iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?

WE love

  • As powerful as an iPhone XS
  • Level photos
  • Record autonomy on iOS

We don’t like

  • Portrait mode limited to people
  • Very thick edges


The iPhone XR does about 90% of what an iPhone XS can do for 300 euros less. If its slightly massive design and its thick edges do not put you off, then it is definitely the best iPhone of 2018. Because for the rest, it is simply very high level: photos a little worse, a screen less flamboyant but performance equal to iPhone XS and XS Max. On the other hand, it opposes them with a much higher autonomy and a very nice choice of color. In short, the XR is anything but a discount iPhone.


It is not two but three iPhones that Apple launched again this year. Alongside the Xs and Xs Max came to position a XR more affordable. Its launch, delayed to honor the premium versions, did not take place until the end of October. Thicker, heavier, with a single sensor and only an LCD screen the iPhone XR had been somewhat mocked at its launch. Because despite a technical sheet revised downwards, its price exceeds 850 €. However, it is clear that after ten days with the iPhone XR, the impressions are more than good. If he suffers from the comparison with his elders, the cheaper smartphone from Apple hides his game well. So much so that a question arises: what if he was the iPhone of the year?Image 3: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?

IPhone XR in numbers

Price € 855
CPU A12 Bionic
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Screen 6.1 inch LCD (1792 x 828)
Rear photo sensor 12-MP (f / 1.8)
Front photo sensor 7-MP (f / 2.2)
Colors White, Black, Red, Coral, Blue, Yellow
Autonomy 11 hours 26 minutes
Cut 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
Weight 193 grams

Yes – Because it’s almost an iPhone XS

The iPhone XR broadly incorporates the technical characteristics of the two premium iPhone this year, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. Above all, it borrows its most serious assets starting with the processor A12 Bionic which is, as Apple likes to recall, its most powerful chip to date. Direct consequence: the performance of the “cheap” iPhone is at the level of that of the “very expensive” iPhone, despite its 1 GB less RAM.

And in fact, the navigation on the iPhone XR is as fluid as on the other models of 2018, as for performance in games, they do not suffer from any slowdown, including for the most greedy titles.

No – For a design much less beautiful than the high-end

Image 4: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?

It is fashionable to compare the iPhone XR to “the other cheap iPhone”, the cult iPhone SE. The latter, released in April 2016, offered as the iPhone XR a few years later, a state-of-the-art technical sheet in a less elaborate setting than the high-end iPhone of the time, the 6S and 6S Plus. But where the iPhone SE reused iPhone 5 carcasses bluntly, the XR has the merit of offering its own design.

Unfortunately, this one only touches the finger with the iPhone XS and XS Max design. If the approach is the same: disappearance of the Home button, notch and screen “edge to edge”, the result is significantly different. The fault with the LCD screen which requires much wider borders than on high-end smartphones of the moment. Result: the iPhone XR gives the impression of having a bumper (the famous shell of the iPhone 5) standing around it. The iPhone XR is also much thicker and much heavier (8.3 mm and 193 grams) than the other iPhone versions of 2018.

In the end, although the finish is impeccable and its 6.1 inch screen impresses, it’s hard to validate Apple’s design choices. Especially since at equivalent price Android smartphones generally offer an edge-to-edge OLED screen and a thinner overall design.

Yes – For the best autonomy on an iPhone

Autonomy has never been the strong point of Apple smartphones. If the apple brand has progressed on this point with its latest iPhone XS and XS Max, we must consider the XR as an exceptional iPhone. Indeed, the latter makes autonomy one of its strong points. With 11h26 of longevity it achieves the same score as the Galaxy Note 9 and is among the most autonomous smartphones of the moment. This performance, the XR obviously owes to its LCD screen which consumes less energy than the OLED of its elders. In any case, it’s a joy not to have to charge your iPhone for two consecutive days.

Yes – For its LCD screen above the lot

Image 5: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?

For those who doubted it, Apple knows how to make screens. And for good reason, apart from the iPhone X last year, the previous iPhone models were all equipped with LCD screens of very good quality. However, the main criticism of the iPhone XR is the choice of this screen technology (a IPS panel in our case) where most smartphones in this price range opt for a OLED more flattering.

It is obvious, this choice puts the iPhone XR back when it comes to compare contrast rates but in terms of colorimetry, readability or responsiveness, the most affordable iPhone of 2018 has nothing to be ashamed of compared to the competition.

Yes – Because it takes great photos with a single sensor

Image 6: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?Photo to iPhone XRImage 7: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?Who would have thought that the loss of one of the two photo sensors of the iPhone XS would have so little impact. Like what a Google Pixel offers with its unique sensor, the iPhone XR offers very satisfactory results on the photo part. Of course, premium models offer more options, especially in portrait, but by contenting itself with the wide-angle sensor of its elders, the XR performs prowess, especially in broad daylight. On the other hand, in night photos the results suffer from the comparison with the best models of the moment (those having a double or triple sensor) like the Huawei P20 Pro or the Galaxy Note. On the other hand, it does much better than the last Pixel which struggles with as many sensors as it does.

Some slight limitations

Finally on the video and selfie side, the iPhone XR offers exactly the same performance as iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. It films in UHD at 60 frames / second and incorporates the same front sensor as its pairs.

Finally, in addition to the photo in low light, the biggest differences between the iPhone XR and the other models of 2018 are software (and a priori desired from Apple). They are mainly found on the portrait part. Of course the XR is able to play on the depth of field to create a background blur. It is even possible to change the intensity of this blur a posteriori. In contrast to the iPhone XS and XS Max, portrait mode is limited to human subjects. It does not activate when the subject is not a person. Finally, the iPhone XR is also limited in lighting options (only 3 against 5 for the other iPhones this year).

>>> Read: our test of the iPhone XS

Finally, it should also be noted that there is no optical zoom on the iPhone XR. Here the limitation is material but the handicap is not significant.

Image 8: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?Image 9: iPhone XR: the best iPhone of the year?