Apple used its September 2018 event to announce a few new iPhones: not just the new high-end iPhone XS and XS Max, but also a cheaper option for people who don't have a spare grand: the iPhone XR.

Of course, it may be cheaper, but it's still an iPhone, so this is no slouch. You get the notched design of last year's iPhone X, together with the new A12 Bionic processor, an updated single lens camera, and a choice of six different coloured finishes.

We compare this 'budget' offering with Apple's current cheapest handset in iPhone 7 vs iPhone XR.

iPhone XR: Release date

The iPhone XR will be available to pre-order from 19 October, with the phone arriving in stores just a week later on 26 October.

It's worth noting that this is a little later than the more premium models, which open for pre-orders on 14 September, going on sale on 21 September.

You should also note that this isn't necessarily the long-rumoured update to the iPhone SE, which would have been much cheaper - though naturally we're now less and less convinced that an iPhone SE 2 is ever going to come out.

iPhone XR: Price

Potentially the most attractive thing about the iPhone XR is the price: it's comfortably the cheapest full-screen iPhone yet. Apple announced that prices will start from £749/$749 for the 64GB model, rising to £799/$799 for 128GB and £899/$899 for 256GB.

For comparison, the XS starts from £999/$999 for 64GB, while the next cheapest option would be the 8 Plus, which will now cost £699/$799 for 64GB of storage - Apple is no longer selling the original iPhone X.

iPhone XR: Design and build

What's notable about the iPhone XR is that despite its (slightly) lower price point, it actually still looks an awful lot like the iPhone X and the new XS and XS Max.

It boasts a 6.1in screen - midway between the XS and XS Max - but thanks to slightly larger bezels the whole handset is a similar size to the larger model.

As with those phones, the body is aluminium with a glass back - which means wireless charging - though you'll note that there's only a single rear camera lens. There's one other notable difference in the build quality: it's only got an IP67 waterproofing rating, as compared to the IP68 rating in the XS models. Still, that's enough to keep it safe from most spills and dust. Check out our round up of the best cases for the iPhone XR here.

Finally, here's the biggie: much like the iPhone 5c way back when, Apple is throwing in a splash of colour. The XR will be available from launch in six finishes: black, white, blue, coral, yellow, and red (as Apple's standard PRODUCT(RED) collaboration).

iPhone XR: Features and specs

So what about the features? Well, while the XR can't quite match the specs and performance of its more expensive siblings, it's definitely no slouch.

There are two big downgrades to the XR as compared to the XS, to help it hit that lower price: the display, and the rear camera.


First up, the display. The 6.1in display is LCD rather than LED, which is probably the biggest reason Apple has been able to keep the price lower - LCD is the tech used in the iPhone 7 and 8, rather then the other X and XS models.

Still, Apple claims it's the "most advanced LCD ever in a smartphone," (though it would say that, wouldn't it?) with a resolution of 1792x828 and pixel density of 326ppi. Apple's dubbed the screen the Liquid Retina display, and says it's the most colour-accurate LCD in the industry. Still, make no mistake: this won't be quite as bright or colourful as the screen in the XS, so that's what you're missing out on.


The rear camera is the other major difference. Unlike the two XS models, this only has a single lens - though it is at least the same 12MP wide-angle lens that the other two phones are using for the main shooter, with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation.

Despite only using a single lens, Apple has managed to keep portrait mode (a.k.a. the bokeh effect), using software post-processing to blur the backgrounds of photos after they've been taken. You'll also be able to select the level of depth (and thus blurring) that you want in your photos after the fact, a new feature to this generation of iPhone.

The final omission is a smaller one: there's no 3D Touch here. Apple tried to hype up its replacement, which it's dubbed Haptic Touch, but it's really just a fancy way of saying the phone will sometimes vibrate when you hold down in certain spots, so you will be losing some of the 3D Touch functionality on this phone.

Processor and other specs

Despite those differences, there's a lot that's similar between the XR and the XS. Both phones use the same new A12 Bionic processor, both have the same TrueDepth front-facing camera array (and thus FaceID to unlock), both boast wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.0, and stereo speakers.

The A12 Bionic processor has a similar configuration to 2017's A11, with a six-core CPU and a quad-core GPU. However, it's the first to be manufactured using a 7nm process, which should mean it's considerably faster.

In practice this means apps should launch up to 30 percent faster, but apps can also take advantage of machine learning for features like better depth detection in Portrait mode and better mapping of Animojis in FaceTime. FaceID is also quicker thanks to faster algorithms and it runs on a faster version of the secure enclave.

The XR also joins the XS in being one of the first iPhones to offer Dual-SIM. Only China will get proper Dual-SIM (i.e. two physical SIM cards), but if you buy it in the UK and US you'll be able to use one physical SIM and one separate eSIM - though it's worth being aware that so far only a handful of networks support eSIMs, so you might not actually be able to use the Dual-SIM setup.

As for battery life, Apple claims the new phone will last an hour and a half longer than 2017's iPhone 8 Plus.

Finally, on the software side, the XR will support iOS 12 from launch, so will come with all of the app and operating system tweaks and improvements included in the new version of iOS.