iPhone XR bench­marks

If you were to buy an iPhone based on bench­marks alone, the iPhone XR would be the one to get, re­veals Ja­son Cross

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

When we took a look at the iPhone XS and XS Max per­for­mance in our re­views, we con­firmed what we ex­pected: they are not only the fastest iPhones ever made, but the fastest phones, pe­riod. Ap­ple’s A12 Bionic just crushes ev­ery other phone pro­ces­sor.

Now that the iPhone XR is avail­able, with the same A12 Bionic pro­ces­sor run­ning at the same speeds, we ex­pect it to de­liver sim­i­lar per­for­mance in a pack­age

that costs £250 less. And be­cause it’s a big phone with a big (for Ap­ple) bat­tery, and a much lower-res­o­lu­tion 1,792x828 pixel LCD dis­play, it should de­liver bat­tery life that out­paces ev­ery other iPhone on the mar­ket.

In other words, if you only cared about bench­marks, the cheap­est new iPhone of 2018 would be the one to get. Let’s see how the iPhone XR shakes out against the XS and XS Max, last year’s iPhone X, and the iPhone 7 Plus from two years back.

Geek­bench 4

Geek­bench is a main­stay of per­for­mance bench­mark­ing in part be­cause it is avail­able for so many plat­forms: macOS, Win­dows, Linux, iOS, and An­droid. There’s no one syn­thetic bench­mark

that is per­fectly com­pa­ra­ble across plat­forms, but Geek­bench 4 comes about as close as you can get.

The iPhone XR is right in line with the XS and XS Max – eas­ily within a mar­gin of er­ror of a cou­ple of per­cent­age points. This makes it 13 per­cent faster in sin­gle-core per­for­mance than the thou­sand-pound iPhone X of last year, and about 10 per­cent faster in multi-core per­for­mance. In the GPU-pow­ered Com­pute bench­mark (which uses the Metal API), per­for­mance is about 40 per­cent faster.

AnTuTu v7

The AnTuTu bench­mark is best known in the An­droid world, but it is also avail­able for iOS. We had quite a few prob­lems get­ting a sta­ble score out of the lat­est

ver­sion, as re­sults of­ten vary sig­nif­i­cantly from one run to the next. We don’t sug­gest putting a ton of stock into these par­tic­u­lar num­bers, as it’s not al­ways clear what’s be­ing tested or how tests dif­fer be­tween plat­forms. None­the­less, we present the re­sults to sat­isfy the cu­ri­ous.

It is cu­ri­ous that the iPhone XR scores bet­ter in the GPU test than the XS or XS Max (which helps boost the over­all score). This is prob­a­bly due to the lower res­o­lu­tion of the iPhone XR’s dis­play. The graph­ics tests here are ren­dered on-screen and not at a fixed or off-screen res­o­lu­tion. The A12 Bionic’s GPU will de­liver faster frame rates on the XR be­cause it has to ren­der about 85 per­cent more pix­els on the XS and 125 per­cent more on the XS Max.


Our favourite 3D graph­ics per­for­mance test is 3DMark. The Sling Shot ver­sion of the test runs a graph­i­cally in­ten­sive game-like scene be­fore de­liv­er­ing a fi­nal per­for­mance score.

There are two ver­sions of the test here. Sling Shot Ex­treme runs the bench­mark us­ing Ap­ple’s Metal API at a res­o­lu­tion of 2,560x1,440, which is then scaled up or down to the out­put res­o­lu­tion of the test de­vice. Sling Shot Ex­treme Un­lim­ited ren­ders the same test off-screen to avoid any speed lim­its from dis­play scal­ing or Vsync. There­fore, nei­ther test is im­pacted by the lower dis­play res­o­lu­tion of the iPhone XR.

The re­sults are ba­si­cally iden­ti­cal to the iPhone XS and XS Max, which means they’re also nearly iden­ti­cal to the iPhone X. What hap­pened to the ‘up to 50

per­cent’ GPU speed im­prove­ment of the A12 Bionic? We sus­pect that this test, with all of its large art as­sets, is en­tirely bot­tle­necked by mem­ory band­width and cache per­for­mance rather than the GPU’s abil­ity to per­form com­pu­ta­tions.

The sim­pler Ice Storm Un­lim­ited test some­what val­i­dates our mem­ory band­width the­ory. It runs a sim­pler game-like scene us­ing OpenGL ES 2.0 at a res­o­lu­tion of 1,280x720 with a fixed time-step be­tween frames (so all de­vices ren­der the ex­act same frames).

This less stren­u­ous test, with com­par­a­tively lowres art as­sets and a lower out­put res­o­lu­tion, puts less de­mand on mem­ory band­width. It runs around 18 per­cent faster on the A12-pow­ered phones than on the A11-pow­ered phones.

If you’re up­grad­ing from an iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone XR, you can ex­pect real game frame rates to be any­where from 50 per­cent higher up to twice as fast, de­pend­ing on the com­plex­ity of the game. That’s a huge win for ev­ery­one up­grad­ing their two-year-old phones.

Bat­tery Life

This is where it gets in­ter­est­ing. When com­par­ing the iPhone XS to the iPhone XS Max, the bat­tery life con­sid­er­a­tions were rel­a­tively sim­ple. The XS Max is the same phone with larger bat­tery (3,174mAh ver­sus 2,658mAh), but also a larger and higher-res­o­lu­tion dis­play (though with the same pixel den­sity and OLED tech­nol­ogy). The end re­sult is that the XS Max lasts for about an hour more screen-on time than the XS.

The iPhone XR is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Its 6.1in dis­play falls in be­tween the 5.8- and 6.5in sizes of the iPhone XS and XS Max. Its 2,942mAh bat­tery falls in be­tween the bat­tery ca­pac­i­ties of those phones, too. But it’s not just the same dis­play at a dif­fer­ent size; it’s an LCD in­stead of OLED, with a den­sity of 326ppi in­stead of the 458ppi of both iPhone XS mod­els. The power drain from the pro­ces­sor should be the same as its more ex­pen­sive brothers, but the power use of the dis­play may be dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent.

We’ll re­mind you that this test is a nearly a worstcase sce­nario – the screen is al­ways on at com­fort­able ‘bright in­door of­fice light­ing’ set­ting (200 nits) and run­ning very CPU- and GPU-in­ten­sive tests non-stop. In the real world, you’re go­ing to get a lot longer bat­tery life than this, es­pe­cially if you per­form mostly sim­ple tasks. It’s not a great ana­logue to ev­ery­day use, but it’s a con­sis­tent and re­peat­able test that fairly com­pares de­vices.

In this test, the iPhone XR ran 19 min­utes longer than the iPhone XS Max, and more than an hour longer than the iPhone XS. In a real-world sce­nario (in other words, not run­ning bench­marks non-stop), that will likely trans­late into about 30- to 45 min­utes more screen-on time than the iPhone XS Max and two hours more than the iPhone XS, de­pend­ing on how you use your phone. The iPhone XR holds a charge bet­ter than any other iPhone ever made.

It’s es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing to com­pare the bat­tery life of the iPhone XR to the iPhone 7 Plus. They have al­most the ex­act same-sized bat­ter­ies – the iPhone 7 Plus bat­tery is 2,900mAh – and both have LCD dis­plays

with sim­i­lar to­tal area. The iPhone XR’s dis­play has a to­tal area of around 90 square cen­time­tres, the iPhone 7 Plus about 83 square cen­time­tres, about 7 per­cent smaller. Yet the iPhone XR, with its slightly larger dis­play and same-sized bat­tery, lasted about an hour and 45 min­utes longer in this test. That’s a roughly 45 per­cent im­prove­ment in bat­tery life with a slightly larger dis­play and sim­i­lar bat­tery ca­pac­ity. That’s an im­pres­sive im­prove­ment in just two years.

Over­all per­for­mance notes

If you were to do noth­ing but look at the bench­marks, you’d won­der why any­one would ever buy the iPhone XS over the XR. It’s got the same per­for­mance, shorter bat­tery life, and costs £250 more.

But the qual­ity of a phone is de­ter­mined by far more than just its bench­mark num­bers. The iPhone XS has a higher-res­o­lu­tion OLED dis­play with sup­port for HDR, dual rear cam­eras (which al­lows you to take Por­trait Mode pho­tos of sub­jects other than hu­man faces), 3D touch, bet­ter wa­ter­proof­ing, higher max­i­mum stor­age op­tions – it’s sim­ply a bet­ter phone. The iPhone XR also has only 3GB of RAM, while the XS and XS Max have 4GB. That dif­fer­ence didn’t show up in these bench­marks and it prob­a­bly won’t make a dif­fer­ence in your daily use to­day, but it might have more of an im­pact a cou­ple years down the line.

The ex­cit­ing thing about the iPhone XR bench­marks is that, un­like when Ap­ple re­leased the iPhone 5c, this year’s less-ex­pen­sive model makes no com­pro­mises on per­for­mance or bat­tery life. In fact, it’s got the best bat­tery life of any iPhone ever. There’s lit­tle rea­son to think that this phone will be ob­so­lete any sooner than the iPhone XS.

The iPhone XR starts off with Geek­bench 4 re­sults al­most iden­ti­cal to the iPhone XS and XS Max

AnTuTu bench­marks are of­ten in­con­sis­tent and un­re­li­able – don’t put too much faith in them

Be­cause 3DMark runs at a fixed res­o­lu­tion, the XR de­liv­ers the same per­for­mance as the XS and XS Max

On a sim­pler, lower-res­o­lu­tion 3D test, the A12-pow­ered phones pull away from the A11-pow­ered iPhone X

The iPhone XR is the longest-last­ing iPhone of all

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