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iPhone XR review roundup: Lower price with no big compromises

Updated Oct 23rd, 2018 1:33PM EDT
iPhone XR Review Roundup
Image: Apple

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Come Friday, the iPhone XR launches in stores and preordered units ship to early buyers in what will likely be another successful iPhone launch for Apple. The iPhone XR is essentially an iPhone XS version that makes a few minor compromises when it comes to screen and camera specs. But other than that, the iPhone XR will deliver the same experience as the iPhone XS phones, including the speedy performance the Pixel 3 and other Android flagships can only dream of.

If you’re still unsure whether to get the iPhone XR over the XS or any Android phone, then you should check out the first iPhone XR reviews, which are already out. You should also read our iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reviews roundup at this link.

Here are some of the iPhone XR reviews that hit the web on Tuesday morning, including video reviews where available.


Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch:

I have a massive advantage in that I am able to hold the screens side by side to compare images. Simply put, if you don’t run them next to one another, this is a great screen. Given that the iPhone XS models have perhaps the best displays ever made for a smartphone, coming in a very close second isn’t a bad place to be. […]

Oh, the bezels are bigger. It makes the front look slightly less elegant and screenful than the iPhone XS, but it’s not a big deal. […]

The rear camera is a single lens and sensor that is both functionally and actually identical to the wide angle lens in the iPhone XS. It’s the same sensor, the same optics, the same 27mm wide-angle frame. You’re going to get great ‘standard’ pictures out of this. No compromises.

The Verge

The full review is available at this link.

The New York Times

Brian X. Chen for The New York Times:

I confess that I struggled to see a difference between the Liquid Retina screen and the OLED on an iPhone XS. The distinction is most evident in blacks: If you look at a photo taken in the dark, you will notice that the blacks on the XR’s screen have a faint blue glow, which is coming from the backlight used to illuminate the screen, while the blacks on the XS look darker and more realistic because the OLED technology turns off individual pixels to make them black. […]

As is often the case for new gadgets, good things come to those who wait. If you resisted splurging on the XS to wait for the XR, you will be rewarded with a great phone — and some extra cash lying around.


Lauren Goode for Wired:

Most people—those who don’t spend their lives comparing specs and staring at bezels on multiple models of new smartphones each fall—are going to be very happy with this phone if they buy it. Especially if those people are upgrading from an older iPhone, which I believe will be the case for a lot of people buying the iPhone XR. They’ll have a phone that’s running on Apple’s top-of-the-line processor. They’ll have FaceID, and they’ll experience the learning curve that comes with an iPhone without a home button, which feels like a small price to pay for an edge-to-edge display. […]

The iPhone XR’s battery lasted me almost an entire weekend, from early Saturday morning through Sunday evening. Granted, I use my phone a little bit less on the weekends than I do during the work week. But I was still taxing the phone. I scrolled through Twitter and Instagram, read the news, streamed music, watched YouTube, ran Google Maps, and captured photos and videos. I was seriously impressed with how long the handset lasted on a single charge, and have only experienced comparable battery life on a Plus-size phone. The XR’s battery life was even better than what I got on the iPhone XS Max.


The full review is available at this link.

USA Today

Ed Baig for USA Today:

I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to call any handset that starts at $749 (with 64GB of storage) budget-friendly. Still, the price, which undercuts the XS by at least $250 and the XS Max by $350, unquestionably hits a sweet spot, of sorts, in range of two worthy rivals on the Android side, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Google’s Pixel 3. (I won’t get into the religious war of Android versus iOS here.)

Having used an XR now for several days, I can report that the iPhone you’re getting for that sum is, indeed, a powerful device that exacts relatively few trade-offs compared to its high-on-the-hog siblings.

The Wall Street Journal

Joanna Stern for The Wall Street Journal:

If you missed my letter dated Sept. 18—aka my iPhone XS and XS Max review—I instructed iPhone buyers to wait until the October release of the more affordable iPhone XR.

Now, after nearly a week of testing the XR, I can confirm that it’s the “just right” iPhone for most people. In fact, it has the best feature-to-price ratio of any iPhone possibly ever, and given that Apple ’s ineup now has as many choices as the cereal aisle, that has never been more important.


Todd Haselton for CNBC:

The iPhone XR looks and feels like a phone that costs more than $750. It has a premium glass and aluminum design, and I love how rich the colors look. My personal favorite is yellow, but the blue test unit I had was pretty cool, too. It felt just as fast and quick as my iPhone XS Max, which costs $1,249. Again, that’s because everything inside is the exact same. […]

I don’t have any major complaints with the iPhone XS. In fact, part of me almost slightly regrets spending $1,249 on the iPhone XS Max when the iPhone XR does almost everything my phone can, but starts at just $749.

Tom’s Guide

Mark Spoonauer for Tom’s Guide:

The iPhone XR has shockingly few trade-offs compared to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max given that it costs $250 to $350 less. In fact, many may prefer the iPhone XR over Apple’s pricier flagships for two reasons beyond the cheaper price: more color options and longer battery life. […]

If you prefer a smaller display than the one on the 6.1-inch iPhone XR, the $799 Pixel 3 is a great alternative, boasting an even better camera. The Galaxy S9 ($719) and S9+ ($839) are also great options, but they lack the ease of Face ID and are slower than the iPhone XR. Overall, if you prefer iOS and want the best iPhone for the money, the iPhone XR is it.


Raymond Wong for Mashable:

Yet, none of these “missing” or downgraded features makes the iPhone XR feel any less of an iPhone than the pricier iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max.

The iPhone XR is the iPhone for everyone. It’s every bit as powerful as the iPhone XS and XS Max. The cameras take stunning photos. It comes in six vibrant colors. And it starts at $749, which is less than a Google Pixel 3 and not much more than a Samsung Galaxy S9. […]

Split apart, the iPhone XR’s features appear insufficient compared to the iPhone XS’s. Weighed together, though, it’s crystal clear the phone is not lacking at all as a premium device packed with some of the best mobile technologies available.

Daring Fireball

John Gruber for for Daring Fireball:

The iPhone XR is everything Apple says it is, and it’s the new iPhone most people should buy. I’ve been using one as my primary phone for the last week, and it’s a lovely, exciting device. Even some of the things I thought were compromises don’t feel like compromises at all in practice. Overall, yes, the XS and XS Max are better devices, but in a few regards the XR is actually better. […]

But only the iPhone XR offers a 128 GB storage tier, and it’s just $50 more. If you want more than 64 GB with an iPhone XS, you’ve got to pay $150 more than the base price and jump all the way to 256 GB. So in terms of what I would actually recommend for most people — getting the storage tier one level above entry level — the 128 GB iPhone XR costs $350 less than the 256 GB XS and $450 less than the XS Max. […]

I’m not aware of any other phone in the world with an LCD display with no chin or forehead. Getting an LCD display to extend from corner to corner is a legitimate technical breakthrough on Apple’s part. Also getting tap-to-wake working with an LCD — once you get used to tap-to-wake you simply cannot go back. The XR display is certainly a less expensive component than the XS’s, but in no way does it look like Apple has cheaped out. It’s an excellent, beautiful display.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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