iPhone XR vs iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max – Which new iPhone should you buy?
Apple revealed a number of new products at its annual September announcement. At the company’s California launch event, we saw the Apple Watch 4, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR make their debut.
The iPhone XR sits at the bottom of the new range, offering a similar design to the XS at a more ‘affordable’ price. It’s still far from cheap, however. With price starting from £749, it costs more than the iPhone 8.
The iPhone XS and XS Max both replace the singular iPhone X from 2018 and sit at the top of the range of smartphones. The XS is near-identical to the X with a 5.8-inch display, while the XS Max is the next-generation Plus variant with a whopping 6.5-inch panel. Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s have a look at how the new iPhones compare internally and externally.
All of Apple’s new phones mimic the iPhone X’s iconic design. That means all three have near edge-to-edge displays.
None have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, instead relying on Face ID for unlocking and accessing private apps. This means the notch is now commonplace across Apple’s 2018 phone line.
Other similarities include the glass rears, support for Qi wireless charging and an IP67 rating for water-resistance. It’s great to see Apple keep these features similar across all phones.
There are some big differences between the devices, though. The iPhone XR is the more colourful of the new phones, coming in a range of hues including blue, black, white, coral, yellow and red. If you plump for the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max then colour options are limited to silver, grey or the new gold.
The phones are made up of different materials, too. The iPhone XR has aluminium sides, while the iPhone XS and XS Max both use stainless steel. Stainless steel is a bit shinier and has a more ‘premium’ finish.
None of the three phones has a headphone jack – something you probably should expect from Apple – and it seems that Apple has removed the 3.5mm adapter from the box, too.
Specs and features
|iPhone XS/iPhone XS Max||iPhone XR|
|Display||5.8-inch or 6.5-inch 19.5:9
1124 x 2436 AMOLED
|6.1 inch IPS LCD|
|Processor||Apple A12 Bionic||Apple A12 Bionic|
|Rear camera||Dual 12 megapixels||Single 12 megapixels|
|Front camera||7 megapixels||7 megapixels|
|Software||iOS 12||iOS 12|
When you look past the design, the phones share plenty of similarities internally.
They’re all powered by an A12 CPU, so performance should be consistent across all models. However, we’ll have to properly benchmark and use each of these new phones to really see assess how they perform.
Apple is being tight-lipped about the amount of RAM inside each phone. Rumours suggest the XS and XS Max will pack 4GB, while the iPhone XR will have 3GB. Again, we’ll confirm these figures on reviewing the devices.
Storage size is another differentiator between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR. The XS and XS Max are available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB variants, with the iPhone XR available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB options.
Arguably the biggest difference between the XR and XS is the display. The iPhone XR comes with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD panel, while the XS uses Super Retina OLED tech. It’s also available in two sizes: 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch.
We can’t say for sure without spending time with the phones, but we’d go out on a limb and say the OLED panels will look noticeably better. Colours on OLEDs are brighter and contrast is better. HDR content should also look superior thanks to the ability of OLED to display perfect blacks.
iOS 12 will run on all the new iPhones, bringing features such as Screen Time, improved notifications and a focus on speed and performance.
Apple is pushing cameras hard with these new phones, with all models benefitting from at least some form of upgrade. The iPhone XS and XS Max both have dual 12-megapixel cameras on the rear. One of these is an f/1.8 main sensor, while the other is a wide-angle sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. Both feature OIS.
The iPhone XR’s camera is the same as the one on the iPhone XS, but it’s a single-sensor arrangement.
All three phones boast a Smart HDR mode for improving highlights and shadows, along with improved selfie cameras with a faster sensor and the ability to shoot in Portrait mode with variable depth effects.
Pricing for the iPhone XR starts at $399 for the 64GB. The 128GB version will set you back $399 and the 256GB will cost $425.
The iPhone XS starts at $455 for the 5.8-inch version and $455 for the iPhone XS Max.
The iPhone XR takes the design of last year’s iPhone X and makes it more accessible, offering the notched look and Face ID at a more palatable price. It isn’t as flashy as the XS and ditches the likes of the OLED screen and stainless steel rims. However, its 6.1-inch display might end up being the perfect middle point.