi) and Ap­ple’s True Tone tech­nol­ogy. That’s down con­sid­er­ably from the 2,436x1,125 res­o­lu­tion and 458ppi of­fered on the iPhone X, of course, but Schiller put that in more ap­peal­ing terms: it’s a big­ger dis­play than the iPhone 8 Plus in a smaller de­sign.

The iPhone XR achieves this dis­tinc­tion by hav­ing a screen that goes from edge to edge, much as with

iPhone X. The iPhone 8 Plus, by con­trast, was still sad­dled by the old de­sign of large bezels and a home but­ton, which greatly re­duced the avail­able real es­tate. Also, the down­grade in pix­els per inch isn’t as bad as it sounds, as the iPhone 7 and 8 both boasted 326ppi as well, and pho­tos al­ways looked beau­ti­ful on them. (I should know, as I’m still us­ing an iPhone 8 Plus.)

I se­ri­ously doubt that many peo­ple ac­tu­ally use 3D Touch, but you might be dis­ap­pointed to know that it’s miss­ing on the iPhone XR. But Ap­ple isn’t com­pletely tak­ing away a feature from you. In­stead, the iPhone XR uses a hap­tic touch sys­tem, which Schiller said is sim­i­lar to what you get when us­ing the track­pad on the MacBook Pro.

4. It’s great if you want dif­fer­ent colours

Ap­ple re­ally hasn’t both­ered with too many colour vari­a­tions since the iPhone 5c, but it’s chang­ing its stance a bit with the iPhone XR. Rather than the usual op­tions of Space Grey, Gold, and Sil­ver, the new iPhone XR will be avail­able in Black, White, Blue,

Co­ral, Yel­low, and even a Prod­uct (Red) op­tion at launch. Nor­mally, we have to wait sev­eral months for a ver­sion of the lat­ter to ap­pear.

5. The bat­tery life is a lot bet­ter

On the stage at the event, Ap­ple claimed that the iPhone XR can de­liver more than 90 min­utes of bat­tery life than the iPhone 8 Plus. That’s big, as the 8 Plus was the model you wanted to get last year if you wanted bat­tery life above all else, as it could de­liver around 14 hours com­pared to the 12 you could usu­ally get with the iPhone X. By that es­ti­mate, you should be able to get any­where from 15- to 16 hours of bat­tery life from the iPhone XR. Not bad. In my case, that might even be enough to con­vince me to leave my power bank at home on nor­mal days.

A12 Bionic chip marks a mas­sive im­prove­ment over the A11 chip in the iPhone X

The LCD dis­play uses Ap­ple’s True Tone tech­nol­ogy

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