Review: Apple IPhone XR

The real iPhone XR, How to operate IPhone XR,  How does IPhone XR looks like,  5 important thing about  IPhone XR.

Introduction

The iPhone XR is the third iPhone to be launched this year, after the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. While the two iPhone XS models are nearly identical save for the size, the iPhone XR is a significant departure for the iPhone X series and possibly a new chapter going forward.

When Phil Schiller introduced the iPhone XR, he said Apple wanted to bring the technology and the experience of the iPhone XS to as many customers as possible, and the iPhone XR is Apple’s solution to that. It aims to bring the design, features and much of the experience of the iPhone XS at a lower price.

iPhone XR reviewFor starters, the iPhone XR starts at $749, which is $250 less than the base iPhone XS. So, what do you have to give up to get that price? There’s now a lower resolution LCD, the body is thicker and heavier and made out of aluminum, and there’s only one camera on the back.

What you still get is the same general iPhone X series design, the same powerful A12 Bionic chipset from the XS, the same TrueDepth camera with the faster Face ID system and the single camera on the back is the same as the main 12MP sensor on the back of the XS.

To make things more interesting, the iPhone XR also comes in six colors, the most Apple has ever had for any iPhone.

Apple iPhone XR specs

  • Body: Aluminum frame, glass back, IP67-certified, six colors
  • Display: 6.1-inch, 1792 x 828 (326 PPI), IPS LCD, 1400:1, wide-color (P3)
  • Rear camera: 12MP, f1.8, OIS + EIS, dual pixel PDAF, quad-LED flash, 4K60 video, wide-color
  • Front camera: 7MP, f2.2, 1080p60, EIS, display flash, wide-color
  • Software: iOS 12
  • Chipset: Apple 12 Bionic, 2.49GHz six-core CPU (2x Vortex + 4x Tempest), quad-core Apple GPU, octa-core Neural Engine
  • Memory: 3GB LPDDR4X SDRAM, 64/128/256GB NVMe storage
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM (nano SIM + eSIM), LTE-A, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, AGPS/GLONASS/Galileo/QZSS, NFC (Apple Pay only)
  • Battery: 2942mAh, USB-PD fast charge support, Qi charging support, 5W supplied charger
  • Misc: TrueDepth camera system with Face ID, stereo speakers

It’s a tough balancing act to get the price, features and performance right. Whether Apple managed to do it is something we have to find out but only after spending some time with the device. Apple sent us the device ahead of launch and after a full week of use, we think we know the answer.

One thing’s for sure, this is easily the most interesting iPhone to have come out this year.

Unboxing

The packaging is where the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS are identical. Both include the same accessories, which feature the measly 5W charger, Lightning to USB cable, and the EarPods with Lightning Connector. It’s pretty Spartan and while it avoids waste, we wish Apple at least provided a higher wattage charger, like the 12W model that comes with the iPads or the 10W model some iPhones came with in the past.

Disclaimer: You might notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn’t include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written far away from our office and test lab. Still, we think we’ve captured the essence of the phone in the same precise, informative and detailed way that’s become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

Display

The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch, IPS LCD with a resolution of 1792×828. This gives it a pixel density of 326PPI, which is identical to the iPhone 8 and previous small screen iPhones but less than the Plus sized iPhones (401PPI), and the iPhone X, XS and XS Max (458PPI).

Apple calls this the Liquid Retina HD display because it’s LCD, Retina, HD and because Apple likes coming up with these silly marketing names.

That aside, the display has 1400:1 contrast ratio and supports DCI-P3 wide color and Apple’s True Tone technology that adjusts the color temperature based on ambient lighting. What you don’t get on this display is hardware support for Dolby Vision and HDR-10 (only software support), and 3D Touch.

iPhone XR review

The display has outstanding color performance and when Apple says it has an industry-leading color performance for an LCD, we believe it. Besides just calibrating the display properly, Apple also has support for color management baked into both the software and the hardware. This, along with the wide color support, means the phone can display content in its native color profile without the user having to manually switch modes.

The screen also has excellent viewing angles as expected from an IPS LCD. It also gets extremely bright and is perfectly visible outdoors under sunlight.

Where the display is lacking is in pixel density. A user upgrading from a small size iPhone won’t notice a difference but a Plus-sized iPhone user will notice the slight drop in sharpness.

For the record, 326PPI is adequately sharp for most users as it’s already pushing past most people’s visual acuity. Text, in particular, looks perfectly sharp on the iPhone XR display. Where we noticed the most difference was in images and videos, which were slightly softer. Again, for iPhone 6s, 7 or 8 users, this wouldn’t be any different than what they are used to but ideally, at this point, we would prefer if Apple phased out its sub-400PPI panels.

As for being an LCD, Apple’s LCD panels have generally been some of the best in the business so we are not going to start complaining now. Yes, the contrast ratio and black levels are weaker compared to OLED panels but Apple’s color accuracy is just as good regardless of panel type and the viewing angles and brightness are also satisfactory. On the upside, you don’t have to worry about any burn-in, not that it has been a problem on the OLED iPhones.

However, the downside of the LCD also means thicker bezels. The bezels, much like the notch, aren’t really noticeable during everyday use. However, both become a problem when watching videos. The bezels make videos appear letterboxed at times and the experience isn’t particularly enjoyable. Also, the notch cuts into the video if you make it fullscreen.

iPhone XR review

We also missed not having 3D Touch. Understandably, not many people use this feature or even know it exists, but if you’re one of the few who does you’d know it’s actually an awesome way to get things done quickly. You can get by on this phone in some places by pressing and holding, such as in the Control Center, or some apps like Instagram. On the keyboard, you can just long press on the Space key to move the cursor around instead of pressing down on the keyboard.

Still, you can no longer access app shortcuts by pressing down on app icons as that just makes the home screen go into app uninstall mode, nor can you press down in most other apps to access additional functionality, such as previewing links in Safari or emails in Mail. It’s a shame Apple has been so wishy-washy on 3D Touch instead of doubling down and adding it to all its iOS devices. We are sure even the upcoming iPads won’t have this feature.

As for other things that are missing, we would have also liked to see hardware support for HDR. Having said that, it’s understandable why that is the case as LCD panels without full array local dimming aren’t suitable for HDR and ideally, you’d want OLED or similar self-emitting technology. The phone has software support for Dolby Vision and HDR-10 and can emulate an HDR effect in some apps like Netflix and the default Videos app for HDR content purchased from iTunes.

The touchscreen layer on the iPhone XR supports 120Hz refresh rate, much like the iPhone X, XS and XS Max. This is not the panel itself refreshing at 120Hz but just the touchscreen layer. With twice the polling frequency, the touchscreen layer can recognize and process your inputs much quickly, which adds to the feeling of instant reactions and fluidity while scrolling or typing on the keyboard. Apple’s touchscreen latency has always been the benchmark but with the increased frequency it’s indistinguishable from having zero latency.

Speaking of the touchscreen, it’s good to see Apple implement proper touch rejection once again. While watching videos, you can comfortably rest your thumb on the edges of the screen or even parts of the screen itself and the phone is smart enough to know you’re just resting your fingers and not interacting with the screen. This has been a major problem with Android devices and their shrinking bezels that continue to lack any sort of touch rejection, even recent ones like the Pixel 3 XL.

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